INDYCAR: Rossi discusses victory, Wickens crash and stretch run
Alexander Rossi dominated the 500-mile ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway on Sunday to capture his second win in a row and third of the 2018 season.
Rossi’s fifth career victory tightened the gap in the Championship with the Nevada City native now trailing leader Scott Dixon by only 29 points.
Driving the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda, Rossi led 180 of the 200 laps on the 2.5-mile triangular oval, and won by 4.4982 seconds ahead of Team Penske’s Will Power.
“The fact that we were able to (win the race) is just a testament to the car I had from Andretti Autosport, really the work that my teammate Zach Veach put in at the test here last week,” said Rossi. “We were able to roll off instantly (to start the weekend) competitive and strong. It was a big team win from that standpoint and a great day for the NAPA AUTO PARTS Andretti crew. Great on pit stops, strategy, gave us the tools we needed to get it done today.”
Starting from third, Rossi got past Newgarden on the start, but a yellow came out immediately after Rahal and Pigot made contact. The race restarted on Lap 6, with Rossi getting the jump on pole-sitter Power to take the lead into Turn 1. As the field reached Turn 2, Robert Wickens made contact with Rossi’s Andretti teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay. Wickens’ car went airborne and into the catch fencing. The impact was fierce, and the race was delayed for nearly two hours while the fence was repaired. Wickens sustained numerous orthopedic injuries and remains in the care of Leigh Valley Cedar Crest Hospital in Allentown, PA. Four other drivers were involved in the accident, all escaped injury and were checked, released and cleared to drive at the Pocono Raceway Infield Care Center.
Rossi and Wickens have been friends for many years, racing in Europe together when they were younger.
“The first thing I asked was if he was OK,” said Rossi. “I saw that Ryan was out of his car and that was a relief. But whether it was Ryan or if it’s Rob, if it’s anyone, it doesn’t matter who it is –obviously, you have your closer friends out there with you. Those ones hit a bit closer to home. At the end of the day, all 22 of us, 33 of us, whatever it may be, are a family. We try our best to look after each other out there. You don’t want to see that happen to anyone. We’ll continue to think of him and pray for him, his family, his fiancée, all that they have to deal with.”
Following the restart on Lap 12, the race ran under green-flag conditions to the finish. The only time Rossi surrendered the lead was through pit stop cycles, as he drove on to his fifth career win and first on an oval since his breakthrough victory as a rookie in the 2016 Indianapolis 500. Three races remain in the race for the Championship, with the Sonoma season finale awarding double points.
“We’re trying,” said Rossi. “We’re doing everything we can. We had a stretch that if the pace was there, we just weren’t executing on the Sundays. Been able to do that two weekends in a row now, kind of get back to the place we were at the beginning of the year. The momentum and the confidence of the whole team is really high right now. We just got to keep qualifying well and having good Sundays, hopefully we can get it done. It’s going to be no easy feat by any means.”
The top 10 drivers remain mathematically alive for the championship heading to the next race, the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Gateway Motorsports Park on Saturday. The race airs live at 5 p.m. on NBCSN and the INDYCAR Radio Network.
This article was submitted to The Union by Alexander Rossi Media.
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