LONG POND, PA – Alexander Rossi knew that his worst tracks of the NTT IndyCar schedule were behind him. He left pretty well unscathed. Rossi, headed to the final four races of the season just 16 points behind Josef Newgarden for the points lead.
He knew that Sunday’s ABC Supply 500 at the Pocono Raceway was a great opportunity to close that gap. He led 180 of 200 laps in last year’s race and was runner-up in both superspeedway races run already this season.
But, an opening lap crash with Takuma Sato could be the reason why Rossi isn’t a champion at seasons end after all.
“I can’t even believe to understand after last year how Takuma (Sato) thinks any sort of driving like that is acceptable,” said Rossi. “To turn across two cars at that speed at that corner in a 500-mile race is disgraceful and upsetting. It might have cost me this championship.”
Sato, made a dangerous move on the opening lap of Sunday’s race which sparked a five car accident that saw him get upside down and Felix Rosenqvist into the catch fencing.
Luckily, Rosenqvist was able to walk away albeit was later transferred by ground to a local hospital for non life threatening injuries, but it was an accident that should have never happened and could have had grave consequences.
Sato, didn’t necessarily think he did anything wrong. That’s why I’m even more concerned about why he did it. He clearly wasn’t clear of Rossi but came down on him anyways. That contact forced Rossi’s steering to go out and Sato into Ryan Hunter-Reay who was below Rossi on track too. Sato and Hunter-Reay hit the inside wall and spun back up towards the outside SAFER barrier in Turn 2.
Rossi, meanwhile went straight towards the Turn 2 wall himself and collected Rosenqvist and James Hinchcliffe. Sato, hit the outside wall with Hunter-Reay and got upside down.
The team went to work while under the 45-minute and 24-second red flag on Rossi’s No. 27 Honda which caused IndyCar to penalized them 10 laps for doing so. He made it back on track later on in the race as he finished 18th, 89 laps down. The move to get his car fixed and back on track gained him three spots too.
Rossi, hasn’t led a lap now since June 23. He’s led just 75 laps since the start of June. He also has just one podium in the last four races now which is why he is likely needing to win multiple times over the final three races.
His deficit a little more than doubled too as he’s now 35 points out heading to Gateway.