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Long Beach Winner Pagenaud Crowned Verizon IndyCar Series Champion!

Simon Pagenaud put the exclamation point on a sensational breakthrough season, winning the Sept. 18 GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma to clinch his first Verizon IndyCar Series championship in impressive fashion.

Pagenaud, driving the No. 22 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Chevrolet for Team Penske, won the 85-lap race at Sonoma Raceway by 3.2523 seconds over Graham Rahal. The dominating performance saw Pagenaud lead all but nine laps and clinch the series crown by 127 points over teammate Will Power.

“I tried to take my future in my destiny by being aggressive and going as fast as I could,” Pagenaud said. “Clearly we had a phenomenal car, I think a very dominant car today, so we could do that.

“I just enjoyed driving today. It was an incredible day and I think it just shows the strength of the 22 team for the whole season.”

Pagenaud started the race from the pole position and surrendered the lead only during pit stop cycles in winning for the fifth time this season and ninth of his Indy car career. Power, in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, was running second to Pagenaud until a clutch malfunction stopped his car on track on Lap 36. Power fell eight laps off the pace while repairs were made and finished the race in 20th place, but retained second in the championship for the fourth time in his 12-year Indy car career.

“It was obviously disappointing to have that gearbox problem,” Power said. “I think Simon was going to be tough to beat as far as the championship goes. Maybe we could have beaten him for the (race) win, but I doubt it if everything just played out as it was.

“But honestly it was still a very strong year,” added the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion, whose wife, Liz, is expecting their first child in the off-season. “Four race wins. I won a 500-mile race (at Pocono). Not the right one (the Indianapolis 500), but still a 500-miler.”

The championship was the 14th in Indy cars for Team Penske, celebrating its 50th anniversary in racing this year, and the race win was the team’s 187th in Indy car competition – more than any other team. Pagenaud, who set a track record in qualifying on the 2.385-mile permanent road course Saturday, etched his name into the Sonoma books again today with his average race speed of 101.181 mph.

Pagenaud now enjoys the spoils of the championship, including a $1 million prize and official presentation of the Astor Cup that will take place Oct. 4 at the INDYCAR Championship Celebration in Indianapolis. It gives the 32-year-old Frenchman two weeks to let the magnitude of his accomplishment sink in.

“It’s unbelievable,” he admitted. “I think I will realize it more tomorrow. There is so much emotion right now, to be honest, I can’t find the words. My whole career has been about this, about today and getting to this point and to this level.”

Team Penske completed a 1-2-3 sweep of the championship when Helio Castroneves finished seventh in the race to edge Ed Carpenter Racing’s Josef Newgarden by two points in the standings. It marked the first time the same team took the top three championship positions since Penske also accomplished the feat in 1994 with Al Unser Jr., Emerson Fittipaldi and Paul Tracy.

With his second-place race finish in the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda, Rahal advanced to fifth in the championship – the highest-placing Honda driver.

“Good day, good way to end it,” said the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver. “I wanted to get Pagenaud, but when I’d get behind him, I’d get massively loose. I thought at one point it was best I salvage a second place rather than do something stupid.”

As he did in winning the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in May, Alexander Rossi ran out of fuel and coasted to the finish line today. He was passed by Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay for fourth place, but still secured Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors for the season just as he did for the Indy 500.

Chevrolet, which won 14 of the 16 races this season, also clinched its fifth consecutive manufacturers’ championship by 104 points over Honda. Chevy has taken the honor every year since manufacturer competition resumed in the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2012.

Long Beach to be Second Race of 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series Season

• The 2017 schedule positions INDYCAR for continued growth in attendance, television ratings and viewership
• Multi-year agreements put in place for a new event at Gateway Motorsports Park and Watkins Glen International
• The 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race set for May 28
• All venues where INDYCAR competed in 2016 return to the 2017 calendar, which features races on six ovals, six permanent road courses and five temporary street circuits

INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016) – INDYCAR announced the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule today, a 17-race season that provides continuity, adds a new event at Gateway Motorsports Park and confirms a multi-year agreement with Watkins Glen International. The series calendar features the return of all venues on the 2016 schedule and consists of a total of six events on ovals, six on permanent road courses and five on temporary street circuits.

INDYCAR experienced a 38 percent growth in both television ratings and viewership from 2013 to 2015 and the same numbers are up this season by a total of 7 percent compared to this time last year. Attendance at INDYCAR events is also on the rise, with six events this season drawing crowds at or near record highs.

“The release of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule continues to build upon the success INDYCAR has experienced the last three years and establishes continuity and consistency in our event calendar,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co., the parent of INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “As a series we are working diligently to create long-term relationships with our promoters to establish date equity and to provide them with the opportunity to initiate ticket renewals and event promotions earlier, which is pivotal to continuing the increase in attendance at our events.”

For the sixth consecutive season, the INDYCAR schedule will open on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. (March 12), in 2017 and conclude at Sonoma Raceway (Sept. 17) – the third straight year the Verizon IndyCar Series championship will be crowned on the scenic 12-turn, 2.385-mile road course in California.

All events on the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule will be broadcast by longstanding television partners ABC and NBCSN. The final TV schedule will be released later this year.

The addition of Gateway Motorsports Park (Aug. 26) marks a return for the Verizon IndyCar Series, which last competed at the venue outside St. Louis in 2003. The track has hosted seven Indy car races, in CART from 1997-2000 and the Verizon IndyCar Series from 2001-03.

“Today is a monumental day for the people of the St. Louis region,” said Curtis Francois, owner of Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill. “I am proud of the progress we’ve made at my hometown track. I knew someday we would be making an announcement like this because I have such confidence in the people of this region and their commitment to great sporting events. More than a dozen track operators around the country sought this INDYCAR race for their communities. I firmly believe we came out on top because of the energy, loyalty and commitment to great sports that sports fans of all kinds demonstrate each day in this community.”

Current Verizon IndyCar Series driver Helio Castroneves won the event in 2003 and his Team Penske teammate Juan Pablo Montoya won in 2000. Two other current drivers – Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon – have also competed at the 1.25-mile oval.

“I think it’s great that we’re going back to Gateway,” Castroneves said. “Personally, I like it because I’ve had success there but also that I used to race for Hogan (a St. Louis-based Indy car team in 1999), which makes it a special place to me. I won there with Team Penske in 2003 and there was an all-Brazilian podium with Tony (Kanaan) and Gil (de Ferran). I remember that we had a really good car. I think we started from the pole and led a lot of laps. I know that the people of St. Louis will get a heck of a show. The track isn’t a typical oval with the irregular shape, which makes it challenging. It’s a track well suited for INDYCAR. I’m looking forward to it.”

Watkins Glen International, a replacement venue for the canceled Boston race this year, will host the INDYCAR Grand Prix at the Glen this season on Sept. 4. The permanent road course, steeped in open-wheel racing history, will return on Labor Day weekend again in 2017 under a new multi-year agreement with INDYCAR.

“The addition of Gateway Motorsports Park and the return of Watkins Glen International are integral to the continued growth of INDYCAR,” Miles said. “Gateway officials have been enthusiastic about the prospect of hosting a Verizon IndyCar Series event for some time and we’re excited to bring the series to the St. Louis market. Watkins Glen is an iconic American road course that is revered by our fans, drivers and teams. Our goal from the beginning was to establish a long-term agreement and we’re thrilled that we’ve been able to extend this relationship for the future.”

In addition to coverage from ABC and NBCSN, all Verizon IndyCar Series races can be heard on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, available through network affiliates, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, the INDYCAR Mobile app and IndyCar.com.

2017 Verizon IndyCar Series Schedule*:
March 12 — Streets of St. Petersburg
April 9 — Streets of Long Beach
April 23 — Barber Motorsports Park
April 29 — Phoenix International Raceway
May 13 — Grand Prix of Indianapolis
May 28 — Indianapolis 500 Mile Race
June 3 — Raceway at Belle Isle Park
June 4 — Raceway at Belle Isle Park
June 10 — Texas Motor Speedway
June 25 — Road America
July 9 — Iowa Speedway
July 16 — Streets of Toronto
July 30 — Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
Aug. 20 — Pocono Raceway
Aug. 26  — Gateway Motorsports Park
Sept. 3 — Watkins Glen International
Sept. 17 — Sonoma Raceway

*Schedule subject to change.   

Bannon Named Director of Marketing & Sponsorship

Richard Martinez Joins Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach as Manager of Corporate Sales

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Aug. 15, 2016) – The Grand Prix Association of Long Beach announced today that Martin Bannon has been named Director of Marketing & Sponsorship for the annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which will run for the 43rd time next April 7-9.

In addition, Richard Martinez has joined the company as Manager of Corporate Sales, assuming Bannon’s previous position, and will oversee its hospitality and group sales functions.

Bannon takes over the marketing position from the recently retired Mike Clark, who led the department for the past 11 years. A Dublin, Ireland native, Bannon has run the Grand Prix corporate hospitality areas for the past 10 years, and before that oversaw the Lifestyle Expo and served various functions within the company since 1993.

“I’m very proud and excited about the opportunity to help continue the growth of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach,” said Bannon. “Our event is the perfect blend of racing excitement and family entertainment, and our sponsors have been major contributors to that. I’m looking forward to strengthening relationships with our current sponsors and working to bring new ones on board.

“I’m also pleased that Richard has joined us as he has been indispensable as my right hand in hospitality for the past several years.”

Martinez is a graduate of the California State University, Long Beach sports management program, who first served as a marketing intern at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in 2008 and worked for the event seasonally from 2009-16, covering hospitality, Lifestyle Expo and group sales functions. Martinez has also worked in sales for premium sports orthopedic devices.

“We’re delighted to welcome both Martin and Richard to their new positions,” said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association. “They bring a wealth of knowledge about both our event as well as our organization and will be highly instrumental in growing the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in the future.”

Ticket renewals for the 43rd Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach begin today and will run through Sept. 30. The event will feature the Verizon IndyCar Series, BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach with the cars of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Pirelli World Challenge, SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks and Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge, with another racing event to be announced soon.

Tickets will go on public sale Monday, Oct. 17. For more information, visit gplb.com or call the toll-free ticket hotline, (888) 827-7333.

Fans can also follow the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Facebook at GrandPrixLB, Twitter @ToyotaGPLB, Instagram at ToyotaGPLB and Snapchat at ToyotaGPLB.

Parente Wins GT Class, Fuentes GTA Class in Pirelli World Challenge Race

Alvaro Parente won Sunday’s Pirelli World Challenge Round 5 race at the 42nd Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Martin Fuentes won in GTA.

Parente was awarded the win after a post-race technical infraction led to a 10-second penalty being assessed to provisional race winner Johnny O’Connell in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS.V.R. O’Connell has been awarded second place with Patrick Long taking third in the No. 31 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R.

The race was held under sunny, 73-degree weather conditions. When the green flag flew, pole sitter Parente, in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650 GT3 drag raced door-to-door down the Shoreline Drive front straight with second-on-the-grid O’Connell. The two drivers went side by side through turn 1, with O’Connell’s machine grazing the tire wall on the outside of the turn. That allowed fourth-on-the-grid Long to move into second. Colin Thompson, who had started third, followed Long and slotted into third in his No. 13 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650 GT3. O’Connell made in through turn 1 in fourth.

Before the field could complete the first lap, James Sofronas, in the No. 14 GMG/Spyder/Mobil 1/Thermal Club GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R came together with Austin Cindric, in the No. 6 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650 GT3. The contact left the No. 6 machine wounded along the Seaside Way back straight. Race Control issued a full-course yellow. The safety car picked up the field with Parente, Long, Thompson, O’Connell and Andrew Palmer, in the No. 87 Bentley Team Absolute Bentley Continental GT3 rounding out the top 5.

In GTA, Frankie Montecalvo, who started 2nd in class and 12 overall in his No. 66 Dime R&D Mercedes AMG SLS GT3 moved into the lead over polesitter Fuentes in his No. 07 Hublot/Under Armour Ferrari 458 Italia GT3. Fuentes had started 7th overall. The two drivers slotted into 12th and 13th overall when the yellow came out.

On the Lap 9 restart, Parente launched cleanly to lead the field down the long Shoreline Straight as Long moved to the outside looking for a way around the driver of the No. 9 machine. Parente made it through turn 1 in the lead, while O’Connell, who took an inside line on the restart was able to squeeze back into second exiting turn 1. On the completion of the lap, Parente, O’Connell, Long, and Palmer completed the top 4 as Thompson entered the pits with what appeared to be a cut tire. In GTA, Fuentes reclaimed the lead over Montecalvo on the restart.

On lap 11, Bryan Heitkotter, in the No. 05 Always Evolving/Replay XD Nissan Nismo GT3 GT-R made contact with the tire wall in turn 1. A full-course caution was issued to remove the damaged 05 machine. At the yellow, Fuentes sloted into 10th overall maintaining the lead in GTA, while Montecalvo had dropped back to 13th overall and second in class.

Of note, Michael Cooper, the GT Championship points leader coming into the race weekend, started from the back of the field after not posting a time during Saturday’s qualifying session due to an engine breathing issue with his No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R. Cooper was on a charge and moved into 11th overall when the second caution of the race was issued.

With 21 minutes remaining, the race restarted and with a tremendous launch O’Connell rocketed to the lead around Parente. Through turn 1, Parente slotted into second in front of Long in third. O’Connell was awarded both the Cadillac Move of the Race and the Motortrendondemand.com Clean Pass of the Race. In GTA, Fuentes remained in the lead over Montecalvo, 12th overall in the race. Cooper continued his charge moving into 8th.

By lap 15, O’Connell pushed his lead to an 0.822 second gap over Parente, and a 2.455 second gap over Long. By lap 18, Cooper, had moved into 6th and began a battle with JD Davison, in the No. 33 Nissan/GT Academy Nissan GT3 GTR. Through turn 10, Cooper passed Davison to move into 5th. Cooper then set his sights on Palmer for fourth position and by lap 20 had closed on the driver of the No. 87 machine. On lap 21, Cooper and Palmer went door-to-door down the Shoreline Drive straight, but Palmer was able to hold 4th through turn 1. Cooper though kept the pressure on and took the inside line exiting turn 8 to win the drag race down the Seaside Way back straight to take 4th.

In GTA, Fuentes maintained his lead in class moving up to 9th overall in the race. On lap 23, Montecalvo was issued a drive through penalty for contact with Peter Cunningham, in the No. 42 Acura/HPD/RealTime Racing Acura TLX-GT. Tim Pappas, in the No. 54 Papent.com Black Swan Racing Dodge Viper GT3-R moved into second in GTA.

On lap 26, Race Control issued a debris/fluid on track flag for turns 9 and 10. Soon after, Cooper’s ATS-V.R slid into the tire wall through turn 9 and the No. 8 car came into the pits for a mechanical issue ending his charge.

At the checkered, O’Connell crossed the line ahead of Parente by 1.138 seconds, with Long in third, 8.012 seconds behind Parente. Fuentes finished first in GTA and 8th overall with, Pappas second, and 11th overall. Newport, California’s Brent Holden, in the No. 44 GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 finished third in class and 13th overall. The post-race technical infraction reversed first and second places in GT. Results are final. For Parente it’s his first career Pirelli World Challenge win. Fuentes continued his dominating season with his 5th consecutive GTA race win.

Of note, Davison was awarded the Optima Battery Best Start award for gaining seven positions. The VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger Award went to Holden for gaining seven positions overall during the race.

Pagenaud Wins in Closest Finish in Grand Prix History

Simon Pagenaud has knocked on the door of victory lane in each of the first two races of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season. Today at the 42nd Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the Frenchman broke through to earn the win.

Pagenaud, in the No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Chevrolet, edged reigning series champion Scott Dixon across the finish line by 0.3032 of a second, the closest finish in the history of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, and the fastest ever with an average speed of 100.592 mph. It gave Pagenaud five career Verizon Indy Car Series wins and his first since joining Team Penske in 2015.

Pagenaud, who finished second in each of the first two races this season, takes a 14-point championship lead over Dixon into the next event, the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on April 24 (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

“This is my favorite street course,” said Pagenaud, a two-time winner in sports car races on the 1.968-mile temporary street course, but who took his first Indy car victory here today. “To win here, especially in INDYCAR, given the level of competition, is amazing. The PPG car is good luck on me. Every time I’m in that car, I’m on the podium.”

Starting the 80-lap race third, Pagenaud took his first lead on Lap 52 when teammate and pole sitter Helio Castroneves made his final pit stop. Pagenaud was able to push two laps farther before stopping for fuel and tires, exiting the pits just ahead of Dixon and Castroneves.

INDYCAR race stewards warned Pagenaud for improper lane usage exiting the pits, but he was able to lead the final 25 laps to collect the win in the first Verizon IndyCar Series caution-free race since Mid-Ohio in August 2013 and the first completely green-flag race on the often-chaotic streets of Long Beach since 1989.

Dixon, in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, believed Pagenaud should have been assessed a stronger penalty, but was resigned with the runner-up finish that kept him second in the standings. Pagenaud leads with 134 points after three of 16 races, Dixon has 120 and Team Penske’s Juan Pablo Montoya is third with 106.

“It appeared that Simon turned a little early and crossed the line (exiting the pits) that you’re not meant to cross,” Dixon said. “But it is what it is, so second place today and Team Target did a hell of a job.”

Castroneves finished third in the No. 3 Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet, leading a race-high 47 laps. Montoya finished fourth in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevy after a frenetic late-lap battle with Takuma Sato, who wound up fifth in the No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda.

Pagenaud finished 11th in last year’s standings, in his first season with Team Penske, with best finishes of third at Belle Isle-1 and Mid-Ohio. Despite going winless in 2015, he focused on the long-term plan.

“I knew it was coming because we’ve been so competitive since the beginning of the year,” Pagenaud said. “I knew I could win races. It’s not my first win; I’ve been around. It was just a matter of when and it’s when we were going to put ourselves in that position.”

Stars come out in droves for Long Beach race

When actor Alfonso Ribeiro won the 40th Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race on the eve of today’s Grand Prix of Long Beach, he might have had good karma from the Verizon IndyCar Series on his side.

Ribeiro, host of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” and the 2014 “Dancing with the Stars” winner, is a longtime Indy car fan, so it’s fitting that he took the checkered flag Saturday as the charity race celebrated its 40th and final year. It was Ribeiro’s fourth Pro/Celebrity Race win.

The actor – best known for his role playing Carlton Banks on the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” – is a friend of Andretti Herta Autosport principal Bryan Herta and knows numerous Indy car drivers, so he has received racing tips from the pros.

“I’ve been a fan of Indy car (racing) probably since 1988. I became really good friends with Bryan Herta (when Herta was a driver) and actually used to spot for him at the oval races,” said Ribeiro. “What I love about INDYCAR … is (the schedule includes) street circuits, road courses, ovals, superspeedways and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It’s just amazing – they have to be not just great drivers in one area, they have to be great across the board. These guys are some of the best in the world.”

Many other celebrities visited the Verizon IndyCar Series paddock over the course of the weekend. Six-time NFL Pro Bowl player Terrell Owens showed up Friday with a microphone, reporting for “The Rich Eisen Show,” spending time with Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon and taking a ride in the INDYCAR Experience two-seat Indy car with racing legend Mario Andretti at the wheel.

“Dancing with the Stars” professional dancers Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Tony Dovolani also took the ride of a lifetime with Andretti, as did Spike Feresten, host of “Car Matchmaker.”

Boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya was grand marshal of the race and issued the command for drivers to start their engines. Taya Kyle, widow of “American Sniper” Chris Kyle, waved the green flag to start the 80-lap grand prix.

Larenz Tate, star of the new NBC drama “Game of Silence,” comedian Nick Swardson, “Girl Next Door” Bridget Marquardt and Austin Stowell of the film “Bridge of Spies” were guests of Marco Andretti, driver of the No. 27 United Fiber & Data/Snapple Honda for Andretti Autosport.

“That ’70s Show” and “Spider-Man 3” star Topher Grace and Tory Belleci of “MythBusters” were guests of Conor Daly, driver of the No. 18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality Honda for Daly Coyne Racing. Nathan Kress of “iCarly” fame watched the race from Dixon’s pit.

Matt Field Wins Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge

Formula DRIFT presented by BlackVue returned to Long Beach to host the Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge as part of the 42nd Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Matt Field in the Falken Tire / Drift Cave Nissan S14 takes the victory.

The Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge for the fourth consecutive year brought motorsports action under the lights during the annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach with a filled capacity within Turns 9, 10, and 11 of the famous street course. Select Formula DRIFT drivers competed for a $25,000 prize purse.

“This was a landmark year as the tenth consecutive year for us to bring drifting as part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach,” said Jim Liaw, President of Formula DRIFT. “Since 2013, we have been the only Series to compete under the lights in the Grand Prix’s 42-year history and we are happy to make this an ongoing tradition.”

The Top 4 pitted Odi Bakchis, the number qualifier, against Michael Essa, in an exciting battle. Essa outdrove his opponent to move into the Finals. Matt Field then faced Dean Kearney and capitalized on his opponent making a mistake to meet Essa in the final battle. On his lead run Essa spun giving the advantage to Field and ultimately the event victory.

“First off thank you to my crew, they gave me an amazing car. My parents for always being there and for cheering louder than anyone back home,” said Matt Field, winner of the Motegi Super Drift Challenge. “And my sponsors, Casino M8trix, Lucas Oil, Drift Cave, and of course to Falken Tires for giving me the grip I need to stick it to the hard charging boys in this Formula DRIFT field.”

The 2016 Formula DRIFT Pro Championship will continue to Round 2: Road to the Championship on May 6-7 at Road Atlanta. For more information visit: www.formuladrift.com and find Formula DRIFT on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Tune into Formula DRIFT on CBS Sports and check your local listings for airtimes.

Taylor Brothers Defend Title in BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix

Beaten out for the TOTAL Pole Award on Friday, Ricky Taylor didn’t need long to make amends. Driving the No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP, Taylor bested polesitter Christian Fittipaldi into Turn 1 on the opening lap and paired with his brother Jordan in winning Saturday’s BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach.

Race results will remain unofficial, pending extended technical inspection and analysis.

Leading all but three of the 75 laps in the 100-minute race, the Taylors successfully defended their victory on the 1.968-mile temporary circuit, giving the Corvette DP its first triumph of the season. It was the fifth IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship victory for the Taylors and 12th career victory for both brothers in major North American sports car competition.

Joao Barbosa finished second, 2.958 seconds behind after taking over from Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP. Action Express Racing teammates Eric Curran and Dane Cameron took third in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Team Fox Corvette DP, 4.159 seconds back at the finish.

While off the podium, Mazda Motorsports had its best outing to date in WeatherTech Championship competition. Tom Long led three laps and joined Joel Miller in finishing fourth in the No. 70 Castrol/ModSpace Mazda Prototype, one position ahead of Tristan Nunez and Jonathan Bomarito in the team’s No. 55 entry.


Overcoming a mid-race penalty with a late-race pass, the No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR entry of Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy crossed the finish line first at the BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach, the lone IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship street course of the year for the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class.

As the race neared its conclusion, Tommy Milner led in the No. 4 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R. With only a few minutes remaining, Frederic Makowiecki in the No. 912 Porsche made contact with the Corvette and both cars spun, allowing Tandy in the No. 911 to slip by for the victory.

“It was definitely the most eventful win that we’ve had,” said Tandy, regarding the ups and downs that the team experienced in the race. “Coming from things going badly, and very badly, to then bouncing back and finishing with a victory.”

For the first half of the race, it was a trio of white cars – the two Porsches and polesitter Bill Auberlen in the No. 25 BMW Team RLL IHG Rewards Club BMW M6 GTLM – who controlled the lead. However, penalties for each of those cars (the No. 25 serving a drive-thru for an incident on-track with a PC car; the No. 911 and No. 912 entries receiving stop-and-go penalties for speeding on pit road) turned the lead over to the pair of Corvettes near the midway point of the 100-minute race.

The No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE climbed to its first podium of the young season after qualifying eighth for the race. Giancarlo Fisichella found himself on the podium for the second consecutive year after the team completed the sprint race in third, while Toni Vilander was third in 2011.

The Ford GTs made their debut on at Long Beach, with the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT rebounding from a mechanical issue that resulted in a fire on-course during practice on Friday to finish fourth. The car, which was unable to qualify on Friday due to the damage, was driven by Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook.

Ganassi’s No. 66 Ford GT entry suffered a penalty for speeding on pit road during an early driver change, and Joey Hand and Dirk Muller brought the car home in eighth.

The No. 912 finished the race in seventh while Auberlen and Dirk Werner wound up fifth after their early penalty in the pole-sitting car.

With their second place finish in the race, Gavin and Milner unofficially increased their lead in the standings to 18 points over the four drivers in the No. 912 and No. 25, who are tied for second.


After opening 2016 by scoring the team’s first Prototype Challenge (PC) victory in the longest race of the season – the Rolex 24 At Daytona – Mikhail Goikhberg and Stephen Simpson dominated one of the shortest races of the season to return JDC/Miller Motorsports to victory lane in the No. 85 Hi-Tide Boat Lifts/Red Line Oil ORECA FLM09.

Goikhberg led the opening 36 laps before turning the car over to Simpson. Four laps later, Simpson passed Robert Alon in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA FLM09 to regain the lead and held on for the remainder of the event.

“From my point of view, this one was really done by JDC Miller Motorsports, Misha and I did the easy part,” Simpson said. “The team has really been working hard, not just this year, but last year as well. All credit goes to them. To win the BUBBA burger Grand Prix is just perfect. It was great today, and now we go on to Laguna Seca looking for another win. These wins are getting addicting.”

Renger van der Zande finished second in the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport ORECA FLM09 started by Alex Popow, 2.140 seconds behind at the finish. Starworks also fielded the No. 88 Popcorn Sutton entry of Mark Kvamme and Ashley Freiberg, which finished fifth.

On the final lap, Kyle Marcelli was attempting to get around van der Zande in Turn 8 when he tagged a tire barrier. Marcelli managed to continue, but his car suddenly snapped to the right and hit a barrier, badly damaging the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports entry. Marcelli was uninjured in the incident and joined James French, who started the race in the car and led three laps before his pit stop, on the podium following the event to receive a third-place trophy.

Castroneves Repeats as Grand Prix Pole Winner

LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 16, 2016) – Helio Castroneves continued his mastery of Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying by winning the Verizon P1 Award today, earning the pole position at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

The Team Penske driver, in his 19th Indy car season, collected his 47th career pole with a lap of 1 minute, 7.1246 seconds (105.547 mph) in Firestone Fast Six competition. It moved the 40-year-old Brazilian within two poles of third-place Bobby Unser in Indy car history as Castroneves led all four Team Penske entries qualifying in the top six for Sunday’s 80-lap race on the iconic 1.968-mile temporary street course.

For complete qualifying results, click here.

“We’ve been good all weekend long, we’ve been working together all weekend long,” Castroneves said. “I would say Team Penske probably had the upper hand. At the end of the day, the No. 3 (car) ended up in P1. They say it’s better to be lucky than good and we plan very well.”

The Firestone Fast Six session, the last of three knockout rounds of Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying, was interrupted by a red flag caused when Will Power went off course in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevy. Power, who had paced two of the three practice sessions leading to qualifying, lost his fastest two laps of the Fast Six by rule and was not permitted to finish the session. INDYCAR was able to restart the session to allow the remaining five cars a chance to post one timed lap.

It is the second straight Long Beach pole for Castroneves and third of his career on the circuit. Castroneves won from the pole at Long Beach in 2001.

The driver of the No. 3 Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet also has back-to-back poles in the 2016 season, following his top qualifying effort for the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix two weeks ago.

Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan joined the Penske quartet up front. Dixon, the reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion and 2015 Long Beach winner, notched his best qualifying effort in 10 tries at Long Beach, joining Castroneves on the front row with a lap of 1:07.4455 (105.045 mph) in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

“I’m stoked, considering how we started this weekend,” Dixon said. “We tried a totally different setup from last year. The cars have changed, especially aerodynamically, so we thought we might need some different things, but that wasn’t the case.

“Even this morning, we struggled a little bit. Some good old front wing (added) helped us today as we were able to carry the speed of the Target car through the corners,” added Dixon, whose lap in the second segment of qualifying came within two-hundredths of a second of Castroneves’ track record set in 2015. “We could have had (the pole) if the qualifying had carried through. We had the speed for pole, but front row is a good place to start and hopefully we can replicate the race from last year.”

Simon Pagenaud qualified third in the No. 22 PPG Automotive Finish Chevrolet (1:07.7410), Kanaan fourth in the No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet (1:07.7951), Juan Pablo Montoya fifth in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevy (1:07.9054) and Power sixth (no time due to the penalty).

“Will was definitely in a league of his own and he seems to be putting up phenomenal laps,” Castroneves said. “But in the end, you saw Dixon up there, you saw Kanaan up there, Juan Pablo, Simon. It was a mix but I’ll take it. Definitely, AAA of Southern California and the entire Chevy team did a phenomenal job. But, hey, it’s the right spot to start so let’s keep it.”

Sunday’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is the third of 16 races on the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule, as Indy cars race for the 33rd consecutive year on the streets of Long Beach. Coverage begins at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

Alfonso Ribeiro Wins 40th Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race!

Ribeiro takes the trophy in the last running at ‘The Beach,’ Max Papis and Rod Millen round out the Top 3.

LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 16, 2016) Alfonso Ribeiro won the 2016 Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, triumphing over the most accomplished field the annual charity racing event has ever seen. The roaring crowd witnessed the stunning performance by Ribeiro, who started the race in the 8th position and successfully avoided any collisions or walls to take the checkered flag.

Ribeiro, now a four-time Toyota Pro/Celebrity winner (1994, 1995 & 2015), is best-known for his role as ‘Carlton’ on “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” Ribeiro, who is the new host of “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” had the fastest lap of the day with a time of 1:42.102.

Ribeiro started in the middle of the field, but in just two laps passed seven drivers, including Dara Torres, 12-time Olympic Medalist, and Adam Carolla, comedian and radio personality, to secure the lead. Just as the race was beginning to heat up on the 1.97-mile street course in downtown Long Beach, yellow flags were thrown.

“I turned the corner and had about five hundredths of a thousandth of a millisecond to react, and there was nothing much I could do,” said Sean Patrick Flanery, actor best known for his role in “Boondock Saints.”

Flanery collided with two other cars when rounding turn eight, a pile-up that included Brett Davern, who plays ‘Jake Rosati’ on MTV’s “Awkward,” and Bob Carter, senior vice president of Automotive Operations for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A.

Davern, upon taking turn eight, had hit the tire barriers, and Carter who was right behind him, hit Davern’s rear quarter panel.

“I knew when I saw his car, and could read his name, that I was unfortunately going to hit him,” said Carter.

While pulling the damaged vehicles off the track under a local yellow flag, the field came around turn eight, and Flanery, looking to pass “Mad Max” Papis, former Champ Car driver, after the turn, ended up rear-ending Carter.

Race officials threw the red flag, stopping the race in order to clear the track of vehicles and debris, and ensure all drivers and track personnel were safe before continuing with the historical race.

Ribeiro, already having obtained the lead was pursued heavily by Papis, with Rod Millen, 5-time Toyota Pikes Peak Unlimited winner, riding his tail. This trio rounded out the top three finishers. Carolla, started and finished in fourth position.

“At the end of the day this is all about the children, ‘Racing For Kids’ is what it’s all about, and everyone here understands that,” said Carter.

Millen added, “I’m just happy to be here, and to race with all these awesome people, who are all champions.”

“The pace of this race was extremely fast and the drivers were very competitive at the start,” said President and CEO of the Grand Prix Association Jim Michaelian. “There was some exciting action in the field that had the fans on their feet, and we are glad everyone will walk away unscathed. Congratulations to Alfonso Ribeiro on his victory. A special thanks to all this year’s participants who helped make the final race exciting. All their enthusiasm is, ultimately, for a great cause, and the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race was proud to be able to make it happen one last time.”

Toyota will donate $5,000 to Racing for Kids in the name of each participant, for a total of $100,000, and an additional $5,000 to Fresh Start Surgical Gifts on behalf of Ribeiro. Fresh Start Surgical Gifts is a national nonprofit program benefiting infants, children and teens with physical deformities caused by birth defects, accidents, abuse or disease through the gift of reconstructive surgery.

The Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race is scheduled to be broadcast on CBS Sportsnet on May 8 at 6 PM ET, and will re-air numerous times. (Check your local listings for details)

Fans can follow the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Facebook at GrandPrixLB, Twitter @ToyotaGPLB (#TPCR40) and Instagram at ToyotaGPLB.








Alfonso Ribeiro




Max Papis




Rod Millen




Adam Carolla




Mike Skinner




Ken Gushi




Frankie Muniz




Jimmy Vasser




Ricky Schroder




Al Unser Jr.




Rutledge Wood




Dave Pasant




William Fichtner




Dara Torres




Doug Fregin




Brian Austin Green




Sean Patrick Flanery




Brett Davern




Bob Carter




Eddie Lawson