"This was a very rewarding win".
"The crowds here, and just the whole atmosphere is so welcoming and inviting".
Once the race restarted on Lap 45, Scott Dixon restarted in second behind Rossi with Sebastien Bourdais behind him but the three-time Long Beach victor would find his way past Dixon while also overtaking the lapped vehicle of Spencer Pigot at the same time in a three-wide pass that came straight out of a video game.
Rossi's fast time of 1 minute, 6.5528 seconds (106.454 mph) around the twisting 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit was just over.3 second slower than last year's track record time set by Helio Castro-Neves due to this season's new aero package which limits downforce, allowing for higher speeds in the straightaways, but slows the cars in the corners.
Pagenaud started third, but the Frenchman was spun and knocked out of the race on the first turn of the opening lap by Rahal, who braked far too late and tapped Pagenaud from the rear. 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. Rahal was able to continue on while Pagenaud was done for the day without completing a single lap. He would lead a total of 71 out of 85 laps only relinquishing the top spot when pit stops shuffled the running order.
"A lot of time you only get one chance, so I make the most of every opportunity", Ricciardo said.
"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". "He was just really, really good".
The third of four yellow-cautions in the race, occurring on lap 60 when Zachary Claman De Melo (#19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda) tagged the outer concrete barrier coming out of turn 9, played a major role in the final finishing order. Bourdais was heading to pit road but did not make it in time before the caution came out.
American Alexander Rossi dominated the race from pole and took a comfortable win from Australian Will Power and Dixon's Chip Ganassi Racing team-mate Ed Jones.
Ricciardo said he knew he had a great chance with the fresh rubber.
Britain's Jordan King spoiled Bourdais' race in the latter stages after going into the back of the St.Petersberg victor at the final hairpin on lap 72 leading to a partial blockage of the track, this incident came after the rookie came into the pits to try and re-bleed the brakes after complaints of a long brake pedal.
Power was unable to overhaul the local Californian driver in the final stages of the race, trying to put the former F1 driver under pressure by trying to maximise what was left of his push to pass but could not keep up with the #27 NAPA tool cars.
"That's cool", Rossi said post-race, "But we'll see next weekend, right?" Rahal got a drive-through penalty, but still rallied back for a strong finish.
Rossi topped every session but one at Long Beach, and now holds a 22-point lead in the title race over Penske's reigning champion and Phoenix victor Josef Newgarden.
The Verizon IndyCar Series returns to action Sunday, April 22 with the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at the scenic Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.