IndyCar

Alexander Rossi to become latest IndyCar driver to tackle Baja 1000

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Being a one-race teammate with Fernando Alonso in the 2017 Indianapolis 500 has apparently inspired IndyCar driver Alexander Rossi in a unique way.

Here’s the explanation:

Alonso not only is a two-time Formula One champion, he also has prestigious wins in the Monaco Grand Prix and the 24 Hours of Le Mans on his racing resume.

He may give Indy another run in 2019 in hopes of essentially becoming only the second driver to win motorsports’ “triple crown” (Graham Hill is the only driver to do so to date).

As for Rossi, he won the 2016 Indianapolis 500 as a rookie. While Monaco and Le Mans may one day be in his future, Rossi now wants to add another prestigious win to his own resume.

Rossi, who finished second in the 2018 IndyCar Series standings, will step out of his Honda-powered Andretti Autosport comfort zone next month and into a Honda of another kind: a Honda Unlimited Ridgeline in the SCORE Baja 1000 off-road race in Baja, Mexico.

For the record, if he completes the entire race, Rossi will travel nearly 807 miles — over 300 miles longer than what he drove in his Indy 500 victory.

Rossi will have a great teammate in the Nov. 16-17 race: two-time Baja 1000 class winner Jeff Proctor. The 1000 is considered one of the most trying tests of man and machine.

“It’s just one of those iconic races,” Rossi recently told IndyCar.com. “There’s a Honda connection, so I just figured why not?”

Rossi, 27, has already completed a few days of testing, but will have another week-plus of testing on the full Baja course as the race weekend draws closer.

“You’ll kind of drive your section of the course multiple times for a couple days with your co-driver and navigator, and make close to 800 notes for 200 miles.

Could Rossi be asking tips from former Baja 1000 competitors Sebastien Bourdais, left, and Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay? (Photo: IndyCar)

“You’ll have a good idea of where you’re going, then once the race starts, you kind of just go by the seat of your pants a little bit.”

Once the green flag falls to start the race, Rossi will join a select fraternity of current and former IndyCar drivers who’ve battled the treacherous Baja course, including Parnelli Jones, Rick Mears, Danny Sullivan, Buddy Rice, Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, Sebastien Bourdais, Robby Gordon, NBC Sports IndyCar analyst Paul Tracy and Jimmy Vasser.

“I’m pretty excited about it,” Rossi told IndyCar.com. “(It’s) something new, something different. Looking forward to the experience.”

Click here to read the full IndyCar.com story on Rossi’s pending great adventure.

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IMSA’s Bill Auberlen joins NASCAR America to discuss this weekend’s race at Lime Rock

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Turner Motorsport GTD driver Bill Auberlen joined NBC Sports’ Marty Snyder on NASCAR America Presents the Motorsports Hour Thursday to discuss a variety of topics, including Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship race at Lime Rock Park.

Auberlen, alongside co-driver Robby Foley, enters Lime Rock with a great amount of momentum after finishing on the GTD podium at Watkins Glen and taking the GTD class honors in the most recent IMSA race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

There’s also an extra incentive for the duo to win this weekend as well, as Auberlen is one win away from tying Scott Pruett for the most IMSA victories all-time.

Both drivers will have to be on their A-game this weekend, however, as Auberlen stated that Lime Rock is one of the tougher circuits on the IMSA calendar and compared the 1.5-mile Connecticut road course to a short track.

“It’s what we call the bullring of our season,” Auberlen said. “It is a 54-second lap and we’re going to go around it a million times before the end of the day. It’s going to be a hot one, and I think whoever survives this is going to be on the podium.”

Luckily for the GTD and GTLM teams, with no Protoype and LMP2 entries competing at Lime Rock this weekend, the worry of having to yield to entries from the faster classes is gone.

“These Protoypes are so fast now, that interacting with them, you can’t imagine,” Auberlen said. “We have radars in our car that can alert us when they are coming.

“They get on you so fast that if you’re not always looking or something is not telling you they’re coming, you could have a problem and catch into them. That’s gone. Now it’s going to be focus-forward. You’re going to be focused on everything ahead of you. You got GLTM in there at the same time, but they’re virtually the same speed as us – just a little bit faster.

“It’s going to be nice. When you stand on that podium you might be able to go for an overall victory.”

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