Alexander Rossi’s formula for success was never more evident than in his decisive victory in Sunday’s 45thAcura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
It was the fourth time in his NTT IndyCar Series career that Rossi has started on the pole and won the race. It was the sixth win of his career, which began with the stunning victory in the 100thIndianapolis 500 as a rookie in 2016.
He became the first driver out of the last eight years to repeat as winner at Long Beach and became the first back-to-back Long Beach winner since Sebastien Bourdais won three-straight from 2005-2007 when it was in the Champ Car Series.
Four of Rossi’s six victories have come from the pole. Sunday’s win came by an incredible 20.2359 seconds over Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden.
“You never think (you’ll dominate like that),” Rossi said afterward. “We knew it was going to be a really hard-fought battle. The NAPA Auto Parts crew gave me such a great race car.
“This is the 200th win for Andretti Autosport, so what better way to do it than in that type of fashion here at Long Beach (and) here in California. It’s an amazing day.”
Rossi has led 151 laps at Long Beach over the past two years.
“I have a great car and a great crew behind me,” Rossi said. “I couldn’t do it without them, so hats off to them. This is a special one.”
The victory was not total jubilation, however, as Rossi learned that his grandfather, Donald Russell, had passed away on Saturday.
“I just found out my grandfather died yesterday, so I wanted to dedicate this (win) to him and obviously Michael (Andretti) for 200th win,” Rossi said.
The race was slowed for caution just one time, from Laps 1-3 after Marcus Ericsson, Spencer Pigot and Jack Harvey tangled in Turn 2.
After that, Rossi hit the throttle on the restart and never looked back. The only time he gave up the lead was when he made his two pit stops. He led 80 of the 90 laps in the race.
Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden and Will Power each led two laps. Takuma Sato led one lap and was the only other driver to lead a lap.
A huge throng estimated at close to 80,000 fans witnessed the race at Long Beach. One of those was former Champ Car Series owner Gerry Forsyth, who has not attending an IndyCar race since unification in 2008. Forsyth is the owner of the Long Beach Grand Prix but has refused to attend races since Champ Car folded in February 2008 and was absorbed by the old Indy Racing League.
Five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon was third followed by Graham Rahal in a disputed finish for that position. Rahal was ordered to give back the position by INDYCAR officials for blocking. Graham Rahal and his father, team owner Bobby, met with INDYCAR officials after the race to plead their case, but the decision was upheld.
Ryan Hunter-Reay rounded out the top five. Four of the top five cars, including the winner, were in Hondas. Newgarden was the only driver in a Chevrolet in the top-five.
Newgarden continues to lead the NTT IndyCar Series standings with 166. Rossi moved up to second with 138 followed by Dixon’s 133, Sato’s 116 and Hunter-Reay’s 96.
It was the 63rd Indy car victory for Andretti Autosport and its fourth win at Long Beach. It won in 2010 with Ryan Hunter-Reay and 2011 with Mike Conway and 2018 with Alexander Rossi.
It is the team’s 200th victory across all series it competes in – across NTT IndyCar Series, Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires, Indy Pro 2000 presented by Cooper Tires, Cooper Tires USF2000.
The complete results can be found below.
1. Alexander Rossi
2. Josef Newgarden
3. Scott Dixon
4. Graham Rahal
5. Ryan Hunter-Reay
6. Simon Pagenaud
7. Will Power
8. Takuma Sato
9. James Hinchcliffe
10. Felix Rosenqvist
11. Sebastien Bourdais
12. Patricio O'Ward
13. Marco Andretti
14. Max Chilton
15. Matheus Leist
16. Ed Jones
17. Zach Veach
18. Spencer Pigot
19. Tony Kanaan
20. Marcus Ericsson
21. Santino Ferrucci
22. Jack Harvey
23. Colton Herta
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