Rossi try­ing to make it 2 straight at Long Beach from pole

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Sports -

Alexan­der Rossi will try to win his sec­ond con­sec­u­tive race through the streets of Long Beach from the pole.

The de­fend­ing race win­ner snagged the top start­ing spot for Sun­day’s race as the qual­i­fy­ing ses­sion ended. He won from the pole last year. The An­dretti Au­tosport driver scored vic­to­ries in three of the four times he has started an Indy­Car race out front.

Scott Dixon qual­i­fied sec­ond-fastest Satur­day, his best start­ing po­si­tion at Long Beach, fol­lowed by the Team Penske trio Will Power, Josef New­gar­den and Si­mon Pa­ge­naud. Gra­ham Ra­hal was sixth for Ra­hal Let­ter­man Lani­gan Rac­ing.

The Fast Six qual­i­fy­ing was split evenly be­tween Honda and Chevro­let, but the Honda driv­ers rep­re­sented three teams, in­clud­ing Chip Ganassi Rac­ing.

The car owner was vis­i­bly up­set when Dixon’s rookie team­mate Felix Rosen­qvist crashed dur­ing the sec­ond round of qual­i­fy­ing. Rosen­qvist was sec­ond-fastest when he went off course into a tire bar­rier and the penalty for caus­ing a cau­tion was the loss of his two fastest qual­i­fy­ing laps.

The at­mos­phere is elec­tric at the 45th run­ning of Long Beach, sec­ond in pres­tige only to the In­di­anapo­lis 500 on the Indy­Car sched­ule, and the en­ergy around the event has cre­ated a spark through­out the field. The race is ex­pected to be com­pet­i­tive, the com­pe­ti­tion close, with at least half the field of 23 le­git­i­mate con­tenders to win.

The six driv­ers in the fi­nal qual­i­fy­ing ses­sion were sep­a­rated by less than a sec­ond, and ev­ery prac­tice ses­sion on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn clockwise tem­po­rary street course has been tight from top to bot­tom. That, Ra­hal said, con­trib­uted to the light and loose at­ti­tude among the driv­ers after qual­i­fy­ing.

“The com­pet­i­tive na­ture of this, like, it drives us all,” Ra­hal said. “You feel like if you’re in the top 10, you’ve been solid. Didn’t used to be that way, but ob­vi­ously, we’d all like to be on pole. It would be even bet­ter. But I think you re­ally have to feel a sense of like ac­com­plish­ment as a team. Mo­toGP: Six-time de­fend­ing race cham­pion Marc Mar­quez of Rep­sol Honda again seized the pole at the Mo­toGP Grand Prix of the Amer­i­cas ahead of Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi.

Mar­quez has never lost at the track in Austin, Texas, and will be an over­whelm­ing fa­vorite to win again as he chases a sixth sea­son cham­pi­onship in seven years.

The Span­ish rider eas­ily cap­tured pole de­spite a few wob­bly mo­ments on the long straight at the Cir­cuit of the Amer­i­cas. Sev­eral rid­ers have been com­plained about bumpy con­di­tions on the track that was built for For­mula One cars and hosted an Indy­Car race three weeks ago.

Du­cati’s Andrea Dovizioso trails Mar­quez by four points in the sea­son cham­pi­onship with a sea­son-open­ing win in Qatar and a third-place fin­ish in Ar­gentina. He'll start 13th on Sun­day.

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