Kyle Kirkwood kept himself in the conversation from green flag to checkered flag to win Sunday’s (April 16) Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, the first win of his young NTT IndyCar Series career. Kirkwood’s Andretti Autosport teammate, Romain Grosjean, followed suit for his second consecutive runner-up result at Long Beach.
Kirkwood is the first race winner for Andretti Autosport since Alexander Rossi won the 2022 Gallagher Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, also driving the No. 27 Andretti Honda. The win also comes at the track where Kirkwood took his previous best career finish, coming in 10th at the 2022 running of the Acura Grand Prix.
“What a day; the calmest day I’ve had in two years!” Kirkwood told NBC’s Marty Snider after the race. “I was so happy with just the pole yesterday, but this is … I’m over the moon right now. Man, this is incredible for the whole team, for everyone … we had a stellar day as a team.”
Defending Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson chased the Andretti duo to the checkered flag after going on a late race charge to dispose of Newgarden in third place. Despite coming within a few car lengths of Grosjean in the closing laps, the Swede came home in third place for his third consecutive top-10 finish of the year.
Kirkwood led the race from the pole and maintained control for the first 22 laps. Following the first caution period of the day after Scott Dixon was planted in the wall, Agustin Canapino briefly assumed the race lead by staying out under caution, before he was cut off on the race restart as his teammate Callum Ilott rejoined the track from pit lane, directly in front of the Argentinian.
Josef Newgarden was able to wrestle the lead from Kirkwood in the ensuing chaos and maintained control of the race until Kirkwood retook the lead on pit strategy with 31 laps remaining. Grosjean likewise jumped Newgarden, who dropped like a rock and was running damage control for the rest of the day. The defending Long Beach winner finished the day in eighth place.
Contact with Helio Castroneves, who hit the wall and required a nose and front wing replacement on the first lap of the race, resulted in front-end damage for Canapino in the restart scramble, ultimately ending his day prematurely.
Dixon was made to settle for a last-place result (27th) after retiring on lap 38 due to a lack of oil pressure. Dixon had found himself parked in the turn 8 tire barrier on lap 20 after contact with Pato O’Ward, though his No. 9 Honda miraculously kept its front wing and was able to continue until the aforementioned oil pressure problem.
The six-time series champion was visibly upset following the incident, on top of having been aggravated by the disorganized nature of the race’s start – which he referred to as a “complete joke.” Dixon spared no words addressing the incident with O’Ward, which took him out of contention long before he was made to retire.
O’Ward’s day was undone shortly after Dixon’s when the young Mexican driver attempted an ambitious dive on Kirkwood the likes of which he had attempted on Dixon eight laps earlier. O’Ward suffered damage to his front wing in the incident and never properly recovered, being lapped by Kirkwood on lap 82 and coming home for a 17th-place finish.
The NTT IndyCar Series will take the green flag for the fourth round of the 2023 season on Sunday, April 30, for the Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix at Barber Motorsports Park. Coverage will begin at 3:00 p.m. ET on NBC.
About the author
Alex is the IndyCar Editor at Frontstretch, having initially joined as an entry-level contributor in 2021. He also Co-founded The Asia Cable, a publication focused on the international affairs and politics of the Asia-Pacific region, in 2023. With previous experience in China, Japan and Poland, Alex is particularly passionate about the international realm of motorsport and the politics that make the wheels turn - literally - behind the scenes.
A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.