Alexander Rossi is on a roll. After finishing runner-up in three of the last four races, the Andretti Autosport driver dominated from the drop of the green flag today in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Rossi led 54 of the 55 laps and won by 28.4391 seconds, in what was a dominating Sunday drive. The 2nd victory of the season moved Rossi closer to the top of the standings, as he trails Josef Newgarden by just seven points in the championship.
Newgarden maintained his championship lead thanks to another strong performance at Road America. After finishing in 2nd two years ago and winning the race last year, Newgarden came home in 3rd place today. It is the sixth podium finish for Newgarden this season through ten races, which is more than any other driver. His Penske teammate Will Power finished in 2nd today, in what was a much-needed result for the Aussie driver.
Rev Group Grand Prix at Road America Box Score
Graham Rahal had another solid run today and finished in 4th place to lead RLL Racing. Scott Dixon rounded out the top five, but it wasn’t just another ho-hum run for the Ganassi driver. After starting in 12th due to a mechanical issue in qualifying, Dixon had to check up after going wide into Turn 5 on the opening lap. That caused Ryan Hunter-Reay to get into the back of him, spinning the No. 9 car around. Dixon was able to keep the car running, but was back in 23rd position. From then on, it was a sensational march through the field for the five-time champion.
Finishing just behind Dixon was Rookie teammate Felix Rosenqvist, who improved 12 positions on Sunday. James Hinchcliffe had a couple of close calls during the race, but kept his Arrow SPM machine pointed in the right direction, finishing in 7th. Colton Herta managed an 8th place result on Sunday, but that is not what the pole sitter had in mind when the race began. The Rookie got off course a couple of times, and was struggling for grip in the closing laps on old tires. Simon Pagenaud and Takuma Sato rounded out the top ten, as both drivers overcame on-track contact.
Hunter-Reay didn’t have a great day after the opening-lap contact with Dixon, and finished 11th. Sebastien Bourdais went backwards and had to settle for 12th as his somewhat disappointing season continued. Both Ed Carpenter Racing entries went the wrong way too. Spencer Pigot finished 14th and Ed Jones was 22nd after both drivers qualified inside the top 11. Marco Andretti had an electrical gremlin that ended their race after 18 laps.
Rossi’s potential free agency after this season is a major topic for everyone else, but he and the No. 27 team are focused on winning the championship this year. “It was probably one of the best race cars I’ve ever had,” Rossi said. “We have been quick through the whole season, but we just haven’t really had it come our way as many times as we want, for one reason or another. To come out and be able to do what we did today is a huge testament to the whole organization.”
After a brutal stretch of activity, the NTT IndyCar Series will now take a few weeks off before the next event. The next race on the 2019 schedule will take place north of the border, up in Canada. About one month after winning their first ever NBA championship, the city of Toronto will host the Honda Indy Toronto on July 14 at Exhibition Place for the 35th time. NBC Sports Network will provide coverage for the event, which begins at 3 PM ET on Sunday.
Photos courtesy of IndyCar
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: “We did what we could today with the REV Group Chevy. I think Will (Power) and I were just trying to hold down the fort in second or third, but you know, there’s still good effort from everyone. We, obviously, had a little bit of a gap there and Andretti Autosport and Alex (Rossi) did a great job today, so we’ll go back to the drawing board. I think we need to work on our road course (performance), but good effort. Chevy still gave us a great package and having REV Group on this weekend was really nice, so we’ll take a third for today.” (About his comment on working on road courses): “I don’t know. We have to go back and dissect it. I wish I had the answer.”
MATHEUS LEIST: “Tough day here at Road America. Just struggling with the car setup. Balance-wise the car was not bad, it’s just that we didn’t have the speed or the pace. We tried a different strategy than most of the guys, four stops, which somehow helped us because I felt our tire degradation was a little bit worse than everyone else. We’re going to focus on the next one, try to qualify better and try to build a better race car.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: “Kind of story of our year: I don’t think the result was representative of the pace we had. We had a good start, got some guys, made up another spot or two during the first pit sequence. We were really just kind of running lap for lap with Josef (Newgarden) and Will (Power) there, maintaining the gap, looking after fuel and tires. On that last sequence, we decided to pit one lap early, and ultimately that let Colton (Herta) and Graham (Rahal) get ahead of us, which really just sort of compromised our race from there. When Colton’s tires went off, he made a mistake that ended up costing me two spots. Kind of bad luck, kind of wrong place wrong time, but the car was good and the Arrow guys were awesome in the pits. It’s a shame to leave here without the top five we deserved, but we’ll keep our heads down and keep pushing.”
MARCUS ERICSSON: “I had a good start, got past a car or two. But, then down into Turn 5, there were some cars ahead that got together and spun and I had to avoid them and go wide, which lost me quite a few positions. I had to work my way back into the race and I was getting through the field quite nicely; the Arrow car was feeling really good. I tried a move that was a bit too optimistic, maybe. I just tried a bit too hard and went wide in Turn 5, which put us at the back again and lost touch with the group, so we lost a lot of race time there. We had a lot of catching up to do and I was hoping for a safety car to help put us back in contention to fight because I felt the car was competitive, but there were no cautions today. It was all about trying to make up as much positions as possible and 13th isn’t terrible, but I think there was more pace in the car than what we could show today. We’ll take the positives and move on to the next one.”
SCOTT DIXON: “I think had we not had that issue at the start, getting turned around and losing 10 or so seconds, we may have been fighting for the podium today with the PNC Bank car. We had to kind of work our way back to the front all day. It is what it is, though. It happened and all you can do is put your head down and start to gain back that time. It’s just been one of those years to this point. You just have to keep your head down and keep collecting points. We’ll keep working hard.”
FELIX ROSENQVIST: “It was a really well-executed race from the team, especially from the strategy side. I think we nailed it. There wasn’t any safety car this time, so considering that, we went from P18 to P6, it was a really good run. Basically, all overtaking was done on track. There was a lot of tire management in the race and I think that was the main key, especially on the reds (Firestone alternate tires). We managed to get out in clear air on the reds and then I could manage the tires, and I think that was crucial for the race. Fantastic job by the team and we finally had some good momentum in that race.”
WILL POWER: “Very good result for us. That’s all we had. Alex (Rossi) was on another planet there. The two guys we needed to have a bad day were Alex and Josef (Newgarden) and they keep having good days, so certainly makes it tough to catch up in the championship. We’ll just keep chipping away with the Verizon Chevy to see what we can do.” (About if this will give him some momentum for the remainder of the season): “Absolutely, some of the results we’ve had this year were heartbreaks, you could say, like at COTA (Circuit of The Americas). I’m happy with second.”
TONY KANAAN: “It was a huge struggle today. We lost a ton of time on our second stint on used reds (Firestone alternate tires) and that (decision) blew our strategy.”
GRAHAM RAHAL: “It was definitely a 100 percent effort all day racing with Josef (Newgarden) and Hinch (James Hinchcliffe) there for a little while, and Colton (Herta) on the new reds (Firestone alternate tires) at the finish. Just trying to keep those guys behind you is pretty tough. Our GEHL car was pretty strong today. We’re happy with fourth, but would have liked to be on the podium and thought we could be there for a while. I messed up on one of my out laps and it cost me a little bit of time. Our guys did a great job in the pits.” (About closing on Newgarden at the end for third): “I was a little bit quicker, but he was doing a good job and not making too many mistakes. It’s hard to try to force guys like that into a mistake because, obviously, they’re all veterans up front. Yeah, we were a little quicker, but it’s difficult to get it completed.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: “We had a pretty good start. Then, I was side-by-side with Takuma (Sato) and coming off Turn 3, maybe he got his wheels in the curb or something. He wiggled and his car turned hard right and his sidepod made contact with my left front (tire). After that, the wheel was off and the car felt weird. I don’t know if our race was dictated by that initial contact or by something else, but it was a very average day, starting seventh and finishing 12th. I feel bad for the SealMaster No. 18 guys. They really worked hard all weekend.”
SANTINO FERRUCCI: “We had a good race car. We had a unique strategy going for us that could have paid off. Unfortunately, during the stint on our second set of reds (Firestone alternate tires), we lost some time because of the tire pressure. We should have had a better race going for our No. 19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda. It’s just what we got this weekend. Luck wasn’t on our side, we just have to look forward to the next one.”
ED JONES: “Today was a really tough race for us. We made more adjustments after practice and qualifying, and unfortunately, it didn’t improve things for us on track. We struggled a lot with pace for much of the race. It can only get better for Toronto.”
SPENCER PIGOT: “Going in, we thought red (Firestone alternate) tires were going to be the way to go. We elected to start on use reds, thinking we would do just one stint on blacks (Firestone primary tires). As it turned out, the reds had a lot of degradation and it was really hard to keep them underneath us. Doing two stints on reds hurt us. The car was really good on blacks and we were pretty fast. Unfortunately, we just made the wrong decision on tires and that’s all it takes to have a bad race. We’ll take the positives from this weekend and move on to Toronto.”
SIMON PAGENAUD: “We, obviously, got a great start and the Menards Chevy felt fantastic driving up through the field. Then we had contact with (Colton) Herta and there was no yellow throughout the whole race, which really set us back. And my final set of red (Firestone alternate) tires at the end degraded really quickly. We’ve got three tracks coming up (Toronto, Iowa and Mid-Ohio) that I absolutely love, though, so I’m ready to get back out there already.”
ZACH VEACH: “Overall, not exactly the weekend we wished for. We had really good speed here and there. In the race, things just didn’t fall our way. We tried to go one lap longer for a pit stop, but I fell off that last lap. I had a tire that was down to cords. We fell off a ton that last lap and that set us in the back where we spent rest of the day. It is tough to race yourself from 14th, but then, it like we started to do a good job and move forward. We got stuck with the first call and that set our fate for the rest of the day. Team did an awesome job all weekend – congrats to Alexander (Rossi). We will go on to Toronto and try to turn things around there.”
ALEXANDER ROSSI: “These NAPA guys, what we did overnight, seeing what we were missing in qualifying yesterday, and qualifying hurt; but to be able to go do that (dominate) today was sensational and a huge thanks to the NAPA Andretti Honda team. Man, after thinking about it, that’s probably the best race car I’ve ever driven. It was just a win that we needed to do. We’ve been there and thereabouts, but the Penske cars were getting the upper hand on us. To be able to go out and win a race the way we did and state our intentions, we’ll regroup the next couple of weeks and come hard again in Toronto.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: “It feels like a bit of a waste of a weekend, to be honest. We were strong early in the weekend and then had the issue with qualifying. I had a really good start (to the race) and made up a few spots. I tried to go around the outside of Turn 5, then (Scott) Dixon had an issue and checked up. I got into the back of him and we went off track, causing us to fall back to 18th. From 18th we fought back to 11th. I think we made the wrong choice of tires at the end, finishing on the optional (Firestone alternate tires) reds might have been a mistake. A tough weekend overall for the DHL team.”
TAKUMA SATO: “The start was pretty good, but unfortunately, we went side-by-side with (James) Hinchcliffe and he just pushed me off at Turn 3. That was a real pity. I was pushed off and dropped significant places down. I tried to recover the whole race. In the end, I think our tire choice was right and I was able to charge on the last stint to overtake both (Sebastien) Bourdais and (Ryan) Hunter-Reay to take two positions, which was a good part of the race. But we could have finished in the top six and it didn’t happen, so it’s a shame.”
PATRICIO O’WARD: “It just wasn’t our day today in the No. 31 Carlin Chevrolet. It was really just a struggle all race long giving it all I had, but I just couldn’t go any faster and I really struggled to get around people. The guys did a good job in pit lane getting me in and out quickly and I think we learned a lot about Road America. Unfortunately, like I said, it just wasn’t our day.”
MAX CHILTON: “I’d say for where we started this weekend having those fuel pressure issues and having to miss a chunk of that first practice, today’s race was a step forward for us. I had an enjoyable battle with Pato (O’Ward) pretty much the whole race – I don’t think we were ever more than two to three seconds apart. We did a great job of managing pace versus fuel mileage and we were able to work our way up six spots from our starting position. I, honestly, felt like I gave it all that I could and was able to get the most out of the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet for the duration of the race.”
JACK HARVEY: “While I was buzzing with excitement to get here, the weekend didn’t go as we had hoped. We did have a nice recovery during the race to make up positions from where we had started. We had to save fuel most of the race or we would have found some more speed. We are taking positives out of this race weekend. Everyone at Meyer Shank Racing is doing a great job and a big thank you to AutoNation and SiriusXM. We move on to Mid-Ohio, the home race for MSR, where we hope to deliver a better result.”
COLTON HERTA: “Tough day at Road America today. We struggled on the Firestone red (alternate) tires, which caused us to lose a few spots at the end of the race. But overall, the No. 88 GESS RNG Biogas Capstone Honda guys were great all weekend. The car was so quick, it was a lot of fun to drive it. Now we shift focus to street course racing in Toronto.”
MARCO ANDRETTI: “The issue seemed to be electrical to me. The car was shortening out. I was getting good runs in the beginning off of the corners, then guys started driving around me. It seemed incurable and we weren’t sure about it. We didn’t want to continue because we didn’t know how to fix it. It’s an unfortunate day for the U.S. Concrete guys, but we’ll work hard to bounce back.”