The 3rd stop on the IZOD IndyCar World Series was at the beautiful, and historic Long Beach Street Course in, stunningly, Long Beach California. Long Beach is rich in history starting with the inaugural F5000 race and then transitioned into Formula 1, CART, Champ Car, and now the IndyCar Series.  It is the undisputed champion of Street Races in the United States. (Sorry, nothing beats Monaco. Racing sucks, but it is gorgeous.)

Long Beach has typically been a parade led by the first row cars. This year saw several lead changes, passing within the pack, and unfortunately, more problems with the double file restart.  In the end, it was the 2nd feelgood story of the year, as Mike Conway piloted his #27 Window World Cares Dallara to his first career victory and the first for a non-Penske/Ganassi car since former Andretti Autosport driver Tony Kanaan won at Iowa in 2010. Conway passed Ryan Briscoe like he was standing still near the end of the race and powered on to a very popular victory.

The focus again of the race fell on a mistake by Helio Castroneves as he piloted his AAA liveried car after a restart right into the back of Will Power’s Verizon Dallara in Turn 1. The incident damaged Scott Dixon and forced Oriol Servia to do a big 360 before returning to action. Luckily, Power’s car was not damaged enough to drop out and he soldiered onto a 10th place finish. He is now 7 points behind Dario Franchitti in the point standings.

If Power was not able to continue, it would have been interesting to see how Roger Penske would have handled the incident. Helio was visibly upset that he took his teammate out. That’s something that doesn’t happen at Penske Racing….Period. Most of you know my feelings about Helio, but it is really tough to cut him any slack here. He missed his braking point by at least 60 feet. I understand the need to get by someone on a track that has limited passing areas. I think this is the major reason we’ve been having such problems during restarts, especially at these three tracks.  I expect the same at Mid-Ohio in August.

But this is the 2nd time that Castroneves made the exact same mistake. It’s not typical of his driving. He better adjust his ways or he will be drawing penalties from Race Control if he decides to get into the car from the right sidepod instead of the left. Helio also shouldn’t be in big trouble with The Captain. Helio still is the man at Indianapolis and that is Roger’s focus. He also has a lot of history with him since he started driving for him in 2000. However, a bad May, a few more brain fades, and will he be running one of those new cars in 2012.

Next race is the Sao Paolo 300 from Brazil. This is a track that has several passing zones, but a still tight Turn 1. Last year we saw Mario Moraes try to decapitate Marco Andretti. Hopefully…there’s that word again…the driver’s will have learned that these restarts must get better and Turn 1 will not win the race, unless it is the last lap.

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