RACER.com - Rossi drives a point home with Glen triumph

September 05, 2017

Alexander Rossi had to wait more than a year, dating back to his shocking win at the 2016 Indy 500, to cross the finish line under full power on the way to Victory Lane. Fuel saving and risky strategies weren't required on Sunday as the Andretti Autosport driver gassed it from the green flag and pulled off the impossible by beating Scott Dixon at Watkins Glen in a straight fight.

No caveats. No disclaimers. And no question the 25-year-old can stand atop the podium with full knowledge he can out run the best drivers IndyCar has to offer.

"[I was] even on [the] overtake [button] crossing the line  it was just cool," Rossi said with a laugh. "It was different [from Indy]. Obviously winning the 500 is enormous on so many levels. But to be able to do this today, to have a 12-lap shootout against Scott [Dixon], in the same equipment, starting 1-2 on a restart and being able to go and prove that I can beat him is pretty cool as well."

Bad luck has plagued Rossi's No. 98 Andretti Honda on multiple occasions this year often when a strong result, and maybe even a win, was within sight. Storming away from pole, trouble struck again when Rossi's refueling hose malfunctioned, which prevented the No. 98 from taking on fuel while the rest of his rivals topped up. He'd return to the pits a few laps later after the hose issue was resolved, but plummeted from first to 17th when he made an unplanned stop as his tank nearly ran dry.

What initially appeared to be the latest in a series of unfortunate happenings was soon resolved when a yellow flag shortly after his stop drew the rest of the field into the pits. Having gone from the back of the field to just behind a few tail enders who also stayed out, Rossi got the break he needed and picked off the slower cars on the way to regaining the lead.

Asked if he felt the No. 98's black cloud had finally dissipated, Rossi couldn't overlook the fuel dramas.

"It almost happened again," he said. "With the fuel issue, I thought we were pretty much done. We were fortunate ... to have that yellow come out to where it negated those little things that had gone wrong. I would never say there was a black cloud; I just would say that we weren't fully maximizing our potential. It wasn't necessarily human error, it was just circumstance. It's, again, another step internally and subconsciously proving to everyone on the team that we can do it and we have the capability."

Rossi leaves Watkins Glen with a slim chance of earning the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. He also leaves with a heightened sense of accomplishment after some dismissed his first win as a byproduct of something other than immense talent.

"I think the month of May was our validation," he said of returning to Indy this year and running up front all month. "I was very, very adamant that I wanted to be quick in qualifying at the Speedway to prove to the naysayers who said we won by a fluke. We're just trying to be competitive in every race and try to win."

In less than a week, he's signed a new multi-year contract with Andretti Autosport, received a new deal with NAPA Auto Parts to continue sponsoring his No. 98 Honda, and earned some new hardware to join his Baby Borg: it's good to be Alexander Rossi right now, and life should only get better in the years to come.




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