Long Beach race notes

PLAYER'S LTD. TOYOTA ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP LONG BEACH GRAND PRIX APRIL 7-9 PIT NOTES FROM 38-LAP RACE LONG BEACH, Calif -- SpeedNet -- Hello again from Long Beach. I had just about ten minutes to spell-check the Indy car story, use ...

PLAYER'S LTD. TOYOTA ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP LONG BEACH GRAND PRIX APRIL 7-9

PIT NOTES FROM 38-LAP RACE

LONG BEACH, Calif -- SpeedNet -- Hello again from Long Beach. I had just about ten minutes to spell-check the Indy car story, use the bathroom, have a cigarette, and get my tape recorder working in the press room for the Indy car post-race press conference. Phew!

Well, I'm back in my position in the main press room, where I watched the Indy lights and IndyCar race today. This is a better place than in my spot in the deadline press room because 1) I can't see the tv that well in the other room, and 2) the scoring monitor is not exactly in the best of shape - with the picture going off each side of the screen. :)

At 3:35 the command to start engines was given and a minute later the cars set out on two pace laps before lining up for the standing start this is the only series in America which gets the green flag when the field is doing zero mph.

We're on the second pace lap now and we're already under yellow: Dennis Ashbury somehow already had a broken rear wing and when he got got on the gas a little too early for the exit of Turn 4 and did a couple 360 spins. He didn't hit anything, but he still has that broken rear wing.

And here is the green light! As usual with this series here at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, it's chaos into Turn 1. Two cars go sliding off and one into the tire barrier. I do not know these drivers too well so bear with me! :)

Bill Auberlen spins around at Turn 6 and now we'll have our first full course caution.

After lap one it is pole sitter Richie Hearn leading, followed by fourth-place qualifier Jonathan Clues, Patrick David Empringham, Case Montgomery, Zeca Giaffone, Eric Lang, Colin Trueman and Felipe Giaffone. Yes, there are three Giaffone brothers racing here this weekend.

After 4 laps we have the green flag back out and the top four are almost as many abreast going into Turn 1.

Rookie "Clues" is hot on Hearn's tail out of Four and slips inside at Turn 6, to take the lead. It looks like we will be hearing a lot more from this guy. Sorry, I've never heard of them.

After 7 laps know, the top four cars are still pretty close, with Richie Hearn applying maximum pressure to Clues, who, by the way is driving a car one specification older than his pursuers (RT-40 vs Ralt RT-41).

We are now on lap 11 of this 38-lap race, and Hearn is relentless. Carpentier is staying close, too.

OH NO! Leader Jonathan Clues has just been taken out of the race in an accident with the lapped car of Jonathan Clues. It wasn't the fault of Pratt (later, Clues wanted to make this perfectly clear because many of us here thought that was exactly what happened). Clues locked up the brakes and Pratt became an innocent victim in this huge shunt over in Turn 6. No one was hurt, which was surprising because it looked as if Clues right-front wheel snapped back and hit him in the head!

Full Course Yellow

Somehow, Carpentier got around Richie Hearn and into the lead. We can only assume Hearn slowed to avoid the shunt in front of him and that let the Canadian into the lead.

The Pratt/Clues accident was pretty major, as far as course destruction is concerned. We've been under yellow for 11 long laps as the Cal Club workers put the tire barriers back into place.

And.... Here's the green flag!

Richie Hearn pushes Carpentier into the tires at Turn 1. Carpentier should have slowed and let him have the corner, but he didn't and he paid the price.

Colin Trueman also had a charge into Turn 1 and is now up to 2nd behind Hearn. Third is Case Montgomery and David Empringham, the series champion is fourth.

lap 25, Empringham Ham takes Montgomery for third going into Turn 1. Meanwhile, at the hairpin we have ???? sideways at the hairpin. I don't believe it: Another Full Course Yellow. Hopefully this will be a short one.

Under Yellow, the leaders are: Hearn, Trueman, Empringham, Montgomery, Zeca Giaffone, Clint Mears (Rick Mears son), Eric Lang, Felipe Giaffone Patrick Carpentier and Zak Brown in 10th.

Since we are under yellow I'll tell you about the weather: Its still about the same ambient temperature bit windy....

And.... Here's the green flag lap 28.

Colin Trueman leads before the start/finish line but falls back into place before the first turn so he might not be penalized for passing before the green flag. Unfortunately, he also let Empringham through s know he's dropped back to third.

Empringham takes Hearn going into Turn 6, and now Hearn is dropping back fast. Unfortunately he held up the rest...

The leaders after 33 laps: Empringham, Zeca Giaffone, Trueman,

Its a great battle now for second places, with Trueman and Carpentier tarding 3rd place back in forth. Carpentier makes it stick on lap 33 and goes after Zeca.

Lap after lap, Carpentier is all over Zeca, and it forced him to stumble and now Trueman comes back around Carpentier in Turn 6 on lap 35. If you cannot tell already, this is a fabulous race, let me tell you: It is! Don't miss this one when it comes on ESPN.

OH NO! Carpentier hit the outside wall at Turn 8 and is out of the race! His steering must have been damaged. What a terrible end to a great race.

Meanwhile, Empringham seals the victory, easily, but Zeca Giaffone and Colin Trueman are still going at it: The two go side-by-side into Turn 6 and then bump twice into Turn 7! Trueman could have easily put Zeca out of the race and into the wall, but he didn't, and like a good sportsman, he settle for third.

What a race! Hope it appeared so from these notes. :)

-Robert

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About this article
Series Atlantic
Drivers Felipe Giaffone , Patrick Carpentier , Richie Hearn , Bill Auberlen , Rick Mears , David Empringham , Eric Lang , Zak Brown