By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
PORTLAND, Ore. – Alexander Rossi reached the NTT IndyCar Series podium for the first time this season. The objective was to win Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portland, but had to settle for a runner-up finish. Unable to catch race winner Alex Palou on the final restart.
At one point, the Andretti Autosport driver was relegated to deep into the field after missing the chicane on the opening lap. The same can be applied for his fellow front runners Palou and Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing.
Ultimately, the trio rallied back and were the drivers to beat during the second half of the 110-lap event. As the race came down to the wire, Rossi put on a tremendous charge on Palou. However, dirty air and understeer bit the No. 27 NAPA Honda.
“We lost eight-tenths and kind of came back at it,” said Rossi. “But ultimately unless the guy in front of you makes a mistake, we were even on Push-to-Pass and using it at the same time.
“That’s just the way it goes. We were trying everything to put him under pressure and see if we could get him to lock up front, but ultimately he’s the championship leader for a reason and drove a great race, and you’ve just got to accept second sometimes.”
Despite his long winless streak extending to 35 races, Rossi has momentum into the final two races. It couldn’t have come at a perfect time as Laguna Seca and Long Beach are strong circuits for the Californian.
“It’s nice to get a result finally,” said Rossi. “I thought we obviously had a podium going into St. Louis, and I gave that up. It was good to rebound here in Portland.”
The main concern for Rossi on where it would’ve helped him was getting the chance to test in Portland. Something CGR were able to do which paid diligence on how the weekend unfolded.
Nevertheless, Rossi was able to put a superb weekend where speed wasn’t an issue.
“We didn’t test here like Ganassi did,” said Rossi. “I think to get two cars (Colton Herta) in the Fast Six against them was pretty good.
“We tested at Laguna, and we feel pretty happy with the package we have there. We were strong (last time), obviously Colton won.”
Rossi continued by saying the West Coast Swing is part of the team’s growth to get themselves in a better position. As seen at Portland, winning is critical for Andretti Autosport. They have nothing to lose, so taking points away from the title contenders is their main duty.
“We’ve got two good shots at it,” Rossi commented. “I think we came out of the summer break with some solutions and identified some issues, and I think that’s been a positive and kind of carried forward, and yeah, we’ll do everything we can. We’ve got nothing to lose in these last two, so we’ll try our best to take some points away from those guys and see what we can get.”
Rossi will enter Laguna Seca 10th in points, just two markers ahead of Takuma Sato.