Alexander Rossi put his NAPA Auto Parts Honda atop the NTT IndyCar Series field in an unrelenting qualifying procession which set the grid for this year’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Scott Dixon laid down a 1:06.7479 lap, vaulting his PNC Bank Honda to the top of the Firestone Fast Six, which featured all three Team Penske entries plus Honda drivers Rossi, Dixon and Graham Rahal.
Dixon, the lone Chip Ganassi Racing representative in the final qualifying round after a crash for Felix Rosenqvist in Round 2, was tracking more than two-tenths of a second faster on another flying lap but abandoned the effort at Turn 10 with half a minute remaining on the clock.
Moments before Dixon exited the racetrack and entered pit lane, Rossi exited the unique hairpin turn to begin a perfect flying lap that ultimately relegated Dixon to a disappointing second.
Rossi was through the hairpin again in 1:06.4811, securing back-to-back Long Beach poles and the first for Andretti Autosport since last year’s Sonoma Raceway finale.
Set to start first for his first time since the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio in July 2018, Rossi will have Dixon beside him as the field hurtles toward Turn 1 to begin the 85-lap fourth round of the season after the Ganassi leader equaled his best previous Long Beach start.
Will Power and Josef Newgarden will use an all-Penske second row as a potential springboard to success at the Southern California street circuit having come within 0.3937 and 0.4285 seconds of Rossi’s pole time in the Fast Six.
After coming together in the first turn at Long Beach last year, Simon Pagenaud and Graham Rahal qualified fifth and sixth and will take the green flag beside each other Sunday.
Ryan Hunter-Reay and Sebastien Bourdais were notable absences from the final round of qualifying and will start seventh and 14th, respectively. Hunter-Reay came one spot short of punching a ticket to the Fast Six while Bourdais was restricted by coming up short in Round 1.
A warm-up outing at 9 a.m. PDT Sunday will begin the fourth IndyCar race day of 2019. NBCSN’s live race telecast will open at 4 p.m. EDT, 42 minutes before the scheduled green flag time.