Rossi surges in third Long Beach practice

Image by Phillip Abbott/LAT

Rossi surges in third Long Beach practice

Alexander Rossi used his final lap to claim the top spot for the final IndyCar practice session ahead of qualifying for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Rossi knocked out a 1m07.0588s to bump then-leader Graham Rahal back to P2, but on a morning where the top 13 were covered by 0.5s, the order was decided as much by whose mistakes were the smallest as they were outright speed.

“There’s no margin for error,” said Rahal. “We’re going to be using all the road and then some in qualifying.”

The word of the day — maybe the word of the weekend so far — was “skittery”. Light brushes with the wall began to look almost routine as the morning ticked on, and several drivers needed to make use the escape roads to avoid setting their teams up for panicked rebuilds ahead of qualifying.

Honda retained its lockout of the top spots, with Scott Dixon and Ryan Hunter-Reay — both of whom had led the times early on — finishing up third and fourth fastest respectively, leaving Simon Pagenaud and Josef Newgarden as the fastest of the Chevy-powered drivers in P5 and P6.

“The car has been great,” said Pagenaud. “We’ve had good performance — not that you can see [over the opening races], but it’s there. So we’re creeping up on it. Really happy with the car this weekend; it’s just about putting it together I think we have a car for the Fast Six.”

UP NEXT: Qualifying, 3:10 p.m. ET