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Rossi blows away rivals to clinch second straight Long Beach crown

AFP logoAFP 4/14/2019 afp.com
a man in a blue uniform: Andretti Autosport driver Alexander Rossi claimed consecutive titles at the Grand Prix of Long Beach by leading the IndyCar race for 80 of 85 laps © Jared C. Tilton Andretti Autosport driver Alexander Rossi claimed consecutive titles at the Grand Prix of Long Beach by leading the IndyCar race for 80 of 85 laps

Alexander Rossi won his second straight Grand Prix of Long Beach race on Sunday, dominating from the pole position for his first IndyCar victory of 2019.

Rossi led 80 of 85 laps on the twisting 1.97 mile, 11-turn circuit and claimed victory by a massive 20 seconds to finish well ahead of Team Penske runner-up Josef Newgarden.

Scott Dixon was awarded third place after a controversial last lap in which officials ruled Graham Rahal blocked him. Rahal was awarded fourth place and Ryan Hunter-Reay was fifth.

Newgarden twice held the lead but just briefly during green-flag pit stop cycles.

American Rossi said he dedicated the victory to his grandfather who passed away on the weekend.

"I just found out my grandfather died yesterday. I want to dedicate it to him," said Rossi, who recorded the largest margin of victory at Long Beach since Al Unser beat Scott Pruett by more than 23 seconds in 1995. "I have a great car and a great crew behind me. Couldn't do it without them."

Rossi dominant display gave Andretti Autosport owner Michael Andretti his 200th win.

Rossi becomes the first back-to-back winner in Long Beach since Sebastien Bourdais claimed three straight crowns beginning in 2005.

He also became the eighth person to win multiple races at the California circuit, joining Mike Conway, Will Power, Bourdais, Alex Zanardi, Unser, Mario Andretti and Paul Tracy.

Rahal said he did not agrees with the judges' decision to slap him with a penalty for blocking on the final lap. It is Dixon's third podium finish at Long Beach.

"Did I block? Yes, I blocked," he said. "You are allowed to block in this series."

The IndyCar series now heads to Indianapolis for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 11.

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