Rossi Dominates Long Beach qualifying to Earn Verizon P1 Award

LONG BEACH, California (Saturday, April 14, 2018) – Alexander Rossi wasn’t to be denied in his quest to claim the Verizon P1 Award in qualifying for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

The Andretti Autosport driver was fastest in all three rounds of knockout qualifications on the 11-turn, 1.968-mile temporary street course. He punctuated the effort by earning the pole position in the Firestone Fast Six with a lap of 1 minute, 6.5528 seconds (106.454 mph) in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda. It was the second pole position of Rossi’s three-year Verizon IndyCar Series career, following the one he earned last season at Watkins Glen International.

“Obviously, you go out every single session and believe that you have the best car and the best opportunity to do it,” said Rossi, who led two of the three practice sessions prior to qualifying. “We have been so strong; we were strong here last year. The NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda has been so fast. The team definitely executed some NAPA know-how today and we’re really happy to start from the best spot (on Sunday).”

TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH: Qualifying results

Rossi wound up more than three-tenths of a second quicker than anyone in the 24-car field. Two-time Long Beach race winner Will Power, in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, will start second after posting a lap of 1:06.9054 (105.893 mph) in the Firestone Fast Six. Power was vying for his fourth Long Beach pole but first since 2011.

“I felt like we had a really good car,” Power said. “Got to the Fast Six like we needed to and just were not fast enough basically to be on pole. But very happy to be on the front row. We’ve kind of crept up all weekend and definitely made the car better and in a good window now.”

Team Penske sent all three of its drivers into the Firestone Fast Six spots. Simon Pagenaud qualified third (1:06.9107, 105.884 mph) in the No. 22 DXC Technology Chevrolet and 2018 points leader Josef Newgarden sixth (1:07.1922, 105.441 mph) in the No. 1 Verizon Chevrolet.

Newgarden’s effort in the Firestone Fast Six was abbreviated when he brushed the wall exiting Turn 8 and sustained damage to the left rear suspension of his car.

“I just ran out of talent momentarily,” Newgarden said. “I probably got too greedy with too much slide on the entry (into the corner), so I just hit the wall, bent the toe (link) – and it was pretty bent – so I had to pit. I don’t know that we would’ve gotten the pole; it would’ve been tight.”

Scott Dixon qualified fourth in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda (1:07.0483, 105.667 mph). The Chip Ganassi Racing driver won the Long Beach race in 2015 but has never sat on the pole in 12 tries at the track.

Graham Rahal qualified fifth in the No. 15 Total Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (1:07.1275, 105.542 mph).

Ryan Hunter-Reay, one of Rossi’s Andretti Autosport teammates who also ran up front throughout practice, was penalized for an improper pit exit in Round 2 of qualifying and failed to advance to the Firestone Fast Six by five-hundredths of a second.

Hunter-Reay, in the No. 28 DHL Honda, was issued a pit-lane drive-through penalty for not keeping his left-side tires inside the pit exit line on the track – something stressed by INDYCAR during a team managers’ meeting on Friday.

“The DHL guys did a great job with the car and they deserve better,” Hunter-Reay said. “We had a front-row car here and we’re starting seventh. The drive-through penalty in qualifying isn’t something I really understand. Once we got issued that, we didn’t have time to warm up the tires and set a new fast lap.”

The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is hosting Indy cars for the 35th straight year. A final 30-minute warmup practice begins at noon ET Sunday and will stream live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com. The 85-lap race airs live on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network at 4 p.m. ET Sunday. It is the second of 17 races on the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule.

Actor/comedian Riggle to ride in Honda ‘Fastest Seat in Sports’

Actor, comedian, writer, producer and director Rob Riggle will lead the field at Sunday’srace as the passenger in Honda’s “Fastest Seat in Sports,” the two-seat Indy car driven by racing legend Mario Andretti. Riggle and Andretti will lead the parade lap prior to the start of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

In its ninth year, the “Fastest Seat in Sports” gives celebrities and notable influencers an opportunity to experience the thrill of a high-speed ride in a Honda-powered two-seat Indy car – with Andretti and Arie Luyendyk Jr. taking turns behind the wheel throughout the season.

Riggle’s fans can see him this fall in the upcoming comedy, “Night School,” with Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish, and hear him on his podcast, “Riggle’s Picks with Rob Riggle and Sarah Tiana.”

Andretti Autosport partners with Crown Royal Wall of Gratitude

Andretti Autosport is extending its mission to assist the military by partnering with the Crown Royal Wall of Gratitude that allows race fans to honor their heroes.

The initiative is part of Crown Royal’s “Live Generously and Life Will Treat You Royally” campaign. Fans of legal drinking age may submit names of their military heroes to crownyourhero.com. Crown Royal will select 31,680 names and have each engraved on a five-inch gold plaque in time for the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 27. If placed side by side, the plaques would equal the 2.5-mile distance of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval.

Andretti Autosport drivers Marco Andretti and Alexander Rossi placed the first two names on the Crown Royal Wall of Gratitude during a ceremony Friday at the racetrack.

“I’m just honored to do it. We’re lucky to have this platform through Crown Royal and we’re able to give the military the recognition they deserve,” said Andretti, driving the No. 98 U.S. Concrete/Curb Honda this weekend. “The timing’s great being Memorial Day (weekend), but they deserve (recognition) every day all year round. There’s a lot of eyes on us at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, so the most that we can do, that’s what we’re going to do.”

Andretti Autosport last year began its Military to Motorsports program, assisting veterans in locating jobs within the motorsports industry. Rossi drove No. 27 MilitaryToMotorsports.com Honda to a third-place finish on April 7 at ISM Raceway.

“I think the No. 1 thing is in the name and it’s ‘gratitude,'” said Rossi. “And something that’s very unique for us as racing drivers and teams is that we have a platform to reach a lot of people and that’s a very fortunate position to be in.

“Being able to take an opportunity to thank the men and women who have served and who are currently serving is a huge thing for us because, especially as we go into May and Memorial Day weekend in the biggest race in all of motorsports, there’s a lot of attention that goes on us for a lot of good things.”

Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach qualifying results

Click HERE to view and download the official qualifying results from the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

LONG BEACH, California – Qualifying Saturday for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 1.968-mile Streets of Long Beach circuit, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, engine, time and speed in mph in parentheses:

1. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 1:06.5528 (106.454)
2. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 1:06.9054 (105.893)
3. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 1:06.9107 (105.884)
4. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 1:07.0483 (105.667)
5. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 1:07.1275 (105.542)
6. (1) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 1:07.1922 (105.441)
7. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 1:07.1415 (105.520)
8. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 1:07.1899 (105.444)
9. (18) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 1:07.1943 (105.438)
10. (6) Robert Wickens, Honda, 1:07.2289 (105.383)
11. (14) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 1:07.3478 (105.197)
12. (20) Jordan King, Chevrolet, 1:07.6427 (104.739)
13. (10) Ed Jones, Honda, 1:08.3844 (103.603)
14. (4) Matheus Leist, Chevrolet, 1:08.1622 (103.940)
15. (59) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 1:08.7167 (103.102)
16. (26) Zach Veach, Honda, 1:08.1763 (103.919)
17. (60) Jack Harvey, Honda, 1:08.8207 (102.946)
18. (21) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 1:08.2739 (103.770)
19. (88) Gabby Chaves, Chevrolet, 1:08.8623 (102.884)
20. (98) Marco Andretti, Honda, 1:08.5294 (103.383)
21. (19) Zachary Claman De Melo, Honda, 1:09.1429 (102.466)
22. (30) Takuma Sato, Honda, 1:08.6340 (103.226)
23. (23) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 1:09.7481 (101.577)
24. (32) Kyle Kaiser, Chevrolet, No Time (No Speed)

Sources: Curt Cavin/


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