The drought is finally over for Alexander Rossi.
Rossi won the Gallagher Grand Prix on Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to ride a 49-race winless streak, earning his first victory since capturing the NTT INDYCAR SERIES race on June 23, 2019 at Road America, there at 1,133 days. It was Rossi’s eighth career victory.
“It’s a relief, man,” Rossi said. “It has been so many things for so long. Fortunately, something came our way.
Andretti Autosport driver Rossi crossed the finish line in his #27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation Honda 3.5441 seconds ahead of rookie Christian Lundgaard, who earned a career-best second place finish in the Honda No. 30 Shield Cleansers.
Will Power finished third in the 85-lap race in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet and took the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship lead with just four races remaining. Power holds a nine-point lead over Marcus Ericsson, who rallied from the last start in the 25-car field to finish 11th in the #8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
Team Penske ended up with its three drivers in the top five. Scott McLaughlin finished fourth in the No. 3 Gallagher Insurance Team Penske Chevrolet, with two-time series champion Josef Newgarden fifth in the No. 2 PPG Penske Chevrolet.
Rossi, who started second, took the lead for good on Lap 42 when leader and teammate Colton Herta lost the drive after navigating Turn 8 on the 11-turn, 2.439-mile road course in the Honda Gainbridge No. 26. Herta was able to drive to the pit lane entrance, but his race was over. He was credited with 24th place.
The mechanical problem was a cruel twist of fate for Herta, who started ninth and took the lead on lap 8, overtaking NTT P1 prize winner Felix Rosenqvist on turn 7. Herta and Rossi became the class of the peloton as the first laps unfolded. , with rival teams unsuccessfully trying several strategies to neutralize their advantage.
“I feel for Colton; I do,” Rossi said. “I think he was definitely strong. We had pretty much the same race car. It would have been interesting. I don’t want to take anything away from what he’s done since ninth place. To get to that position was amazing. But it was the turn of the 27. It’s great.”
Once Herta was out of the race, Rossi built a consistent gap of around four seconds with Lundgaard. The Danish rookie made it interesting late in the race, closing within 2.7 seconds with 10 laps to go.
But Rossi retired in the final laps for a decisive victory, ending Lundgaard’s chance to become the first rookie to win an NTT INDYCAR SERIES race since Rossi shocked the racing world with his victory in the Indianapolis 500 2016.
“At the end of the third stint I was catching Alex,” Lundgaard said. “I was really hoping because at every pit stop we were always catching up. We lost a bit at the start of the stint. The Andretti car had much better power than us today. That’s what killed our rear tires and we struggled in the long run.
“The result speaks for itself. Going into this weekend we knew we had a solid car.
Rossi, who led 44 laps, will share $10,000 with his team and chosen charities, Leilani Mae Horse Rescue and AutoNation’s Drive Pink campaign, for victory in the PeopleReady Force for Good Challenge.
Power again produced a calm ride, overcoming an early near calamity, to take the points lead. Power made contact with Pato O’Ward’s #5 Chevrolet Arrow McLaren SP in a three-wide traffic jam in Turns 1 and 2 on lap one and also had an early dust with the #06 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda of Helio Castroneves, finding himself 16th in the first laps.
But Power quietly cruised through the field to earn his seventh podium of the season.
“Great recovery, man,” Power said. “You can never expect a normal day at INDYCAR. Everyone is very aggressive and it’s so hard to win in this series. It’s the toughest series in the world. Great job Verizon 5G guys. It’s amazing that we can go back and recover to third place.
Less than a points race separates Power from fifth-placed O’Ward, who has 46 points. Newgarden is third, 32 off the lead. Six-time series champion Scott Dixon, who finished eighth in PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 9 Honda, is 38 points in fourth.
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES recent busy schedule continues with the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix on Sunday, August 7 on the streets of Nashville, Tennessee. Live coverage of the race begins at 3 p.m. ET on NBC and the INDYCAR radio network.