Beaten Rossi content with “awesome 2018” season
Alexander Rossi put on a brave face after missing out on this year’s IndyCar championship, but finishing runner-up in the title race in only his third season in the series.
The Andretti Autosport-Honda took three wins and three pole positions, but came up 57 points short of Dixon’s total after sustaining damage in the opening lap of the double-points title decider at Sonoma. He charged back into the top five but had to relinquish sixth to Sebastien Bourdais on the final lap.
“It was unfortunate because I thought we got a good start. Just two cars going for the same spot type of thing,” he said of the clash with teammate Marco Andretti as they headed through Turn 1. “At the end of the day, the #27 NAPA team did an amazing job of getting us back to a point where we could at least be in contention if something did happen to Scott. You know, it didn't.”
Regarding his charge through the field, Rossi commented: “I knew it was probably a one percent shot at getting anything done at the end of the day. I just tried to attack it, move up as many positions as we could. If Scott did have some sort of failure or something, we still needed to be towards the top six or seven. That was the goal.
“Once the final round of pit stops came, we chose to come in earlier than everyone else in hopes there would be a yellow, it would cycle us to the front. But it didn't come. They all covered me in case that happened, which was the right thing to do. [So] from once the final pit stop happened, there was no yellow flag immediately, I knew it was pretty much the day done.”
The 2016 Indy 500 winner, who added Watkins Glen 2017 to his tally before this year’s title run, added: “I think it's an awesome 2018, and something that we all can be very proud of at Andretti. Obviously having three cars in the top eight in the final points is amazing, a huge improvement from where we've been in the past. Ryan was on a different planet today. Really a good overall year for the team, especially the second half. We'll take the positives and try to improve on the negatives and see where we can end up next year.”
Rossi, who dominated the Long Beach, Mid-Ohio and Pocono to score his three wins, added: “I think we made a pretty big step forward on road courses. I mean, we were 1-2 in Portland when I caught that yellow. [Ryan] was in a really good position to win, kind of got taken away from him. He was on the pole this weekend…
“I think the cars have been strong really from Day 1, but really on road courses from Mid-Ohio onwards. We definitely found something then. We've been able to kind of carry that forward, not just be a flash in the pan. It's been progress that's been quantifiable and repeatable. That's a huge testament to the effort that the team puts in.
“I have every expectation that they're going to continue this development process this off-season and we're going to come back in 2019 even a bigger step ahead than we were this year.”
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