(Photo: Alexander Rossi - Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach - By: Joe Skibinski)
By lap 18 Newgarden was on the move and making passes- having started his race on his primary tires as a strategy, the announcers said had served him well. Moving up through the field, Newhgarden and O'Ward had both made a solid start.
Dixon had long tire marks on the street showing he had lock ups on both his left and right side after some contact with O'Ward, and is speculated to be something IndyCar has to talk about in the future. Race Control will be talking about calling it the -"The needle of responsiblity" the announcners said ... and talking about how this would look clipping Dixon, a 6 time champion.
Scott Dixon was knoced down to 16th place, after the second yellow light caution.
Ericson pulled into the pits during the Dixon yellow, as the other drivers closed up their gaps, heading into the the third green- Newgarden made an agressive move to get behind Kirwood seeming to sort of 'fishtail" , and the adrelinin was pumping by lap 23 with Kirkwood leading and Newgarden in second.
At lap 24 coming out of the pits, Agustin Canapino came out ahead of Kirkwood. Pato crashed and restarted in the same lap and then Newgarden lead by lap 26. Pato was 13 on lap 30.
Carnapino was out a few laps later and talked to race announcers:
Newgarden led and Graham Rahal was moving up slowly, but stuck in a slower group of drivers around lap 33.
Scott McLuaghlin had moved from 9th place to 4th as announcers said they had talked to McLaughlin prerace and he said he felt he could win the whole hing.
Kirkwood was chasing Newgarden in a highly competitive run for first on lap 36, with lots of talk about fuel conservation and speculation from the announcers about how much accelertion Kirkwood and his team wanted to use to try to pass Newgarden, coming up to the half way mark for the Acura Long Beach Grand Prix.
Newgarden had a one second lead as Grossjean was showing movement. Grossjean had almst closed on Newgarden in previous race, so sports announcers knew the deisre to pass Newgarden was ripe with the other drivers.
(Photo: Romain Grosjean - Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach - By: Joe Skibinski)
Lap 43 Kirkwood got the ok from his team to pass Newgarden who was 17 miles on his tires, and announcers said that Kirkwood's steering wheel was lit up green meaning he was getting ready to "push to pass" and Kirkwood's team was heard telling him to 'start putting pressure on Newgarden and his soft tires".
Dixon was off the track lap 44, reporting oil pressure problems.
Race announcers broke out the strategy about the timing between race leaders, talking about tires, fuel, and the chances the race will finish under a green or a yellow flag.
Newgarden was hoping for a yellow to get off those "soft" tires. INDYCAR Data Insights predicted that race leader will make his 2nd pit stop at Lap 53.
Announcers were able to catch up with Dixon who expressed disappointment about being out for good, and talked about being clipped by Pato and said the his annoynace had started well before that- saying the start was "a joke" and that "row 5 o4 6 started before the leaders of the race did", hinting that he would be discussing his frustrations with race officials soon enough.
Lap 53 was Kirkwood, Ericsson, Herta, Power- Newgarden was in 13th which led to a scramble of drivers coming out of the pits on new cold tires.
Lap 55 was Kirkwood, Palou, Gorssjean, Newgarden. By lap 56 Newgarden was in third place and Kirlwood had a one second lead on everyone.
Talk to turned to Ericsson and his ability to close the race and put pressure on Newgarden in the remaining 20 laps.