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Road America IndyCar: Rossi dominates, closes on points lead

Road America IndyCar: Rossi dominates, closes on points lead
Jun 23, 2019, 6:44 PM

Alexander Rossi won by almost half a minute to dominate the 10th round of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series ahead of Will Power, while title rival Josef Newgarden finished third and saw his points lead shrink from 25 points to seven.

Rossi took the lead around the outside of polesitter Colton Herta (Harding Steinbrenner Racing-Honda) at Turn 1 and held onto it around Turn 3, as Will Power slotted his Team Penske-Chevrolet easily into third. Meanwhile his teammate Josef Newgarden fell back behind Graham Rahal (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-Honda), and then lost out to the other RLLR car of Takuma Sato who dived down the inside at Turn 5.

Further back, Dixon, who had started 12th following his engine failure in qualifying, ran wide at Turn 5 and was tapped by Ryan Hunter-Reay into a spin.

Newgarden moved back up to fifth ahead of Sato at the start of Lap 2, and Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ James Hinchcliffe took advantage of the Japanese driver’s lost momentum to dive inside him at Turn 3 which resulted in contact and the RLLR driver running off the road. That dropped Sato back to 12th.

In the first three laps Rossi pulled a 1.7sec lead over Herta who was a full four seconds clear of Power. Rahal was 1.4 sec down on the 2014 champion, but was bing pressured by Newgarden who in turn had Hinchcliffe in close attendance ahead of Sebastien Bourdais’ Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan-Honda.

Up into eighth from 16th on the grid by Lap 6 was Simon Pagenaud in the third Penske and two laps later he was past Bourdais for seventh.

Dixon was back up to 15th at the start of Lap 10 as he passed Veach, taking advantage of the fact that some of the drivers were already struggling with their softer Firestone alternates, whereas Dixon was on primaries. Hunter-Reay, also on blacks, made similar progress, the pair of them passing Marco Andretti and Spencer Pigot (Ed Carpenter Racing) to run 11th and 12th on Lap 11.

Rossi’s lead over Herta was out to 8sec on Lap 11 with Power closing to within 1sec of the Harding Steinbrenner machine, bringing Rahal with him. Power outbraked Herta around the outside into Turn 5 on Lap 13 and grabbed second.

Herta, Hunter-Reay, Newgarden and Bourdais pitted at the start of Lap 13 – Herta’s was disastrous, due to a refueling issue – while Rossi, Power and Rahal and the Ganassi cars of Felix Rosenqvist and Dixon stopped next time by. Newgarden’s early stop worked well for him and he slotted down the inside of cold-tired Rahal at Turn 3.

After the pitstops had played out, Rossi held an eight second lead over Power who in turn had Newgarden 1sec behind him, while Hinchcliffe had performed a strong in lap and out lap and the Arrow SPM guys had given him a strong enough stop that he had demoted Rahal to fifth. Typically, Penske had also done a fine job turning Pagenaud around and he now ran sixth ahead of Rosenqvist, the recovering Herta, and the early-stopping Dale Coyne Racing car of another rookie, Santino Ferrucci.

Ferrucci, however, was swiftly demoted by the charging Dixon who had gotten ahead of Hunter-Reay and Bourdais while they were all on cold tires.

It soon became apparent that Rossi’s pace advantage over the rest of the field was not reduced on the black primaries and after 18 laps his lead over Power was over 10sec. Herta, trying to recover lost ground, moved ahead of Rosenqvist for seventh place on Lap 19. At the same time, Andretti pulled into the pits with electrical gremlins.

Herta’s charge didn’t stop there. He dived down the outside of Pagenaud at Turn 5, they squeezed together, rubbed, and both ended up briefly running off the circuit, at which point Rosenqvist and Dixon zoomed past them both to move into sixth and seventh. Herta rejoined ahead of Pagenaud and closed back onto Dixon’s gearbox. Herta, on primary tires, passed Dixon on alternates for seventh on Lap 25.

At this point Rossi’s lead over Power had hit 16sec, with Newgarden running a second further back in third but still a handy 2.4 ahead of Hinchcliffe who was keeping Rahal 1.2sec back. Rosenqvist was six seconds behind in sixth, with Herta closing in.

Newgarden stopped at the end of Lap 27, as did Hinchcliffe, Herta, Pagenaud, Pigot, Dixon, Bourdais and Hunter-Reay.

Rossi and Power pitted on the next lap, 18sec apart, with Rahal also stopping. Power just about held onto second place despite his cold tires, although he and Newgarden did have a couple of heart-in-mouth wheel-to-wheel moments.

The pitstops had jumped Herta and Dixon ahead of Rosenqvist into sixth and seventh respectively, while Pagenaud ran ninth ahead of Hunter-Reay.

Power turned his fastest lap so far on Lap 32 but it was 1.2sec slower than Rossi’s best – 1.4sec slower than the fastest lap set by Herta – and the leader was still 18.5sec up the road. Three laps later, the gap was 20sec.

By Lap 35, Herta was stalking Rahal and they started the 36th lap just 0.7sec apart, and the pair were closing on Hinchcliffe. Dixon, meanwhile, was four seconds behind in seventh although well clear of Rosenqvist.

Rossi pitted at the end of Lap 40 to trigger the final round of stops, and 20sec behind him Power also stopped, trailed by Newgarden, Hinchcliffe, Dixon, Pagenaud and Hunter-Reay. Rahal and Herta stopped a lap later but a strong in lap from Graham had bought him some track space. Neither Rahal nor Herta could jump Newgarden, but they did get out ahead of Hinchcliffe, who disposed of Herta into Turn 3 and set his sights on Rahal. However, he was soon having to check his mirrors again, because with his tires up to temperature, Herta – the only driver in the top eight using alternate tires for this final stint – became a menace once more, and he pulled past the Arrow SPM car on the front straight at the start of Lap 45.

Herta started closing in on Rahal once more but into Turn 5, on Lap 47, Herta outbraked himself and ran wide.

That allowed Rahal to refocus on Newgarden up ahead – but only for a while. A recovering Herta was soon back on his tail, and just behind him, Hinchcliffe and Dixon were dueling over sixth.

With five laps to go, Herta’s ‘reds’ had apparently given up, as he fell off the back of Rahal and came under increasing pressure from Hinchcliffe. At the start of the penultimate lap, Herta ran wide out of Turn 1, and Hinchcliffe (with only six seconds of push to pass) passed him into Turn 3, but down to Turn 5, Herta used his 13sec of push to pass to blast back through, and Dixon followed him through to snatch sixth. He then kept the pressure on Herta who was also now out of push to pass, and blasted past him at the start of the final lap.

Herta then had to hold off Rosenqvist but simply couldn’t carry enough momentum through the turns, and Rosenqvist passed him down to Turn 5.

On the final lap, Herta ran wide at Canada corner and Hinchcliffe nipped back through to claim seventh.

Rossi won by 28.4sec in a crushing display of dominance, while Power finished 3.5sec ahead of Newgarden. Rahal was a further 1.5sec back, but 5.7 ahead of Dixon.

With his seventh career win and second of the year, Rossi has now moved to just seven points behind Newgarden in the title fight.

Championship points: 1. Newgarden 402, 2. Rossi 395, 3. Pagenaud 341, 4. Dixon 308, 5. Power 294, 6. Sato 292, 7. Hunter-Reay 271, 8. Rahal 244, 9. Hinchcliffe 216, 10. Rosenqvist 209.

Cla Driver Team Laps Time Gap Interval Mph
1 United States Alexander Rossi
Andretti Autosport 55 1:39'40.4743 132.894
2 Australia Will Power
Team Penske 55 1:40'08.9134 28.4391 28.4391 132.266
3 United States Josef Newgarden
Team Penske 55 1:40'12.3186 31.8443 3.4052 132.191
4 United States Graham Rahal
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 55 1:40'13.8837 33.4094 1.5651 132.156
5 New Zealand Scott Dixon
Chip Ganassi Racing 55 1:40'19.5916 39.1173 5.7079 132.031
6 Sweden Felix Rosenqvist
Chip Ganassi Racing 55 1:40'22.2568 41.7825 2.6652 131.972
7 Canada James Hinchcliffe
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 55 1:40'26.0263 45.5520 3.7695 131.890
8 United States Colton Herta
Harding Racing 55 1:40'28.1678 47.6935 2.1415 131.843
9 France Simon Pagenaud
Team Penske 55 1:40'34.3688 53.8945 6.2010 131.708
10 Japan Takuma Sato
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 55 1:40'39.3790 58.9047 5.0102 131.598
11 United States Ryan Hunter-Reay
Andretti Autosport 55 1:40'41.5621 1'01.0878 2.1831 131.551
12 France Sébastien Bourdais
Dale Coyne Racing 55 1:40'44.4467 1'03.9724 2.8846 131.488
13 Sweden Marcus Ericsson
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 55 1:40'58.2602 1'17.7859 13.8135 131.188
14 United States Spencer Pigot
Ed Carpenter Racing 55 1:41'00.0775 1'19.6032 1.8173 131.149
15 United Kingdom Jack Harvey
Meyer Shank Racing with Arrow SPM 55 1:41'22.7199 1'42.2456 22.6424 130.661
16 United Kingdom Max Chilton
Carlin 55 1:41'27.0052 1'46.5309 4.2853 130.569
17 Mexico Patricio O'Ward
Carlin 54 1:39'45.2020 1 Lap 1 Lap 130.375
18 United States Zach Veach
Andretti Autosport 54 1:39'48.7371 1 Lap 3.5351 130.298
19 United States Santino Ferrucci
Dale Coyne Racing 54 1:39'56.9394 1 Lap 8.2023 130.120
20 Brazil Matheus Leist
A.J. Foyt Enterprises 54 1:39'57.6916 1 Lap 0.7522 130.104
21 Brazil Tony Kanaan
A.J. Foyt Enterprises 54 1:40'15.6346 1 Lap 17.9430 129.716
22 United Arab Emirates Ed Jones
Ed Carpenter Racing 54 1:40'29.4445 1 Lap 13.8099 129.418
23 United States Marco Andretti
Andretti Autosport 18 34'15.5223 37 Laps 36 Laps 126.541
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About this article

Series IndyCar
Event Road America
Author David Malsher-Lopez