OBSERVATIONS: Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach
Alexander Rossi is no stranger to the headlines in the NTT IndyCar Series, normally for making a dramatic move on-track that catches everyone off-guard. He certainly surprised the field on Sunday in California.
After winning the pole for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, the Andretti Autosport driver put on a clinic en route to winning for the second straight year in a row. Dominating is one thing, but it seems he took it to a whole new level as he was able to maintain an approximate 10 second advantage throughout the event.
For the rest of the field, the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach was like many street course events that we see. Some drivers made mistakes that cost them big time with the tight confines of the walls, while others found it tough to pass so making up track position was a challenge.
However, the couple battles that took place – combined with the layout producing moments, and it was more entertaining than your average street event.
There was also a lot of conversation following the event, but that was for a different reason.
When it comes down to the end of the event, you want to see your drivers battling as hard as they can for position – and that’s exactly what you had with Graham Rahal and Scott Dixon. Certainly there’s also a code of conduct to be followed with regards to the blocking rules, and IndyCar deemed Rahal’s move to be against the rule book.
The rule book states that you are not supposed to make a move to block another driver once they have changed lanes to try and get by you – basically, no movement in response to each other.
Rahal’s move wasn’t that, though. The lane change was a combination of being focused on avoiding wall contact after the lock-up, and performed prior to Dixon’s shift in the rearview mirror. Therefore, it should have been legal.
The sanctioning body has prided itself on having the best side-by-side open-wheel racing, something that has caused future drivers to want to make their way into the series. Though laying penalties as they did on Sunday does not help that image – as now there’s a black eye of controversy here.
Despite the frustration, Rahal should be applauded for the post-race interview that he gave. He showed poise with his words, while offering enough questions for both the series and fans to consider moving forward.
Scott Dixon should not have been part of the conversation with Rahal, though. However, fueling issues under his pit stop relegated him from running third to sixth, resulting in having to make a late-race comeback.
Mistakes certainly were a critical part of Sunday’s event, as Dixon wasn’t the on;y driver removed from competition as a result. Will Power should have been on the podium right alongside his Team Penske teammate Josef Newgarden after Team Penske’s strategy with the timing of their first pit stop.
However, the Australian ran into an “overboost” situation off of turn 11, throwing him off of his game, resulting in missing the first turn immediately.
Power has shown speed on several occasions this year, but the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach marks the third straight event that he has lost valuable ground and given up podium runs. As a result, he is now back to sixth in the standings ending the month of May.
The broadcast team also made a mistake, as well.
When Jack Harvey got an expected view of the mountain, NBCSN failed to produce a video showcasing the contact between the Michael Shank Racing driver and Marcus Ericsson. It was only made more embarrassing when the Swede was given a penalty for “avoidable contact.”
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