AUTO RACING: Rossi discusses up and down weekend at Belle Isle Park
The Detroit Grand Prix is IndyCar’s only doubleheader weekend, directly following the Indianapolis 500 and a grueling ‘month of May’ for teams and drivers. With an up and down weekend in the Motor City, Alexander Rossi remains third in the Championship standings.
The doubleheader on Belle Isle Park, a 14-turn, 2.35-mile temporary street course, features a unique schedule, with a qualifying session and race each day. Rossi, a Nevada City native, qualified fourth on Saturday and brought home a third place podium finish behind Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay.
“It’s great for Andretti Autosport to be 2-3-4 (Marco Andretti finished fourth and started on pole),” said Rossi. “I think the No. 27 Ruoff Home Mortgage car had the capability to win, but for whatever reason, after pit stops, we just kept coming out behind a slower car and weren’t able to maximize clean air and fresh tire pace. With that being said, when the last restart happened, I knew we didn’t have the pace for the top two, so sometimes you’ve just got to be content with third.”
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon collected his 42nd career victory, tying Michael Andretti for third on the all-time IndyCar win list. Saturday’s third place finish was Rossi’s 11th top-six finish in the last 13 races.
On Sunday and day two of the doubleheader, drivers were forced to qualify in wet conditions, after a rain storm pelted Belle Isle that morning. Running on the new Firestone rain tire, Rossi turned a best lap of 1 minute, 33.3143 seconds (90.661 mph). It was his third pole position of his three-year IndyCar career, and second this season.
“It was difficult,” Rossi said. “The wet’s hard in any type of condition, especially on a street course like this.”
After a strong start, Rossi was dominant for most of the race, leading a race-high 46 of 70 laps. Sticking to a two-stop strategy, the atmosphere changed as Ryan Hunter-Reay’s three-stop strategy allowed for fresher tires in the final stint. With just seven laps remaining and Hunter-Reay on his tail, Rossi locked up and found himself in the Turn 3 escape road. With a delaminated front left tire, he had to come into the pits for a change. Hunter-Reay won the race and Rossi finished 12th.
“I was hoping for a different answer, but at the end of the day, the problem was with Alex,” Rossi told Motorsport.com. “It was a combination of using the front tires really hard in the race — I didn’t have the pace of Ryan and we couldn’t dial out our understeer — and taking a very slightly defensive line to that corner. I unloaded the left-front so it locked up when I hit the brakes.”
Andretti Autosport COO and strategist for the 27 team Rob Edwards added, “It was a disappointing way to finish what, up until the end of Sunday’s race, had been a good weekend.
“We are very happy with Saturday’s podium and with the pole on Sunday. Congratulations to Ryan and the 28 team. They had unmatched pace in Race 2, but I think the 27 was strong and had everyone else covered. We’re still in the championship hunt and will back at it in Texas this weekend.”
Rossi concluded, “It was a pretty disappointing day considering we led the most laps and started on pole. For sure, we didn’t have the pace for Ryan; he was just on another level.”
With no rest for the weary, the Verizon IndyCar Series races this Saturday night on the oval of Texas Motor Speedway.
Article submitted by Alexander Rossi Media.
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