LONG BEACH, California – Alexander Rossi one-upped himself at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, putting in an even more dominant performance than the year before to complete back-to-back wins at the pinnacle street-course race in the NTT IndyCar Series.
Driving the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda, Rossi led all but five of the 85 laps around the 1.968-mile temporary circuit. The Andretti Autosport driver crossed the finish line 20.2359 seconds ahead of Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden.
ACURA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH: Unofficial results
It earned Rossi the sixth win of an NTT IndyCar Series career that began in 2016. Four of those wins have come when the Californian started from the pole position, including on Sunday. Rossi, who led 71 of 85 laps in his 2018 Long Beach triumph, became the first to win back-to-back races on the circuit since Sebastien Bourdais from 2005-07. It was the largest margin of victory at Long Beach since Al Unser Jr. beat Scott Pruett by more than 23 seconds in 1995.
It also gave Andretti Autosport its 200th race win in all motorsports disciplines in which the team has competed since its 2003 inception. Sixty-three of those victories have come in Indy car competition.
By finishing second in the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, Newgarden retained the championship lead after the fourth of 17 races. With top-four finishes in every race this year, Newgarden unofficially has a 28-point advantage over Rossi heading into May’s races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway: the INDYCAR Grand Prix on May 11 and 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on May 26.
Reigning NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon crossed the finish line fourth behind Graham Rahal, but INDYCAR ruled Rahal guilty of blocking on the final lap. It gave the driver of the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda third place in the unofficial results and his third podium result at Long Beach.
The race saw just one full-course caution when the cars of Marcus Ericsson, Jack Harvey and Spencer Pigot made contact in the fountain area of Turns 2 and 3 on the opening lap. Ericsson was penalized for avoidable contact over the incident.
The focus of the NTT IndyCar Series shifts now to Indianapolis. An open test April 24 on the 2.5-mile oval will allow most teams and drivers scheduled to compete in the Indianapolis 500 valuable track time.
The race weekend for the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS road course is May 10-11, with the race airing live at 3 p.m. ET Saturday, May 11 on NBC. Indy 500 practice opens May 14, with qualifying on May 18-19 and “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” set for Sunday, May 26, airing live at 11 a.m. ET on NBC.