Rossi, Honda Dominate on Streets of Long Beach
- Alexander Rossi scores commanding win, claims early-season championship lead
- Ed Jones comes from 13th to third, equals Indy car career-best result
- Honda builds Manufacturers’ Championship lead as drivers claim five of top-six finishing positions
LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 15, 2018) – Alexander Rossi scored a dominant victory Sunday for Honda at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, leading 71 of 85 laps and successfully fending off former series champion Will Power after a late-race caution bunched the field.
Starting from the pole, Rossi took his Andretti Autosport Honda into the lead at the green flag and remained in command throughout the 85-lap event, surrendering the lead only as the field cycled through various pit stop strategies. Although a late yellow flag bunched the field and eliminated his seven-second advantage, Rossi held off second-running Will Power over the final 10 laps, and built a 1.24-second lead at the checkers.
The victory, Rossi’s first of 2018 and third career Indy car triumph, moves him into the championship lead, with 126 points to 104 points for Josef Newgarden. Honda also increases the company’s lead in the IndyCar Manufacturers’ Championship, with an unofficial total of 263 points to 193 for rival Chevrolet.
Verizon IndyCar Series sophomore Ed Jones had his best race since joining the Chip Ganassi Racing organization for the 2018 season. Jones used a three-stop pit strategy to his best advantage, gaining track position and pulling away from the two-stopping Zach Veach to finish third. The result matched his career best to-date: a third place run as a rookie at last year’s Indianapolis 500.
In just his third race as an Indy car rookie, Veach had his best result to date – an impressive run that saw him hold off veteran Graham Rahal in the closing laps to finish fourth.
Rahal was another driver to make a three-stop strategy pay off, as he recovered from an early race penalty – for avoidable contact on the opening lap with Simon Pagenaud, to finish fifth. Marco Andretti made it five Honda drivers in the top six at the finish and had his best run in the still-young season.
Video recaps from this weekend’s Honda IndyCar Series action in Long Beach, as well as Acura Motorsports activity in yesterday’s IMSA sports car race, are available on the “Honda Racing/HPD” YouTube channel. Produced by the Carolinas Production Group, the video packages can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/HondaRacingHPDTV.
Today’s Grand Prix of Long Beach was the second of three consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series races in April. The string of back-to-back events concludes next week with the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on April 22.
Alexander Rossi (Andretti Autosport Honda) started 1st, finished 1st, first IndyCar Series victory of 2018, third career win: “Even though it’s not my true home race [Rossi hails from northern California], it really feels like one: the crowds here and just the whole atmosphere is so welcoming and inviting that it’s no surprise that this race has been on the calendar for so long. It’s a pleasure to be able to come here and race, first of all, and to be able to win here is pretty special. This one I’ll definitely remember for a very long time for a lot of different reasons, and I’m very glad that there were so many people here that were able to witness it.”
Ed Jones (Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) started 13th, finished 3rd: “Long Beach has been a great track for me in the past [winning in Indy Lights in 2016, finishing sixth as an Indy car rookie in 2017]. Great fans, great atmosphere. It is second to only the Indy 500 in my opinion. It was tough out there today. We had been struggling with the NTT DATA car on cold tires. Once we got heat in the tires the car was much better. I’m really pleased with the result, though. It’s just my third race with the [Ganassi] team and I was able to equal my best result in the Verizon IndyCar Series. I think this gives me and the team a lot of confidence heading into Barber next week and I can’t wait to see what the weekend holds.”
Art St. Cyr (President, Honda Performance Development) on today’s win, Honda’s 13th Long Beach victory in 19 events: “It’s days like this that we really appreciate the strength of our lineup from top to bottom. Even though several legitimate contenders were eliminated for various reasons, we still claimed five of the top six finishing positions. Congratulations to Alexander [Rossi] on an awesome performance today, and to Ed Jones for his best finish since last year’s Indianapolis 500. Zach Veach was another bright light for Honda, with a fourth-place finish in just his third race. Graham [Rahal] again showed his skill and tenacity once again to recover from his early penalty and finish fifth. We were thrilled to present Mr. [Takahiro] Hachigo with a victory in his first visit to Long Beach as global president of the Honda Motor Company.”