Rossi, Honda Rule at Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach
- Alexander Rossi dominates race for second consecutive Long Beach win
- Scott Dixon, Graham Rahal take battle for third to the checkers
- Third Honda NTT IndyCar Series victory in four races
LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 14, 2019) – Starting from the pole, Alexander Rossi fended off an early challenge from fellow Honda driver Scott Dixon and then took command of Sunday’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, dominating the 85-lap race and moving into second in the Drivers’ Championship points standings after four of 17 races.
Rossi led all but five laps of today’s 85-lap contest to score his second consecutive NTT IndyCar Series victory at Long Beach, becoming the first driver to successfully record back-to-back victories on the classic temporary street circuit since Alex Zanardi accomplished the feat in his Chip Ganassi Racing Honda in 1997-98. Today’s victory was the third for Honda in four races this season, and the 14th Honda win in 20 races at Long Beach.
Dixon continued in second place until the first round of pit stops, where he briefly dropped to fourth behind Josef Newgarden and Will Power, then moved to third when Power briefly slid off course on Lap 31. But an issue with the refueling probe during his final stop cost Dixon 18 seconds in pit lane, dropping him to fifth, behind both Graham Rahal and Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Dixon passed Hunter-Reay, who was having to save fuel in the closing laps after making an early final pit stop, for fourth place on Lap 81 and quickly closed on Rahal, who was slowing in the final laps due to tire wear. On the final lap, the pair made contact when Dixon attempted to pass while exiting Turn 8. Following the checkers, Rahal was issued a time penalty that reversed their finishing positions, awarding Dixon with third place and dropping Rahal to fourth.
Behind the leaders, Hunter-Reay conserved fuel to finish in fifth, with Takuma Sato, winner of last weekend’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, eighth. James Hinchcliffe, moving up from 15th on the starting grid, and rookie Felix Rosenqvist rounded out the top ten for Honda.
The NTT IndyCar Series now heads “home” to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for “Month of May” activities, including the May 11 Grand Prix of Indianapolis road course race and the May 26 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500. Both races will be broadcast live on NBC.
Social media content and video links from this weekend’s Honda IndyCar Series action at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach are available on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/HondaRacingHPD) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/HondaRacing_HPD) channels. Produced by the Carolinas Production Group, YouTube video packages can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/HondaRacingHPDTV.
Alexander Rossi (Andretti Autosport Honda) Started first, finished first, first IndyCar Series win of 2019, sixth career victory, second consecutive Long Beach win, 200th win for Andretti Autosport: “We knew it was going to be a hard-fought battle, but the team gave me such a great, great car and it’s the 200th win for Andretti Autosport, so what better way than to do it in that [dominating] kind of fashion, here at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, here in California. It’s an amazing day. This is a special one. I just found out that my grandfather died yesterday, so I want to dedicate this [victory] to him, and to Michael Andretti for his 200th win.”
Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) Started second, finished third: “It was unfortunate. Graham [Rahal] overshot Turn 8 and then quickly tried to turn in reaction. The rules don’t allow you to come back across or defend if somebody’s already there, and that’s what happened. We made contact coming out of [Turn 8], I hit his rear tire and lost momentum as a result. I think, had he not reacted there, I would’ve gotten him anyway. But that’s racing. It’s hard racing. We were strong the last stint. Congratulations to [Alexander] Rossi, that was a fantastic drive.”
Graham Rahal (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing) Started sixth, finished fourth following a time penalty from Race Control: “It’s not that tough to swallow, we were going to lose the spot [to Scott Dixon] anyway. My fronts [tires] were absolutely gone. I had no braking grip whatsoever. I moved right as quick as I could out of the [Turn 8] corner and gave him a lane [on the left]. By the rules, you’re allowed to make one move, which I did on the exit of the corner, and that was it. We’ll have to discuss it [with race officials]. I’m not upset about it. Our car wasn’t great today, but it was decent. At the end of the day, P-4, it was a good day, good [championship] points for us. We haven’t had a lot of luck this year, so we’ll just take it as it is and move on.”
Steve Eriksen (Vice President and COO, Honda Performance Development) on today’s race win at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach: “What a great way to kick off the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, with a dominating performance from Alexander [Rossi] and Andretti Autosport in front of so many Honda and Acura fans. Four of the top five drivers were in Hondas, representing three different teams, and we’re very pleased to have powered Andretti Autosport to their 200th race win. With great drives today from Rossi, [Scott] Dixon and [Graham] Rahal, I believe this sets us up for a great Month of May in Indianapolis, so we’re really looking forward to both the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and, of course, the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500.”