(INDIANAPOLIS, IN) – Coming into today’s Gallagher Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, Alexander Rossi had a 49 race winless streak, KEY WORD HAD! Rossi snapped the 49-race losing streak that dated all the way back to the 2019 IndyCar season (1,133-days) by winning at one of his favorite tracks on the NTT IndyCar Series schedule – ensuring he ends his Andretti Autosport career on a high note.

Rossi won Saturday on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where his 2016 victory in the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 which jump-started his American motorsports career. Rossi’s last victory was at Road America in the 10th race of the 2019 season.

The driver of the No. 27 NAPA // Auto Nation Andretti Autosport Honda was in contention for a podium from the outset as he started P2 and either ran 2nd behind polesitter Felix Rosenqvist of the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet or 2nd behind teammate Colton Herta of the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda at the halfway point of the 85-lap contest on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

“It’s a relief,” Rossi sighed on the victory podium. “There’s been support for me for so long. Shoutout to Andretti Autosport in their continued belief. We’ve still got some more to go, but this was a really great track for us to do it at – back at home in Indianapolis. That was really amazing.”

The long slump led him to seek a fresh start and the California native will leave Andretti at the end of his 7th season to drive next year for Arrow McLaren SP. It was Michael Andretti who gave Rossi a shot in IndyCar when he’d washed out of Formula One and returned to the United States seeking to continue his career.

Rossi’s surprise victory as a rookie in the celebrated 100th running of the Indy 500 made him a star and earned him loyal sponsorship that has weathered his long drought. Some of his issues the last 3 seasons have been team inflicted – errors, mechanical failures and a full Andretti team meltdown earlier this month at Mid-Ohio – and Saturday was hardly a perfect day for the organization.

Herta controlled the early part of the race, but slowed from the lead right before the halfway mark. Bounding over the infield curbs, Herta’s lead turned into a finish of P24 on lap 42 as he reported problems with his transmission. “There’s no gears,” Herta said as his crawled to a stop at the entry to pit lane.

“Nothing I can do,” he radioed as he tried to cruise his underpowered Honda back to pit lane.

He later walked alone down pit lane back to the paddock as the race continued without him.

“Man that is sad,” Herta tweeted. “We showed what we can do, we’ll keep going till we win again.”

With Herta out of the frame, Rossi ran away with the race, earning his 8th career IndyCar Series win with ease as a relatively straightforward day ended with Christian Lundgaard finishing a distant 3.5 sec behind in the No. 30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda to complete a 1-2 for the Japanese manufacturer.

Rossi after the race sympathized with his teammate.

“I do feel for Colton, I do. But I’m thankful something finally came our way,” Rossi said. “I think Colton was definitely strong, and we had pretty much the same race car, and that (battle) would’ve been interesting. But it was the 27’s turn. And that’s awesome.”

Meanwhile, Andretti rookie Devlin DeFrancesco drew the ire of Conor Daly as tempers flared when DeFrancesco ran Daly off the track.

“Devlin needs to be kicked out of this racing series! He’s an idiot!” Daly screamed over his radio.

There’s been speculation that Michael Andretti is reconsidering bringing DeFrancesco back for a sophomore season.

Lundgaard, a rookie from Denmark who made his IndyCar debut in this race a year ago, finished P2 to give Rahal Letterman Lanigan its 1st podium of the season.

“Second, I think the team deserves every bit of this,” the Dane said.

Will Power finished P3 for Team Penske and the Chevrolet driver cycled back to the top of the IndyCar standings for the 3rd time this season. He now holds a 9-point lead over Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson, who started last and finished P11.

Scott McLaughlin finished P4 and was followed by Josef Newgarden as the Penske drivers worked together to cross the finish line in a row. Newgarden was only cleared to race on Saturday by IndyCar’s medical staff after collapsing and hitting his head last Sunday at Iowa Speedway. Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay completed the top 6, 22.9 sec behind Rossi.

Elsewhere, Arrow McLaren SP’s promising start with Rosenqvist on pole and Pato O’Ward starting P3 fell apart on the 1st lap as O’Ward was spun in Turn 2 and fell to the back of the field. He’d recover to P12 and keep his title hopes alive with the comeback drive. Rosenqvist’s race was one of slow bleeding where his early lead was followed by being passed by a number of drivers; he’d hold on to P9, but it was definitely a case of AMSP falling short of its expectations.

The race started with 6 drivers separated by 44 points with 5 races remaining in the IndyCar season. The 6 drivers are now separated by 52 points, with a P10 finish by reigning series champion Alex Palou costing him ground.

The same was true for Chip Ganassi Racing, which had 1 driver in Scott Dixon, who motored from P20 to P8, but he wasn’t the biggest mover of the day.

It wasn’t the most memorable IndyCar race on the IMS road course, but it offered two great redemption stories up front as Rossi got the monkey off his back and Lundgaard lifted the spirits of an RLL team in dire need of a happy story.

Sunday will bring an end to 4 straight weeks of IndyCar racing and if Nashville is anything like the 1st edition in 2021, a wild day of street racing will turn the championship on its head.

RESULTS

POINT STANDINGS