In what could be termed “Ring Around the Rossi” Verizon IndyCar Series star-in-the-making Alexander Rossi stunned the “Wizard of Watkins Glen” – Scott Dixon – to claim his first career IndyCar pole on Saturday.
Dixon, who has won four of the seven Verizon IndyCar Series races held at the 11-turn, 3.37-mile road course, was about to accept the accolades of winning the pole for the second year in a row before Rossi’s stunning final lap in the Firestone Fast Six.Rossi’s Honda was still on the race course on the fourth lap on his set of Firestones “Black” tires and the tire performance was optimal. His fast lap was 1:22.4639 for a speed of 147.119 mils per hour. That bettered Dixon’s fast time of 1:22.5168 and Rossi celebrated his first career Verizon IndyCar Series pole.“It was a big lap we needed,” Rossi said. “The lap before was pretty good, but they came on the radio and said, ‘you need at least a tenth.’ So, we went for it, dug deep, and the NAPA Auto Parts Andretti Honda has been so good since we rolled off, we’ve never been lower than fifth. It’s amazing to finally accomplish this, especially on the back of the announcement on Friday of his return to Andretti Autosport and a three-year extension for NAPA, and I think it’s been a long time coming, so it’s just nice to finally get that. The whole team has been working so hard, and they deserve this.”
Dixon appeared stunned that he was knocked off the pole with mere seconds left in the Firestone “Fast Six.”“The starting spot, front row, is definitely decent,” Dixon said. “The frustrating part is that we had plenty in hand. The problem is if you cool off the tires too much, it's really hard to get back up to speed. We caught Helio Castroneves so quickly, I don't know what he was doing out there, he was just sort of cruising around. We caught him way too fast with two laps to go.“Maybe we should have backed off I think on the second to last lap. I think we had probably another 3 or 4/10ths in the car. It’s definitely frustrating to lose it that way. We showed that speed definitely in Q2.“But congrats to Rossi. He did a good job.“We've shown good speed this weekend. I think we've definitely got the car to beat. We just didn't exercise it in qualifying.”
Alexander Rossi and NAPA Auto Parts will stay with Andretti Autosport for the foreseeable future.The contract extension startsin 2018 and continues a relationship that began in ...
Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden was third in a Chevrolet at 1:22.5169 with a speed of 147.024 mph. He has a 31-point lead over Dixon with two laps remaining for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. Takuma Sato, winner of this year’s Indianapolis 500 who will be leaving Andretti Autosport at the end of the season for a return to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, was fourth at 1:22.5660 146.937 mph.Chip Ganassi Racing’s Charlie Kimball’s Honda was fifth at 1:22.8081 146.507 mph and Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves’ Chevrolet rounded out the Fast Six at 1:23.3350 145.581 mph.
Dixon set a track record in qualification Session 2 at 1:22.4171, a full 0.3790 clear of P2 Rossi. That broke Dixon’s track record from last year of 1:22.5259.But the first six positions on the grid are determined by times in the Fast Six and that is when Rossi claimed pole at his favorite road course on the schedule.
“I love this place,” Rossi said. “It's one of my favorite road courses in the whole world actually. It's amazing to come here. It's a joy to drive an IndyCar around here. This is IndyCar’s at their absolute best -- Watkins Glen. “It's a privilege. It was so exciting to me because I'd always watched Watkins Glen as a track in the old races, Formula One. I knew that kind of from hearsay it was an amazing track from guys over in Europe. I'd never been able to be here. There was a period of time when Skip Barber raced here. Because I was under the age of 18, which was a New York state law age to drive at Watkins Glen. Always a place on my bucket list. Never had the opportunity to do it. Such a late addition to the 2016 calendar, when it finally happened, I was pretty stoked about it. “I'm glad my first career pole is here. It's fitting based on the fact that this is a track that is similar to the tracks that I kind of was racing on in Europe for so many years.“It just all clicked here today.”
IndyCar Grand Prix at the Glen Qualifying Results
1. 98 Alexander Rossi, Honda, 01:22.4639 147.1192. 9 Scott Dixon, Honda, 01:22.5168 147.0253. 2 Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 01:22.5169 147.0244. 26 Takuma Sato, Honda, 01:22.5660 146.9375. 83 Charlie Kimball, Honda, 01:22.8081 146.5076. 3 Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 01:23.3350 145.5817. 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 01:22.9854 146.1948. 12 Will Power, Chevrolet, 01:23.0987 145.9959. 18 Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 01:23.1459 145.91210. 15 Graham Rahal, Honda, 01:23.2240 145.77511. 14 Carlos Munoz, Chevrolet, 01:23.2959 145.64912. 1 Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 01:23.2981 145.64613. 20 Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 01:23.4917 145.30814. 4 Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 01:23.5089 145.27815. 19 Ed Jones, Honda, 01:23.9851 144.45416. 5 James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 01:23.6854 144.97217. 10 Tony Kanaan, Honda, 01:23.9982 144.43218. 7 Jack Harvey, Honda, 01:24.1390 144.19019. 8 Max Chilton, Honda, 01:24.2012 144.08320. 27 Marco Andretti, Honda, 01:24.1779 144.12321. 21 JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 01:24.4543 143.652
By Bruce Martin
Car news, reviews, motorsports,
All information and images provided by http://autoweek.com/article/indycar/alexander-rossi-steals-indycar-series-pole-watkins-glen