ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – After Alexander Rossi lost the pole position to Colton Herta on Saturday at Road America, he was determined to not let the REV Group Grand Prix play out in the same manner.
Rossi held true to that vow with one of the most dominant drives in NTT IndyCar Series history, leading all but one of the race’s 55 laps and taking the checkered flag in front by a whopping 28.4391 seconds.
The end result was the largest margin of victory since Scott Dixon won by just under 30 seconds at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2009, as well as Rossi’s seventh career Indy car win and second of the season.
While Rossi was hesitant, at first, to call his No. 27 NAPA Auto Parts Honda the best race car he’d ever driven, he eventually relented during his interview with NBC Sports’ Marty Snider.
“That race car was right up there (among the best), I think,” Rossi noted in victory lane. “These guys – what we did overnight with seeing what we were missing was the trick today, I feel like.
“Qualifying hurt, but to be able to go do what we did today was sensational,” he added. “After thinking about it a little bit, that was probably the best race car I’ve ever had.”
Nineteen-year-old Colton Herta started from the pole, but Rossi was relentless from the drop of the green flag, staying even with Herta through turn one and eventually clearing the teenager by turn three.
From there, Rossi got so far ahead of the competition that even through the first two pit cycles on Sunday, he remained out front by a healthy margin. Only when Graham Rahal stayed out an extra circuit around the 4.014-mile, 14-turn course to lead on the 42nd lap did Rossi cede the top spot for a moment.
Rossi wasn’t bothered that he didn’t lead every lap on Sunday, however.
“Unless there’s a point for (doing) that, I don’t care,” he quipped.
With Rossi in a league of his own, the battle for “best in class” was left to a pair of Team Penske drivers, with Will Power ultimately edging out teammate Josef Newgarden for second place in the end.
“That was all we had. We made the best strategy calls we could and did the best with what tires we had available to us, but we had nothing for the (No.) 27,” Power said. “Alex was just gone. I never even saw him. We probably have a bit of work to do on the road courses, but I’m OK with second. It’s a good day.”
“I knew we were fighting for second or third right from the start,” added Newgarden. “Those guys were quicker all weekend.”
Graham Rahal crossed the line fourth in a Honda resembling his father’s 1994 Miller Genuine Draft-liveried machine, honoring the 25th anniversary of Honda’s debut in Indy car racing, while Scott Dixon rallied from a spin at turn five on the opening lap by driving through the field to complete the top five.
Sixth through 10th were Felix Rosenqvist, James Hinchcliffe, Herta, Simon Pagenaud and Takuma Sato.
With his win on Sunday, Rossi has climbed to within seven points of Newgarden in the race for the Astor Cup championship trophy, with Indianapolis 500 winner Pagenaud 61 markers back in third.