Hitting the Apex: Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach

IndyCar is back in after a month away! ATRL’s Eline Luna takes a look at this weekend’s action on the streets of Long Beach.

Eline Luna

April 19, 2024

This weekend, the 2024 IndyCar season continues with its second points-paying round, the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. After kicking off in St. Petersburg at the start of March and then traveled to The Thermal Club for a non-championship round, drivers will return to the track after a month-long break. 

The Long Beach GP is one of North America’s longest-running street races and has hosted several series throughout its years. It hosted a Formula 1 GP from 1976-1983 and hosted CART and Champ Car from 1984 until it became an IndyCar race in 2008. This weekend, IndyCar will share the track with IMSA.

Travis Hinkle/Penske Entertainment

The street circuit encircles the Long Beach Convention Center and features 11 turns of which six left and five right. Passing at the track is not known to be an easy feat, making Qualifying a very important session. 

The circuit starts with a long straight past Shoreline Drive. Turn 1 is a lefthand corner leading to turns 2 and 3 making the fountain section. Drivers have to be careful or they could end up just like Simon Pagenaud in 2022, beached in the flowers around the fountain. This section is quickly followed by turns 4 and 5 which leads to the trick turn 6. Turn 8 is also vital for drivers as it leads onto the backstretch, making a good exit important. The circuit ends with three complex corners, turns 9,10 and 11. The hairpin at 11 is arguably the most important corner on the track as the corner leads onto the long straight, making or breaking a lap.

 

What to look out for?

Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden is the championship leader following a perfect weekend at St. Petersburg, he managed to add all points available to his tally. He took pole, led the most laps, and won the race. He’s won at the track before and will be one of the favorites to repeat that feat.

2023 winner Kyle Kirkwood (Photo via Travis Hinkle/Penske Entertainment)

Andretti’s Kyle Kirkwood took his first IndyCar win last year at Long Beach after starting the race from pole position. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Álex Palou only managed to finish sixth at St. Petersburg but won the race at the Thermal Club – the reigning champion has not won at Long Beach before but has come close on several occasions. 

Théo Pourchaire is set to make his IndyCar debut with Arrow McLaren as David Malukas is yet to recover from his injury. Callum Ilott was Arrow McLaren’s go-to replacement driver, but Ilott’s WEC commitments this weekend forced McLaren to find another driver. 

 

Past Winners

2023: Kyle Kirkwood

2022: Josef Newgarden

2021: Colton Herta

Karl Zemlin/Penske Entertainment

Race Information

  • Race Length: 85 Laps | 167.28 Miles
  • Turns: 11
  • Track Length: 1.968 miles (3.167 km)
  • Most Wins: Al Unser Jr. (6)
  • Lap record: 1:05.309 (Colton Herta, 2022)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eline follows a variety of motorsports from Formula E to IMSA to Nascar to WEC. They hope to study Mechanical Engineering to work in motorsports one day.

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