Rossi ends drought with decisive win on Indy road course

Rossi ends drought with decisive win on Indy road course

The winless streak is over. After a 1,133-day wait, Alexander Rossi punched his return ticket to victory lane in the NTT IndyCar Series. A full 49 races since his last win came at Road America in 2019, Rossi took full advantage of adversity to break free from three years of disappointment and frustration to send a welcome reminder that he’s lost none of the speed or racecraft that promoted the Californian to the forefront of the series.

The driver of the No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda was in contention for a podium from the outset as he started second and either ran second behind polesitter Felix Rosenqvist or second behind teammate Colton Herta at the halfway point of the 85-lap contest on the Indianapolis road course.

Bounding over the infield curbs, Herta’s lead turned into a finish of P24 on lap 42 as he reported problems with his transmission. “There’s no gears,” Herta said as his No. 26 Honda crawled to a stop at the entry to pit lane.

With Herta out of the frame, Rossi ran away with the race, earning his eighth career IndyCar win with ease as a relatively straightforward day ended with Christian Lundgaard finishing a distant 3.5s behind in the No. 30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda to complete a 1-2 for the Japanese manufacturer. Team Penske’s Will Power claimed third, 11.3s behind Rossi, in the No. 12 Chevy.

“It’s a lot of relief, that’s the main word,” Rossi said. “We knew things were trending in the right direction this year. The one constant has been the mental strength of the whole team. It’s a big team win and a big thank you to the organization. It sucks what happened to Colton, but it comes full circles sometimes.”

Lundgaard produced RLL’s best performance of the year with his run to second for the proud team that’s struggled to produce front-running pace.

“Second, I think the team deserves every bit of this,” the Dane said.

Power led home Penske teammates Scott McLaughlin in fourth and Josef Newgarden in fifth as the two raced each other hard and swapped positions at times; Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay completed the top six, 22.9s behind Rossi.

Rosenqvist made it through the chaotic first lap, but things were already going south for Arrow McLaren SP. Geoff Miller / Lumen

Elsewhere, Arrow McLaren SP’s promising start with Rosenqvist on pole and Pato O’Ward starting third fell apart on the first lap as O’Ward was spun in Turn 2 and fell to the back of the field. He’d recover to 12th and keep his title hopes alive with the comeback drive. Rosenqvist’s race was one of slow bleeding where his early lead was followed by being passed by a number of drivers; he’d hold on to place ninth, but it was definitely a case of AMSP falling short of its expectations.

The same was true for Chip Ganassi Racing which had one driver in Alex Palou do well in qualifying as the other three drivers had to fight forward to achieve meaningful results. Scott Dixon motored from 20th to eighth, but he wasn’t the biggest mover of the day.

Starting 25th championship leader Marcus Ericsson put in a stellar effort to finish 11th but surrendered his place atop the standings to Power.

It wasn’t the most memorable IndyCar race on the IMS road course, but it offered two great redemption stories up front as Rossi got the monkey off his back and Lundgaard lifted the spirits of an RLL team in dire need of a happy story.

Sunday will bring an end to four straight weeks of IndyCar racing and if Nashville is anything like the first edition in 2021, a wild day of street racing will turn the championship on its head.