INDYCAR: Rossi on wrong side of cautions, still in championship fight
September 3, 2018
Alexander Rossi went into race day starting P3 and eight spots ahead of the Championship leader, Scott Dixon.
Returning to Portland International Raceway for the first time since 2007, the fans packed the venue and Rossi shirts were plentiful. Just 26 points behind Dixon, the weekend goal was simply to chip away at his lead and be in good position for the Sonoma finale.
After a Lap 1 crash that turned teammate Marco Andretti on his lid, Rossi was dominant for the first third of the race, leading a race-high 32 laps. Dixon was involved in the early crash, and also endured a drive-through penalty for a pit lane speed violation. Things were looking good on the "points-as-they-run" screen, with Rossi up 14 at one point in the race.
The cars at the back had changed their strategy to pit early, in hopes that a yellow would benefit their track position. And on lap 56 of the 105-lap race, a simple yellow flag turned things upside down. The leaders and Rossi had to pit during the caution, now putting them mid-pack. The remainder of the race was simply trying to finish in the best position possible. Rossi crossed the line in eighth.
"It's one of those days," said Rossi. "We had a fast car – the NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda was really quick out front and we were able to build a seven-second gap. Our tire strategy was going to plan and everything was good until the yellow came on Lap 56."
"It hurts a lot and hopefully it's not something that costs us the championship. We just have to rebound and move on from it, and know that it's something that's out of our control. Now it's time to refocus and be ready to attack for Sonoma."
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Timing of the full-course cautions allowed race-winner Sato and others to benefit. Three of the top seven finishers started 20th or lower in the 25-car field. Dixon's mishaps worked in his favor, as he ended up fifth for the day, now 29 points ahead of Rossi. Andretti Autosport collected a 14th-podium finish of the season today as DHL driver Ryan Hunter-Reay grabbed a second-place finish.
The finale at Sonoma Raceway finale is worth double points. Live broadcast of the INDYCAR Gand Prix of Sonoma kicks off at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 16.
This article was submitted to The Union by Alexander Rossi Media.
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