Alexander Rossi shakes off setback from broken bolt in practice

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MONTEREY, Calif. – He laughed about hiding from his family this weekend, smiled at jokes from teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay and sent a lighthearted tweet with a goofy facial expression.

If Alexander Rossi was exceedingly perturbed about a disappointing Friday at Laguna Seca Raceway, the Andretti Autosport driver did a good job disguising it.

“We have a really good team here and a lot of guys who have been through worse scenarios before,” Rossi said when asked about the frustration of being the 23rd fastest of 24 drivers after two practices. “ So yeah, I think it’s a setback, but you deal with it and there’s nothing you can to change it, so you just have to make the most of it with the remaining time.”

Rossi trails by NTT IndyCar series championship leader Josef Newgarden by 41 points entering Sunday’s season finale at the 11-turn, 2.28-mile road course. But the pressure of seeking his first title wasn’t evident in the self-deprecating tweet he sent less than an hour after a pit stop practice session ended.

Rossi ranked 23rd fastest (ahead of only Jack Harvey) in the Friday afternoon practice, which at least was a slight improvement over being slowest in the morning session.

Because of what his team termed “a hardware issue,” Rossi made only four laps in his No. 27 Dallara-Honda that he was forced to exit his team feverishly scrambled to make adjustments to the front end throughout the 45-minute session.

“A bolt broke,” Rossi said plainly when asked about the problem.

The lack of time precluded making a lap on black tires in the first session and resulted in changes on the fly to the game plan.

“We kind of sacrificed the second session to try to get in as many runs as we could to go through the checklist,” Rossi said. “We saved the new reds for warmup session (Saturday morning). We’re getting there. We used yesterday and today to try and run through a lot of things to make sure we leave no stones unturned.

“I think we’ve flipped most of the stones. There’s a couple of more to come tomorrow morning. We’re just trying to make sure we have everything squared away for tomorrow and Sunday.”

WATCH: IndyCar qualifying 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN, race 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday on NBC

Rossi has a comforting backstop in Hunter-Reay, who was fastest in the second practice and overall Friday. The Andretti Autosport teammates also took turns swapping cockpits of their Dallara-Hondas during a Thursday test.

“Him and I have been joined at the hip for a lot of years now in a lot of ways,” Rossi said of Hunter-Reay. “We feed off each other really well and work well together, and it’s great to have a teammate like that and with how competitive it is, you need to have guys you can rely upon.

“The first one I go to at the end of every session is this guy, so yeah. Hopefully we can put two cars at the front.”

Hunter-Reay is expecting Sunday’s race will put a premium on track position and feature heavy tire degradation. “Qualifying is extremely important, as it always is, and we want to leave here with a win, (Rossi) with a championship, so we’ll do what we can to make that happen,” said Hunter-Reay, the series champion in 2012. “Right now for me I just need to focus on going as fast as we can.”

Rossi said figuring out the right tire compound (on road courses, teams must use one set apiece of a harder, more durable black compound and a softer, faster red compound that wears more quickly)

“We got to be on Firesteone red tire for the first time today, and that’s definitely a stronger tire,” he said. “I think degradation is going to be a big issue on both compounds. It’s just trying to understand which one you’re going to want to try and be on for the race, whether a used red can make it. So that’s kind of the similar conversations that we have every weekend.

“But the magnitude of the deg I think is higher than we’ve seen probably since Sonoma last year.”

IndyCar releases schedule for 2023 season

IndyCar schedule 2023
Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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The NTT IndyCar Series’ 2023 schedule will feature the same number of races and tracks as this season with some minor reshuffling of dates.

IndyCar will open the 2023 season March 5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, and will conclude Sept. 10 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. The 107th Indy 500 will take place May 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 17-race schedule will conclude with a stretch of eight races in the final nine weeks.

“The NTT IndyCar Series is on an impactful upward trajectory, making progress at a pace that befits our thrilling style of competition,” Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “The 2023 season provides an opportunity to further build on this trend, bringing our sport and its stars to more markets and households and reaching new consumers across the globe.”

There will be 15 events on NBC: 13 races (including six of the final seven) plus Indy 500 qualifying May 20-21. There also are three races on USA Network and the Toronto race exclusively on Peacock. All races on NBC and USA also will have live simulstreams on Peacock.

In partnership with NBC Sports, the 2022 IndyCar season was the most-watched in six years and the most-watched across NBC Sports on record. The 2022 season also was the most streamed season on record.

“We’re very excited for our 2023 NTT IndyCar Series schedule and to build on this past season’s viewership milestones,” NBC Sports vice president of programming Mike Perman said in a release. “In providing comprehensive coverage across NBC, Peacock and USA Network, NBC Sports is once again looking forward to telling the stories of these world-class drivers and this compelling series.”

Notable elements on the 2023 schedule:

–There will be the same balance of seven road course races, five street courses and five ovals.

–St. Pete will be the season opener for the 13th time.

–The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will move from Belle Isle to the streets of downtown.

–The NASCAR doubleheader weekend at the IMS road course will shift to mid-August.

–The World Wide Technology Raceway event will move from Saturday to Sunday.

Start times for the 2023 events will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the 2023 IndyCar schedule:


Date Race/Track Network/Platform
Sun., March 5 Streets of St. Petersburg NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 2 Texas Motor Speedway NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 16 Streets of Long Beach NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 30 Barber Motorsports Park NBC, Peacock
Sat., May 13 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) NBC, Peacock
Sun., May 28 The 107th Indianapolis 500 NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 4 Streets of Detroit NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 18 Road America USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 16 Streets of Toronto Peacock
Sat., July 22 Iowa Speedway – Race 1 NBC, Peacock
Sun., July 23 Iowa Speedway – Race 2 NBC, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 6 Streets of Nashville NBC, Peacock
Sat., Aug. 12 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) USA Network, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 27 World Wide Technology Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 3 Portland International Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 10 WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca NBC, Peacock

*dates and networks/platforms are subject to change