INDYCAR: Alexander Rossi wins at Road America in dominant fashion

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After finishing second in three of the last four NTT IndyCar Series races, Alexander Rossi took the lead in lap one of Sunday’s REV Group Grand Prix at Road America, and didn’t look back as he easily dominated the race to take his second victory of the season.

Rossi challenged race pole sitter Colton Herta for the lead in Turn 1 of the 14-turn Wisconsin road course, successfully passing Herta in Turn 2.

Rossi then dominated the entire 55-lap event, with no one coming close to the No. 27 NAPA Auto Parts Honda. Rossi won with a 28.4391-second margin over second place finisher Will Power.

 

“After thinking about it, this is probably the best race car I’ve ever driven,” Rossi told NBC Sports following his victory.

“Obviously you don’t want to complain too much about getting second places, because they are good results. But we knew we had the pace and I think ever since Texas when GESS Capstone came on board, we had a new partnership and we came up sort again, the motivation for this week was higher than ever.”

“We were able to execute, and huge thanks to these guys behind me,” Rossi said as he pointed to his Andretti Autosport crew, “I can’t do it without them.”

Power’s second place finish was the best of the season so far for the Team Penske driver. Power’s teammate Josef Newgarden finished third.

Newgarden, who entered the weekend with a 25 point lead over Rossi, saw his lead shrink to only seven points with Rossi’s victory, and seven races still remaining in the season, the battle for the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series is still far from over.

Graham Rahal finished fourth, in a gold and black livery similar to the Miller Genuine Draft machine his father Bobby once made famous, while Scott Dixon was fifth, an impressive feat for the Kiwi considering he dropped to the 23rd position on the first lap after making contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay and spun in Turn 5.

Dixon spent the remainder of the afternoon making his way through the field in the caution-free race.

“The Car was actually pretty good,” Dixon told NBC Sports. “The whole race, you’re just thinking ‘what could have been’ had we held that position early on.”

“We could have had a good finish. Definitely [would have been] an easy podium fight there because we caught Josef and those guys really quickly.”

Dixon’s teammate Felix Rosenqvist finished sixth in the race, while Jame Hinchcliffe, Herta, Simon Pageanud and Takuma Sato rounded out the top ten.

The NTT IndyCar Series now heads North of the border for the Honda Indy Toronto on July 14. Live race coverage begins at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Click here for full race results

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James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

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Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.