Alexander Rossi capped off a nearly perfect race weekend with a win on the streets of Long Beach. Fastest in three of four practice sessions and also the pole winner, Rossi was primed for the podium in the 85-lap, 167.28 mile race.
Within 10 laps, Rossi was working on a 4.0 second gap on his closest competitor, Team Penske’s Will Power. While some action was taking place behind the two leaders, Rossi remained safely in front and on a clean two-stop strategy. Throughout the race yellows fell in the favor of the frontrunners and Rossi, and his restarts were dominate, leaving no question that he’d stay safe at the front of field.
"I think it (yellows) affected how much we could have won by, but no, it didn't change anything,” said Rossi. "I mean, we were fortunate that the yellows didn't come out at a bad time, and they had come out once we had already stopped or whatever. The only thing that it did was took away my gap that I had. But at the end of the day, that doesn't really matter; as long as you're still able to stay in the right position, it all kind of becomes irrelevant at that point.”
As the race wore on, Rossi continued to dominate with speed, clean pit stops, and excellent restarts, and stayed in the front while other drivers ran into issues behind. He won the race by easily fending off Power, who had nearby double the push-to-pass remaining in the closing moments. This is Rossi’s first win in 2017, and the first win since his dominate weekend at Watkins Glen International Raceway last year.
“I think the Watkins Glen car was pretty close to the car we had today, but man this Andretti Autosport team and the NAPA Know How crew was just awesome. It’s unbelievable to win at Long Beach,” said Rossi. "I can’t really put into words how good the car was all weekend. I think we proved that and I’m just so glad we were able to capitalize and nothing crazy happened. It’s been a great weekend all around -- we announced Crown Royal and the Wall of Gratitude and then we put the NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda in victory lane, getting the win that I think the Military To Motorsports car should have had last weekend in Phoenix. On top of it all, I got to win in my home state of California in front of all my family and friends. It’s a good feeling right now.”
The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is the third race on the calendar for the Verizon IndyCar Series. And this is the third podium in a row for Rossi, who finished third on both the streets of St Petersburg, FL, and the oval in Phoenix. He now leads the Championship by 22 points over Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden, who is last year’s reigning Champion.
"We came to Long Beach on a mission, and mission accomplished,” said Rob Edwards, Andretti Autosport COO and strategist for 27 team. "The 27 group gets stronger every week and Alex is driving at the top of his game. Looking to go back-to-back at Barber next weekend!”
Next weekend, the Verizon IndyCar Series travels to Barber Motorsports Park for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. The race will air on NBC Sports Network on Sunday, April 22, at 3:00PM ET.