Alexander Rossi dominant in winning second consecutive at Long Beach
LONG BEACH, Fla. – Alexander Rossi won the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach from the pole position for the second consecutive year, dominating Sunday’s race from start to finish.
The Andretti Autosport driver scored his first victory of the 2019 season and sixth of his NTT IndyCar Series career in becoming the first back-to-back winner in Long Beach since Sebastien Bourdais won three straight from 2005-07 on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn circuit.
Rossi, a 27-year-old native of Nevada City, Calif., said it was the 200th win across all racing series (including IndyCar, Indy Lights, Global Rallycross and more) for team owner Michael Andretti.
“What better way to do it than in that kind of fashion in California,” Rossi told NBCSN after his first win since Pocono last August. “I have a great car and a great crew behind me. Couldn’t do it without them.
“I just found out that my grandfather died yesterday. I want to dedicate it to him.”
Josef Newgarden finished second. After a stewards’ review of a last-lap incident, Graham Rahal was ruled to have blocked Scott Dixon, who was awarded third place. Rahal finished fourth, followed by Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Rossi led 80 of 85 laps and won by more than 20 seconds while yielding the lead briefly twice during green-flag pit stop cycles.
It’s the largest margin of victory at Long Beach since Al Unser Jr. won by more than 23 seconds in 1995. That was aided by an incident-free race (a three-lap caution on Lap 1 was the only yellow), and Rossi’s impressive lap Saturday that put him on the pole.
“I know it was maybe not the most exciting race, but I can tell you for Alex he loved that boring race,” Andretti said. “He drove flawlessly all weekend. That lap he did qualifying I think was the difference as well. To be able to start on pole here is a big advantage. That was really the big difference.”
Said Rossi: “You cherish those days where you can just kind of go out there, not have too much stress. They’re hard to come by. Probably happens once every couple years. I love today. I definitely won’t get used to it, though. It’s certainly not something that is going to happen week in, week out.”
With the victory, Rossi moved ahead of Dixon into second in the championship standings, 28 points behind Newgarden, and he will be among the prohibitive favorites to become a repeat Indianapolis 500 winner next month.
“I think he’s a great driver,” Andretti said. “I think we saw in him from the moment he sat in one of our cars, we knew we had someone special here. He’s been great to have as a part of the team. He spends a lot of time at the race shop. He’s become a part of this team and a part of we call it a family. It’s been great. I hope he can be here for many, many years.
“What he’s done the last couple years is pretty amazing. He’s special. He really loves (Long Beach). He does really well around here.”
Speechless. Lots of special things about today. Back-to-back @GPLongBeach wins with a badass @NAPAKnowHow crew & win #200 for @FollowAndretti. Thanks to @michaelandretti for the opportunity to drive for him. And big thank you to the fans...ONWARD TO #MAY.— Alexander Rossi (@AlexanderRossi) April 15, 2019
📸 x ignitemediaphoto pic.twitter.com/Q5sVtpklhx
Rossi became the ninth driver to win multiple races at Long Beach, joining Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti, Al Unser Jr., Alex Zanardi, Paul Tracy, Sebastien Bourdais, Will Power and Mike Conway. He is the sixth to win the marquee event in consecutive years.
UP NEXT: The IndyCar circuit heads to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, the May 11 prelude to NBC’s debut broadcast of the Indianapolis 500 on May 26.