Andretti Autosport hasn’t been at their best when it comes to racing in Gateway. Not many teams are though. The reason is because Team Penske has won the last four races in Gateway including the two most recent. They’ve also won five straight races on ovals too. So, when you think of terms of top five finishers for ovals, three of which likely are already taken by Penske drivers. That’s not a lot of margin for error for the rest.
That’s also not good news for a driver like Alexander Rossi who’s in a championship hunt with two Penske drivers.
Rossi, has led a combined four laps in two career Gateway starts. Also, Rossi’s short oval program hasn’t exactly been the greatest lately either. He was lapped near the midway mark in Iowa and finished sixth. In fact, since Belle Isle 2, Rossi has led a combined 57 laps including none in the last four races either. He hasn’t finished on the podium since July 14.
With Newgarden winning this race in 2017 and dominating at Iowa this past year combined with Dixon scoring two podiums in two tries on the 1.25-mile oval and Pagenaud not finishing worse than fourth in his two tries, Rossi has some work to do in order to remain in a good striking position for this year’s championship.
That’s why he was so frustrated with how last weekend played out. Rossi, was taken out of last Sunday’s ABC Supply 500 in a first lap accident with Takuma Sato. Their contact sparked a five car crash that saw Rossi finish 18th and Josef Newgarden fifth. His deficit to Newgarden more than doubled as he’s happy to move onto this week now.
“After last weekend, I am really looking forward to forgetting about Pocono and moving on to (World Wide Technology Raceway),” Rossi said. “We didn’t come out of the last race with a tighter gap to the championship like we had hoped, so it is extremely important to go for the win at Gateway and grab all the points we can to keep fighting for the Astor Cup. We had a strong car at last year’s race at Gateway and ended up finishing second. The NAPA boys deserve another win this year and I’m hoping we’ll see them in victory lane Saturday night.”
Gateway is a spot that he needs to run well at and somehow find the pace in his No. 27 Honda to compete. He did last year in coming home runner-up. He was sixth in 2017 too.