Rossi Dazzles At Mid-Ohio

| , RacinToday.com Monday, July 30 2018

Alexander Rossi drove to near perfection at Mid-Ohio on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of INDYCAR)

About the only wheel Alexander Rossi turned wrong in Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio came when he attempted a victory doughnut…and his No. 27 car slid-off track and became stuck in the grass.

Otherwise, it was an exceptional day for the Andretti Autosport driver from California, who won the Verizon IndyCar Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course by 12.8285-seconds. Rossi was the only driver in the 24-car field to complete the 90-lap race in two pit stops, while everyone else needed three.

It made all the difference as Rossi picked up his fourth career win and second of the season. Rossi also advanced one position in the championship standings, moving into second place, 46 points behind four-time series champion Scott Dixon after 13 of 17 races.

“It’s what we needed,” Rossi said. “We said coming into this weekend that we have to execute for five (race) weekends in a row; this is the start of that, hopefully. The NAPA Auto Parts Andretti team was so on it today. They gave me an amazing race car, and this one’s for them.”

Starting from pole position after winning the Verizon P1 Award in Saturday qualifying, Rossi led 66 laps around Mid-Ohio’s 2.258-mile/13-turn permanent road-course in Lexington, Ohio. After achieving the necessary fuel mileage early, he and strategist Rob Edwards decided to gamble on the two-stop strategy.

Rossi pitted for fuel and tires on Laps 29 and 59, running the final 31 laps/70 miles on a single tank. When Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ Robert Wickens made his third pit stop from the lead on Lap 65, Rossi assumed first place and was never threatened.

“It was great strategy all day,” Rossi said. “We knew we could two-stop it if we committed early, and that’s what we did. Great fuel mileage from Honda, great tire life from Firestone, so really an all-around perfect day.

“On races like that, you’ve just got to be really patient. It’s hard sometimes but Rob is a very calming force and just talked me through it, and we were able to manage it. We were planning on seeing if we could hit a (fuel) number. Then if we could, we were going to do two stops. It was a little bit up to me to see if we could manage it. When we were able to hit it pretty easily, then, yeah, we committed.”

The victory was No. 60 for team-owner Michael Andretti and his organization in Indy car competition, but its first at Mid-Ohio.

Rookie Wickens, driver of the No. 6 Honda, finished second to equal his best result at ISM Raceway near Phoenix in the second race of the season. The Canadian now has seven top-five finishes this season and is solidly in sixth place in the standings.

“We stuck to our guns and I thought our (three-stop) strategy worked well,” Wickens said. “The problem is, on my third stint, I just got stuck in a whole gaggle of cars. Unfortunately, they were on reds (Firestone alternate tires) and I was on black (primary tires) and I couldn’t make it through and just lost loads of time. I was probably losing about a second a lap for a good 10-15 laps. It’s unfortunate. Nevertheless, the Lucas Oil car went from P5 to P2. I can’t complain.”

Will Power finished third in the No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet in his 200th Indy car race, just ahead of teammate Josef Newgarden in the No. 1 Penske Chevrolet.

Everyone else is so good in this series that you just have to have everything perfect,” said Power, the reigning Indianapolis 500 champion. “We just weren’t quite good enough on blacks. We really struggled to get up to speed on those, but were pretty good on reds. But still a good day for the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet. Obviously, another full green race and I can’t believe it. It’s just a series full of really good drivers now, and no one makes mistakes and it just came down to strategy.”

Dixon, a five-time Mid-Ohio winner driving the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, made career start No. 300 and finished fifth. Third on the all-time Indy car wins list with 44, Dixon now has placed in the top-five in exactly half of his races. With 150 top-fives, Dixon moved ahead of A.J. Foyt Jr. and alone into second place in Indy car history, trailing only Mario Andretti (194).

“Basically, a frustrating day,” Dixon said after seeing his point lead shrink by 16. “I think the car had some good speed. We were really quick early on in a stint, (then) we kind of faded a little bit. The track condition was just not great.

“We would pit and one of the cars in front of us, or right around us, would pit, too, and we’d fall behind them and it just kind of put us back. It was one of those days where one little, tiny move could have jumped us another two or three spots.”

Sebastien Bourdais, who started last after crashing in qualifying on Saturday, carved through the field to finish sixth in the No. 18 Honda. It’s the Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan driver’s best finish since he placed fourth at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road-course in May.

The race ran under green-flag conditions the entire way for the third time in 34 Indy car races at Mid-Ohio but first since 2013.

After 13 races, Dixon leads Rossi by 46 points, Newgarden by 60, Power by 87 and Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay by 95. The series returns to action with the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, Aug. 19. Live coverage starts at 1:30 p.m. (EDT) on NBC Sports Network and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.  


One driver in each of the three levels of the INDYCAR-sanctioned Mazda Road to Indy development ladder completed a weekend sweep of wins at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

In Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires, Patricio O’Ward led an Andretti Autosport podium sweep for the second straight day. O’Ward’s victory was his seventh of the season and pushed his point lead to 32 over teammate Colton Herta, who finished second.

In the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires, Rinus VeeKay (Juncos Racing) won for the second day in a row. The 17-year-old holds a 31-point lead in the standings over Parker Thompson (Exclusive Autosport).

And in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda, Kyle Kirkwood completed a sweep of the three weekend races. The Cape Motorsports driver already has clinched the season title.


Results Sunday of the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.258-mile/13-turn Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

  1. (1) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 90, Running 
  2. (5) Robert Wickens, Honda, 90, Running
  3. (2) Will Power, Chevrolet, 90, Running
  4. (4) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 90, Running
  5. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 90, Running
  6. (24) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 90, Running
  7. (3) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 90, Running
  8. (17) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 90, Running
  9. (7) Graham Rahal, Honda, 90, Running
  10. (12) Zach Veach, Honda, 90, Running
  11. (13) Marco Andretti, Honda, 90, Running
  12. (16) Jordan King, Chevrolet, 90, Running
  13. (18) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 90, Running
  14. (10) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 90, Running
  15. (11) Ed Jones, Honda, 90, Running
  16. (15) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 89, Running
  17. (8) Takuma Sato, Honda, 89, Running
  18. (19) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 89, Running
  19. (21) Matheus Leist, Chevrolet, 89, Running
  20. (20) Jack Harvey, Honda, 89, Running
  21. (23) Rene Binder, Chevrolet, 89, Running
  22. (14) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 88, Running
  23. (22) Pietro Fittipaldi, Honda, 88, Running
  24. (6) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 88, Running

Race Statistics

Winner’s average speed:  116.957 mph

Time of Race: 1-hour 44:15.2137-seconds

Margin of victory: 12.8285-seconds

Cautions: 0 for 0 laps

Lead changes: 5 among 3 drivers

Lap Leaders:

Rossi, Alexander 1-29

Wickens, Robert 30-39

Power, Will 40-48

Rossi, Alexander 49-59

Wickens, Robert 60-64

Rossi, Alexander 65-90

Verizon IndyCar Series point standings:  Dixon 494, Rossi 448, Newgarden 434, Power 407, Hunter-Reay 399, Wickens 380, Pagenaud 344, Rahal 335, Hinchcliffe 328, Bourdais 293.


| , RacinToday.com Monday, July 30 2018
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