INDYCAR: Rossi has strong Mid-Ohio weekend |

INDYCAR: Rossi has strong Mid-Ohio weekend

Alexander Rossi drives on track during the IndyCar Honda Indy 200 auto race Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.
Associated Press | FR60050 AP

Lexington, OHIO – Alexander Rossi advanced three positions from his grid spot and finished sixth in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the 13th race on the Verizon IndyCar Series calendar.

In the 13-turn, 2.25-mile permanent road course, competitors were within hundredths of seconds of each other throughout the weekend.

Rossi had a strong weekend, leading many of the practice sessions. The Nevada City native made it to the second round of qualifying, but admitted to a mistake when they made a last-minute change to the set-up.

“I’m pretty disappointed to miss the (Firestone) Fast Six after running so well in the morning of practice,” said Rossi. “We just went the wrong direction with a change in session and it hurt us in the end. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but we have a fast race car.”

Rossi and the No. 98 NAPA Know How crew went into the race with a strong strategy and confident they could move up the charts. Starting on Firestone Blacks (primary tires), can be a gamble, since the Reds (alternate tires) are typically the faster tire in short stints. If Rossi could hold his position at ninth — and even move up a couple of spots — then an early pit stop would put him on those zippy Reds, and move him into contention mid-race.

“The first part of the race went according to plan. Alex ripped off quick laps on new (Firestone alternate) reds after we stopped early,” said Rob Edwards, Strategist for No. 98 and Chief Operating Officer for Andretti Autosport. “We made our second stop from P5 for used reds. The used reds made our day but cost us as well. We jumped to P4 but then fell to P6 as the tires went off. From there happy, we were happy to hold on to the end.”

Rossi added, “We chose a pretty aggressive strategy starting on blacks (Firestone primary tires) and I think it was working pretty well for us, but unfortunately the stint on used (Firestone alternate) Reds was a lot more challenging than we originally thought it would be. We lost about 12 seconds on the Reds, and that was the difference for us between challenging for a podium and finishing sixth.”

On lap 18, Rossi and teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay made contact, which caused Hunter-Reay to spin. He recovered and went on to finish eighth.

“I was on Reds and (Ryan) was on Blacks,” said Rossi. “It was a 50/50 deal and it’s unfortunate that would ever happen to a teammate. We talked about it, we’ll move on and get back to working together in Pocono.”

Josef Newgarden won the race, his third of the season.

Rossi remains eighth in the Championship points race.

“Big thanks to the 98 guys,” said Rossi. “We had a good weekend.”

The Verizon IndyCar Series next travels to Pennsylvania for the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway on Aug. 20.

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