The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is a full weekend of speed headlined by the Verizon IndyCar Series. The primary support series this weekend will be the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which will take to the streets on Saturday. 22 cars will do battle on the 1.968-mile street course.
Long Beach is the first of four rounds that will not have three classes on hand. This weekend will see just the Prototype and GT Le Mans teams do battle, similar to the setup in 2016. Last year’s race included the GT Daytona class, which boosted the number of entries up to 35. Ultimately, 34 cars started after a practice crash for Renger van der Zande forced then-Visit Florida Racing to withdraw. That said, the paddock situation last year was simply too tight for the gathered teams, resulting in IMSA’s decision to race just the Prototypes and GT Le Mans.
In the Prototype class, 14 cars are entered. The story entering the race is whether Wayne Taylor Racing can score their fourth straight win on the streets of Long Beach. The Taylor brothers (Jordan and Ricky) have teamed up to take the last three overall wins. However, Ricky is now driving for Acura Team Penske.
Long Beach is also the first sprint race of the year. As a result, the driver pairings that are listed will be the pairings that will race for the class championships. There are a number of strong drivers that are not on that list. No Patricio O’Ward for Performance Tech Motorsports, for instance. No Christian Fittipaldi or Mike Conway for Action Express Racing despite Conway’s past Long Beach successes (two INDYCAR wins). No Simon Pagenaud or Graham Rahal for Acura Team Penske either.
The only no-show of the full-time Prototypes is the Spirit of Daytona Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R., which would have been shared by Matt McMurry and Tristan Vautier. The team was forced to withdraw from the race due to this crash for Vautier during the 11th hour at Sebring.
According to the team’s press release, they’ll be back at Mid-Ohio and ready to take the battle to the field.
In the GT Le Mans class, there are eight cars entered. Risi Competizione has not posted an entry for their Ferrari. As a result, there will be two-car entries from Porsche GT Team, Corvette Racing, BMW Team RLL and Ford Chip Ganassi Racing IMSA to do battle.
The BUBBA Burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach will air live on FOX at 4 p.m. on Saturday. It will air immediately following the XFINITY Series Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 from Bristol.
About the author
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.
Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.
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