The 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner will be coming back to defend his crown next year. In a release today, Alexander Rossi announced that he will be back in the Verizon IndyCar Series next season, with the Andretti-Herta Autosport team.
Though he had been rumored to end up at Team Penske, or even back to Formula One, the American driver has often mentioned his desire to stay with the merged Michael Andretti/Bryan Herta team to build upon this year’s success. Rossi wants to compete for championships, and he knows he will have that opportunity with this team.
Rossi finished 11th in the championship standings in his first season, but was just three points shy of 8th place. Had he not run out of fuel on the final lap of the season-ending race at Sonoma, not only would he have accomplished that, but he would have earned a podium finish in that race. He ended up with six top-10 finishes on the year, led laps in four different races, and completed 1928 of 2070 (93%) laps during the season.
“Alexander showed tremendous growth this year and we are excited to welcome him back to the team,” said team owner Michael Andretti. “In his first IndyCar season, Alexander was able to form trusting relationships with the team’s engineers, mechanics and his teammates and that itself is a great foundation to begin 2017.
“Last season showed great progress, and I could not be more excited about our prospects moving forward. Last season we were late in the game putting our deal together. This winter we are focused on the season ahead, the continuation of our successful partnership with Andretti Autosport, and seeing Alexander become a consistent winner in the Verizon IndyCar series,” said co-owner of the No. 98 entry, Bryan Herta.
Winning the Indianapolis 500 was obviously the highlight of the season for the entire Andretti team, especially given how poorly they performed during the other 15 events. Their four cars finished 10th, 11th, 12th, and 16th in the standings, with Rossi’s victory being their only win. It was the first time since 2009 that Ryan Hunter-Reay went an entire season without winning a race.
Still, the team appears to be headed for a rebound in 2017. Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti are already locked in to multi-year deals, with great sponsorship. Rossi appears ready to join them, and build his IndyCar resume.