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Alexander Rossi was all smiles climbing out of his No. 27 Honda. (Al Steinberg Photo)

Rossi Breaks 3-Year Drought, Wins At Indy

INDIANAPOLIS – After three years and 49 races which spanned 1,133 days, Alexander Rossi of Andretti Autosport can finally celebrate a victory in the NTT IndyCar Series.
 
Rossi scored his eighth career IndyCar win in Saturday’s Gallagher Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. The Andretti Autosport driver announced in June that he would leave the only team he has ever raced for in IndyCar to join Arrow McLaren SP next season.
 
This could be his last win as a driver for Andretti Autosport, but at least he has one last win to celebrate with the team.
 
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Rossi on track at Indy. (Al Steinberg Photo)
“It’s a lot of relief,” Rossi said. “That’s the main word. We’ve had some good race wins that we have thrown away for sure, and we have had some weekends where we’ve just not had the pace.
 
“I think that we knew things were trending in a good direction this year, and we had a solid test here a month or so ago. I think the one constant has been just the mental strength of the whole team. As challenging as it is for me, it’s also hard for them. They go in every day and work their butts off, and when they don’t get results, it’s hard for them, as well.
 
“I think as a unit, that’s one of our strengths is being able to continue to just push forward. It’s a big team win and a big thank you to the whole organization. Obviously, the cars were fast.
 
“It sucks what happened to Colton Herta, but I’ve had my share of things. It comes full circle, I guess, sometimes, so it’s good to be up there.”
 
Rossi started on the front row alongside pole winner Felix Rosenqvist. He made a big for the lead on the sixth lap and took the lead for the first time on Lap 42. That is when the leader, Herta, pulled off course in Turn 12 with a mechanical issue to his car.
 
His Andretti Autosport crew tried to repair the car behind its pit area, but the issue was terminal and Herta was out of the race.
 
Once Rossi was in the lead, he stayed there until the checkered flag on lap 85.
 
He defeated rookie driver Christian Lundgaard of Denmark by 3.5441 seconds. The top two drivers were in Hondas.
 
Team Penske’s Will Power’s Chevrolet finished third and the 2014 IndyCar Series champion took over the points lead by nine points over Marcus Ericsson of Chip Ganassi Racing.
 
“Considering the start of the race, great recovery, man,” Power said. “Great recovery. It’s amazing some of the runs we’ve had this year. But yep, just kept my head and did what I could in the situation. I had to get a big fuel number and go as fast as I can.
 
“Very good day. Good day for the team all around.
 
“It feels like it’s always going to go down to the last race for the championship,” Power said. “I expect to be having a fight at Laguna in the final race of the season. We’ll see how it plays out.
 
“It’s impossible to predict in this series. There are just too many fast guys, good teams, good drivers, everything. It’s just try and pick a winner each week and try and pick a pole sitter. Impossible.”
 
Power’s Team Penske teammate, Scott McLaughlin, was fourth in a Chevrolet with another Team Penske teammate Josef Newgarden rounding out the top five.
 
There were five lead changes among five drivers and only two caution periods for five laps in the 85-lap contest.
 
In the end, what a relief it was for Rossi.
 
“Relief, right?” he asked. “I don’t know how else to describe it.
 
“It’s human nature to start to question things when it continually doesn’t fall your way. You just have to remember that you’ve done it before, you can do it again type of thing.
 
It’s nice to reestablish that, and this sport is so much about you’re as good as your last race, it doesn’t matter who you are. You have to go out there every weekend and kind of reprove yourself.
 
“I think we’ll be very strong in Nashville and Portland and Laguna for sure, so I don’t think that’s even a question. Gateway, I hope we can pull something out.
 
“It is good momentum. It’s great to kind of put this whole thing behind us and just go out there and focus on finishing off the year as strong as we can.”
 
As Rossi reflects back on his career at Andretti Autosport, there were many great moments. His first career victory came in the 100th Indianapolis 500 in 2016.
 
He challenged for the championship in 2018 and 2019 and was once considered the driver with the best talent in the series.
 
“I was so lucky for so many years to drive with Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti, and they became such good friends of mine and people that I rely on in my personal and professional life, both those guys,” Rossi said. “I think those relationships, the relationship with Michael Andretti and Rob Edwards and my engineer Jeremy Milles, those are things I’ll have with me for the rest of my life, which is very special. I’m grateful to them for the opportunity.
 
“It’s nice to kind of be back up there, but we have another one in five days, six days, so it all resets again.”
 
That great reset begins at next weekend’s Big Machine Records Music City Grand Prix on the streets of Nashville. Last year was a wild race and Rossi expects the same next week.
 
“It’s great to start the clock over, with you guys counting. A thousand days.
 
“Cool.”
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