Theo Pourchaire

Theo Pourchaire became the latest ex-Formula 2 driver to make his NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut, turning his first laps Friday at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Frenchman Pourchaire hopped into the No. 6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet for his maiden practice session on the sun-drenched, 11-turn, 1.968-mile Long Beach street circuit, ending up 21st among the 27 drivers with a best lap of 1 minute, 8.2857 seconds.

“It’s incredible,” Pourchaire said about the car after 35 practice laps. “I’m super happy to be back driving. The car felt great. The track is really bumpy. It’s really hard physically, as well. I feel like tomorrow is going to be a better day again because I'm learning quick. I'm happy the team is helping me a lot. Super happy.”

The 20-year-old driver from Grasse, France is serving as a test and reserve driver for the Stake F1 Team while also competing in Super Formula in Japan. But this weekend he is replacing David Malukas, who continues to recover from left wrist surgery to repair injuries suffered in February in a mountain biking accident.

Callum Ilott filled in for Malukas in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding, The Thermal Club $1 Million Challenge and last week’s Indianapolis 500 Open Test. Due to a clash with a commitment to his full-time drive in the FIA World Endurance Championship, Ilott couldn’t be in the car at Long Beach.

That opened the door for Pourchaire, who ironically competed two rounds in the 2020 F2 Championship against Ilott. Joining Ilott and Pourchaire in F2 that season was Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Armstrong and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Christian Lundgaard.

A year later, Pourchaire and Lundgaard were teammates in F2 with ART Grand Prix. Pourchaire, Lundgaard and Armstrong will compete against each other in Sunday’s 85-lap race.

Pourchaire said he talked to Lundgaard ahead of this weekend’s race about what to expect.

“He told me the car is close to Formula 2 because there is no power steering,” Pourchaire said. “It's closer to F2 than it is what F1. It's a lot more powerful, of course, compared to Formula 2.”

Armstrong won last year’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie Of the Year award while Lundgaard won his first career NTT P1 Award and race last in the Honda Indy Toronto last July. Both have strong futures in the United States.

Can Pourchaire?

“Of course, also Formula One is a dream for everybody,” he said. “I'm really, really happy to be driving in INDYCAR.”

While a race win Sunday would be a massive feat, Pourchaire said learning is his focus.

“It’s for sure going to be a tough task to great result,” he said. “I just want to get used to everything. It’s an amazing opportunity. I just want to help the team, as well, scoring points. I'm a new driver also for them, so maybe I can help them for the car setup. It can be good for them, as well.

“I will try just to get used to everything, learn the car, the track. It will be helpful for the future.”

Stewart Soaks Up Long Beach, INDYCAR SERIES

Three-time Formula One champion Sir Jackie Stewart was at the track Friday, a night after being honored by the Road Racing Drivers Club over which Bobby Rahal presides.

1966 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Stewart, 84, never raced at Long Beach, having retired three years prior to the first F1 race in 1976. He doesn’t visit the U.S. often these days, but he was at The Masters last week and figured, “I was so close I could come over and see some good racing.”

Stewart also caught up with Scottish protégé Dario Franchitti, who drove for the team owned and managed by Stewart’s son, Paul, early in his career. Stewart joked that Franchitti “was a young puppy” when they first connected. Franchitti is a special advisor to Chip Ganassi Racing.

Chip Ganassi Racing Celebrates Earth Month

Chip Ganassi Racing is celebrating Earth Month by announcing a new sustainability platform, “One Team, One Planet,” that will advance current ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) efforts throughout the organization and beyond. Under three main pillars, CGR’s sustainability goals included 100% renewable energy, zero waste, carbon emissions reduction and community engagement.

One Team, One Planet focuses on three major pillars: In the community near the team’s facilities in Indianapolis and Pittsburgh; in race markets where CGR competes; and with vendors in the team’s supply chain.

McLaren Celebrates 50th Anniversary of First ‘500’ Win

McLaren Racing celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first Indianapolis 500 victory with a historic revival of the winning car at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. Johnny Rutherford made history in 1974 as McLaren Racing’s first Indy 500 winner, driving the M16 victoriously across the Yard of Bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Fifty years later, the M16 was on site at Long Beach, driven by 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan in the Historic Motor Sports Association sessions across the event weekend.

“It’s an honor to drive the M16, knowing the meaning it has to McLaren Racing,” said Kanaan, who serves a sporting director for Arrow McLaren. “Johnny was one of the greatest racers in the sport, so to be able to share this experience with him is really cool. I would have made time for this no matter what.”

Rutherford, a three-time Indy 500 winner (1974, 1976 and 1980) and 24-time INDYCAR SERIES winner, was unable to be in Long Beach this weekend but will see the M16 return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May as the car will run once more in the historic session ahead of the Indy 500 on Sunday, May 26.

“This will be fantastic to see my car back on track this year,” Rutherford said. “It’s hard to believe it’s been 50 years; it feels like just yesterday I was celebrating that first win on the Yard of Bricks. I’m looking forward to being back in Indy in May and imagine it will be quite special to see the M16 cross the bricks again.”

Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix Poster Competition Winner Named

Celebrating the art culture and rich motorsports history in Detroit, College for Creative Studies (CCS) senior Alison Slackta won the 2024 Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear Official Poster Competition on April 17. Slackta’s street art-inspired design features vibrant colors to represent the excitement of the Grand Prix on the Streets of Detroit and the event’s connection with local community.

The final round of judging occurred at the CCS A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education in the heart of Detroit, where a distinguished group of judges selected the design created by Slackta. The winning artwork will be refined over the next few weeks before the official poster is unveiled on May 1. The 2024 commemorative poster will be available for purchase online at in advance of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear on May 31-June 2.

The 2024 design competition represents the 12th consecutive year that the Grand Prix and CCS have collaborated to give students at the esteemed Detroit art and design college the chance to create the official poster for the annual summer racing festival in the Motor City.

Featuring the cars of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Slackta’s design incorporates the high-performance machines that will compete on the downtown Detroit street circuit this June. The winning entry also includes the famed Spirit of Detroit monument, honoring the legacy of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear and the event’s enduring history.

Odds And Ends

  • Santino Ferrucci and AJ Foyt Racing were victorious in the Thursday Thunder Pit Stop Challenge. His No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing/Sexton Properties Chevrolet pit crew narrowly topped the No. 3 Odyssey Battery Team Penske Chevrolet pit crew in the final round to take home the $10,000 prize. In the opening round, Ferrucci’s crew beat Marcus Ericsson’s No. 28 Delaware Life Honda crew while McLaughlin’s crew knocked off Marcus Armstrong’s No. 11 Ridgeline Lubricants Chip Ganassi Racing Honda crew.
  • Juncos Hollinger Racing announced this week “Together with Juncos” or “Juntos con Juncos,” a Speedway, Indiana-based community day Friday, May 3 to kick off the Month of May. The NTT INDYCAR SERIES team has collaborated with the Town of Speedway Chamber of Commerce for the first-of-its-kind event hosted by a racing team in Speedway, bringing together enthusiasts and locals alike to celebrate the sport ahead of the 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500. The free-of-charge event will be open to all, featuring spotlights from local Speedway-based businesses, autograph sessions, and a meet-and-greet with Juncos Hollinger Racing drivers Agustin Canapino and Lindsay Brewer. Team merchandise will also be available for purchase, giving one fan the chance to win tickets to the Indy 500 on Sunday, May 26.
  • Rookie Christian Rasmussen delivered in his debut practice session at Long Beach, posting the ninth-quickest lap (1:07.2773) in the No. 20 Guy Care Chevrolet of Ed Carpenter Racing. 2023 INDY NXT by Firestone champion Rasmussen was the quickest of the six rookies in the field by more than one second.
  • Tom Blomqvist (No. 66 AutoNation/Arctic Wolf Honda) is one of six series rookies in this field, and while he has raced at Long Beach three times in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, this is his debut race here in an NTT INDYCAR SERIES machine. But he missed the first 20 minutes of Friday’s practice as the Meyer Shank Racing crew worked through a throttle sensor issue. He finished with the 24th-fastest lap (1:08.5840).
  • Defending race winner Kyle Kirkwood of Andretti Global did not get off to the best start, his No. 27 AutoNation Honda suffering through software issues both early and late in the Friday practice. But he still finished with the ninth-fastest lap of the session (1:07.2445).
  • NBC reported that 2013 Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge champion Kanaan might be tabbed by Arrow McLaren as the reserve driver for Kyle Larson at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May. To that end, Kanaan would need to get refresher laps in practice as he has not raced since last year’s “500.” But Kanaan could not be a relief driver as they are no longer allowed in the race.