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Prepare for a festival of fuel saving in sanctimoniously green California – but do fuel economy and racing really mix?
The word most commonly invoked in describing the Grand Prix of Long Beach is “atmosphere,” a catch-all term meant to capture the partying, sites and sounds of the decades old ocean side event. An atmospheric problem for IndyCar is that none of this translates very well to television. Still another is the typically dreadful racing there of late, which leaves fans looking a bit green around the gills.
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Now for the special prediction of the Grand Prix, which concerns that pesky Penske paradox. The PP reared its ugly head last year when Pags won a real snoozer, apart from some drama over a blown call from race control. Happily last year’s amphibian outrage won’t recur, and the winner will be somewhat less green.
In twin victories for middle aged people everywhere, Helio won the pole the last two years running after Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay (with the hyphen here to stay) claimed it in 2014. Notwithstanding, our pick is the hot-headed hot hand in street course quals, Will “Sour Grapes” Power. As predicted, he took pole in the season opener at St. Pete – seems like months ago, doesn’t it? – and will again at Long Beach. Power started P1 in 2011 before winning the next year. When it comes to starting up front, the dunderhead from downunder’s clearly no green horn.
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In a first in the history our predictions, first out of the race will be no one. Every single driver finished the race in 2016, as unexcitingly there were neither accidents nor retirements. We expect a similarly clean, green race this time around, that is if Chevy’s got their act together. The bowtie boys suffered all three of the mechanicals at St. Pete. A.J. was – as usual – hotter than the high end of the hockey stick. Speaking of whom . . .
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The biggest surprise of the race will be A.J. Foyt Racing’s Carlos Munoz. Victim of tough luck and retirement in that stinker of an opener, Munoz has shown ability on street courses before, even though it was in everyone’s ideal of environmentalism, Detroit.
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And now for the big reveal you’ve been eagerly anticipating. Race winner will be Scott “I got robbed last year” Dixon. Race control will make certain not to screw him again, if for no other reason than out of fear of another Twitter tirade from the sultry Emma. Scott last triumphed for Ganassi at the GP in 2015, his only win in the sandy environs, while Honda continues its early season dominance on the left coast. Just don’t expect the racing to be all that hot.
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