Race Report: Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach
LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 16, 2023) -- Santino Ferrucci drove the No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevrolet to its best finish of the season -- 11th -- in the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, the most prestigious and longest-running street course race in the NTT INDYCAR Series.
Starting 18th on the alternate Firestone tire compound, Ferrucci avoided the Helio Castroneves' miscue on lap 1 and moved into 17th where he ran until the first round of pitstops which came on lap 22 when the pits opened following the yellow for Scott Dixon's crash. Ferrucci gained two positions on that stop moving into 15th with his primary compound tires and claimed 14th three laps later.
He ran there until the next round of stops where another great stop by the 14 crew netted two more positions for Ferrucci who moved into 12th. He fended off Graham Rahal for the remainder of the 85-lap race and gained an additional spot when Alexander Rossi overcooked it and ended up in the run-off to give Ferrucci his 11th place finish.
Ferrucci is all smiles as he chats with Larry Foyt after the race. Race engineer Daniele Cucchiaroni (left) listens.
"Solid day here in Long Beach," Ferrucci commented. "It's our first actual result as a team, P11. So, all things considered, I think we did a great job, the team did a great job on pit road -- passed a bunch of cars and moved forward for what was a very long green (flag) race. I'm worn out, but I'm just happy that we are improving, we look better, and everything feels better, so onto the next one."
Benjamin Pedersen's day in the No. 55 Sexton Properties Chevrolet did not go as smoothly despite being 15th quick in the morning warmup, making him optimistic for his chances in the 85-lap race.
Following practice, Pedersen discusses the car's handling with Race Engineer Roberto Garcia (left) and Technical Director Michael Cannon.
However, the first issue surfaced with a steering wheel that had to be replaced on the first pit stop on lap 22. A miscommunication from the pits resulted in a drive-through which combined with taking the Turn 1 runoff escape route around lap 46, caused the young Danish American to lose a couple laps. However, he remained upbeat and is looking forward to running at Barber Motorsports Park in two weeks.
“Unfortunately, not a very smooth race for us," Pedersen said. "Started out great with our warm up today. We were very competitive, P15. Very honest lap time in terms of how much Push to Pass we used and everything. However, in the race we just had a lot of internal issues with a couple of things with the car, etc., and an unfortunate penalty. We’re going to take what we learned and move on. On the bright side, we had very good pace in the race. Top-10 pace for sure. We’ll just keep working really hard and get the little kinks fixed, and onwards to Barber.”
Pole winner Kyle Kirkwood became a race winner by dominating the historic Grand Prix to earn his first NTT INDYCAR Series victory in just his 20th start. His Andretti Autosport teammates Romain Grosjean and Colton Herta finished second and fourth respectively, while Marcus Ericsson claimed third. His Ganassi teammate Alex Palou finished fifth.
The teams head to Indianapolis Motor Speedway this week for a two-day Open Test April 20-21. The following weekend, they will race at the picturesque Barber Motorsports Park in the Children's of Alabama Grand Prix which will be aired on NBC starting at 3 p.m. ET.