Watkins Glen, NY (Sept. 3, 2017) – Alexander Rossi capped off a dominant weekend with a win at Watkins Glen International on Sunday, a beautiful 11-turn, 3.37-mile road course. While the rain held off at the historic racetrack, Rossi battled through a fuel issue and scored his first victory since the 2016 Indianapolis 500.
The 25-year-old Californian led a race-high 32 laps and drove the No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts Andretti-Herta Autosport Honda across the finish line 0.951 of a second ahead of four-time WGI winner, Scott Dixon. Rossi won the 60-lap race from pole position (the first in his IndyCar career), just two days after it was announced he would return to Andretti Autosport next season in a multi-year deal that includes NAPA.
"An amazing job by the whole team today," said Rossi. We had an issue in the beginning with some fuel, the fuel (probe), but whatever. It doesn't matter, the team recovered. We had the pace to do it, but it's pretty amazing. It's a huge team effort. I've talked so much about how much we've improved, I'm so happy we're finally able to win."
After sitting in the top two with Castroneves for the first 15 laps, Rossi had some fuel equipment break during a lap-16 pit stop under yellow. The malfunction caused him not to get filled up with the fuel needed for the next full stint. Crew members rushed to get repairs made and Rossi, who had re-taken the lead, then had to pit early.
Luck fell his way when Andretti teammate Takuma Sato spun and brought out a yellow just a few laps after Rossi's early pit stop. The majority of the field would enter the pits under caution, and Rossi shuffled back to the front.
While Rossi would lead a majority of the remaining 30 laps, it was the final 12-lap battle against 4-time IndyCar Series Champion Scott Dixon that grabbed the attention of fans and viewers.
"We had a fast car," said Rossi. "I knew he was going to be pushing like hell at the end, and so it was really 12 qualifying laps, and I had the car to do it. We had time, we had the pace, the performance, the tire life, everything was going our way."
"To be able to do this today, to have a 12-lap shootout against Scott, 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."
Dixon ended up second for Chip Ganassi Racing, and Rossi's teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay finished third for Andretti Autosport. The trio marked a podium sweep for Honda.
"Proof that if you have a fast race car, a fast driver and a great crew, the results will come",” said Rob Edwards, Strategist for No. 98 and Chief Operating Officer for Andretti Autosport. "That was really fun. I say let's do it again in Sonoma."
The Verizon IndyCar Series travels to Sonoma Raceway Sept. 15-17, in a double-points, season-finale weekend. Championship leader Josef Newgarden finished 18th today after a mishap on lap 46, and Dixon moved to within 3 points of the lead. This is the 12th year in a row the Championship will come down to the final race.
Rossi is the 10th different winner this season, and has moved up to sixth in the Championship standings.
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