AUTO RACING: Rossi running fast ahead of ‘Bump Day’ | TheUnion.com

AUTO RACING: Rossi running fast ahead of ‘Bump Day’

Submitted to The Union

INDIANAPOLIS – Alexander Rossi's love affair with the Indianapolis 500 continues this month at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the 2016 race winner prepares for the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

Rossi, of Nevada City, completed his final day of practice Friday on the day before Bump Day Saturday at the 2.5-mile oval. Rossi's fastest lap Friday was 229.235 miles per hour in the No. 27 NAPA Auto Parts/Honda for Andretti Autosport, ranking him among the top 10 for the day.

His return to the 2.5-mile oval where he won the historic 100th running of the 500-mile race in 2016 has been marked with pleasant emotions.

"I love this track and the race," Rossi said after practice ended Friday. "I enjoy the excitement of Bump Day (Saturday) and Pole Day (Sunday). Qualifying to me is nearly as thrilling as the race. It's exciting for the fans."

The 26-year old veteran racecar driver was mostly pleased with a no-tow lap Friday of 228.193 mph, without benefit of any draft from racecars ahead.

"The big laps here on practice days are the ones with no tow," Rossi explained. "Today (Friday) was another improvement overall; I think P2 (position two) on the no-tow, and second quickest Honda is kind of where we've been. The Fast Nine (Saturday) is the goal right now."

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Rossi continued, "All we're focusing on is qualifying and, I think, we can be in the Fast Nine and that's the goal right now. Hopefully, there's no curveballs to prevent that from happening."

Rossi seeks his third start in the Indianapolis 500. He started 11th as a rookie in 2014 and third (outside front row) in last year's race.

Rossi's teammate Marco Andretti topped the day's speed chart with a fast lap of 231.802 miles per hour, followed by Schmidt Peterson Motorsports' rookie Robert Wickens and owner-driver Ed Carpenter.

Bump Day Qualifications are Saturday, establishing the 33 drivers who make up the starting field. With 35 drivers assigned to cars, two will be left without a spot. The 33 drivers with the fastest four-lap average speeds at the end of Bump Day will earn a spot in the starting field and return Sunday to qualify for starting position.

Courtesy of the Indy 500 News Bureau.