|Sunday, March 12, 2017 4:09PM|
ST PETERSBURG, FL (March 12, 2017) – The Verizon IndyCar Series kicked off with their Florida opener on the streets of St. Petersburg. Alexander Rossi was starting in eighth position, feeling good about the pace of his car and the team throughout the weekend.
After a couple of solid stints keeping up with the leaders, Rossi was running as high as P6 when the second yellow came out a little too early. This forced him to pit out of strategy and he lost eight positions in the process. While pushing to make up for lost positions and managing fuel mileage, Rossi's misfortune continued. A punctured tire derailed the strategy further, forcing an early pit stop.
“I think our pace was as good as the guys that finished in the top five," said Rossi. "We got caught up on the second yellow, then had a punctured tired on the third stint which hurt us. We had to come in early because the tire was going down. By pitting early, we had to save a huge amount of fuel at the end and couldn’t attack anything.
"I think the NAPA AUTO PARTS car and pace was good all weekend, but just two unfortunate circumstances that dictated the end result.”
"We're disappointed," said Rob Edwards, Strategist for No. 98 and Chief Operating Officer for Andretti Autosport. "But we had a few challenges throughout the race and we overcame those and got a halfway decent finish. Certainly the slow puncture on the third set of tires obviously cost us some pace on that third stint, and then we had to pit early to put the last set of tires on. Outside of that, we were happy with the weekend.
Sebastian Bourdais won the race, coming from last on the grid after a mishap in qualifying yesterday. Team Penske's Simon Pagenaud was second, and Scott Dixon was third for Chip Ganassi Racing.
Rossi's race season continues with the Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix, April 7-9 in Long Beach, Calif.