LONG BEACH, Calif. – When it comes to the streets of Long Beach, Alexander Rossi of Andretti Autosport is becoming “The Dominator”.
For the second year in a row, the Nevada City, Calif., driver started on the pole and blew away the field to win the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Rossi’s latest domination came in Sunday’s 45th edition of the historic race, as he led 80 of the 85 laps in the race and defeated Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden by a whopping 20.2359 seconds.
Sunday’s race featured the largest margin of victory in a Long Beach Indy car event since 1995, when Al Unser Jr. defeated Scott Pruett by 23.125 seconds in his last of six Long Beach triumphs.
“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.”
It was the fourth time in his NTT IndyCar Series career that Rossi has started on the pole and won the race, as well as the sixth win of his career, which began with his stunning victory in the 100th Indianapolis 500 as a rookie in 2016.
Rossi became the first driver in the last eight years to repeat as a winner at Long Beach and became the first back-to-back Long Beach Grand Prix winner since Sebastien Bourdais won three-straight from 2005-07, in the days of the old Champ Car World Series.
He becomes the sixth driver to win at Long Beach in consecutive years, joining Mario Andretti, Unser, Alex Zanardi, Paul Tracy and Bourdais.
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 his 200th win,” Rossi said.
The race was slowed for caution just one time, after Marcus Ericsson, Spencer Pigot and Jack Harvey tangled in turn two on the opening lap.
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.
Newgarden and Will Power each led two laps. Takuma Sato led one lap and was the only other driver to lead on Sunday.
Five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon was third, followed by Graham Rahal in a disputed finish for the final podium position. Rahal was ordered to give back the position by IndyCar officials for blocking on the final lap.
Rahal and his father, team owner Bobby Rahal, 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 to finish in the top five.
Newgarden continues to lead the NTT IndyCar Series standings with 166 points, but Rossi moved up to second, 28 back by virtue of his win on Sunday.
Statistically speaking, Sunday was the 63rd Indy car victory for Andretti Autosport and the team’s fourth win at Long Beach. It won in 2010 with Ryan Hunter-Reay and 2011 with Mike Conway, prior to Rossi’s wins the last two years.
Perhaps more importantly, however, Sunday was the team’s 200th victory across all series it competes in – including wins in IndyCar, Indy Lights, Pro Mazda/Indy Pro 2000, USF2000, Global Rallycross, Americas Rallycross, the FIA Formula E Championship, the American Le Mans Series and IMSA through the years.
1. (1) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 85, Running
2. (4) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 85, Running
3. (2) Scott Dixon, Honda, 85, Running
4. (6) Graham Rahal, Honda, 85, Running
5. (7) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 85, Running
6. (5) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 85, Running
7. (3) Will Power, Chevrolet, 85, Running
8. (8) Takuma Sato, Honda, 85, Running
9. (15) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 85, Running
10. (12) Felix Rosenqvist, Honda, 85, Running
11. (14) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 85, Running
12. (9) Patricio O’Ward, Chevrolet, 84, Running
13. (11) Marco Andretti, Honda, 84, Running
14. (16) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 84, Running
15. (20) Matheus Leist, Chevrolet, 84, Running
16. (17) Ed Jones, Chevrolet, 84, Running
17. (22) Zach Veach, Honda, 84, Running
18. (23) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 84, Running
19. (21) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 83, Running
20. (19) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 83, Running
21. (13) Santino Ferrucci, Honda, 83, Running
22. (18) Jack Harvey, Honda, 82, Running
23. (10) Colton Herta, Honda, 50, Contact