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PREVIEW: 2024 IndyCar Series – Grand Prix of Long Beach

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Kyle Kirkwood leads the field to green at the 2023 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Credit: Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment

It has been a little while since we last saw the IndyCar Series in action. While fans did see cars on track at The Thermal Club, that was for a non-points exhibition-style race. As far as points races go, there has still been just one this season. That was well over a month ago in St. Petersburg. Josef Newgarden commanded the race from pole, and now holds a 14-point lead in the championship standings over Pato O’Ward and Team Penske teammate Scott McLaughlin. Behind those two sit Will Power and Andretti Global‘s Colton Herta.

Now, IndyCar descends on the sunny shores of Long Beach, California, just 20 miles south of Downtown Los Angeles for the Grand Prix of Long Beach. As far as drivers go, some changes have been made. Theo Pourchaire is set to make his IndyCar debut, filling in for David Malukas in the No. 6 for Arrow McLaren. Nolan Siegel will also make his maiden IndyCar voyage, sitting in the No. 51 for Dale Coyne Racing, a seat that was filled by IMSA star Colin Braun in St. Pete.

Al Unser Jr. holds the record for the most wins at the track with six, but as far as those in the field this weekend, Alexander Rossi is the only multi-time winner at Long Beach with back-to-back wins in 2018 and 2019.

Read on to find out all you need to know about this weekend’s action under the sunny California skies.

A Lap Around the Streets of Long Beach

First used in 1975 for Formula 1, the streets of Long Beach have played host to IndyCar competition since 1984. The circuit is home to the longest-running North American street race and has seen legends like Gilles Villeneuve and Niki Lauda claim victory.

After the start/finish line, drivers sweep right along bumpy Shoreline Drive to Turn 1, a lefty corner that regularly causes issues come race day. Drivers then continue around a portion of a roundabout, passing by the now-famous fountain that comprises Turns 2 and 3. Turns 4 and 5 turn drivers back around to the right down the other side of Shoreline Drive.

Credit: Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment

From there, Turns 6 and 7 twist drivers around the residential high-rises of Long Beach, setting up some prime viewing points for local fans. But a prime overtaking opportunity presents itself between Turns 8 and 9 along Seaside Way. Drivers get a chance to use push to pass before twisting back around to the start/finish line.

Turns 9 and 10 shoot cars out into Turn 11, which can only be described as the tighest of tight hairpin turns. Then, drivers head back eastward down Shoreline Drive to complete a nearly 2-mile lap at Long Beach. 

3 Things to Watch For

Pourchaire in for Malukas

With David Malukas still recovering from wrist surgery following a preseason injury sustained while mountain biking, reigning Formula 2 champion Theo Pourchaire will occupy the No. 6 at Long Beach, according to a team announcement Thursday. The Frenchman brings a wealth of single-seater experience to the team for the weekend, though it will be his first IndyCar Series start. Pourchaire is currently running this year’s Super Formula season with Team Impul. Callum Ilott filled the seat for the first month of the season, finishing 13th at St. Petersburg and failing to qualify for the All-Star Race at The Thermal Club.

Siegel Set to Make IndyCar Debut (Kind of)

Indy NXT full-timer Nolan Siegel is set to make his first official IndyCar start as part of a four-race schedule in the No. 18 entry with Dale Coyne Racing. However, this won’t be his first time racing in IndyCar this season. Siegel competed in the non-points-paying Million Dollar Challenge at Thermal Club, missing out on a spot in the main event by one position. The 19-year-old leads the Indy NXT points race after winning the first event of the season at St. Pete.

Andretti’s Time to Shine

When it comes to street courses in IndyCar, there’s typically one team that stands as an easy favorite: Andretti Global (formerly Andretti Autosport). That is especially true at Long Beach in recent times. Out of the past five races on the streets of Long Beach, an Andretti driver has taken the cake four times. That honor belonged to Kyle Kirkwood last year.

Weekend Schedule and How to Watch

Practice 1: Friday, 4/19 – 5:50 p.m. EST/21:50 GMT on Peacock/Sky Sports F1

Practice 2: Saturday, 4/20 – 11:25 a.m. EST/15:25 GMT on Peacock/Sky Sports F1

Qualifying: Saturday, 4/20 – 2:25 p.m. EST/18:25 GMT on Peacock/Sky Sports F1 

Warmup: Sunday, 4/21 – 12:00 p.m. EST/16:00 GMT on Peacock/Sky Sports F1 

Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach (85 laps, 167.28 miles): Sunday, 4/21 – 3:00 p.m. EST/19:00 GMT on USA/Sky Sports F1 (Green flag at 3:45/19:45)

You can find a full list of IndyCar broadcasters outside of the United States and the United Kingdom here.

Follow Along with the Action

You can keep tabs on all of the weekend’s action by following @gabe_perrin and @thecheckerflag on X.

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About author
Born and raised in the suburbs of Indianapolis, Gabe joined the TCF team in 2023 to cover the IndyCar Series. He currently studies Broadcast and Digital Journalism at Syracuse University. You can follow him on Twitter @gabe_perrin.
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