Heading into the race weekend sitting 41 points behind Josef Newgarden, Alexander Rossi and the No. 27 team knew they would have to get creative to win the championship title. After qualifying third, ahead of both Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud (who came into the weekend one point behind Rossi), the NAPA AUTO PARTS team began to formulate the ultimate strategy for the final race of the season.
Taking a gamble and starting on used Firestone Red tires, the No. 27 team’s strategy was opposite of the other championship contenders. Unfortunately, the gamble did not pay off and the rest of the day was spent looking after the tires and waiting on luck.
Newgarden shadowed Rossi throughout the race, in an effort to stay close to him and thus secure the Championship. Despite finishing ahead of Newgarden in the race, Rossi’s sixth place finish was not enough in the end.
“It is the way it goes,” said Rossi. “We started on the used Firestone reds. We knew ultimately the guys [to beat] were Scott [Dixon] and Colton [Herta] because we knew we needed to win the race. We went opposite of them on tire choice on the grid. It was a gamble. We made the decision this morning if we were going to go for it, we would rather finish third than second and be complacent. It is the way the chips fell.”
Nonetheless, Rossi and his team had some highlights this season, including dominating wins at the Grand Prix of Long Beach and Road America, and a stunning battle at the Indianapolis 500. He finished third in the Championship and had two poles and 11 top-five finishes in the 17-race IndyCar season. Rossi and fellow driver James Hinchcliffe now pack for Australia to take on the famed Bathurst 1000 (October 13).
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!