Firestone Indy Lights Pole Sitter, JAMES HINCHCLIFFE/No. Team Moore Racing, led flag to flag for his first ever IRL victory in 18 starts. He said it was especially sweet coming at the historic 36th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. “Winning here is something extra. It has the Who’s Who of racing champions. It’s such a cool venue and track. It’s the Monaco of North America.”
Part of Hinch’s strategy was to keep ahead of the pack behind him – a very competitive field. He turned the fastest time on Lap Two – 94.058 mph.
Second and third were CHARLIE KIMBALL/No.26 AFS Racing Andretti Autosport and Rookie J.K. VERNAY/7 Sam Schmidt Motorsports. They had started in reverse order, and once Kimball passed the young French driver, they stayed in that position for the duration. Vernay is the series points leader.
Fourth and fifth were SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA/No.29 Bryan Herta Autosport and MARTIN PLOWMAN/No.27 AFS Racing Andretti Autosport.
Unofficial Points Standings: Vernay-140; Kimball-112; Hinchcliffe-99; Plowman-90; and Saavedra-85.
The 45-lap race was punctuated by four cautions for eight laps – for spins or crashes. No one was hurt. Hinchcliffe said “The restarts were certainly not what I wanted. I didn’t think I had it won until I saw the checkered flag. Yellow breeds yellow. By the fourth one it was getting to me and I was frustrated at the end. The Firestone Firehawks held up well on the restarts.”
Kimball finished second, but not for lack of trying. He said “I tried everything I could, threw the kitchen sink at him (Hinch) but just couldn’t catch him. I’m pleased with second place. The rolling start was a bit of a challenge, because the single file into Turn One discussed in Driver’s Meeting didn’t happen and I was hit.”
Thirteen of the 18 starters finished the race, with 11 on the lead lap. The race was supposed to be 45 laps or 70 minutes, whichever came first. It ran 45 laps and took 1:03:4082. The average speed was 83.429 mph.
The next race for Indy Lights will be the Firestone Freedom 100 Race as part of the Indianapolis 500 weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.