Alexander Rossi wins pole for Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach

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Alexander Rossi will start tomorrow’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach in P1 for the second consecutive year, as the California native looks to make it back-to-back victories from the pole on the famed street circuit.

The 2018 race winner set the fastest time in the Firestone Fast 6, with a time of 1 minute, 6.4811 seconds coming in his final lap of the session.

“I’m a little bit at loss for words, to be honest,” Rossi said following his pole run. “That was way harder than last year.  These NAPA Andretti Honda boys did such a good job. We had a tough Friday, and then the work we did overnight was awesome. To lead P3 and to go and do this against the most competitive field we’ve ever had is a huge testament to the team. This one’s big. I wasn’t expecting it to be honest”.

“I think we’ve had a good car, but we haven’t had the best car yet this year, so we knew coming here we had to execute. Josef [Newgarden] has a pretty big lead on us in the championship and he’s done an awesome job, so we needed to do a good job, so this is step one. We know how to win from pole here, so hopefully we can do so tomorrow”.

Watch the race on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN or at NBCSports.com or the NBC Sports app

Scott Dixon will start the race on the front row alongside Rossi, qualifying second with a time of 1 minute, 6.7479 seconds.

Team Penske drivers Will Power and Josef Newgarden will share the second row, qualifying third and fourth, respectively, with teammate Simon Pagenaud right behind them in the fifth position.

The exciting qualifying session had several on-track incidents as well. Group 1 qualifying ended under the red flag after Tony Kanaan ran into the tire barrier in turn 6. Kanaan will start tomorrow’s race from 21st.

James Hinchcliffe was unable to advance to the second round of qualifying as the red flag came out while he was on his fast lap. Hinchcliffe will start tomorrow’s race in 15th.

“It’s such a kick in the nuts,” Hinchcliffe told NBCSN. “That has such a huge affect on the championship”.

In round two of qualifying, Felix Rosenqvist was set to move into the Firestone Fast 6, but the rookie driver locked up the brakes and went straight into the tire barriers in turn 9 with seconds remaining.

The incident triggered a red flag, costing Rosenqvist his two fastest laps and sending him to a 12th-place starting position.

“That was a shame,” Rosenqvist told NBCSN. “I think we had a really good speed on the [Firestone] reds”.

Coverage of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach begins at 4 p.m. E.T. Sunday on NBCSN.

Full qualifying results

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Rinus VeeKay to drive for Ed Carpenter Racing in 2020

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Ed Carpenter Racing has signed 2019 Indy Lights runner-up Rinus VeeKay to drive the full 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, the team announced Wednesday.

VeeKay will drive the No. 21 Chevrolet previously occupied by Spencer Pigot.

“I’m so happy!” the 19-year-old driver from the Netherlands said in a press release. “It’s a dream come true and something we have worked extremely hard for over the last couple of years. To step up from USF2000 to the NTT IndyCar Series in three years is really special.”

In his maiden Indy Lights season this year, VeeKay collected six race victories and seven pole potions. VeeKay previously won the 2018 Indy Pro 2000 championship, and finished second in the 2017 USF2000 standings.

VeeKay’s success in the ladder series caught the attention of Carpenter, who gave VeeKay the opportunity to first test for the team at Portland International Raceway in August.

“I have been following Rinus’s path through the Road to Indy, especially the past two years,” Carpenter said. “It was clear to me that he deserves to be in an Indy car. After his first day in a car at Portland this past season, that feeling became even more apparent. His pace, feedback and demeanor inside the car was very impressive for such a young driver.”

As a driver, Carpenter will be VeeKay’s teammate during the five oval races in 2020, once again returning to the team’s No. 20 entry. An announcement on which driver will pilot the No. 20 on the road and street circuits will be made at a later time.

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