Brian Hamilton: Rossi’s rookie run leads to ample options for 2017 |

Brian Hamilton: Rossi’s rookie run leads to ample options for 2017

As Alexander Rossi’s regal rookie run through the Verizon IndyCar Series rolled to an end in Sonoma Sunday, it didn’t take long for the racing world to leave 2016 in the rearview mirror and shift gears in talking about the future of the Nevada City native.

Will he return to Andretti Autosport? His team owners likely want him back, after winning the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, racing to Rookie of the Year honors with 11th place among 35 drivers in the season standings and wrapping things up with fifth place Sunday at Sonoma, where he claimed his first racing championship as an 11-year-old go-kart driver.

Will he return to Formula One? If so, it likely wouldn’t be for the Manor team for which he made five starts in 2015 and served as a reserve driver this season. After realizing his dream of driving for a Formula One team, Manor passed over the only American racing in the series for a driver that brought more funding. And when approached again in August with an offer to close out the current F-1 season, Rossi said he turned down Manor to focus on the IndyCar series.

According to writers who closely cover the series, Rossi could also have a choice even within IndyCar, as one of the biggest names in the history of open wheel racing could come calling.

As speculation mounts that former Indy 500 champ Juan Pablo Montoya might be leaving Team Penske, longtime Indianapolis Star writer Curt Cavin says owner Roger Penskie would likely look to fill that seat with one of the top young talents in the series.

“Rossi is more than a dark horse for the Penske ride; he could be the favorite,” Cavin wrote Monday. “His talent and race craft is highly regarded within the paddock, and those who have watched his sponsor interaction say he’s more natural than he is in media interviews.”

Such a move would also make Rossi more than a longshot to not only win again at Indy, but also be considered among the favorites to take the series championship. In fact, Team Penske swept first, second and third places in the 2016 Verizon series, with Simon Pagenaud, Will Power and Helio Castroneves, respectively.

While back home in western Nevada County the previous weekend, as a special guest for Nevada City’s Constitution Day Parade, Rossi said he hoped to share word on some big news soon.

What that announcement will be remains to be seen, but whatever path he chooses Rossi is likely to have a whole lot more options on the table than when he and his team got a call from Andretti Autosport earlier this year.

Send us your letters, soon

Speaking of choices and decisions to make, those wanting to share their thoughts on the upcoming election are encouraged to send us your letters. As has been the case with most elections in western Nevada County, we’re confident local voters will want to voice their opinions through these pages and at

Letters to the editor are limited to 200 words, which I tend to believe means they get right to the point and are more widely read than “Other Voices” submissions. The shorter length of letters also allows them to be published more expediently, as 750-word op-eds tend to stack up during an election cycle. Other Voices submissions should be issue-oriented, as opposed to “Vote for Candidate X because he or she is swell guy or gal.” Locally focused letters and op-eds discussing the choices presented to our community are preferred.

The Union will not publish election-related items to the “Ideas & Opinions” pages beyond Saturday, Nov. 5, which means the deadline for those submissions will be the previous Saturday, Oct. 29.

Contact Editor Brian Hamilton at 530-477-4249 or

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