Suddenly, there’s a few theoretical landing spots for Alexander Rossi

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From an American in F1 standpoint, it’s not good that Alexander Rossi lost out on the final seat on the grid to Indonesian Rio Haryanto at Manor Racing.

But from a “where does Rossi land now” standpoint, suddenly, he has multiple spots that could make sense in theory.

In no particular order:

  • The No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda. Rossi had a seat fit with the team last year and as he’s documented, was close to agreeing to a deal with the team before the last minute save to his European career came from Racing Engineering in GP2. It’s certainly possible Rossi could land here; however, with Coyne an expert at keeping his cards close to the vest and with multiple drivers in the frame for the second seat in what could be either a single driver or ride-share situation, it’s not at all guaranteed.
  • The No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet (road and street courses). Another workable puzzle piece here. If ECR needs a driver with some budget for the road and street course races to complement team owner and driver Carpenter, who races the oval events, Rossi could be the guy. He’s said previously that he’s not a big fan of ovals (see this 2013 F1 Fanatic article for more), citing the risk being too high. Carpenter wants to keep this car on the grid full-time and this could be a solution.
  • The No. 98 Andretti Autosport (formerly BHA) Honda. There’s no immediate linkage to this Honda team as there was with Coyne, but given it’s an Andretti entry, it’s a possible race-winner at nearly every event (not that Coyne and Carpenter aren’t, but this should be more regularly in contention).
  • Manor’s WEC Oreca 05 Nissan. Remember Graeme Lowdon and John Booth? Their new adventure was revealed two weeks ago for the FIA World Endurance Championship, a Manor Oreca 05 Nissan in LMP2, and they’ll have recently worked with Rossi in F1 last year. Tor Graves is that team’s only confirmed driver. Rossi has sporadic sports car experience, having driven at Le Mans in 2013 and Daytona a year later.

He could also land somewhere else in sports cars but if I were a betting man, I’d expect one of these four options to be a place we see Rossi in 2016, and given the below tweet it could be announced sooner rather than later.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III