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Rossi confirmed for Andretti Autosport extension

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The mystery of where Alexander Rossi will drive in 2017 has been answered, with the 24-year-old American and 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil champion confirmed to continue with Andretti-Herta Autosport into the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

Rossi was confirmed Monday by the Andretti Autosport team as that team’s third driver for next season alongside with Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti, both of whom are locked in multi-year contracts. No length of contract was announced and the team continues to seek a fourth car for next year.

“What an incredible eight months this has been,” Rossi said in a release, “from getting the opportunity to join the Verizon IndyCar Series in February, to winning the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 in May and now re-signing with Andretti Autosport.

“I am incredibly proud and grateful to be able to have the opportunity to work with a team of this caliber as we chase after more race wins and continue to make our mark in this amazing championship. I want to thank Michael [Andretti], JF [Thormann], Bryan [Herta] and Honda for the faith and trust they have in me to put the Andretti name at the front. We have a lot of work ahead of us and we are already completely focused on being back at the sharp end of the grid where we belong.”

“Alexander showed tremendous growth this year and we are excited to welcome him back to the team,” team owner Michael Andretti added. “In his first IndyCar season, Alexander was able to form trusting relationships with the team’s engineers, mechanics and his teammates and that itself is a great foundation to begin 2017. We also know he is competitive and can win races.

“Continuity plays a big role in the success of our programs and being able to confirm that Alexander is remaining with the team is incredible. His extension, along with Ryan [Hunter-Reay] and Marco’s [Andretti] continuance is a promising factor for not only the team, but the series as well.”

The confirmation of Rossi in the Andretti-Herta entry ends speculation Marco Andretti could be moved there.

“Knowing that Alexander will be returning to the No. 98 Andretti-Herta Autosport car provides us with the stability and continuity we need to strive for even higher results,” said co-owner of the No. 98 entry, Bryan Herta. “Last season showed great progress, and I could not be more excited about our prospects moving forward. Last season we were late in the game putting our deal together. This winter we are focused on the season ahead, the continuation of our successful partnership with Andretti Autosport, and seeing Alexander become a consistent winner in the Verizon IndyCar series.”

Commercial partners were not announced but of note, Tip Tollison, President of NAPA Balkamp in Indianapolis, was on site at the season finale weekend in Sonoma. The Indianapolis branch of NAPA Auto Parts stepped up at the last minute as primary sponsor for Rossi’s No. 98 Andretti-Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Honda entry at Indianapolis this year.

Additionally, the version of that car – adorned in full NAPA signage – was staged at Honda’s paddock display at Sonoma Raceway.

Rossi scored that shock, but famous, victory as a rookie in Indianapolis this year – which highlighted his name on the world stage to go along with what he worked up to as a rookie in Formula 1 for the five Grands Prix he raced with Manor this year.

Rossi’s future was a talking point over the summer months, with the Californian making it clear to take it on a weekend-by-weekend focus while not losing sight of his overall goals, growth and development within the championship. He’s certainly appreciated and embraced the level of competition he’s seen within the Verizon IndyCar Series this year.

Steve Torrence takes NHRA points lead with Gatornationals victory

NHRA Gainesville Steve Torrence
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence took the points lead Sunday in the AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals, beating his father, Billy, in the final round at Gainesville Raceway.

Torrence had a 3.809-second run at 322.11 mph to win for the third time this year and 39th overall. He is now on track for another championship despite missing the season opener.

“We’ve got some good momentum and to be in the points lead, it’s a testament to how hard these guys work,” Steve Torrence said after the NHRA Gainesville victory. “We’ve just got to stay focused and concentrate on what the task at hand is, and that’s trying to win a championship. These guys give me an unbelievable race car and you just try not to screw it up.”

Ron Capps won in Funny Car, Alex Laughlin in Pro Stock and Matt Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Capps raced to his second win this year and 66th overall, beating Tim Wilkerson with a 3.937 at 323.12 in a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.

Laughlin topped Aaron Stanfield with a 7.068 at 204.76 in a Chevrolet Camaro for his first win this season and fourth in his career. Smith rode to his first victory in 2020 and 25th overall, topping Andrew Hines with a 6.843 at 196.99 on an EBR.