Alexander Rossi (#27 Andretti Autosports NAPA Auto Parts Honda) capped a near flawless weekend by dominating Sunday's 44th running of the Verizon IndyCar Series Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. During the final nine-lap sprint to the finish, following the race's final caution, Power was running second with more push-to-pass available to him. Reigning title holder Josef Newgarden now sits second in the points behind Rossi, four-time Champ Car title victor Sebastien Bourdais is fourth, Scott Dixon, Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay lie sixth, seventh and eighth respectively, Tony Kanaan is 11th, and Simon Pagenaud is mired in 16th after being eliminated from Long Beach by an opening lap accident.
"When you look at what Rossi did this weekend... man, really, really, really strong". It's a pleasure to be able to come here and race.
Ed Jones of Chip Ganassi Racing finished third in the No. 10 NTT DATA Honda, tying the career best that the second-year driver accomplished in last year's Indianapolis 500. Even when we saw him at Phoenix, on the oval.
Rossi topped the speed charts in Friday's practice then claimed the pole in the 24-car field by posting the fastest time in all three of Saturday's knockout qualifying sessions.
Rossi doesn't have many victories yet, but they're all monsters: The 2016 Indianapolis 500 victor and veteran of five Formula One races also won at Watkins Glen late past year.
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 now having an IndyCar ride. Corrects Pagenaud's first name to Simon in third paragraph.
Alexander Rossi was quick to play down suggestions from Will Power that he is the person to beat in the fight for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. 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. Other notables included Marco Andretti in sixth, defending series champion Josef Newgarden in seventh and 2017 Long Beach race victor James Hinchcliffe in ninth.
"I think he's going to be tough to beat in the championship", Power said. And the common body kit was a really, really good idea.
Power took the lead when Rossi pitted on the 25th lap, but Rossi moved right back in front on the 32nd lap. Because the pits were closed, Bourdais could not take service in his pit but Dixon took service despite being behind Bourdais. Other notable, more experienced drivers continued to make errors throughout the race, Sebastian Bourdais made a daring move into Turn 1 passing Scott Dixon, Spencer Pigot and then proceeded to dive up the inside of Mathius Leist. Rahal got a drive-through penalty.
However, the Frenchman was deemed to have entered the pit exit lane during the move and was ordered by the stewards to give the place back to Dixon.
Newgarden didn't have his best race of the season, but he still set a Long Beach race lap record midway through, turning a lap on the streets in 1:07.551 - no small feat in this venerable event.
The final yellow came out on lap 72 when rookie Jordan King piled into the back of Sebastien Bourdais causing a four vehicle pileup that also included Ryan Hunter-Reay and Robert Wickens.
The Verizon IndyCar Series returns to action Sunday, April 22 with the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at the scenic Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.