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IndyCar Long Beach

Herta, Rossi rueful after more disappointment in Long Beach

Andretti Autosport-Honda’s Colton Herta and Alexander Rossi were left gutted by very different issues in Long Beach, that cost them a possible win and a probable top-five respectively.

Herta, who started from pole position, led the first stint of the race, but was surprised to emerge from the pits behind not only Alex Palou’s Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda but also Josef Newgarden’s Team Penske-Chevrolet. While he spent much of the second stint trying to get around Newgarden, he had fallen 1.5sec behind the eventual winner as the second stops began.

Palou, who had made his first stop earlier than his immediate rivals naturally had to do the same for the second stop given that there had been no caution periods in the second stint. He stopped on Lap 55, and both Newgarden and Herta pushed hard on their in-laps to try and make up the deficit and jump the Ganassi driver.

While Newgarden was successful, Herta crashed into the wall on the exit of Turn 9.

“I just braked a little bit too late,” said last year’s Long Beach winner. “Got in there, locked the right-front and that was it. It's just a stupid mistake.

“We were definitely in that thing, we were running good there in third and keeping up with Alex and Josef. It's unfortunate, I feel really bad.”

He admitted he had been surprised to be jumped by two cars in the first stop, stating that he “didn’t know how that happened,” but added that his car was “fantastic. Just overdid it a little bit today.”

Rossi, who had been disadvantaged by teammate Romain Grosjean’s crash in qualifying when he had been set to beat Newgarden to second on the grid, had run fifth from the start and muscled his way past Felix Rosenqvist’s Arrow McLaren SP-Chevy to gain fourth on Lap 21. However, he then started losing pace on his used reds, and dropped behind Marcus Ericsson before pitting. Once the first pitstop cycle had been completed, he was down to ninth, having been demoted by not only the slightly off-strategy Scott Dixon, but also Grosjean and Team Penske’s Will Power.

Rossi then ran eighth through the second stint, but a slow stop saw him re-passed by the early-stopping Dixon, and jumped by Pato O’Ward and Graham Rahal. The demise of Herta and Ericsson enabled him to finish eighth.

“Silver linings of the day is that we finished and we finished in a position that has one digit instead of two,” said the 2016 Indy 500 winner who languishes in 18th in the championship. “The car was good all weekend but we struggled a little bit with the tires in the first stint.

“The team did a great job with strategy. The pace on the Firestone reds was good as well but we, unfortunately, lost some time in pit lane which makes for track position in IndyCar these days.”

Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport Honda

Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport Honda

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

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