A late-race charge from Takuma Sato netted Honda and the A.J. Foyt Racing veteran fifth place Sunday at the Grand Prix of Long Beach, as a caution-free race around the Southern California street circuit resulted in a record race pace and negatively affected the race strategies of several Honda teams.
The race would run caution-free for the first time since 1989 and only the fourth time in Long Beach history, resulting in a record race pace of just over 100 mph. It also was the first caution-free Indy car race anywhere since Mid-Ohio in 2013.
Starting eighth, Sato maintained position through the first two rounds of pit stops, saving both fuel and “push to pass” usage [a button on his dash that a driver is able to activate up to 10 times per race, to provide an additional 50 horsepower for a brief period]. After the final round of scheduled pit stops, Sato, the winner here in 2013, passed both Will Power and Tony Kanaan to move into fifth, and was battling Juan Pablo Montoya for fourth at the checkers.
Having a strong run after disappointing results in the first two races of 2016, James Hinchcliffe was the quickest Honda driver in qualifying on Saturday, and backed up that performance with an eighth-place finish today, his first top-10 result since sustaining serious leg injuries in a season-ending crash at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year.
Other Honda movers included former Long Beach winner Ryan Hunter-Reay and Graham Rahal, who both gained positions in the opening laps. However, Hunter-Reay made his second pit stop out of sequence on Lap 40 and dropped to 20th, en route to an 18th-place finish. Rahal, on the other hand, continued his march forward, running into the top ten for much of the race, but ultimately finishing 15th when he ran out of fuel on the final lap.
|Video by||Honda Racing/HPD|
|Track||Streets of Long Beach|
|Tags||autos & vehicles|