Josef Newgarden gave Penske a third win in a row, took his second consecutive IndyCar victory and fought off Romain Grosjean and Alex Palou as Long Beach favourite Colton Herta crashed out in dramatic fashion.
The pre-event talk would have you believe polesitter Herta had won the race before it started, and he started well – consolidating the lead before the first pit visits when he was jumped by Palou and Newgarden due to a slow stop.
Herta harried the back of Newgarden for the whole of the second stint as Palou – who had pitted two laps earlier – could manage a big three second lap to save some of the fuel he’d ‘lost’ by pitting earlier.
Palou especially made time in his first stop on his in-lap, and shortly after he made his last stop, Herta pushed too hard into Turn 9 in what he called a “stupid mistake” which destroyed his car and took him out of contention.
Newgarden then stopped, and emerged millimetres ahead of Palou who charged at him on his warm tyres.
Palou tried wild, uncharacteristically risky moves at Turn 5 and 6 but Newgarden held on to his ice cold tyres to hold off the reigning champion who sealed the 2021 honours here at Long Beach last September.
Then, Simon Pagenaud spun into the fountain garden and a long caution period ensued.
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) April 10, 2022
On the restart, third-placed Marcus Ericsson lost the rear of his Ganassi car and crashed at the exit of Turn 4, promoting Grosjean – who had crashed in qualifying – into the podium places.
Grosjean was the only challenger on the soft tyres up front and – although he needed two tries at Turn 1 – made quick work of passing Palou for second and attacked a struggling Newgarden with 17 laps to go.
He used his push to pass and tyre advantage to try to pass but couldn’t, then a caution for a crash with David Malukas and Jimmie Johnson – driving with a broken finger after a practice accident – created a five-lap shootout.
Newgarden held on at the restart before a Takuma Sato crash brought out the yellow to confirm a phenomenal first win at Long Beach for the new championship leader, whose stout defensive driving was truly exceptional.
Grosjean held on for second as the top Andretti car while Palou delivered the kind of drive that sealed his title last year to take a podium.
Will Power defended from a methodical Pato O’Ward in the closing stages to take fourth from seventh on the grid, but keeps his great start to 2022 going while O’Ward’s 2022 hasn’t really started so the top five was much needed.
Scott Dixon started 16th but an undercut at the first stop and the caution laps allowed him to make his strategy work for sixth, ahead of a brilliant comeback from 13th-place starter Graham Rahal.
Alexander Rossi suffered a slow second stop which hurt his chances of repeating his 2018 and ’19 successes at this track. He took eighth, ahead of Helio Castroneves who was crashed into at the hairpin early on but stayed out of further drama for good points.
Rookie Kyle Kirkwood grabbed a top 10 with a much needed sensible and low-key drive to the flag for AJ Foyt.
— IndyCar on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) April 10, 2022
O’Ward’s Arrow McLaren SP team-mate Felix Rosenqvist had qualified fourth but fell down the order from there in the first stint when Rossi dived down the inside, Rosenqvist turned in and the pair banged wheels, sending Rosenqvist tumbling. He recovered to 11th.
Pre-race points leader Scott McLaughlin – who won the season opener and finished second in the second race – had a woeful race. He was held up by traffic in qualifying and started ninth but had to change his engine pre-race after a practice issue.
Then he spun at the hairpin trying to pass backmarker Tatiana Calderon and that put him out of sync. It was an impressive recovery drive from there to recoup 14th.
|Pos||Name||Team||Car||Laps||Laps Led||Total Time||Fastest Lap||Pitstops||Pts|
|1||Josef Newgarden||Team Penske||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||85||32||1h46m48.01s||1m07.365s||2||53|
|2||Romain Grosjean||Andretti Autosport||Dallara DW12-Honda||85||0||+1.287s||1m07.482s||2||40|
|3||Alex Palou||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||85||22||+1.759s||1m07.235s||2||36|
|4||Will Power||Team Penske||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||85||2||+2.965s||1m07.317s||2||33|
|5||Patricio O'Ward||Arrow McLaren SP||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||85||0||+3.712s||1m07.678s||2||30|
|6||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||85||0||+5.06s||1m07.546s||2||28|
|7||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||85||0||+5.393s||1m07.594s||2||26|
|8||Alexander Rossi||Andretti Autosport||Dallara DW12-Honda||85||0||+7.308s||1m07.747s||2||24|
|9||Hélio Castroneves||Meyer Shank Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||85||0||+8.952s||1m07.491s||2||22|
|10||Kyle Kirkwood||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||85||0||+12.863s||1m07.908s||2||20|
|11||Felix Rosenqvist||Arrow McLaren SP||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||85||0||+14.293s||1m07.965s||2||19|
|12||Conor Daly||Ed Carpenter Racing||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||85||0||+15.217s||1m07.891s||2||18|
|13||Rinus VeeKay||Ed Carpenter Racing||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||85||0||+16.246s||1m08.179s||3||17|
|14||Scott McLaughlin||Team Penske||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||85||0||+17.929s||1m07.974s||3||16|
|15||Jack Harvey||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||85||0||+18.78s||1m08.231s||2||15|
|16||Tatiana Calderón||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||84||0||+1 lap||1m08.763s||3||14|
|17||Takuma Sato||Dale Coyne Racing with RWR||Dallara DW12-Honda||83||0||+2 laps||1m07.968s||2||13|
|18||Christian Lundgaard||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||83||0||+2 laps||1m07.537s||3||12|
|19||Simon Pagenaud||Meyer Shank Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||81||0||+4 laps||1m07.748s||3||11|
|Jimmie Johnson||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||73||0||DNF||1m08.28s||3||10|
|David Malukas||Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsport||Dallara DW12-Honda||72||0||DNF||1m07.765s||4||9|
|Marcus Ericsson||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||66||0||DNF||1m07.339s||2||8|
|Colton Herta||Andretti Autosport with Curb-Agajanian||Dallara DW12-Honda||55||28||DNF||1m07.3s||1||9|
|Callum Ilott||Juncos Hollinger Racing||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||55||0||DNF||1m07.867s||4||6|
|Devlin DeFrancesco||Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport||Dallara DW12-Honda||35||1||DNF||1m08.425s||4||6|
|Dalton Kellett||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||5||0||DNF||1m08.815s||0||5|