Andretti Autosport’s last win was earned in July with former driver Alexander Rossi in the No. 27 Honda, and after his breakthrough performance at the Acura Grand Prix at Long Beach, the car’s new pilot, Kyle Kirkwood, added to the entry’s legacy with a stellar performance that led the No. 27 to victory lane.
Andretti’s story wasn’t finished on Sunday as Romain Grosjean followed Kirkwood home in second and Colton Herta claimed fourth for the surging team. Michael Andretti was a vision of delight and contentment after his 2021 Indy Lights champion earned his maiden win, emulating the achievement of his boss from back in 1986.
“Oh, it’s huge. I know he’s going to remember this day for a long, long time. Well, forever, I think,” Andretti said of Kirkwood. “It’s always extra special to do it at places like here in Long Beach. It’s just a great event, great history, great fans. The fans are so into it. You just love doing well here.
“I won my first and very last race of my IndyCar career here. My dad I think won four times. He’s the only time an American won a Formula 1 (race) on American soil. There’s so many things we’ve been able to do here in Long Beach to make it that special for us.”
Andretti’s first IndyCar win was produced in his third full season and 36th race. Kirkwood reached the milestone just three races into his second season and 20th race in the series.
“Honestly, the way testing went and even the first couple races, he didn’t get the chance to show exactly what he had,” Andretti said of the 22-year-old from Florida. “But we knew it, seeing it in the data, what was going on that, yeah, I’m not surprised. When we saw the first, like I said, the testing, the first couple races, it’s going to come soon, right away, so…”
With a statement-making one-two-four finish in hand, Andretti Autosport sent a reminder of what the organization can do when the majority of its entries are operating at their full potential.
“Unbelievable,” Andretti added. “We needed this bad. The way we started off the year with really fast cars, not getting any results. It’s nice to get the results we did. One-two-four is not a bad day. This is going to really help, especially rolling into Indy in a few races. This always puts an extra bounce in everybody’s step. Yeah, we’re very excited about the rest of the year.”