INDIANAPOLIS – Alexander Rossi is arguably THE storyline of the remainder of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season. Not only is he in the thick of things to win this year’s title as he trails Josef Newgarden by just seven points, but he’s the top target for this year’s Silly Season.
In fact, silly season could start or end with him. There’s not many rides that will be available but nothing can start until Rossi decides on where to go.
Alexander Rossi celebrates his win at Road America – INDYCAR Media Site
That’s why he’s going to be the most talked about topic from here on out. A championship front runner that’s a free agent at seasons end. A lot of people may wonder why he would even be a free agent to begin with. Why would Andretti Autosport let him go? Why would he want to leave in the first place?
To put it bluntly, who said he was leaving and who said they’re letting him go? To be fair, Rossi isn’t saying anything on record. I honestly don’t think he’s concerned by his future destination because he knows his talent will earn him any seat that he wants. Anything that derails his mind from winning the championship is a distraction. He doesn’t want any distractions.
But, the longer he does wait will become a louder and louder distraction from the outside.
So, lets look at his top legitimate options.
To Stay With Andretti
He just beat the field by 28+ seconds last Sunday. He won by over 20 seconds at Long Beach. When he’s lost, he’s done so narrowly to Team Penske drivers. He annually contends each May at the Indy 500. Last year, it was him and Scott Dixon for the championship. This year it’s him and Josef Newgarden.
He’s on par with Penske and Ganassi now. Why leave? The engineering is in place. His team is in place now to win. Why leave?
That’s why Andretti has a good case to keep him.
Plus, Andretti can use Rossi as leverage. His deal with Honda is up next season. Andretti, needs the money to afford Rossi’s next contract. He’s waiting to hear about NAPA’s plans. If NAPA comes back and does so in a similar or larger capacity, how badly does Honda want to keep Rossi?
Andretti, can threaten to go back to Chevrolet, a manufacturer that they’ve had good success with overall. You know Chevy wants Rossi. They already have Newgarden, why not Rossi too?
They’ll want to pony up some money for him. So, I have to ask, how bad does Honda want Rossi?
If Honda calls Andretti’s bluff and Andretti does end up with the bowties, but Rossi feels loyalty to Honda, where does he go?
Honda can offer Ganassi, their top team, but does Rossi want to be second fiddle to Dixon? Would he go to SPM and play second fiddle to James Hinchcliffe? He’s already the top driver with Andretti and can go to Penske and Chevy and be an equal to their trio.
So, it’s either stay with Honda and stay with Andretti or go to Chevy and be with Andretti (if they switch) or Penske.
Alexander Rossi battles Simon Pagenaud for the win in the end of the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 – INDYCAR Media Site
Making A Case For Penske
They can get him PAID. We know Penske has the money to offer. It would be with a lot of zeros and commas. Can anyone else match? That’s why Andretti is wanting help from NAPA and Honda.
So why leave Andretti for a team that may spread themselves thin? We know that all three current Penske drivers are likely coming back in 2020. Will Power has an extension that was signed last year and Josef Newgarden isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Plus, Simon Pagenaud just swept the Month of May at Indy and Penske vowed a contract extension as a result of that feat.
But, why join forces with them when they’d have to add a fourth car?
Well, we know Dixon isn’t getting any younger and you know the old saying, keep your friends close but your enemies closer? Why not run the same equipment as your top rivals year in and year out?
Plus, Penske is annually the favorites to win the ‘500.
Rossi, wants championships and Indy 500 victories. Penske, is the top team to offer both and can pay him handsomely to do so. We know Rossi isn’t an ego guy but after being turned away from F1, does he cash in what he’s owed?