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AUTO RACING: Rossi qualifies 9th for Indianapolis 500

INDIANAPOLIS – Alexander Rossi, a Nevada City native, will start ninth for the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

Rossi, who won the Indianapolis 500 in 2016, drove the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda fielded by Andretti Autosport to a four-lap average speed of 228.247 mph. He was the second driver on track in the Fast Nine Shootout, which set the starting order for the first nine spots for the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.

Chevrolet drivers grabbed five of the top six spots in the Fast Nine Shootout, which was delayed more than four hours due to rain. Rossi was one of only three Honda-powered drivers in the Shootout.

“Our run was great,” he said. “There are things out of our control right now that are preventing us from going fast here at Indy that need to be addressed. We will deal with them this week. At the end of the day, I don’t think we had anything for the Chevys.”

The Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for 9:45 a.m. Sunday.

This year’s performance in qualifying is a strong turnaround from Rossi’s 2018 qualifying performance. Last year, he qualified 32nd and rallied through the field to finish fourth and lead one lap.

Rossi’s qualifying attempt in the Fast Nine was much less stressful than the Last Row Shootout, which determined who was bumped from the field. Two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso, Patricio O’Ward and Max Chilton failed to make the race. Rossi was relieved to avoid the stress of last row qualifying and will continue preparations for the 500-mile race during a two-hour practice session Monday. Drivers also will have one final 90-minute practice Friday.

“It is 500 miles, and we need to focus on building a good race car,” he said. “There were much more dramatic things that happened today than us not qualifying fifth or sixth. We are grateful for that and happy to be in the show.”

Team Penske driver Simon Pagenaud won the pole at 229.992 mph. Ed Carpenter Racing teammates Ed Carpenter and Spencer Pigot will follow behind in second and third, respectively. The race will be televised on NBC for the first time, with the pre-race show starting at 8 a.m. The green flag is scheduled for 9:30 a.m.

This article is courtesy of the Indy 500 News Bureau.

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