Finishing second by just 0.2086 seconds, Alexander Rossi again became the star of the show in Indianapolis. Leading 22 laps of the 200-lap event, he nearly claimed his second victory on the IMS oval, dancing with Simon Pagenaud and swapping the lead five times in the closing laps. While getting held up by lapped cars and suffering through mechanical issues during re-fueling, Rossi was verbally (and physically) frustrated at times during the race. But he battled back with sensational passes that got the crowd roaring at the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500.
Rossi, the 2016 Indy 500 winner as a rookie, overcame two lengthy pit stops for refueling issues, charging from mid-pack to contend for the win. The Andretti Autosport driver was in first place on the final race restart (Lap 187), following an incident involving six cars that included an 18-minute red-flag stoppage. Prior to the incident, it was looking likely Rossi’s more fuel-efficient Honda was going outlast the Chevrolet of Team Penske’s Pagenaud if the race had remained green for the duration.
“I think the NAPA car was superior if you look at what we were able to do in traffic,” said Rossi. “I don’t think anyone else was doing that. It’s really disappointing. I thought there was a period of time there where we were going to get the win. The yellow didn’t help us. The Honda fuel mileage was so much superior to the competition – that’s a big plus from them. But what we had today just wasn’t enough.”
The duo exchanged the lead twice on Lap 189 before Rossi swept back in front on Lap 198 heading into Turn 1. On the ensuing lap, Pagenaud made a similar outside pass for the lead. Rossi attempted several hair-raising overtakes on the final lap, narrowly missing his second win on the famous oval. He has never finished outside of the top seven in four Indy 500 starts.
“We were flat in that final lap coming to the flag – we just didn’t have enough,” said Rossi. “You can’t take anything away from the (No.) 22 guys. They were on pole, they led a lot of laps, did a good job and had a fast race car.” [FULL RESULTS]
Fast Facts: Rossi has completed every lap in his four Indy 500s, and has also led laps in each race (total 60).
The NTT IndyCar Series returns to action May 31-June 2 with the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear, the only doubleheader weekend on the 2019 schedule. The races air live on NBC and the INDYCAR Radio Network at 3 p.m. ET both Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, June 2.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!