LONG BEACH, Calif – NAPA just needs to be on Alexander Rossi’s car for every Verizon IndyCar Series race. They first sponsored him for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500. He’d win the prestigious race.
Then, last year on another historic track at Watkins Glen, Rossi was sponsored by NAPA and not only won his first career pole, he won the race as well.
Then, this weekend in Long Beach, he’s been strong. Oh yeah, NAPA is his sponsor too.
Rossi, was third in the opening practice session on Friday, only to back that up with being fastest in every session since. That includes qualifying.
Rossi, circled the 1.968-mile Southern California road course with a time of 1:06.553-seconds in his No. 27 Honda during the Firestone Fast Six, en route to his second career pole. With how last year’s race ended, the California native told me he’s out to get back what was his in 2017.
Will Power will join Rossi on the front row in his No. 12 Chevrolet. Power, turned a time of 1:06.905-seconds to earn a top three starting spot for the third time in as many races in 2018. Power’s teammate Simon Pagenaud will roll off third in his No. 22 Chevrolet on Sunday. The 2016 Long Beach winner turned a lap of 1:06.911-seconds in the Fast Six.
Scott Dixon (1:07.048-seconds) and Graham Rahal (1:07.125-seconds) will start fourth and fifth respectively, while defending series champion Josef Newgarden (1:07.192-seconds) rounded out the Fast Six.
Ryan Hunter-Reay felt that he was jobbed on his qualifying run, as he was penalized for improper pit exit. He narrowly missed the exit point, for what he called robbed him on a front row starting spot.
See, Hunter-Reay did narrowly turn too soon, and by narrowly, I mean inches. But, the Andretti Autosport driver says that the rule is made for the race, not qualifying, saying no one was coming and he didn’t impede anyone’s lap.
As a result, he was only allowed one flying lap and it wasn’t good enough. He will start seventh.
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Starting Lineup
Row 1: Alexander Rossi, Will Power
Row 2: Simon Pagenaud, Scott Dixon
Row 3: Graham Rahal, Josef Newgarden
Row 4: Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe
Row 5: Sebastien Bourdais, Robert Wickens R
Row 6: Tony Kanaan, Jordan King R
Row 7: Ed Jones, Matheus Leist R
Row 8: Max Chilton, Zach Veach R
Row 9: Jack Harvey R, Spencer Pigot
Row 10: Gabby Chaves, Marco Andretti
Row 11: Zachary Claman DeMelo R, Takuma Sato
Row 12: Charlie Kimball, Kyle Kaiser R