What’s Next: 2014 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

In What’s Next, I’ll take a look at some of my favorite storylines heading into the next race on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule.

Building on St. Pete

The season started off with a bang (ok — primarily because of that now infamous restart) in St. Petersburg and I’m hoping the Verizon IndyCar Series can keep the momentum going in Long Beach. It’s the biggest street race of the year (although I’m fond of Toronto and always loved Baltimore) and the series has three years to demonstrate the value of the event lest they decide to go with Formula 1.

Sato Goes for Two

His first IndyCar win came at Long Beach in 2013. He started 2014 off with a pole at St. Petersburg. This means that all eyes will be on the AJ Foyt driver as he enters the weekend. Despite falling off somewhat from his initial pace, the driver my mom and I affectionately nicknamed “crash king” remained clean and drove professionally. Maybe AJ has broken him of his equipment-destroying habits.

Standing start. Standing start!

I love standing starts. I know they’re not traditionally an IndyCar way to start a race but I still love them. I love the mystique — the slight chance that something could go terribly wrong but usually, hopefully doesn’t. It’s kind of like when I went to see Cirque du Soliel. As I watched the performers do incredible stunts, I know one lapse of concentration, one misplaced limb could cause it all to come crashing down. Of course they were perfect, at least to my eyes, as they are famous for being. A standing start is like that. Heck, a whole IndyCar race is like that. Always knowing something awful could happen. But also knowing that these are professional, talented athletes who are masters of their craft.

More Standing Start

Did I see an article about a new lighting system for standing starts? I’ll be anxious to see how that works, and even more excited about seeing one in person when I attend the Grand Prix of Indianapolis in May.

The Return of NBC Sports Network

Despite it being announced this week that Long Beach will be on ABC in 2015, this race marks the return of NBC Sports for this season. I’m looking forward to hearing the reassuring voice of Leigh Diffey. I’ve been a fan of Townsend Bell’s work in the booth and I’m even looking forward to seeing what Paul Tracy has to say. Being a newer fan of the series, I don’t have a lot of opinions about Tracy. I’ve read about his past and I’m sure he’s rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. But to me he was the old badass who was still hanging around mixing it up with the young kids. It’s a shame, as Robin Miller has said a few times, that he never got the proper sendoff he deserved.

The Return of NBC Sports Network, Part 2

One of the things I miss when races are aired on ABC is coverage of qualifying. Watching live Timing and Scoring is not the same. At least when it’s on NBC Sports, I can watch it one on Timing and Scoring and then later on tape delay. I also enjoy NBC’s expanded coverage on race day. Unlike ABC whose broadcast typically starts 20 minutes before the race begins, NBC usually gives us at least an hour of pre-race activity. Some (count my dad in with this group) hate all the talking and wish they’d just get to the race. I, on the other hand, enjoy the context provided by the on-air talent and enjoy the reporting and recapping that happens on the pre-race show.

The Return of NBC Sports Network, Part 3

How great is it to have the Indy Lights race immediately precede the main event? NBC is doing something right.

Round 2 Details

Just like last time, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel: More Front Wing posts a superb Event Summary before each race. Go there, get the information, and be thankful they put the time and energy into being a great resource for all of us.


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