Rossi Wins Mid-Ohio, Second in Championship

July 30, 2018

Alexander  Rossi  dominated  the  race  weekend  at  Mid-Ohio  Sports  Car  Course.  Dancing  at  the  top  of  the  speed  charts  during  the  practice  session,  the  NAPA  Racing  driver  snagged  the  top  qualifying  spot  on  Saturday  to  lead  the  field  to  the  green  flag  for  Sundays  race.  
Rossi  raced  through  Rounds  1  and  2  of  qualifying  and  sat  in  the  pits  until  there  was  just  enough  time  to  run  one  flying  lap  and  that  one  lap  stole  the  show,  earning  Rossi  his  third  pole  of  the  season.  Starting  from  the  Pole  position,  the  NAPA  team  committed  to  a  daring  two-stop  fuel  strategy  –  the  only  car  in  the  24-car  field  to  do  so.  After  trading  the  lead  with  Josef  Newgarden  and  Robert  Wickens  during  pit  sequences,  Rossi  had  more  than  a  20-second  lead  over  second-place  when  he  came  in  to  make  his  final  pit  stop.    
When  the  No.  27  machine  made  its  way  back  to  the  track,  Rossi  blended  just  behind  the  No.  6  car  of  Wickens,  who  still  had  to  make  one  last  stop.  When  the  rest  of  the  field  made  their  way  to  pit  lane,  Rossi  resumed  the  lead  and  began  to  widen  the  gap. Nearly  20  laps  later,  the  twin  checkers  waved  over  the  90-lap  event  and  the  NAPA  Racing  team  was  crowned  winners  for  a  second  time  during  the  2018  season. The  2016  Indy  500  winner  led  66  laps  during  the  caution-free  race,  perfectly  executing  the  team’s  two-stop  strategy
“We  said  coming  into  this  weekend  that  we  have  to  execute  for  five  weekends  in  a  row,  this  is  the  start  of  that,  hopefully,”  said  Rossi.    “The  NAPA  Andretti  team  were  so  on  it  today.  They  gave  me  an  amazing  race  car,  and  this  one’s  for  them.  It  was  great  strategy  all  day.  We  could  make  a  two-stop  if  we  committed  early,  and  that’s  what  we  did.  Great  fuel  mileage  from  Honda,  great  tire  life  from  Firestone,  so  an  all-around  perfect  day.” 
Rossi advanced  to  second  in  the  championship,  narrowing  the  points  gap  to  the  leader  Scott  Dixon (-46).  
“Coming into the weekend, and again last night, Alex thought we should look at the two-stop option,” said Rob Edwards, Andretti Autosport COO and strategist for the 27 team. “We did everything we could to talk ourselves out of it, but kept coming back to some trigger points that made us go with it. The first was that we could get the lap time and fuel mileage we needed. We started with that from Lap 2 onwards. To our pleasant surprise he was hitting both.”

“I think some contenders like two of the Penske cars and [Chip Ganassi Racing’s] Scott Dixon all went in with the idea of doing two, and at various points in the first stint, bailed out,” continued Edwards. “We got to Lap 23 or 24 and were stuck in traffic, it was tempting to bail out. But at that point, everyone had bailed, we talked about it, gave Alex some back and forth on our thoughts for a lap, then we got by one of the cars we were stuck behind, that feed up some open space, and we made [the two-stop] work from there.”
Robert Wickens finished second in the race for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Will Power finished third for Team Penske. The Verizon IndyCar Series has a 19-day break before traveling to Pocono Raceway for the ABC Supply 500


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