Rossi, NAPA, Honda Stay with Andretti

Photo: Rossi in his dominant Road America win in June

Andretti Autosport put an end to Silly Season this afternoon, announcing that Alexander Rossi will be driving for the team in 2020 “and beyond.”  NAPA will continue to sponsor Rossi in nine races next year. Auto Nation will sponsor the number 27 car in seven 2020 races. Honda will continue to power Andretti cars. The announcement ends the rumors that Rossi might sign with Team Penske and the Andretti was switching to Chevrolet engines for 2020.

“It feels good to continue with Andretti Autosport,” said Rossi. “Over the past four years, we’ve built a very strong team with great chemistry and I believe that we have the tools necessary to win races and championships. I’m looking forward to not just calling this my team, but my home in the IndyCar Series. Michael [Andretti], J-F [Thormann], Doug [Bresnahan] and the entire team have been working very hard to put all the pieces of this deal together and it’s definitely a relief to have the future settled and be able to focus on the championship fight ahead of us.  

“It’s fantastic to have NAPA AUTO PARTS, AutoNation and Honda supporting the 27 program. I’ve had the pleasure of developing a great relationship with both NAPA and Honda and couldn’t imagine not having them in my corner. AutoNation has always had a strong partnership with the team through Ryan [Hunter-Reay] and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to represent the Drive Pink campaign and getting to know the AutoNation team better.”

Had Rossi signed with Penske, four of the arguably five best drivers in the series would be on one team. An Andretti switch to Chevy would give the engine seven of the best cars on the grid. With Rossi and Honda staying put, the balance of power in the series is preserved.  I’m not sure how Honda would have replaced Andretti in the series. The options are somewhat limited.

 

Road America Postscript- Farewell to Speedville

The post Road America hangover is becoming as bad for me as the post 500 hangover. This is definitely my second favorite track after IMS.  I decided this in 2016 after about the first five minutes I was there. This year was the best year for me of the four Indycar events as experience goes for many reasons.

First, my friends Leigh and Bob were there for the first time.  They found some places I had never seen in turns 7 and 10. It was nice to see the track through fresh sets of eyes. We also had a great time visiting establishments in Elkhart Lake. I’m sure they will be back.

I also spent some time in the kink and I was impressed by the speed the cars carry before braking for Canada Corner.

The race behind Alexander Rossi was great. Third through sixth were contested all day. Dixon’s charge from the rear after the turn 5 incident was exciting to watch. His teammate Felix Rosenqvist had an excellent drive moving from 18th to 6th. Graham Rahal and James Hinchcliffe had steady drives and fought hard all day.

Colton Herta had an eventful day. After losing the lead to rossi in turn 3 of theopening lap, he had contact with both Power and Pagenaud in separate incidents and seemed to spend a lot of time off track in turn 5. Herta’s eighth place finish was his second best result of the season.

Rossi was probably not given any consideration for the drive of the day, but he should have been in the conversation. Winning margins like this don’t happen often in today’s NTT Indycar Series. His drive was a thing of beauty.

The crowd looked to me to be the biggest since 2016.  I thought the bowl at the bottom of turn 5 was fuller than it had been the last two years.

I’m about halfway through the NBC broadcast and i am very impressed. The cameras were on the Herta-Pagenaud skirmish all the way, including the point when Dixon blew past both of them. Great work.

So I will say good bye to Road America until next year and leave you with some photos.

RA19 161
Rossi leads lap 1
RA19 167
Marcus Ericsson finds his way back on track.
RA19 160
Some of the big crowd in turn 5
RA19 175
Power (l) tries to get around Herta, who did not give up spots asily.
RA19 181
Rossi’s wondering, ” Where is everybody?”
RA19 176
Pagenaud unsuccessfully tries to get by Herta. Seconds later Dixon blasts by both of them.

 

 

 

Quick Thoughts REV Group Grand Prix

That was quite a  bold move Alexander Rossi made  to take the lead over Colton Herta. Then an F 1 race broke out.

Rossi did what he needed to get done today- f inish ahead of Josef Newgarden and Cut into the lead as much as possible.. The gap is down to seven points.

Dixon is not quite out of the points race, but he is edging closer to waiting another year for title number 6.

There was great racing and action in position three through six most of the day.

Will Power and Newgarden knew they had nothing for Rossi.  Power said, “I never saw Rossi all day. A yellow or rain might have helped.”

Newgarden was satisfied that he got all he could out of the car and third was the best they could do.

Simon Pagenaud had an impressive drive finishing ninth after starting 16th.

Dixon made a great comeback for a top five after spinning on the opening lap.

Turn five was a very busy, action packed area today.

Santino Ferrucci finished a lap down, the third lap he hasn’t completed this season.

Rossi has now won the three crown jewels of Indycar circuits- Long Beach, Indianapolis, and Road America.

Look for my full report on Wildfire Sports tomorrow.  I will also have a  Road America postscript with photos in this space Tuesday. Thanks for following along this weekend.

 

 

 

Rossi Leads Practice 2

Photo: Alexander Rossi had the day’s fastest lap. Photo by Kyle McInnes

 

Alexander Rossi led the afternoon practice with a  quick lap of 1:43.120. Rossi’s lap was the fastest of the day. Will Power was second at 1:43.408. Seven Hondas were in the top ten, one more than in the morning session.  Power’s teammate Josef Newgarden and Carlin driver Patricio O’Ward were the only other Chevy drivers in the top ten.

The top ten drivers were separated by 0.953 seconds. The fight for the pole tomorrow should be that close.  The entire field is separated by more than 2 seconds.

In the pit stop practice period each car was allowed one hot lap before pitting.  Ryan Hunter-Reay had the fastest lap of that session, 1:44.484.

Saturday’s Schedule:

Practice 3:      12 ET NBC Gold

Qualifying:      3 ET  NBC Gold

 

Quick Thoughts- DXC Technology 600k

That turned out to be a fun race at the end. It was a pretty tame race for Texas.

Josef Newgarden has three wins already this season. No one had more than three wins in 2018.  This puts Newgarden in a great position to win a tiebreaker, although should  Alexander Rossi tie him in wins, Rossi has three second places to date.

If Newgarden wins the championship, Tim Cindric should get a big share of the credit. Another brilliant call to pit on the first yellow worked out and brought the car home first. All three of Newgarden’s wins this year can attributed to pit/tire calls by Cindric.

Rossi had a great save to avoid the Herta-Dixon crash. It likely saved his title hopes.

The high line never came in tonight as it usually does. Rossi lost one of his strengths without that second groove.

Graham Rahal had a quiet race, but ends up third.  Glad to see him finally have a good result in what has been a frustrating season for his team.

Remember when crew members wore short sleeves and no helmets? A serious injury or worse didn’t happen on pit lane tonight because of the mandated safety equipment for crew members. That was a scary crash in Sato’s pit. Glad to see the crewman was okay.

Dixon has made race ending mistakes two straight weekends.

It’s a shame that James Hinchcliffe  crashed. He had the drive of the race going until then.

Colton Herta also had a great run going.   He made some incredible moves. A shame his day ended the way it did.

What can we say about Santino Ferrucci? His fourth place tonight  at Texas gives him  three top tens in the last four races. Ferrucci is now leading the Rookie of the Year standings. He has done this rather quietly.  Ferrucci has improved every week.

Zach Veach continues his disappointing season.

Look for my full race report on Wildfire Sports tomorrow.  Next week I take a look at the season at the halfway point.

 

Front Row Flips for Race 2

Photo: Kyle McInnes

Yesterday’s Detroit Grand Prix front row drivers swap places for Race 2 today.

Josef Newgarden took the pole  and Alexander Rossi will start second.  Newgarden had the fastest lap of the two qualifying groupos at 1:14. 860. Rossi’s best lap was 1:15.182.  Newgarden turned his fast lap in the last minute of the session. Newgarden won yesterday’s rain delayed and shortened race.

The second group was delayed for about 40 minutes to dry the track from water which had spilled from a cover on top the tire barrier in turn 6. The cars had just entered the track for their warm up lap when the red flag was shown.

The clock was reset to the full 12 minutes and the session ran cleanly.

This is Newgarden’s first pole this year and seventh career pole. His last pole was at Toronto in 2018.

Scott Dixon, Colton Herta, and Felix Rosenqvist also start in the first three rows for the second straight day.

Look for Quick Thoughts here after the race and a full report on Wildfire Sports tomorrow.

 

Quick Thoughts- Detroit Race 1

It is frustrating race to watch a race that runs 50%  of the time under yellow. 29 green laps isn’t much of a race.

There were some good battles early, but the race got processional once everyone went to slicks.

Tim Cindric once again made the right strategy call. If the race stayed green it might not have worked out.

Rossi has two straight second place finishes and Sato two straight third places. I said a couple of weeks ago that Sato will be in this fight all season.

I’m sure television influenced the length of the time limit, but 85-90 minutes would have made a better show and guaranteed a second pit stop.

Ryan Hunter-Reay did a great job recovering from missing turn 7 early.

Looking at the tire choices set for today before the rain, it looks like most of the field was planning to start on reds and be done with them for the rest of the race. We might see the same plan tomorrow.

I have had my fill of rainy races this year.

Tomorrow the weather looks good for a dry full length race.  It should be a better show.

It’s hard to believe that we are seven races into the season and Will Power hasn’t won a race. I can’t remember the last time that happened.

Watch for my full race report on Wildfire Sports tomorrow morning.