Alexander Rossi Dominates at Long Beach

When Alexander Rossi first joined the IndyCar series in 2016 it was obvious to the fans he would rather be in F1. After his first season and winning a little race called the Indianapolis 500 he seemed to be a bit more interested in staying in IndyCar. Now in his third season I think it is safe to say Alexander Rossi is thrilled to be running in the Verizon IndyCar Series. He has also won the hearts of the fans and many of us were thrilled to watch him dominate and win at Long Beach Sunday afternoon. I’m always the first to say I hate a Penske parade. I want lead changes and drama but I loved every minute of the race on Sunday and was thrilled that Rossi led so many laps before finally taking the twin checkered flags. Farther back in the field was where the drama was and that all made for a fun and interesting race.

The drama began in qualifying, nothing too major at first but then Ryan Hunter-Reay was penalized for not staying in the designated lane when leaving the pits. In the driver meeting they were very specifically told where the blend line was and where they could cross over to the race track. During qualifying RHR cut over early and was penalized and therefore did not advance to the fast six. Now Marco Andretti is often called a cry baby but that title should really belong to Hunter-Reay. It was very clear he cut over too soon. It was a mistake, it stinks, move on.

The middle of the car needs to pass over the orange line. It didn’t. Ok so it was qualifying and not the race but a rule is a rule and after the drama we had last year over this same issue you would think RHR would have admitted he goofed up and be thankful it was only during qualifying and not the race. The race didn’t go so well for him either although that was not his fault- cry over that but man up about your own mistake.

We didn’t have to wait long for more drama- Lap one Graham Rahal had his brakes lock up on him and rear ended Simon Pagenaud. Pagenaud spun but Rahal continued on. He had to serve a drive through penalty but worked his way back up to finish fifth. Sadly Pagenaud was out for the day.

Some cars were on a two pit strategy and some on a three pit strategy so that kept us wondering how things would play out. Robert Wickens had gearbox problems and Kyle Kaiser caused the second yellow when he slowed on the track. When the green came back out we were entertained once again. RHR had problems when he punctured his tire. Just not his day. Then Sebastien Bourdais made an incredible pass on lap 47. He passed Spenser Pigot, Scott Dixon and Matheus Leist. Unbelievable. Sadly he crossed over into the pit lane with his two right tires and had to give the position back to Scott Dixon. Ok. That was the right call although it was such a gutsy move I’d be tempted to look the other way if I was race control but rules are rules. The problem was by the time race control told Bourdais he had to give up his position he had pulled away from Dixon by several seconds. He had to slow down allow Dixon to catch up and pass him. Bourdais then passed Dixon again two turns later. However, that just allowed Rossi to build an even greater lead and Bourdais couldn’t recover. Bourdais and Dixon both would later pull into closed pits and effectively ended any chance either one had of winning.

The closed pits added to more of the drama. I see them kinda like a yellow light. You are approaching planning to go and suddenly the light changes or the pits close. You’ve already committed and turning back might not be impossible but also not easy or possible safe. How many times have you gone through a yellow as it turns red because you took half a second to decide which option was better. Stop or go. The way I saw it both Bourdais and Dixon were close enough to the pits and had already decided to pit. Bourdais drove through, Dixon was serviced and then had to drive through during green. Might need to review the best way to handle closed pits during a yellow.

At the end of the day it was an entertaining race and I was thrilled to watch Alexander Rossi win. He clearly dominated the race. Will Power finished second and while it looked for a bit like he might be gaining on Rossi he just didn’t have enough to really challenge. Ed Jones finished third. Very impressive.

Zach Veach also had a great day earning the fourth spot. He is one to watch.

Graham finished fifth and Marco Andretti after poor qualifying finished 6th. Perhaps if they can start from the front of the field he will finally win a race again. I hope so. Tony Kanaan finished 8th for AJ Foyt Racing. His second top ten I believe. That team still needs to improve but I’m seeing glimpses of what could be and I’m very hopeful AJ will be back in victory circle soon.

Less than a week till the IndyCars are Racing again. This time at Barber Motorsports Park. I love this time of year!

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Long Beach

  Race Notes

Finally watching live

Roger Penske to drive pace car at Indy

Conor Daly is becoming my favorite. Starting 13th. Not bad. Has some experience. 

Hate that Marco starts last. 

Hinch hopefully has a good weekend. 
Hubby bought a boat so I’m no longer live. 
Chilton- jumping curb. Race control finally says no. 

Lap 40- no yellows
Smart move for Dixon lap 52 pit when stuck in traffic. 

And just like that Dixon won the race. 

Pagenaud just in front of Dixon. Tires just on blend line coming off pit lane. Wow. Race control reviewing. Simon given a warning. Wow. Race winning move was actually a violation. Kinda sucks. 

Dixon told no penalty and Dixon is on it. The race is on!

Sato is 6th. Many push to pass left. Looking good. 
Rahal biggest mover. 

Sato passes TK. Cmon Sato!

Hinch so close to Power

New system would be no warnings. Mike Hull upset. 

Not a lot of passing so the line crossing played a huge role in Pagenauds win  

Sato 6 push to pass left. 

Montoya blocks Sato- I’m not a Montoya fan so yes he should be penalized. Regardless Sato proves to be a threat to Montoya. No action taken. 

Cmon Pagenaud 

Sweet!  

5th for Sato

Hinch in 8th, Daly-13th

Didn’t need another Penske win but glad for Pagenaud. 

Feel for Dixon but I know how this win is for Pagenaud after going winless last year. 

5th win for Pags continues to lead in championship 

I decided to leave my race notes in my post. I just jot down a few things during the race to help me write after.

 I was very excited to finally be watching a race live. The first two races we had commitments so I watched St. Pete on the DVR and listened live to Phoenix on IndyCar radio. Both were enjoyable but I prefer watching live. Then Long Beach turned out to be just a ho hum race until we get to the move Simon Pagenaud made cutting over the blend line. 

Helio Castrineves won the pole and Chevy’s dominated as we have seen in the past. The race got off clean except for a little bit of debris but I never heard or saw who damaged their bodywork so it must not have been too bad. The entire race stayed green and wasn’t very exciting. Max Chilton continually took a short cut, not going around a curb. I loved that. He found a shorter way- why didn’t everyone use it? Finally race control told him to stop but he had done it quite a few times. The race continued on without too much excitement. Well at least not in the race. Here at home I got a text from Steve saying he bought a boat. My husband usually does not just make big purchases on the spur of the moment so that was a surprise. I paused the tv and got some details. Looks like our summer just got a bit more exciting. 

I returned to the race. The leaders were being held up by race traffic and Dixon pitted. I thought for sure that was the race winning move and that we would see another win for Dixon. We probably would have too except that when Simon Pagenaud exited pit lane he crossed over the blend line placing himself in front of Scott Dixon and took over the race lead. The TV coverage immediately showed that Pagenaud made an error and would most likely be penalized. Early in the coverage it was explained that any car exiting pit lane must keep the right side tires from crossing the yellow line. Pagenaud was oh so close but the replay clearly shows all four tires crossing the line and it was a move that put him in the race lead. I can only imagine that Dixon was not overly aggressive because he assumed Pagenaud would be given a penalty and that the minimum penalty would be giving up the spot. That was what I thought anyway. Turns out Pagenaud was only given a warning and was able to keep the race lead. Once Dixon learned this you could see him push harder to get passed but was never able to and Simon Pagenaud won the race, his first win with Team Penske. 

I didn’t want a Penske win not did I want a second win for Dixon. I did want a new winner for the season so I guess I should be thankful for that. I always root for the smaller teams so while I am glad Simon finally won again I am also disappointed. Dixon winning two races in a row would have been a disappointment too. Of course regardless of the winner the biggest disappointment was the non call from Race Control. I understand a warning if a car went over the line but did not gain positions however that was not the case.  I don’t believe Pagenaud purposely cheated so I think a drive through would have been harsh but I did expect him to have to give up the position and let Scott Dixon pass. So I leave the race with mixed emotions. Glad Pagenaud won, yet disappointed in how it happened. I expected more from the new steward system. 

Let’s talk Honda’s. Clearly they are not the preferred engine/aero kit but Takuma Sato finished fifth and I swear he would have passed Montoya if we had a couple more laps. Loved seeing AJ Foyt racing having such a good weekend. Hinch did well too after two not so good races. As I said in my race notes- Conor Daly is becoming a favorite of mine. He started and finished 13th. I would have loved to see him in the top ten but he held his own and I’m looking forward to watching him improve as the season continues. 

Less than a week until the race at Barber.  Personally, I’m hoping it’s the week we see a team other than Penske or Ganassi win.