LEXINGTON, OH – We knew loyalty was big for Alexander Rossi personally. But, how much loyalty would he stand on in his next contract and their negotiations? See, all Rossi’s life he wanted to be a Formula One driver. He moved to Europe as a teenage to chase those dreams. It paid off too. He made some F1 appearances and appeared he was on track to be the next great American F1 star. Unfortunately for him yet fortunately for the NTT IndyCar Series, someone else came with more money which put Rossi unemployed.
It was so late in the offseason that this happened, he had no plans set up. Meanwhile, Bryan Herta here stateside thought he had Gabby Chaves signed for the 2016 season. Then, Chaves lost his funding and the future of Bryan Herta Autosport looked bleak. Herta, called friend Michael Andretti for help.
Alexander Rossi on track at Mid-Ohio this weekend – INDYCAR Media Site
Andretti, mentioned a merger between the two. If so, they had endless possibilities as a driver now. They shot high and went for Rossi. After all, he needed a ride and BHA/Andretti needed a driver.
Rossi, came over and signed up for the 2016 season. It was nice to feel wanted again for him. Now, with a chance to pay them back, he did.
Rossi, agreed to remain with Andretti Autosport for 2020 and beyond as he will remain in the No. 27 Honda for the foreseeable future.
“It means everything,” Rossi said on staying with Andretti. “At the end of the day when all this started, Andretti Autosport and Honda, we all have the same intentions, the same outlook. It was just a matter of finding a way to put all the pieces together and make it work for everyone.
“There’s a lot of different factors that go into these decisions. It had to come together in the right way. It wouldn’t have been possible obviously without Michael and his team, JF and Doug Bresnahan, NAPA Auto Parts, AutoNation and Honda.
“It’s been an amazing season to be able to talk about the huge amount of trust in relationships. That’s really what made this decision what it is. This is home for me. This is the team I know. Michael gave me the opportunity in 2016 when I was an unknown to this series and really North American racing.
“What we’ve been able to grow through and accomplish in three and a half going on four years is sensational. I think we’re only going to get stronger, we’re only going to get better. The partnerships and commitments we have from Honda, NAPA, AutoNation are going to allow us to do this. We have big plans ahead. It’s all going to start here this weekend.”
See, Rossi not only is a very loyal person, he wants to win. Why go somewhere else where it’s not guaranteed? He has continuity at Andretti Autosport as he’s already beating the Penske’s and Ganassi’s now, why leave to join them? Why relearn a whole new team when Andretti and Honda can retain him with the same people?
That’s a main reason why he stayed.
Another is, he wants a championship and getting this deal done now and out of the way gives he and his team a chance to chase his first career title. See, the longer and longer we’d go, the more and more of a distraction this would become. Rossi knew it. His team knew it.
So, why not nip it in the bud now?
He’s currently just 29 points behind Josef Newgarden for the points lead. Rossi, won this race at Mid-Ohio last year after leading 66 of 90 laps from the pole. He won the next race last year at Pocono in leading 180 of 200 laps. He finished runner-up in the third race at Gateway. With such strong tracks coming up, why have a contract distraction hanging over he and his teams heads for these prime races?
Now, they don’t. Now, he can chase this title and have his future set for himself as well as his team members. They know the band is staying together. That’s huge.
“For me, it’s all behind-the-scenes stuff,” Rossi said of how much of a relief it is to have this contract done. “It’s a really good thing for all the 27 boys, for the whole team to know that my confidence and my faith has always been in them.
“I feel like that’s a very mutual thing that we have. Trust, relationships, as I said earlier, are a huge part of this sport. Continuity is a really, really important thing that teams can build off of. You see results start to come when this flow of communication is at a level where it needs to be. I think we have that.
“The fact this is all behind us, the fact that we can focus on the day-to-day, executing on the racetrack, is a very positive thing.
“I’m very excited. I’m very thankful. I had a lot of really strong support through this whole process from my family, from my father, manager specifically, who kind of kept me focused on being able to do my job on the racetrack throughout this process, could trust that the off-track stuff was going to be handled.
“We make a great team. Couldn’t do without all the people that are in my corner.”