By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Alexander Rossi endured a tough series of events in a matter of a lap in Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The hell ended in an incident with Graham Rahal in Turns 4-5 on Lap 37, negatively impacting their race.
Running in second, Rossi came to pit road for red compounds after starting the race with primary blacks. A slow right rear tire change slowed the stop down a bit and exited out in 13th, ahead of Rahal.
Rahal was looking to pass Rossi on the bottom of Turn 4, but things indeed got worse. The duo tangled, resulting Rossi having a right front tire went down. More contact followed in the next turn, nearly hitting the barriers.
Cooler heads prevail as Rahal got his car into reverse and back going. Rossi on the other hand, took awhile to get his No. 27 AutoNation Honda rolling.
As a result of both guys getting their cars out of a hazardous area, the race stayed green. The damage was done as Rahal and Rossi finished 15th and 21st respectively.
Rahal felt it was just a racing incident between them. Like Rossi, he also had a slow pit stop and thought he was going to clear him.
“We blocked in Turn 4, but you gotta make the move. We hit wheel-to-wheel and that happens,” Rahal’s view point on the incident. “Alex is a pretty fair guy, so I don’t think there’s any hard feelings.”
Rossi felt he didn’t have to talk with Rahal because of their good relationship. However, he felt bad about the ordeal after trying to give Rahal room. With a flat tire, not much could’ve been done on his end.
“The flat came from the Turn 4 issue. I was out of the pits on cold tires. You’re going for the same part of real estate,” said Rossi, who’s now 16th in points. “I gave Graham room and didn’t have him on the curb or anything. Just one of those racing things.
“It’s unfortunate he ended up on the outside of me when I had the flat tire. I wasn’t trying to drive him out into Turn 5. Just one of those things,” Rossi continued.
“I thought we had the nose ahead into the corner and gave him the room need. It didn’t work out that way.”
The frustrating part for Rahal was the fact he was having a strong top-10 afternoon. He’ll now head to the Texas doubleheader 13th in points, 26 markers behind points leader Alex Palou.
“It’s a shame with the flat right front because we could’ve got through perfectly fine and go with our days. It is what it is, but it’s frustrating for us,” said Rahal. “Our car was fast and people saw that in the first stint. We were able to move forward, but just a missed opportunity.”