Sunday, April 15, 2018 7:30 pm
Alexander Rossi grabs 3rd career IndyCar win in Long Beach
GREG BEACHAM | Associated Press
LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Alexander Rossi pulled away after a late restart to win the Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, completing a dominant weekend by holding off Will Power for his third career IndyCar victory.
Rossi claimed the first win of his standout season from the pole, and the native Californian thrived amid the usual excitement on this beloved downtown street course just off the Pacific Ocean. Rossi led 71 of 85 laps in his Andretti Autosport Honda before taking charge on the restart with nine laps to go, pulling away from Power and moving into the IndyCar points lead after three races.
Ed Jones finished third, and Zach Veach was a career-best fourth. Graham Rahal was fifth after an opening-lap collision with Sebastien Pagenaud, who was knocked out of the 44th edition of the Long Beach race.
Rossi comfortably earned the second pole of his three-year IndyCar career during qualifying, and his pace was still there in the race. The 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner and veteran of five Formula One races hadn't won since Watkins Glen last year, but he had put his speedy Honda in position to win this year both in St. Petersburg — where he instead made late contact with rookie Robert Wickens — and again last weekend in Phoenix, where he finished third.
Rossi was a contestant on the most recent season of the CBS reality show "The Amazing Race" alongside fellow driver Conor Daly, who attended the race in Long Beach despite not currently having an IndyCar ride.
The result also was encouraging for Power, the former series champion and 32-time race winner. He had been off to a discouraging start to the season, with his Team Penske Chevrolet back in 14th in the points standings before his standout drive in Long Beach.
Defending series champion Josef Newgarden finished seventh, and defending Long Beach champion James Hinchcliffe was ninth.
Power took the lead when Rossi pitted on the 25th lap, but Rossi moved right back in front on the 32nd lap. Rossi opened a nine-second lead after the first cycle of pit stops, and he stayed in front even after a full-course caution erased the lead with 40 laps to go.
Rossi pitted again on the 56th lap, but got a break when Sebastien Bourdais and Dixon were penalized for entering a closed pit lane during a caution. Bourdais drove through and lost position, while Dixon later had to serve a drive-through penalty for taking a full pit stop.
The Long Beach street course is popular both for its friendly California atmosphere and the opportunities for remarkable racing created by its dimensions. Those opportunities were seized by many drivers — particularly Bourdais, who executed a jaw-dropping move to pass diagonally through three drivers.
Bourdais was ordered to give back the position to Dixon because he apparently used the pit lane to make his move, but Bourdais then caught and passed Dixon for second place again anyway. But Jordan King then spun Bourdais while curiously trying to pass on the hairpin turn, and the former champion finished 14th.
Newgarden also set a race lap record midway through, turning a lap on the streets in 1:07.551.
Pagenaud started third, but the Frenchman was spun and knocked out of the race on the first turn of the opening lap by Rahal, who braked far too late and tapped Pagenaud from the rear. Rahal got a drive-through penalty.
Ryan Hunter-Reay also had to come in early for a new nose after opening-lap contact with Scott Dixon. Hunter-Reay fought his way back up to fifth, but got a puncture on contact with Jordan King.