Reigning title holder Josef Newgarden now sits second in the points behind Rossi, four-time Champ Car title victor Sebastien Bourdais is fourth, Scott Dixon, Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay lie sixth, seventh and eighth respectively, Tony Kanaan is 11th, and Simon Pagenaud is mired in 16th after being eliminated from Long Beach by an opening lap accident.
Power, a two-time Toyota GP of Long Beach victor, kept pace with Rossi over the closing stint of the race, with liberal use of his push-to-pass boost, but couldn't close on the #27 vehicle and eventually finished just over one second adrift.
Ed Jones (#10 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) was one of the beneficiaries, using the track position gained during the caution to finish third, tying his career best.
For Rossi, the result was sweeter as Honda's global CEO Takahiro Hachigo was in Long Beach and went to the podium. The Australian started and finished second to Rossi and was the only driver to give the American any pressure during the eighty-five lap race. "It's a true privilege to be able to drive for them, and I'm glad we were able to put on an awesome show for him today". The 2016 Indianapolis 500 victor and veteran of five Formula One races hadn't won since Watkins Glen last year, but he had put his speedy Honda in position to win this year both in St. Petersburg - where he instead made late contact with rookie Robert Wickens - and again last weekend in Phoenix, where he finished third. "I mean, if you're going to hit the wish list, those are the three".
Rossi was a contestant on the most recent season of the CBS reality show The Amazing Race alongside fellow driver Conor Daly, who attended the race in Long Beach despite not now having an IndyCar ride.
The result also was encouraging for Power, the former series champion and 32-time race victor.
Power started and finished second in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, leading six laps.
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"I would say right now is the most competitive, talented group of drivers that the series has seen", he went on to say. "When you look at how Rossi has come on and the rookies that are here this year, guys like [Robert] Wickens and so on, it just gets harder and harder. His vehicle was really, really good". "That's pretty much all we had".
Rossi, in the No. 27 NAPA ATO PARTS Honda, led all but 14 of the 85 laps on the 1.986-mile, 11-turn course and crossed the finish line 1.2413 seconds ahead of Will Power.
Rossi was a contestant on the most recent season of the CBS reality show "The Amazing Race" alongside fellow driver Conor Daly, who attended the race in Long Beach despite not now having an IndyCar ride. Bourdais drove through and lost position, while Dixon later had to serve a drive-through penalty for taking a full pit stop.
The Long Beach street course is popular both for its friendly California atmosphere and the opportunities for remarkable racing created by its dimensions. Those opportunities were seized by many drivers - particularly Bourdais, who executed a jaw-dropping move to pass diagonally through three drivers. Rahal got a drive-through penalty.
Newgarden also set a race lap record midway through, turning a lap on the streets in 1:07.551. Rossi resumed the lead after Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay made their respective stops on Laps 30 and 31.
The final yellow came out on lap 72 when rookie Jordan King piled into the back of Sebastien Bourdais causing a four auto pileup that also included Ryan Hunter-Reay and Robert Wickens. Hunter-Reay fought his way back up to fifth, but got a puncture on contact with Jordan King.
The Indy cars will be back in action next Sunday, April 22, when the series shifts to Barber Motor Sports Park for the Honda GP of Alabama.
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