Alexander Rossi took a straight forward victory at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, California, the latest round of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series. The Andretti Autosport driver completed a nearly flawless weekend with a flawless drive to win today’s race.
Scott Dixon finished in 11th after being hit with a penalty.
“There’s not much to say really,” commented Dixon. “We got a penalty for entering the pits when it went yellow. It’s really tough to recover from that so late in the race, and when it drops you so far down the order. We had a really strong PNC Bank car today and it’s a shame we didn’t finish off what was looking to be a very strong day.”
Driving the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda, Rossi led all but 14 of the 85 laps on the renowned 1.986-mile, 11-turn temporary street course that’s hosted Indy car races for the last 35 years. The 26-year-old Californian crossed the finish line 1.2413 seconds ahead of Will Power at Rossi’s “second home race,” grabbing the championship lead in the process.
It was the third Verizon IndyCar Series win for Rossi, in his third season, and win No. 58 in the Indy car history of Andretti Autosport. Rossi is the third different driver to win in as many races this season and felt it made amends for last year, when he was running strong in the top three until a mechanical issue ended his race early.
“I can’t really put into words how good the car was all weekend,” Rossi said. “I think we proved that and I’m just so glad we were able to capitalize and nothing crazy happened.
“This one I’ll definitely remember for a very long time for a lot of different reasons.”
Rossi led three of the four practice sessions over the weekend and claimed the Verizon P1 Award in qualifying on Saturday. In the race, he zoomed to a lead of more than nine seconds by Lap 34 and only surrendered first place during cycles of pit stops as he stuck to a two-stop strategy. Rossi became the first pole sitter to win at Long Beach since Sebastien Bourdais in 2007.
Rossi has totaled 126 points in the first three races, 22 more than second-place Josef Newgarden, the reigning series champion who won the April 7 race at ISM Raceway and finished seventh today in the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet.
Power started and finished second in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, leading six laps. It was the 63rd career podium finish for the 37-year-old Australian, ranking him 16th on the all-time Indy car list.
Ed Jones of Chip Ganassi Racing finished a solid third in the No. 10 NTT DATA Honda, tying the career best that the second-year driver from Dubai accomplished at last year’s Indianapolis 500.
The race in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd in the Southern California port city was slowed by four full-course cautions. The last came on Lap 72 when Ed Carpenter Racing rookie Jordan King ran into the back of Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan’s Bourdais, winner of the season opener at St. Petersburg, Florida, in the Turn 11 hairpin.
Following a restart, Rossi kept Power at bay over the final 10 laps despite being at a disadvantage in push-to-pass time, which allows drivers to activate a boost of turbocharger pressure for additional horsepower.
“I needed to get close enough to him to make him use his,” Power said, “but I just stayed at that one-second gap, just kind of couldn’t make time on him enough to use (Rossi’s push-to-pass) up. But yeah, it was like qualifying every lap for both of us there at the end. At the end of the day, Rossi was just too fast all day.”
The Verizon IndyCar Series returns to action Sunday, April 22 with the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at the scenic Barber Motorsports Park road course in Birmingham, Alabama.
1. (1) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 85, Running
2. (2) Will Power, Chevrolet, 85, Running
3. (13) Ed Jones, Honda, 85, Running
4. (16) Zach Veach, Honda, 85, Running
5. (5) Graham Rahal, Honda, 85, Running
6. (20) Marco Andretti, Honda, 85, Running
7. (6) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 85, Running
8. (11) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 85, Running
9. (8) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 85, Running
10. (23) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 85, Running
11. (4) Scott Dixon, Honda, 85, Running
12. (17) Jack Harvey, Honda, 85, Running
13. (9) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 85, Running
14. (14) Matheus Leist, Chevrolet, 85, Running
15. (18) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 84, Running
16. (24) Kyle Kaiser, Chevrolet, 84, Running
17. (15) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 84, Running
18. (12) Jordan King, Chevrolet, 84, Running
19. (19) Gabby Chaves, Chevrolet, 83, Running
20. (7) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 81, Running
21. (22) Takuma Sato, Honda, 74, Running
22. (10) Robert Wickens, Honda, 73, Running
23. (21) Zachary Claman De Melo, Honda, 58, Contact
24. (3) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 0, Contact