Rossi Ends Streak With Win At Indianapolis In Gallagher Grand Prix

Alexander Rossi, winner at the Gallagher Grand Prix. [Media Credit-Penske Entertainment: Matt Fraver]

Alexander Rossi, winner at the Gallagher Grand Prix. [Media Credit-Penske Entertainment: Matt Fraver]

by Paul Gohde

When a driver hasn’t won an IndyCar Series race in 49 tries dating back to June, 2019 at Road America, starting second is a place that can give you hope, and that hope paid off Saturday afternoon as Alexander Rossi finally won a race that he thought might have gone to Colton Herta.

‘It’s a relief man. I do feel for Colton,” the winner noted after the two met at the winner’s podium after the checkered flag. “We had pretty much the same race car.”

But the early laps of the Gallagher Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s infield road course looked like it could end in another loss for Rossi. Herta roared through the field from his ninth starting spot, and with the help of a third lap caution, took the top spot away from Andretti Autosport teammate Rossi, who had taken the lead on the second circuit from pole-winner Felix Rosenqvist.

“Yea, I think he was definitely strong. I don’t want to take away anything from what he did, coming up (to the lead) from 9th place that quickly was incredible,” Rossi said of Herta.

But Herta was not to be the winner this day, as his early run to the lead, and another 17 laps later, ended sadly on lap 42 when something broke on his car and it coasted to a halt in the pits, done for the day just past the half-way mark.

Josef Newgarden, who has won four times this season, more than anyone, was permitted to race after being ok’d following a crash and a fall that caused a concussion at Iowa a week ago. He was also strong early in the event but was issued a two-position penalty for a Track Limit Violation on lap seven; a setback that slowed his early progress as he fought back to a fifth place finish just behind his Penske Racing teammates Will Power (third) and Scott McLaughlin (fourth).

Power, who started fourth, had fallen to 16th after early incidents with Pato O’Ward and then Helio Castroneves. “That was definitely a rough start. You can never expect a normal day in IndyCar,” the smiling veteran said who took over the series’ points lead. “Everyone is very aggressive and it’s so hard to win here…you gotta’ do what you know, take what you get every day.”

Christian Lundgaard ran a steady race from his sixth starting spot. Holding a position in the top-five for much of the last half of the run, the Danish rookie held off Power and the rest of the Penske crew to finish a strong second, the best finish of his brief IndyCar career. “I think in the third stint I was catching Alex, we seemed to catch him at every stop. I think the Andretti cars had so much better power than we did today,” said the rookie who had his best series finish. “We struggled on the long runs, and I wasn’t happy in practice, but our results speak for themselves.”

Former NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson had some good moments in the early going after two strong finishes last week on the Iowa Speedway oval, but qualifying in a strong position at road courses has been a problem in the past and today was no exception as he started 23rd and finished 22nd following a promising early start. “That caution came out, but not the one we needed. From where we were starting, we had to take a risk,” he explained. “If I’m in the top five or ten I can stay there. It’s just hard for me to qualify up there (especially on a road course).

Gallagher Grand Prix Results
INDIANAPOLIS – Results Saturday of the Gallagher Grand Prix NTT INDYCAR SERIES event on the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (2) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 85, Running
2. (6) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 85, Running
3. (4) Will Power, Chevrolet, 85, Running
4. (15) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 85, Running
5. (5) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 85, Running
6. (8) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 85, Running
7. (17) Graham Rahal, Honda, 85, Running
8. (20) Scott Dixon, Honda, 85, Running
9. (1) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 85, Running
10. (7) Alex Palou, Honda, 85, Running
11. (25) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 85, Running
12. (3) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 85, Running
13. (11) David Malukas, Honda, 85, Running
14. (19) Callum Ilott, Chevrolet, 85, Running
15. (18) Takuma Sato, Honda, 85, Running
16. (22) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 85, Running
17. (10) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 85, Running
18. (14) Devlin DeFrancesco, Honda, 85, Running
19. (16) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 85, Running
20. (13) Jack Harvey, Honda, 85, Running
21. (24) Dalton Kellett, Chevrolet, 84, Running
22. (23) Jimmie Johnson, Honda, 84, Running
23. (21) Kyle Kirkwood, Chevrolet, 84, Running
24. (9) Colton Herta, Honda, 42, Mechanical
25. (12) Simon Pagenaud, Honda, 34, Off Course

Race Statistics
Winner’s average speed: 114.483 mph
Time of Race: 01:48:39.1825
Margin of victory: 3.5441 seconds
Cautions: 2 for 5 laps
Lead changes: 5 among 5 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Rosenqvist 1 – 7
Herta 8 – 13
McLaughlin 14 – 23
Power 24 – 30
Herta 31 – 41
Rossi 42 – 85

Power 431, Ericsson 422, Newgarden 399, Dixon 393, O’Ward 385, Palou 379, McLaughlin 350, Rossi 318, Rosenqvist 299, Herta 285, VeeKay 282, Rahal 274, Pagenaud 262, Grosjean 259, Lundgaard 248, Daly 236, Malukas 221, Castroneves 207, Sato 199, Ilott 166, Johnson 166, Harvey 158, DeFrancesco 151, Kirkwood 133, Kellett 103, Tony Kanaan 78, Santino Ferrucci 71, Ed Carpenter 67, Tatiana Calderon 58, JR Hildebrand 53, Juan Pablo Montoya 44, Simona De Silvestro 21, Marco Andretti 17, Sage Karam 14, Stefan Wilson 10.

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