Kirkwood emerges with first IndyCar win at Long Beach

Kyle Kirkwood backed up his picture-perfect qualifying performance with a quintessential performance to take his maiden NTT IndyCar Series win at Long Beach.

The IndyCar sophomore dominated the 85 Lap contest and spent 53 lap out in front of the field. He kept Marcus Ericsson at bay throughout the race’s opening stint.

Contact in Turn 8 between Scott Dixon and Pato O’Ward brought out the second yellow and forced the field down pit road for the first time. Kirkwood held his position while Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden scrambled ahead of Marcus Ericsson into second place with a lightning quick pitstop.

Agustin Canapino assumed the lead by staying out under the caution to lead the first laps of his IndyCar career. The action tightened up as Canapino clipped the wall in Turn 6 which caused Kirkwood to slow up and allow Newgarden slip into the lead.

The chaos continued behind them as Pato O’Ward spun in Turn 6 while fighting with Kirkwood for the second. O’Ward made slight contact with the tire barriers and continued in 14th place.

The lead see-sawed between the two Americans throughout the stint before the final pitstop round approached. Newgarden drew first blood on Lap 52 while Kirkwood assumed the lead. Kirkwood scorched the pavement to build up a cushion prior to his final stop.

Kirkwood’s Andretti Autosport crew nailed the pitstop and Kirkwood materialized comfortably in the lead ahead of teammate Romain Grosjean as Newgarden dropped to third. The lead stabilized as the battle heated up behind him as altering strategies forced drivers to wisely choose their moves.

Newgarden’s early stop proved to be his undoing as he relinquished first third to Marcus Ericsson on Lap 60 and soon to Colton Herta on Lap 66.

Kirkwood preserved the lead while he and Grosjean sifted through traffic and took the checkered flag .99 seconds ahead at the line.

Grosjean’s second place finish is his first in a year, having finished second to Newgarden in last year’s Long Beach contest. Marcus Ericsson rounded out the podium which propels him to the series points lead heading into Barber.

Colton Herta claims his first top five of the year in fourth place while Alex Palou rounded out the top five. Will Power, Felix Rosenqvist and Marcus Armstrong ended up all claimed their personal best finishes of the season by finished positions 6-8.

Newgarden faded to ninth just ahead of Team Penske teammate Scott McLaughlin.


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