Alexander Rossi edges Scott Dixon in qualifying for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach
Alexander Rossi took pole position at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, edging out reigning series champion Scott Dixon who appeared to bail out on a faster lap at the end of the session.
For Rossi, it is a second consecutive pole at the Long Beach event, having won the event last year from the front row. The California native was pleased to go back-to-back, stating after qualifying that “this one is big, way harder than last year” and that he “wasn’t expecting it to be honest”.
Dixon had to settle for second after abandoning what looked like a quicker lap due to having made a mistake, but will still start on the front row in what looks like a strong PNC Bank Honda.
After last weeks qualifying session at Barber Motorsports Park saw no Penske cars in the Fast Six, this week was the opposite with all three making it through to the final qualifying segment.
Will Power will start third, to get his strong qualifying performances this year back on track, whilst team-mate Josef Newgarden continues his consistent start to the year with fourth spot on the grid.
The third Penske of Simon Pagenaud places fifth on the grid, with the Frenchman appearing to find some pace in the car after a slightly troubled beginning of the season.
Graham Rahal was aiming for redemption after showing strong pace at Barber last time out but retiring from that race with technical gremlins. He will be hoping his luck has changed this weekend, and sixth place is a strong start to the weekend.
The session saw plenty of drivers brush the wall of the tight street circuit, with Tony Kanaan bringing out the red flag in the first qualifying segment, burying his car in a tyre barrier after clipping the inside wall.
This meant several drivers, such as the Schmidt Peterson Motorsport pairing of James Hinchcliffe and Marcus Ericsson, didn’t get a chance to set a representative time on the faster red-walled Firestone tyres.
The other notable incident was rookie Felix Rosenqvist locking a front left over a bump, careening into the tyres whilst trying to make the escape road, and bringing the Fast 12 session to a premature end.
Not only did this mean the Swede was demoted to a starting position of twelfth, but drivers such as Ryan Hunter-Reay (7th), Takuma Sato (8th) and Patricio O’Ward (9th) didn’t get the chance to advance.
The race gets underway tomorrow, Sunday 14th April, at 1:30 pm Pacific.