The IndyCar race in Long Beach can sometimes develop into pure survival due to many Safety Car periods, accidents and alternative pitstop strategies.
That wasn’t the case this year in the third round of the Verizon IndyCar Series was run on the street circuit.
Alexander Rossi had taken Pole Position ahead of Will Power, Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon. Championship leading Josef Newgarden was all the way back in 6th.
After three formation laps, the 24 car field was given the green flag.
There were troubles in Turn 1, when Simon Pagenaud was hit by Graham Rahal during the braking. That sent Pagenaud into the wall, which was the end to his race. Rahal got a drive-through for the incident, sending him to the back of the field.
Ryan Hunter-Reay hit Scott Dixon’s rear wheel going into Turn 1, so Hunter-Reay had to get a new front wing. Fortunately for Dixon, he didn’t get a puncture.
When the race was restarted on Lap 5, everybody got around nicely.
Josef Newgarden tried an early pitstop on Lap 16, to try and get on a different strategy compared to all the other drivers. So he went for a 3-stop strategy.
Ryan Hunter-Reay had worked his way into top 10 again, a quarter into the race, so he showed good speed in his Andretti Autosport car.
Robert Wickens had some technical issues, which mean that he had to rested the car in the pits during his first pitstop. That cost him some expensive seconds. The problem however didn’t get solved, so he had to pit again. The problems was down to his gearbox.
While all that happened, Alexander Rossi was totally dominating out front. He pitted after 26 laps, to get some new tires and a tank full of E85 racing fuel.
Will Power chose to stay on the track for a few extra laps, but that didn’t pay out compared to Rossi, who still had a big lead.
Power, Dixon and Bourdais chose to pit at the same time, and Dixon went past Power just by the width of a front wing.
So the new top 3 was Rossi, Dixon and Newgarden, who had just overtaken Power out on the track. Few laps later, Sebastien Bourdais also made it past Power, so he was all the way back in 6th, after starting the race as second.
Caution was out after 43 laps, when Kyle Kaiser ended up in the run-off area in Turn 1 and needed assistance to get the car restarted.
The race was restarted with 38 laps left, and Rossi got a huge gap to Dixon, since there was three lapped cars between them.
Ryan Hunter-Reay once again got into troubles, when he had a rear end issue. He made a small mistake in Turn 5, and was then gently hit by Jordan King, slicing his rear wheel, so he had to limp back to the pits with a puncture.
Sebastien Bourdais made a fantastic pass going into Turn One, where he didn’t just overtake Dixon but also Matheus Leist and Spencer Pigot in once great move. Even though Leist and Pigot was for a lap, they didn’t just pull off to the side, but Bourdais was on the absolute limit, only avoiding the concrete wall by a few centimetres. By that move, he made it into P2 and could start to hunt down Rossi out front.
However, the Race Stewards decided that Bourdais should hand the place back, since he had crossed the blue line, that marked the pit exit. But just when he had handed the place back, he overtook Dixon once again, making another great outbraking manoeuvre on Dixon, going into Turn 1, just to prove that it was possible to overtake him the right way.
With 26 laps left, the third Full Course Yellow was out. Zachery Claman DeMelo hit the wall in Turn 9, and was out on the spot.
Sebastien Bourdais and Scott Dixon tried to make it to the pits before the caution was out, but didn’t make it and therefore pitted in a closed pitlane. That cost both drivers a drive-through penalty, sending them out of the fight for the podium.
Jordan King fell out of the top too, since he had to pit for brake bleeding, since his pedal had gone soft. He managed to do that under the caution period too.
Alexander Rossi avoided all that drama out front, being able to control the field with 20 laps to go.
Will Power moved into second while Dixon’s teammate, Ed Jones, went into P3. Jones had Zach Veach all over his back, so he couldn’t just focus on the guys in front.
With 14 laps to go, there was a problem in Turn 11.
Sebastien Bourdais was turned around Jordan King, creating a pile up with Ryan Hunter-Reay and Robert Wickens being caught up too. That created the final caution period of the day, making all the field close up once again.
Ed Jones and Zach Veach battled each other going down the back straight, but Veach decided to pull out of that fight, instead of hitting the concrete wall in Turn 9.
Ryan Hunter-Reay ended his day by scraping the wall, so everything was knock out of alignment. That was the end to his miserable day.
Charlie Kimball and James Hinchcliffe had an intense fight for P9 and P10. The two drivers drove side by side several times down the straights, and challenged each other during the braking.
Rossi came under a lot of pressure from Power, when the latter had more Push-to-Pass left, and therefore a bit more power left in his engine. He couldn’t close the gap to Rossi, to make an actual overtaking attempt.
So Alexander Rossi took the third victory in the Verizon IndyCar Series, with Will Power and Ed Jones in the following positions. Zach Veach, Graham Rahal, Marco Andretti and Josef Newgarden made up the top 7.
Alexander Rossi leads the Championship ahead of Josef Newgarden and Graham Rahal, while the race cost dearly for Sebastien Bourdais, who dropped to 4th, right ahead of James Hinchcliffe and Scott Dixon.
The next round will be run in just one week time at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama.