Los Angeles (AFP) – Pole-sitter Alexander Rossi, a former 2016 Indianapolis 500 and Formula One race winner, dominated Sunday’s Long Beach Grand Prix for his third career IndyCar triumph and the season points lead.
The 26-year-old American, whose only prior IndyCar road course win came last year at Watkins Glen, only trailed in refuel stops and held off Australian Will Power at the finish of the 85-lap feature on the streets of Long Beach.
“Man, I can’t put into words how good the car was all weekend,” Rossi said. “Our restarts were good all day. We managed the gap a bit but when the car is that good, I don’t have to work too hard.”
It was the sixth podium finish in the past nine races for Rossi, who seized a 22-point lead in the driver standings after three races before a crowd that included 60 friends and family in his home state.
“There’s a long way to go,” Rossi said. “But you can’t ask for a better start.”
Rossi, third in the season opener at St. Petersburg and at Phoenix, leads the points chase for the first time in his career with 126, 22 ahead of American Josef Newgarden with another US racer, Graham Rahal, third on 93.
Rossi’s Honda-powered Andretti surged ahead before keeping Power’s Chevrolet-powered car at bay over the final laps.
“That was absolutely driving as hard as I could go,” Power said.
Behind Power was United Arab Emirates racer Ed Jones, matching his third-place showing at last year’s Indy 500 as a career best.
“It’s great to be back on the podium,” Jones said. “Hopefully it’s the start of many.”
Fourth-place rookie Zach Veach had his best series showing in only his fifth IndyCar start.
“This feels like a win,” Veach said.