Rossi Dominates At Road America

Alexander Rossi celebrates his victory at Road America. © [Jamie Sheldrick/ Spacesuit Media]

Alexander Rossi celebrates his victory at Road America. © [Jamie Sheldrick/ Spacesuit Media]

by Paul Gohde

It was as total a domination of an IndyCar Series race as observers have seen in a very long time, and Road America winner Alexander Rossi was willing to accept everything he earned today.

Thunderstorms had been predicted for race day, and that may have been all that might have slowed the Andretti Autosport Honda driver who won by a whopping 28.439 seconds over the Team Penske Chevrolet duo of Will Power and Josef Newgarden, leading 54 of 55 laps.

The Rossi beat-down moved him within seven points of leader Newgarden in the chase for the NTT Series crown.

The predicted rain held off until after the checkered flag had fallen, too late to slow the Rossi juggernaut, but in the post-race wet his rivals were left to marvel at the beating they had just absorbed.

Power said he didn’t see much of the winner all race, and potential challenger Scott Dixon used all of his strength to drive his Chip Ganassi Honda back to finish fifth after a lap one spin. “That spin was frustrating. I wonder what could have been without that happening.” Many more in the field will be scratching their collective heads for the next few weeks to come as the series next runs at Toronto in mid-July.

When Rossi addressed the media, he seemed to be happy that a run of poor finishes here might be over. “I’ve done well here in qualifying but haven’t had good results on Sunday (16th, 13th and 15th in last three races). This was the best car I’ve driven. We’ve had good pace, we just weren’t getting things done,” admitted the soft-spoken winner who was an amazing half-second per lap quicker than the field.

“Qualifying hurt yesterday, I hate to complain about starting second, but it motivated us today,” confessed Rossi who posted his first Road America win and was happy to beat Power and Newgarden. “Penske was getting the upper hand. I was motivated today.”

Pole winner Colton Herta hoped to parlay a front row start into his second series win, but a problem with refueling his Harding Steinbrenner Honda on his first stop put him behind, forcing a race-long charge to eighth at the end.

Dixon was another who spent the distance trying to see the leaders, finally battling up to fifth after going wheel-to-wheel with Felix Rosenqvist (finished sixth) and James Hinchcliffe (7th).

Graham Rahal had a strong car, just missing the podium, and admitted that, “I don’t think I’ve driven 55 laps any harder than today. But we still have room to improve.”

It was that kind of race.

Indy Lights Series Race 2:

Dutchman Arie Luyendyk was quite an Indy car driver in his day, even winning the Indianapolis 500 in 1996. But today Arie is helping a fellow driver from Holland climb the racing ladder toward a career in IndyCar someday soon.

Sunday at Road America Arie’s protégé, Rinus VeeKay, took another step toward that goal by winning Race 2 of the Indy Lights Road to Indy Series; and Juncos driver VeeKay credits Luyendyk with helping him along the way.

“Arie has been like a second father to me. He advises me about things on and off the track. He knows everybody,” the winner explained. “My goal is to be in IndyCar next season and to be the Indy Lights champion this year.”

Pole winner VeeKay ran away from the Lights field Sunday after finishing a disappointing seventh in Race 1. “I knew I had to keep focus with such a big lead. I also knew we’d be quick today after having that drive through penalty at the beginning yesterday,” noted today’s winner, who scored his third win of the season, and finds himself just three points behind leader Oliver Askew who finished third today. “I don’t take risks just for points. Our goal is the championship.”

Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Norman, the Race 1 winner, trailed VeeKay by 12.898 seconds today and admitted to settling for second and looking at the big picture. “We just tried to get the best results since we weren’t capable of catching the leader” Norman admitted. “I just played it safe and got on the podium.”

Askew, Norman’s teammate and current series’ points leader, trailed today’s winner by more than 13 seconds and explained that even though the cars are equal on paper, adjustments and strategy by other teams can result in the dominance shown today by VeeKay. “Tire management, aero decisions and many other things can be the difference between winning and running third, even though the rules try to even the competition.”

And the help Luyendyk gives to young drivers, especially race winners from the Netherlands? “He knows people on many teams, and it helps that we’re both from the same country. We’ll see what happens,” smiled VeeKay, thinking perhaps about next year.

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