Josef Newgarden wins Long Beach Grand Prix

LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 09: NTT IndyCar Series driver Josef Newgarden takes practice laps at the 2022 Acura Grand Prix Of Long Beach on April 09, 2022 in Long Beach, California. (Photo by Greg Doherty/Getty Images)

American Josef Newgarden won Sunday's Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach IndyCar race, beating out Romain Grosjean of France after favorite and defending champion Colton Herta crashed into the wall on lap 56 of the 85-lap course.

Spain's Alex Palou finished third.

"I've been trying to win a race here for 11 years," Newgarden said moments after the race ended. "It feels so good to finally get it done."

The Valencia-raised Herta had the pole position Sunday and had won the last three NTT IndyCar Series races in California — the 2019 and 2021 editions of the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey and the 2021 Long Beach race. The series didn't race in California in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Herta led for the first 28 laps of Sunday's race and was third when he crashed.

"I just broke a little too late, got in there, locked the right front, and that's it," Herta told NBC Sports. "It's just a stupid mistake. We were definitely in that thing, running good there in third. It's unfortunate, I feel really bad."


Newgarden joined Herta in the front row of the 26-car field. The Nashville native also won the series' most-recent race, the XPEL 375, March 20 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, its first oval race of the season. Herta finished 12th in that race.

Palou started the Long Beach race in the third position and his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Felix Rosenqvist of Sweden was fourth.

Sunday's race finished under a caution flag after Takuma Sato of Japan hit the tire barriers in turn 8. Newgarden had passed Palou earlier for the lead, and fended off a challenge from Grosjean, who also passed Palou.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson raced Sunday despite suffering a broken bone on the outside of his right hand in a crash during practice Friday. He started 25th and crashed into a tire barrier with 10 laps to go.

The race traversed a 1.97-mile, 11-turn street circuit surrounding the Long Beach Convention Center and started at 12:45 p.m., broadcast live on NBC.

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The field consisted of drivers from 15 nations — eight from the United States, two each from Canada, England, New Zealand and Sweden, and one each from Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, France, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland.

All cars use fourth-generation NTT IndyCar Series chassis with universal IR-18 aerodynamic bodywork, Chevrolet or Honda engines and Firestone tires.

Herta won the pole by completing a lap in one minute, 5.3095 seconds, 108.48 mph, Saturday, breaking the previous record of 1:06.2254 set by Helio Castroneves in 2017.

Earlier Sunday, at the Grand Prix's second Historic IMSA GTP Challenge Race, Sebastien Bourdais and co-driver Renger van der Zande won for Cadillac Racing, which claimed the top two spots as Earl Bamber finished in second place.

Bourdais lightly hit the wall seven minutes into the 100-minute race while trying to lap a GTD class Porsche at the iconic hairpin of the Long Beach street course, but was able to make up the time.

"You kind of go into a bit of a trance when you try to pull off something that really shouldn't be possible," Bourdais said. "You're on fire because you're so mad at yourself. I guess I'm accustomed to stupid mistakes and trying to make up for that. Luckily, there wasn't much damage and I'm just glad we got the lead back."

Following the IndyCar race, the Grand Prix's second 30-minute SPEED/UTV Stadium Super Trucks race was set to begin at 3:30 p.m. The series for 600-horsepower V-8 engine trucks was founded by former IndyCar and NASCAR driver Robby Gordon, who finished second Saturday behind his 14-year-old son Max.

The Grand Prix will conclude with its second Porsche Carrera Cup race, scheduled for 4:20 p.m. Every car competing is identical, the road car- based Porsche 911 GT3. With no technical advantage between cars, driver talent, along with team mechanical skills and strategy, will decide the winner of the 40-minute race.

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