Alexander Rossi dominates to clinch victory in Long Beach
Andretti Autosport driver Alexander Rossi put on a dominant performance to claim his third IndyCar victory around the streets of Long Beach.
After clinching the Verizon P1 award on Saturday for putting the car on pole position by nearly half a second, Rossi was able to run a two-stop strategy in the race, running pace that his rivals could not match.
Despite being brought back into the field numerous times thanks to a handful of caution periods over the course of the 85 laps, the 2016 Indy 500 winner was able to pull away from the chasing pack with relative ease at every time of asking, even on the final restart where Will Power hounded the local driver right to the chequered flag.
Power was unable to overhaul Rossi in the final stages of the race, trying to put the former Formula 1 driver under pressure by trying to maximise what was left of his push to pass but could not keep up with the #27 NAPA tool cars.
Ed Jones secured his first road course IndyCar podium through driving a smooth and steady race after starting all the way back in 13th, in the final laps he was drawn into a tight battle with rookie Zach Veach, daring to go side-by-side at times despite the concrete walls at every corner.
Graham Rahal managed to bring home his Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan racing car home in fifth place, recovering from a drive-through penalty for contact with Simon Pagenaud on the opening lap of the race, the collision sent the Frenchman hurtling into the wall causing irreparable damage to the Penske car.
While Rossi was out front commanding the race, managing to lead 71 of the 85 laps. Other notable, more experienced drivers continued to make errors throughout the race, Sebastien Bourdais made a daring move into Turn 1 passing Scott Dixon, Spencer Pigot and then proceeded to dive up the inside of Mathius Leist at the last moment.
However, the Frenchman was deemed to have entered the pit exit lane during the move and was ordered by the stewards to give the place back to Dixon.
Dixon and Bourdais also got into further trouble after coming into the pit lane when it was closed after Zachary Claman De Melo hit the wall on lap 60, forcing the Kiwi driver to serve a drive-through penalty while Bourdais drove through without receiving service and no further penalty.
After a strong start to his rookie season, Robert Wickens started the race well, however, the Canadian fell eight laps down while the team had to try and fix what appeared to be a broken gearbox, so the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team used the rest of the race as a mini test session.
Britain's Jordan King spoiled Bourdais' race in the latter stages after going into the back of the St.Petersberg winner at the final hairpin on lap 72 leading to a partial blockage of the track. This incident came after the rookie came into the pits to try and re-bleed the brakes after complaints of a long brake pedal.
Rossi's win means he now leads the championship by 22 points from last season's champion Josef Newgarden going into the next race at Barber Motorsport Park just one week away on April 22.