Alexander Rossi finally took his second IndyCar victory last weekend at Watkins Glen. It was a highly impressive drive, one of several throughout his IndyCar career to date. But how does it compare to some of his previous highlights on the track?
2016 – Pocono
Rossi had qualified seventh for his first race at the ‘tricky triangle’ but it quickly emerged that he had one of the cars to beat. By lap ten he was up to fourth and on lap fifteen he had moved inside the top three – placing himself right in the hunt for the victory. He soon moved to the front of the field and had potentially the strongest car in the field, until a nasty accident in pitlane later in the the race.
Leaving his pitbox, he came together with Charlie Kimball and then flew over Helio Castroneves, taking the Brazilian and himself out of the race. It was a gutting end to a great race through a crash that wasn’t really his fault, and he rued the missed opportunity after running so strongly. Nonetheless, it was a very good drive and showed how the young American was improving and getting more at ease in IndyCar.
2017 – Indy 500
How much Rossi had improved was obvious when the IndyCar grid returned to Indianapolis for this year’s Indy 500. For the 2016 edition, Rossi qualified eleventh in what was just his second oval race, but this year saw him fight for the pole and take third place on the grid, a fantastic effort which underlined his pace on ovals. In the race, he was one of the main contenders along with the rest of his Andretti team, including Fernando Alonso. His car was incredibly strong and perhaps the one to beat, until another pitlane incident wrecked his chances of victory. A fueling issue near the end of the race dropped him to almost the back of the pack and put him out of the fight for the win, but he did manage to get up to seventh place at the flag. The final result did not reflect the pace he had and how strong a drive it had been, as he really should have been able to defend his title from 2016.
2016 – Indy 500
Speaking of Indianapolis, it would be wrong to not include his win from the 2016 edition of the great race. Having started as the top rookie in eleventh place, Rossi was having a solid race and was steadily moving through the field and working his way to the front. This saw the first time a fueling issue in the pits potentially blighting his chances, sending him all the way to the back of the pack. But Bryan Herta, the former team owner who merged his team with Andretti and brought Rossi into IndyCar, came up with a brilliant fuel saving strategy that could see them take victory. He needed Rossi to pull it off, and Rossi obliged. An unbelievable drive saw Rossi manage his fuel and pace to take the lead with just three laps to go, and somehow hold on for one of the biggest upsets at the brickyard. But it really shouldn’t have been an upset. Rossi had been fast all through the month of May and should have made the Fast Nine in qualifying – were it not for him being bumped out at the last second. No one knew though that after the win that it would take over a year before he finally took his second IndyCar victory.
Barber Motorsport park 2017, outside of the Top Ten to a very solid 5th Place finish after good strategy from Andretti and excellent pace from Rossi. Pocono 2017 saw him in the hunt for the win right up until the end of the race, taking Third despite his fuel mixture knob falling into a lower power mode. Had it not been for this, he could have easily won the race. Toronto 2017 saw him take his first podium since his Indy 500 win in 2016, a pitstop just before a full course yellow put him in the fight for the win with Josef Newgarden and he duly took a very strong second place.