Does Rossi have a chance, Andretti has struggled on short ovals lately

Alexander Rossi’s no good, very bad, very ugly 2020 season continued last Sunday in Indy. The pace was there, the finish wasn’t. A questionable pit road penalty put him in the back and he was just pushing too hard and found the Turn 2 SAFER barrier as a result.

Rossi, finished 27th, which equals his car number. That’s his fourth finish of 15th or worse in seven tries this year. None of which have been really his fault.

His ECU unit failed him at the start of the season opener in Texas. He had an electrical issue again in the next race on the Indy road course on July 4. He finished 19th in Road America. Then, the charge back came.

Rossi was third in the second race at Road America and had an uneventful sixth and eighth place finishes respectively in the twin bill at Iowa last month. He went from 22nd to 10th in the championship and the fight was on. Indy is a place where he’s been so good at. Won in 2016. Second in 2019. Had a crazy 3.5 average finishing position in four tries. With double points on the line, this could be the place he further moves up the standings.

Then, 27th happened.

Alexander Rossi is marred back in 14th in the points standings and winless since June 2019

He’s now marred down in 14th in points, 205 points behind Dixon for the championship lead at the halfway mark of the year. For a season that Rossi felt was a championship caliber year, it’s basically over.

Now, it’s to World Wide Technology Raceway in Gateway. Rossi, just hasn’t had “it” when it comes to short ovals. Out of his seven career Indy Car wins, he’s won on road courses, street courses and superspeedways. He’s just not ever won on a short oval before.

His Iowa finishes are – 6th, 11th, 9th, 6th, 6th and 8th respectively. He was 14th, 15th and 3rd in three Phoenix tries. At World Wide Technology Raceway, the site of this weekend’s race, Rossi has finished sixth, second and 13th respectively.

That’s 12 career short oval starts with just two top fives, both being podiums. He does have eight top 10’s to his credit, but he’s not lacking the outright speed and handling to win on them.

Sounds like a this season problem too.

It’s not just him, it’s all of Andretti Autosport in general. They’ve lacked short oval pace over the last several years. In Gateway, Zach Veach was fifth in 2018 and 14th last year. Ryan Hunter-Reay was 15th, 20th and eighth in three career starts on the 1.25-mile oval. Marco Andretti has finished 14th (2017, 2018) and 10th last year.

It’s not just Gateway, it’s Iowa too.

In the early years of the NTT INDYCAR Series’ trips to Iowa, Andretti Autosport was the team to beat. In seven of the first nine years, they won the race outright.

Andretti also had 13 podiums and 688 laps led in that time frame too. But, over the last five years now (7 races), the team has led just 11 laps and taken one podium. They’re not even close any more.

Both races this year just further adds to their frustrations.

Colton Herta had a frightening crash on Friday night and a ton of oversteer in his car on Saturday. He’d finish 19th in both races.

Andretti and Veach both also had problems on their opening stops on Friday with issues with their clutches. They’d finish 22nd and 23rd in the race. Veach, was only 20th on Saturday with Andretti 10th.

Hunter-Reay was never a factor in 16th (-3 laps) on Friday night and for a second straight night, he crashed exiting pit lane, this time he couldn’t continue on. He’d finish 22nd.

Rossi, was their top finisher in sixth and eighth respectively this weekend.

With Gateway similar to Iowa, what makes us think that they can get out of that hole?

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