Alexander Rossi dominant in winning second consecutive at Long Beach

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LONG BEACH, Fla. – Alexander Rossi won the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach from the pole position for the second consecutive year, dominating Sunday’s race from start to finish.

The Andretti Autosport driver scored his first victory of the 2019 season and sixth of his NTT IndyCar Series career in becoming the first back-to-back winner in Long Beach since Sebastien Bourdais won three straight from 2005-07 on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn circuit.

Rossi, a 27-year-old native of Nevada City, Calif., said it was the 200th win across all racing series (including IndyCar, Indy Lights, Global Rallycross and more) for team owner Michael Andretti.

“What better way to do it than in that kind of fashion in California,” Rossi told NBCSN after his first win since Pocono last August. “I have a great car and a great crew behind me. Couldn’t do it without them.

“I just found out that my grandfather died yesterday. I want to dedicate it to him.”

Josef Newgarden finished second. After a stewards’ review of a last-lap incident, Graham Rahal was ruled to have blocked Scott Dixon, who was awarded third place. Rahal finished fourth, followed by Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Rossi led 80 of 85 laps and won by more than 20 seconds while yielding the lead briefly twice during green-flag pit stop cycles.

It’s the largest margin of victory at Long Beach since Al Unser Jr. won by more than 23 seconds in 1995. That was aided by an incident-free race (a three-lap caution on Lap 1 was the only yellow), and Rossi’s impressive lap Saturday that put him on the pole.

“I know it was maybe not the most exciting race, but I can tell you for Alex he loved that boring race,” Andretti said. “He drove flawlessly all weekend. That lap he did qualifying I think was the difference as well. To be able to start on pole here is a big advantage. That was really the big difference.”

Said Rossi: “You cherish those days where you can just kind of go out there, not have too much stress. They’re hard to come by. Probably happens once every couple years. I love today. I definitely won’t get used to it, though. It’s certainly not something that is going to happen week in, week out.”

With the victory, Rossi moved ahead of Dixon into second in the championship standings, 28 points behind Newgarden, and he will be among the prohibitive favorites to become a repeat Indianapolis 500 winner next month.

“I think he’s a great driver,” Andretti said. “I think we saw in him from the moment he sat in one of our cars, we knew we had someone special here. He’s been great to have as a part of the team. He spends a lot of time at the race shop. He’s become a part of this team and a part of we call it a family. It’s been great. I hope he can be here for many, many years.

“What he’s done the last couple years is pretty amazing. He’s special. He really loves (Long Beach). He does really well around here.”

Rossi became the ninth driver to win multiple races at Long Beach, joining Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti, Al Unser Jr., Alex Zanardi, Paul Tracy, Sebastien Bourdais, Will Power and Mike Conway. He is the sixth to win the marquee event in consecutive years.

Click here for the complete results of the 45th Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

UP NEXT: The IndyCar circuit heads to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, the May 11 prelude to NBC’s debut broadcast of the Indianapolis 500 on May 26.

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.