For 3rd Time In 4 Races, Rossi Finishes Runner-Up, Why This Is Shaping Up To Be A Newgarden vs. Ross
FORT WORTH, TX – Alexander Rossi thought that he had the pace to win Saturday night’s DXC Technology 600. Yes, he only started 11th for the ninth race of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season, but Rossi is a showman and he’d definitely make some moves in his No. 27 Honda towards the front.
By the end of the first pit sequence, there he was in the top five. By the end of the second sequence, he was in the top three. His Andretti Autosport entry was there for the win.
Unfortunately, a pit call by Tim Cindric kept him out of victory lane for the second time in the last three races.
Cindric, made another brilliant move to get the Tennessee native another victory. See, under the first caution of the race when Zach Veach spun on the backstretch on Lap 135, Newgarden was one of nine cars to hit pit lane. That proved to be the winning move.
Last week in Belle Isle, Newgarden came in early to get off his Firestone wet tires and to go to slicks. While he was on pit lane, the caution flag came out. He’d cycle out in front of Rossi and hold him off on a one groove race track.
On Saturday night at the Texas Motor Speedway, Newgarden was now off sequence and had nothing to lose in hitting pit lane. He was running eighth when only 11 cars were on the lead lap. So, when the main leaders pit for their second to last time on Lap 163 and on, Newgarden didn’t need to. His tire fall off was minimal which helped him get the positioning he needed.
The leaders pit again for the final time on Lap 188, 190 and 191 respectively, Newgarden inherited the lead. He didn’t have to pit for his final time until Lap 199. By then, his tires were still holding up which meant his lap times were 6-7 mph quicker than the others. That’s why her inherited the lead again on Lap 203 as he’d never look back.
James Hinchcliffe crashes on Lap 218 with a similar incident to Veach’s earlier. That bunched up the field. Then, on Lap 228, Colton Herta and Dixon crashed in Turn 3. Just like that, three of the top six cars that would be the main challengers to Newgarden were out.
It was down to Newgarden vs. Rossi.
Rossi tried multiple times over the final 12 lap shootout, but the outside lane in Turns 1 and 2 wouldn’t allow him to complete the pass.
For Rossi, it was his third runner-up in the last four races on the 2019 season. His worst finish since the Indy 500 has been fifth last Sunday in Belle Isle 2. Last year, Rossi finished third in this race. This year, it’s a second place run as he now trails Newgarden by 25 points as we move into the second half of the season.
“The second lane never came in,” said Rossi who now trails Newgarden by 25 points in the points standings. “It’s disappointing. He was really no where. They called a great race. Ultimately, once he had track position, there was nothing I could really do”
Over the last 43 races, Newgarden has reached victory lane in 10 of them. Rossi, has five wins. Also, since the start of the 2017 season, Newgarden leads Rossi in podiums 17-15. he has one more top five finish (23-22) and two more top 10’s (34-32). They’re close in every category and with how things stand with officially being in the second half of the season, it appears that this is a race between these two for the 2019 championship.
Third place (Simon Pagenaud) is 48 points out. Scott Dixon and Takuma Sato each made valuable mistakes on Saturday night and trails Newgarden by 89 and 95 points respectively. No one else is within 100 points.