INDYCAR: Nevada County native Alexander Rossi wins at Watkins Glen
AP Sports Writer
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — Alexander Rossi overcame a mechanical malfunction on pit road to notch a big victory. IndyCar points leader Josef Newgarden wasn’t so lucky.
Rossi used a stroke of good fortune to win the IndyCar Grand Prix at The Glen on Sunday from the pole, leading just over half of the 60-lap race and easily holding off four-time series champion Scott Dixon over the closing laps at Watkins Glen International for his second career victory. His first one came last year in the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.
“Today I was finally able to prove what I’ve been talking about the past month, two months, in terms of the step forward Andretti Autosports has taken,” said Rossi, who has five straight top-six finishes. “We have the package in the car and the people to be at the front. Just had things go wrong and we weren’t able to execute fully.”
The win was the 57th Indy car triumph for Andretti Autosport and the team’s first win at Watkins Glen. It was somewhat overshadowed, though, by the sudden fall by Newgarden after a costly error in the pits that relegated him to an 18th-place finish.
Dixon’s second-place finish for Chip Ganassi Racing erased most of Newgarden’s 31-point lead and left the four-time champion just three points behind heading to the season finale at Sonoma next week, which is worth double points.
“I’ve been in situations like that,” Dixon said. “I think you just got to treat next week as another race. I think you can’t overcomplicate it. Obviously, we want to win it. There’s a lot on the line. But, you know, I think if you overthink things too much, then it ends up being a very bad thing.
“I’ve never raced Josef, really, in a championship like this,” said Dixon, who stole the title from Juan Pablo Montoya two years ago by winning the finale to earn the double points.
Newgarden, who has a series-high four wins, took the championship lead for the first time in his career after his win at Mid-Ohio in late July. His victory last week at Gateway Motorsports Park over Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud was his third in four races and seemed to stamp him as the man to beat. Then his lead in the standings vanished in a flash at Watkins Glen.
ROSSI’S BIG WEEKEND
Rossi, a Nevada City native, also inked a contract extension with Andretti Autosport that was announced on Friday, and he won his first career pole Saturday by zooming past Dixon on his final lap.
That good fortune seemed to change on lap 24 when he had to pit off sequence because of problems with his refueling adapter. A 12-second stop left him back in 18th, but when the third caution flew one lap later, Rossi regained the lead.
“I thought we were pretty much done,” Rossi said. “We were fortunate … to have that yellow come out to where it negated those little things that had gone wrong.”
Rossi led Dixon on the final restart and it became a two-car race over the final laps between a four-time winner at Watkins Glen and a driver racing at the road course for the second time, but Dixon never threatened.
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Grass Valley native Brad Sweet drove past the competition and into victory lane last week, snapping his longest winless streak of the season.