AUTO RACING: After finishing 2nd a year ago, Rossi is back in driver’s seat for 2019 IndyCar season | TheUnion.com

AUTO RACING: After finishing 2nd a year ago, Rossi is back in driver’s seat for 2019 IndyCar season

Alexander Rossi, driver of the the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda, won IndyCar races at Long Beach, Mid-Ohio and Pocono last season, and finished second in the series' overall point standings.
Elias Funez/efunez@theunion.com

On TV

What: IndyCar’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

When: 10:30 a.m., Sunday

Channel: NBCSN

Over the past three years Alexander Rossi has emerged as one of the most consistent and successful drivers on the IndyCar circuit.

Since joining the series in 2016, the 27-year old Nevada City native has already notched 30 top-10 finishes, 17 top-fives, he’s won four poles and five races, including the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 his rookie season.

Rossi, who drives the No. 27 NAPA Auto Parts Honda, was especially impressive last season, winning races at Long Beach, Mid-Ohio and Pocono, and finishing second in the overall point standings to Scott Dixon.

With the 2019 IndyCar season set to drop the green flag Sunday at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Rossi said he is confident in his ability, his car, and the Andretti Autosport team.

“In the past if I was in an opportunity to win, I had to win because I might not get that opportunity for four or 14 months,” Rossi said to IndyCar.com. “But now, with the place that Andretti is at, the place I’m at, the place Honda is at, the cars being virtually the same this year to last year, if you’re having a day where you’re fourth or fifth, it’s OK because theoretically next week you should be just as strong.”

At last year’s Firestone Grand Prix, Rossi qualified 12th before moving up the grid to place third behind winner Sebastien Bourdais and runner up Graham Rahal. It was one of eight top-three finishes for Rossi in 2018.

Rossi has been a rising star on the IndyCar circuit since his 2016 win at the Indianapolis 500, and has impressed with his passing ability and drive to win.

“It doesn’t matter where you are, you’re trying to win every single race you’re at,” he said to IndyCar.com. “It doesn’t matter if you’re racing in a parking lot in go-karts. All of us show up trying to beat each other.”

Sunday’s race in St. Petersburg, Florida kicks off the 17-race IndyCar season which concludes in California with the Grand Prix at Laguna Seca Sept. 22. The Series also comes to California April 14 for the Grand Prix at Long Beach, a race Rossi dominated last season.

A season after placing second by 57 points (678-621) to Dixon in the overall standings, Rossi will no doubt be looking to claim his first overall points championship. He knows it won’t be easy though as IndyCar has no shortage of skilled drivers.

Dixon is the benchmark for drivers in the series, having won the series points championship five times (20013, 2008, 2013, 2015, 2018). Former series champs such as Josef Newgarden (2017), Simon Pagenaus (2016), Will Power (2014), Ryan Hunter-Raey (2012) and Tony Kanaan (2004) will all be in the mix as well.

Qualifying for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is set for Saturday, and the race gets going Sunday at 10:30 a.m. It will be televised on NBCSN.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.


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