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INDYCAR: Rossi finishes 2nd in Toronto

TORONTO, Ontario – Alexander Rossi drove to a second place finish in the Honda Indy Toronto, the 12th race on the the Verizon IndyCar Series calendar.

In the 11-turn, 1.786-mile street circuit, Rossi had speed throughout the day and improved on his P8 starting position with quick pit stops and a fortunate yellow.

"I knew when we made the decision to pit, James was really struggling," Rossi said when asked about the first pit stop on lap 23. "We pitted not because we were anticipating a yellow. We pitted because we wanted to get clean air.

"We made the most of the out-lap because we jumped all the guys that stayed out longer than us. That was the key moment of the race. The yellow coming was just good fortune."

The yellow was for Tony Kanaan in the tire barriers, and Rossi shuffled up to fourth, behind eventual race winner Josef Newgarden, who had made his pit stop at the same time as Rossi, and Charlie Kimball and Ed Jones, who had not yet made pit stops. After a few more laps, Rossi was P2, and held it easily for the remainder of the race.

"Thrilled to finally get a podium for all the hard work Alex and the whole 98 NAPA team has been putting in this year," said Rob Edwards, Strategist for No. 98 and Chief Operating Officer for Andretti Autosport. "Pit strategy worked and a yellow flag fell into our lap, but once we were running up front, the car and Alex had the pace to stay there and be strong. Looking forward to building on this and getting a win before the end of season."

After the two practice sessions on Friday, Rossi was struggling near the bottom of the time charts.

"Friday afternoon, we were really lost," said Rossi. "We did a lot of soul searching Friday night. We stayed quite a bit later and just really analyzed everything that we could, and made some pretty solid changes overnight that suited me really well on Saturday (for qualifying)."

By the end of the race, Rossi, a Nevada County native, had closed within 1.9 seconds of Team Penske's Newgarden. The four Penske cars had been dominant for Chevrolet much of the weekend, with Simon Pagenaud winning the pole on Saturday. But the Honda's of Rossi, Hinchcliffe and Andretti ended up in the top four by race end. Those three drivers are considered some of the rising young stars in the deeply talented IndyCar Series.

"It's important that the young guys are getting results," said Rossi. "That is what's going to keep the sport growing and moving forward like it has been. Like I said, there's a lot of really good guys in this championship. It's good just to be within a fighting shot of getting wins."

Rossi moved up to eighth in the Championship standings, and this is his first podium since his Indianapolis 500 win in May of 2016.

"This finish has been a long time coming," said Rossi. "We had the Indy win, but I've been looking for that first podium and hopefully this will be a foundation to go and chase more wins."

"I'm excited for the rest of the season and the remaining races. Thanks so much to NAPA and Andretti Autosport for the hard work and support. We can move up a couple more spots in this tough Championship. "

The Verizon IndyCar Series travels to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the Honda Indy 200 on July 30.