An eventful Verizon IndyCar qualifying session at the Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach on Saturday resulted in Andretti Autosport driver Alexander Rossi taking the pole. It’s the second pole of his career, and a bit of redemption after he qualified in the Fast 6 last year but finished 19th because of a mechanical issue.
“It’s a big deal to win a pole anywhere— they’re hard to come by,” said Rossi, a Northern California native. “But this is a secondary home race for me. I have a lot of family here, and that’s nice to be able to have some performance for them.”
Rossi, 26, was more than three-tenths of a second quicker than the second qualifier Will Power, a two-time TGPLB winner.
“This is a special place,” Rossi said of Long Beach. “This track has been around for so long for a lot of reasons. The weather is hard to beat. The fans are amazing. The atmosphere, the vibe and the energy. We’ve already seen massive crowds, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see even more people tomorrow. This is for sure one of our flagship races, and we’re very proud to be able to come here.”
Power and Graham Rahal talked about how tight the 11-turn, 1.968-mile street course is and its slim margins for error.
“I brushed (the wall) a couple of times during qualifying,” Power said. “You have to push unbelievably hard. It’s like no other. I was on the limit.”
Rahal is making his best career start in Long Beach in fifth.
“There were several times I thought I was going to hit the fence,” Rahal said. “You’re giving everything you have, you’re hanging on for dear life and obviously around here there isn’t a whole lot of space. You hope that it sticks, and tomorrow you pull it back just a little bit.”
The 44th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is scheduled for 1:40 p.m. on Sunday, and will be broadcast live on NBCSports.
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Official Results – Fast 6
1. Alexander Rossi – 01:06.5528
2. Will Power – 01:06.9054
3. Simon Pagenaud – 01:06.9107
4. Scott Dixon – 01:07.0483
5. Graham Rahal – 01:07.1275
6. Josef Newharden – 01:07.1922