Alexander Rossi wasn’t overly enthused to miss out on a podium finish at St. Petersburg, but last year’s championship runner-up still managed to open his account for the new season with a solid drive to fifth place.
On a day where his No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda didn’t have the outright speed to chase down the leading drivers from Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing, the 27-year-old American locked in and delivered a dose of valuable points. Coming off a third-place in 2018, it was a slightly disappointing start to the Californian’s quest for his first NTT IndyCar Series title, and while greater risks could have been taken along the way from sixth on the grid, Rossi realized the returns would have been limited.
“I realized pretty early that we didn’t have the ultimate pace to go forward,” he told RACER. “If we’d started a bit father up, we could have stayed there because it was a track-position race. How it came down, we were late to the party finding the balance after struggling Friday and Saturday. It’s unfortunate because we were really strong here last year, so we need to figure out why it wasn’t as good.”
It’s never too early to look at the big picture, and coming off a close battle for the 2018 championship with CGR’s Scott Dixon, Rossi’s mature performance on Sunday spoke to a title-minded approach that should keep the No. 27 Honda in the thick of the fight.
“100 percent,” he added after watching Dixon finish second. “I learned very much last year that fifth places are OK. Honestly, we dealt with adversity this weekend and it wasn’t easy for us, but we’re going to some tracks where we performed well in the past and hopefully we can recoup some positions from Scott [Dixon] because, here we go again, he’s already doing his thing.”