Rossi quietly collects points from Indy GP weekend
In Indianapolis, the “month of May” kicked off with a road course race inside the famed oval of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Indycar Grand Prix has become a favorite amongst the drivers and fans, and Saturday’s race brought Alexander Rossi within two points of the Championship lead.
It was an up and down weekend for the Nevada County native, who was easily one of the fastest in the first two practice sessions on Friday. But when it came time to qualify the NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda, the No. 27 team was surprised to find themselves just outside of the fastest six in Round 2, settling for an eighth-place starting position, the highest in the Andretti Autosport stable of four. And during the race-day warm-up on Saturday morning, the confusion continued as Rossi found himself 18th in the session.
“I was pretty concerned after this morning’s warm up session,” said Rossi. “For some reason, the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda was losing pace through nothing more than just car balance as each run went on, so it was a little bit of a mystery to us.”
When the green flag waved over Saturday’s 85-lap race, a caution period soon fell followed with an incident on the opening lap. Unscathed and finding the speed he’d had from the previous day, Rossi took the restart from the sixth position and quickly worked his way into the top five. Running there consistently through the remainder of the race, he would go on to battle Canadian driver Robert Wickens for a podium position during the final laps. However, Rossi was forced to save fuel and was passed by Sebastian Bourdais near the finish line, collecting a fifth-place result.
“We’re very fortunate to have a four-car team,” said Rossi. “We were able to better the setup for Ryan (Hunter-Reay) on his car, and the No. 28 DHL car probably saved our weekend. Big shout out to them on the team effort. It was a good recovery — just disappointing that we couldn’t finish fourth. I think we had the opportunity to save fuel in that stint and we just didn’t make it happen, so we need to look into that. But overall a good recovery by the whole team.”
This marks the 20th top-10 finish for the 26-year-old driver, coincidentally on the same track where he scored his first top-10 when he joined the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2016. Quietly collecting some points on Saturday, Rossi now sits only two points behind Championship leader Josef Newgarden heading into the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.
“I’m very excited to get to work on Tuesday (for the first Indianapolis 500 practice session),” said Rossi. “We’ve been very fortunate with such good cars here, so looking to fight and go two out of three.”
Rossi won the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 back in 2016, and former teammate Takuma Sato won for Andretti Autosport in 2017.
Team Penske’s Will Power won the INDYCAR Grand Prix for the third time in five years. It also marked Roger Penske’s 200th career win.
Practice sessions for the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 begin on Tuesday, with qualifying weekend set for May 19 and 20. The month concludes with the 500-mile race slated for May 27.
Submitted by Alexander Rossi Media.
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