Play It Forward April 13-19: Life’s a beach again for IndyCar drivers, especially those who survived last year’s bangup

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

INDYCAR SERIES: 41st GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH
Details/TV: Start at the intersection of Ocean Boulevard and Shoreline Drive, Sunday at 1:30 p.m., NBCSN:
indexRemember how chippy things got a year ago? James Hinchcliffe was upset with his own Andretti teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay. Will Power tried to apologize to Simon Pagenaud, but he wouldn’t have any part of it. Scott Dixon infuriated Justin Wilson. And there was Mike Conway, who started 17th in the 23-car field and overcame an early broken wing to win the whole thing for the second time in four years. The Brit chased Dixon over the final few laps, then got the lead when Dixon stopped for fuel two laps to go. Conway then held off Power to win by 0.9005 seconds. “Second would have been good,” said Conway, “but this is awesome.” Hunter-Reay, who started on the pole and led for 51 laps, triggered a seven-car accident just 24 laps from the finish (see video above), one that Conway, a road- and street-course specialist, managed to avoid. Hunter-Reay was trying to pull around a slower Josef Newgarden on Turn 4 when the two collided. Hinchcliffe then ran into Newgarden. “At the end of the day, patience is a virtue and someone wasn’t very virtuous day, it was a rookie move,” said Hinchcliffe, who suffered a sprained left thumb. Said Hunter-Reay: “A lot of people say it’s my fault. I made the decision at that split second when he had some wheel spin to go for it, that’s the type of driver I am. I go for it.” Dixon took over at that point until he ran out of gas. He also made contact with Wilson, who accused Dixon of being “deliberate and blatant.” Pagenaud was furious with Power for making contact with him, saying: “I think we had a car to win and he pretty much ruined our race. We were friends until now. We won’t be going on vacation together, I guess.” Back in Long Beach for the third stop of this IndyCar Series season with five weeks to go for the Indianapolis 500, let’s see how many friendships are actually renewed.

THE BEST OF THE REST:

The Clippers have two more games — Monday vs. Denver at Staples Center (7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket) and Tuesday at Phoenix (7:30 p.m., TNT) — to determine whether they can actually take the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference before the playoffs begin on Saturday … The Lakers finish off trying to avoid a 60-loss season with a home-and-home against Sacramento (Monday on the road, 7 p.m., and Wednesday at home, 7:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet) …  The Dodgers have Seattle in town for the annual Jackie Robinson Day/MLB Civil Rights Game on Wednesday (7 p.m., SportsNet L.A.) … The U.S. national men’s team faces Mexico at the Alamodome in San Antonio (Wednesday, 6 p.m., Fox Sports 1) … And even if the Kings are disinterested in defending their Stanley Cup title, the Ducks go into the NHL playoffs as the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed and start against Winnipeg on Thursday (Honda Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket). More at this link.

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