Alexander Rossi felt like he shouldn’t have been penalized for an improper pit exit on a mid race pit stop in the Indianapolis 500 here back in August. It took him from a top five spot to at the end of the lead lap. Rossi, pushed too hard and found the Turn 2 wall.
He was left fuming again on Friday at the same Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This time, it was on the road course. He was told to give Scott Dixon a position back for passing him off course. Rossi, strongly disagreed with that assessment and felt like it cost him from challenging Josef Newgarden for the win in the end.
He finished over 14 seconds back which he said the penalty hurt him.
“I did two wheels over the white line, we talked about the reference point, and we still get penalized,” a disappointed Rossi said. “Two times at Indianapolis we have penalties, I don’t know what to say.
“The penalty cost us a lot of time and track position. We were stuck behind lapped cars there. That’s where Josef was able to pull a big gap on us. He was on blacks we were on reds. I’m not saying we would have won but we at least could have given him a fight.
“So we need to discuss that, get to the bottom of it. It’s a shame that happened. I’m happy we were able to recover to second, but definitely if we look back at the race, there’s a lot that was taken away from us and left on the table.
“I didn’t go beyond the time line and I put two wheels over the white line – you’re not allowed to go four.”
Still, it was a runner-up again for Rossi for his third consecutive podium on the season including two of which being second place efforts’. He only had one top five finish in the previous nine races on the season. Now, he’s heating up.
“Having some things go right for us, things not go wrong, and I executed,” Rossi said. “We unlocked a bit of pace in the car. It took us a while to figure out the offset with the Aeroscreen, but I think our off-track development is getting there. Huge hats off to the whole entire Andretti Autosport organization and Honda.
That’s good news for Andretti and scary for the rest of the field. Rossi, had some bad luck to kickstart the 2020 season off with and everything is finally falling into place. He went from 18th to 11th now in the standings and is only one point behind his teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay from moving into the top 10.
That’s a lot of momentum for him to carry over to 2021 if he can continue this.
He said Thursday that this was the best car that he’s ever had here on the road course layout. He proved that in going from eighth to fifth in the first couple of laps at the start of the race and going from fifth to second in the final laps to score his 23rd career podium and 50th career top 10 in 79 starts.
“This place has never been good to us in terms of performance, so to get a podium here is awesome,” Rossi continued. “We’re disappointed that we got a weird penalty and that we didn’t have a shot to come close to fighting Josef (Newgarden), but be that as it may, we’ll have another go at it tomorrow, and we have a good car. It’s great to be able to have the whole qualifying and race to learn off of, and then take what was good and what was bad and try at it again.
“We thought we had a good car, and in qualifying we didn’t get to use the red tires, so that’ll be interesting tomorrow morning. But at least we know have a fast race car.”