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Rossi Dominant In Win At The Glen

Wearing the traditional Watkins glen winner's wreath, Alexander Rossi is all smiles. [Joe Jennings Photo]

0428 – Climbing a hill headed into turn 9, Scott Dixon leads a pack of cars while in background Charlie Kimball swings wide. [Joe Jennings Photo] Wearing the traditional Watkins glen winner’s wreath, Alexander Rossi is all smiles. [Joe Jennings Photo]

By Joe Jennings

WATKINS GLEN, N. Y. – Alexander Rossi scored a dominant win in the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen on an unseasonably cool and overcast day at Watkins Glen International on Sunday.

While his victory in the 2016 Indianapolis 500 was unexpected, today’s win clearly showed the progress the young Californian has made. Starting from the pole, Rossi led four times for a total of 32 of the 60 laps run on the iconic 3.37-mile road course.

Rossi drove the NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Honda fielded by Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb Agajanian team.

Except for an issue early in race with a malfunctioning fuel probe, Rossi and his team performed flawlessly.

The winner finished .9514 seconds ahead of the hard-charging Scott Dixon. Rossi’s teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay ended up in third place. And the top three cars featured Honda power plants.

“There are a lot of parallels to my win at Indianapolis and today, which is ironic or interesting. But I think the difference is today we had the dominant car, whereas I guess in the 100th you could argue we didn’t have a dominant car. We had a good car, but it wasn’t the dominant car,” Rossi said.

“Today I was finally able to prove what I’ve been talking about the past month, two months, in terms of the step forward Andretti Autosport has taken. We have the package in the car and the people to be at the front. Just had things go wrong and we weren’t able to execute fully. But today was that day. Despite the fuel issue, which was pretty unlucky, it came around. It came to us by getting that yellow flag to get our track position back. From there it was a straight-out fight between Scott and I.

“The NAPA Auto Parts Andretti Honda was on the same level as him all weekend. It was just about making sure I did my job at that last restart and was able to hold him off.

I think this track really suited my driving style. As I said before, it’s fast, it’s smooth, and you can get into a good rhythm.

“And 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 as well.”

Dixon said, “It was definitely pretty crazy. The start, we kind of got run wide there, dropped back to fourth. By the time we got to the bus stop, we were back in second. Then first stop, I actually locked the rears, and it didn’t downshift. I almost stalled the car, got in sideways. They couldn’t fuel the car; that was interesting. Luckily the yellow came there to kind of even that out.

“But for us, the points chase definitely closed the gap. I think down to three points now, which makes it pretty interesting. Have to bring our A game to Sonoma and see what we can take away.”

Said Hunter-Reay, “We had a pretty good racecar. I went to bed last night, woke up this morning; I went all through warmup thinking this is going to be a wet race. You kind of get your mind ready for that. We went with a hybrid setup of wet and dry, a little bit in between. Ultimately ended up taking away a little bit of front grip for us in the race.

All in all, the car was pretty good. I didn’t have the pace for these two at the end. I was giving it everything it had at the end, but didn’t quite have it. Compared to everybody else out there today, we were quite a bit quicker than them. I think the three of us were in kind of a class of our own.”

Helio Castroneves finished fourth ahead of Graham Rahal.

Rounding out the top-10 finishers were Will Power, Charlie Kimball, Max Chilton, Simon Pagenaud and Carlos Munoz.

Munoz teammate Conor Daly took 11th place in the 21-car field.

With one race remaining in the Verizon IndyCar Series season, the championship is up for grabs with just three points separating Josef Newgarden and Dixon. Coming into the race, Newgarden held a 31 point advantage but when he lost control of his car exiting the pits, he not only hit a guardrail, his out-of-control car was rammed by Sebastien Bourdais.

After Team Penske made repairs to the No.2 car, Newgarden was able to return but ended up 18th two laps down.

Four yellow flags slowed the race for nine laps.

INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen
WATKINS GLEN, New York – Results Sunday of the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 3.37-mile Watkins Glen International, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (1) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 60, Running
2. (2) Scott Dixon, Honda, 60, Running
3. (7) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 60, Running
4. (6) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 60, Running
5. (10) Graham Rahal, Honda, 60, Running
6. (8) Will Power, Chevrolet, 60, Running
7. (5) Charlie Kimball, Honda, 60, Running
8. (19) Max Chilton, Honda, 60, Running
9. (12) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 60, Running
10. (11) Carlos Munoz, Chevrolet, 60, Running
11. (14) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 60, Running
12. (13) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 60, Running
13. (15) Ed Jones, Honda, 60, Running
14. (18) Jack Harvey, Honda, 60, Running
15. (21) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 60, Running
16. (20) Marco Andretti, Honda, 60, Running
17. (9) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 60, Running
18. (3) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 58, Running
19. (4) Takuma Sato, Honda, 56, Running
20. (17) Tony Kanaan, Honda, 46, Contact
21. (16) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 5, Mechanical

Race Statistics:
Winner’s average speed: 118.865 mph
Time of Race: 1:42:03.9024
Margin of victory: 0.9514 of a second
Cautions: 4 for 9 laps
Lead changes: 8 among 6 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Rossi 1, Castroneves 2-14, Pigot 15-22, Rossi 23, Hunter-Reay 24-27, Rossi 28-42, Dixon 43-44, Newgarden 45, Rossi 46-60

Verizon IndyCar Series point standings: Newgarden 560, Dixon 557, Castroneves 538, Pagenaud 526, Power 492, Rossi 476, Rahal 466, Sato 421, Kanaan 375, Hunter-Reay 373.

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