|Sunday, April 23, 2017 10:53AM
LEEDS, AL (April 23, 2017) – After a two-week break, the Verizon IndyCar Series traveled to Barber Motorsports Park for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. Alexander Rossi had a tough weekend overall, as the team struggled to find the right set-up. But long meetings Saturday night led to improvement on race day. Through strategy and smart driving, Rossi improved 13 positions to finish P5 in the 90-lap race.
“Based on our starting position, we had to come up with something different,” said Rossi. “We knew we were stopping early, and then it was about how fast we can go while saving fuel. Considering we started 18th, the top five is really good.”
Throughout Saturday’s practice and qualifying sessions, Rossi couldn’t find the pace in the #98 Carlyle Tools car, and the crew was challenged to lock in the right balance. He qualified P18, with 21 cars starting the race. But in the rainy Sunday morning warm-up session, Rossi was in the top three and confident he had a car that could make some moves.
After a clean start to the race, he steadily moved up a few spots in the field, and the early pit stop at lap 14 allowed him to sneak into the top ten. While running eighth, a yellow on lap 63 allowed the field to bunch up and it was a race off pit road. Rossi came out sixth, and eventually moved up to fifth after race-leader Will Power had to pit due to a tire puncture.
“A great team result after a very disappointing qualifying," said Rob Edwards, Strategist for No. 98 and Chief Operating Officer for Andretti Autosport. "To finish 5th after starting 18th was a solid day's work. Alex was aggressive when needed, but also played defense to lock in the gains we made. And a solid work all day from the 98 guys in the pits."
Josef Newgarden won the race for Team Penske, his first win with the team. Scott Dixon was third for Chip Ganassi Racing, and last year’s IndyCar Champion Simon Pagenaud was third for Team Penske. Sebastian Bourdais remains the points leader, and Rossi moves up to tenth.
The fourth race on the IndyCar calendar continues next weekend with a night race on the oval of Phoenix International Speedway (April 28-29). Watch on NBC Sports Network and indycar.com.
Andretti Autosport results (qualifying position):
5. (18) Rossi
9. (14) Sato
11. (5) Hunter-Reay
21. (13) Andretti