Dominant Alexander Rossi cruises to Long Beach victory
Andretti Autosport's Alexander Rossi stormed to dominant victory at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach for the second successive year.
Rossi was able to fend off a stiff challenge from reigning IndyCar champion Scott Dixon on the opening lap as the Kiwi tried to pass around the outside of Turn 1. Dixon tried it a second time after a restart on Lap 5 and again couldn't make it stick.
Once those early moments had passed, Rossi was able to gap the field on a two-stop strategy and didn't look back as none of his rivals could find a way to keep up with the Californian driver in his #27 NAPA Auto Parts entry. He was able to take the victory with a margin of 20 seconds over second-placed Josef Newgarden.
The Team Penske driver made up places from his starting position of fourth and was able to hold off the attacks of Dixon, Graham Rahal and Ryan Hunter-Reay who followed in behind respectively to hold onto a second place finish.
Dixon was classified third at the end of the race after a last lap run-in with Rahal on the exit of Turn 8 where the Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan Racing driver locked up on entry and blocked Dixon on the exit.
Rahal beat Dixon over the finish line, but officials swapped their positions at the end of the race, deeming Rahal to have blocked in reaction to Dixon's attempt to pass on the back straight towards Turn 9.
The five-time series champion was left fighting for third after a long second pit stop due to a fuel filling issue and being held an extra few seconds, dropping him to fifth.
Hunter-Reay was fast all through the practice sessions and qualifying, but couldn't translate it into race trim and could only end the race in fifth place ahead of Penske's Simon Pagenaud. The pair touched on the opening lap into Turn 2 but both drivers escaped damage.
Will Power had to settle for a seventh-placed finish after a difficult afternoon; the Australian initially couldn't keep up with the leaders of Rossi and Dixon, but jumped his Ganassi rival through the first round of stops.
On lap 33, Power had an over-boost issue exiting the final Turn 11 hairpin and bogged down, allowing Dixon to get alongside and pass into Turn 1. Power out-braked himself and bailed out into the run-off to turn around and re-join the race, which cost him numerous places.
Winner at Barber Motorsports Park Takuma Sato finished in eighth while James Hinchcliffe took ninth spot.
Chip Ganassi's Felix Rosenqvist had made up places in the opening laps of the race from his 12th place starting position but was unable to progress any further, rounding out the top 10 as he took the chequered flag.
Colton Herta dropped out of the race on Lap 51 out of 85 after slamming into the outside wall of Turn 9 after getting a tank-slapper on, damaging the #88 Harding Steinbrenner car beyond repair.
There was also a strange opening lap collision involving Marcus Ericsson, Jack Harvey and Spencer Pigot where all three had collided at the Turn 2 and brought out the caution. Ericsson was given a drive-through penalty for his troubles.
IndyCar travels next to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the month of May where proceedings kick off with the Indy Grand Prix on May 11.