The annual visit to the streets of Long Beach for North America’s premier open-wheel championship took on a different look in 2019 with NTT sponsoring the series and Acura backing the event but the winner was the same as in 2018 with Alexander Rossi coming out on top.
- Results: 2019 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach
Following his start from the pole position, the Andretti Autosport pilot kept his No. 27 NAPA Auto Parts Honda at the head of the field for all but five of the race’s 80 laps, winning from the pole for his fourth time and collecting his sixth total IndyCar victory.
Starting first and finishing first just as he did at the Long Beach street circuit a year ago, Rossi joined Mario Andretti, Al Unser Jr., Alex Zanardi, Paul Tracy and Sebastien Bourdais in the group of back-to-back Long Beach winners.
Despite the unique length of Long Beach’s pit lane, Rossi maintained his lead during his second and final pit stop on Lap 56, ultimately beating Josef Newgarden to the checkered flag by 20.2359 seconds after more than 167 challenging miles under the California sun — the largest margin of victory since Unser Jr. beat Scott Pruett by 23.125 seconds in 1995, notably on a different track layout.
Rossi’s win is the 63rd for the Andretti team in IndyCar and 200th across all forms of motor sports, secured just up the road from Newgarden’s best finish in the event in his eight Long Beach starts.
A last-lap duel between reigning IndyCar champion Scott Dixon and sixth-place starter Graham Rahal went Dixon’s way after Race Control swapped their unofficial finishing positions, penalizing Rahal for blocking. Dixon crossed the line fourth but landed on the podium for his third time in 13 Long Beach visits.
Ryan Hunter-Reay missed out on the Firestone Fast Six in qualifying Saturday but turned his seventh-place start into a top-five finish, driving over the finish line his final time 3.7702 seconds after Dixon and 29.3447 seconds in arrears of Rossi.
Simon Pagenaud fell backward one position after starting fifth but a sixth-place result at Long Beach is the Team Penske driver’s best of 2019 after his finishes of seventh, 19th and ninth to start the year.
After points leader Newgarden in second and Pagenaud in sixth, the third Penske driver came home seventh following a trip into the Turn 1 runoff area early on for Will Power.
Takuma Sato, James Hinchcliffe and Chip Ganassi Racing rookie Felix Rosenqvist completed the top 10 with Rosenqvist finishing as the top rookie in his first Long Beach race.
The fourth race of 2019 was paused with only one full-course yellow, which took place on Lap 1 for an incident at the fountain turn involving Marcus Ericsson, Jack Harvey and Spencer Pigot. A second caution was avoided when Harding Steinbrenner Racing’s lone driver Colton Herta smacked the Turn 9 wall and nursed his Honda back to its pit box.
With the four-race stretch before Indianapolis complete, the NTT IndyCar Series heads home for the month of May, which begins May 11 with the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.