INDYCAR: Rossi fast, but victim of more bad luck in Road America
June 26, 2017
ELKHART LAKE, WI – After some mechanical troubles in qualifying, Alexander Rossi knew he needed a bold plan to move up the charts from P15 on the grid. Racing at Road America, one of his favorite tracks and where he won 10 years ago in Formula BMW, Rossi was the fastest on the course many times this weekend. However, bad luck struck at inopportune times.
"I love this track and we had a really strong race car all weekend," said Rossi, a Nevada County native. "We were fastest in the first practice, but the bad luck started in the Saturday morning pre-qualifying practice with lots of mechanical gremlins. We didn't get a good qualifying run, so we had to get creative with race strategy.
"We could've been fighting for a top-five finish this afternoon. I think we started with a good strategy, going for a four-stop race after starting 15th. But it all caught up to us on that first yellow."
Rossi was running as high as fourth and was eighth when the yellow came out for teammate Takuma Sato's spin at lap 29 (in the 55-lap race). With the leaders pitting a lap before, and a host of others coming in with Rossi on the yellow, he was now shuffled to the middle. Battling back to the top-10 again, the No. 98 NAPA KNOW HOW Honda machine made a final pit stop on lap 43.
"Luckily, we had already gained track position and speed running on open track," said Rossi. "But then we had an issue with the right-side front wing and finished P13, and it's the same issue we finished the race with here last year. So, we definitely need to figure out exactly what happened and make sure it doesn't happen again."
Scott Dixon won the race for Chip Ganassi Racing, the 41st of his career and now one race behind Michael Andretti for most all-time IndyCar wins. Josef Newgarden and Helio Castroneves rounded out the podium for Team Penske.
"Frustrating day to round out a frustrating weekend," said Rob Edwards, Strategist for No. 98 and Chief Operating Officer for Andretti Autosport. "Clearly had a fast race car, and after the issues in qualifying, we decided to go off strategy to maximize potential for result. Everything was going to plan and we were in the top five when the first yellow came out. At that point, Plan A was off the table.
"Despite that, we were still P8 on the restart after the last yellow for Kanaan on lap 46. But a variety of issues in the last stint dropped us back to P13."
Rossi remains ninth in points despite suffering bad luck in nearly every race this season.
"One of these days it will all fall into place," said Edwards. "It's not like we aren't quick."
Rossi's Andretti Autosport teammates also had rough days with Ryan Hunter-Reay finishing P14, Marco Andretti finishing P18 and Takuma Sato finishing P19.
The Verizon IndyCar Series travels to the short oval of Iowa Speedway July 9.
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