Rossi defends late-race St. Pete move

Rossi defends late-race St. Pete move

IndyCar

Rossi defends late-race St. Pete move

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Alexander Rossi thinks there’s no reason he couldn’t go for the move that led to the collision with race leader Robert Wickens, ruining the day for two of the strongest cars all race long.

“They made it very clear in the drivers’ meeting that the rule on blocking was you can’t move in reaction,” Rossi said of his attempt, which was reviewed by IndyCar with no action taken. “If [Wickens] defended the inside, initially, yeah, out of Turn 13 or even halfway down the straight, and then I continued to go to the inside down the white line, then yeah, that’s my decision and that’s putting my car in danger, but there’s no reason why I can’t pop and stay next to him.

“I don’t have to be all four cars in the part of the track that – all four wheels on the part of the track nobody goes on.”

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The restart with two laps to go could have been a do-over for Rossi, who had a chance on a lap 106 restart that ended with a small slide and loss of about two seconds. Knowing it was going to be hard to catch Wickens a second time – “I put a lot of pressure on him and he didn’t make a mistake [on the second-to-last restart]” – Rossi said he got the push-to-pass call and had a jump and moved inside to try for the lead once again.

“Normally they don’t allow Push-to-Pass on restarts,” he said. “You’d normally have to do a timed lap before you did it, but because of the late call to go green that lap, they allowed it, and I actually got the call when I was in the middle of Turn 13 and 14.

“So I had a big jump on Rob, and he got to the Push-to-Pass pretty late. The run was perfect for me going into Turn 1, and I knew there wasn’t going to be very many other opportunities. Obviously he had a good car all day, and they did a great job.

“Yeah, made the pop. He defended the position, which he has the right to do, but in doing so, in moving the reaction, he put me into the marbles pretty late into the corner. It’s difficult with these cars and with how much we’re sliding around in the first place, even on the racing line.

“When you’re put in the marbles, it’s hairy. Super unfortunate. Like you never want to see that happen. I feel bad because I feel like I could have won and he could have gotten second. You never want to see that happen, but nevertheless, it was a great job by the whole team all weekend.”

Asked if braking earlier could have stopped a collision or if his “goose was cooked,” as soon as he hit the brake pedal, Rossi responded: “My goose was totally rare until he continued to move in the braking zone and put me even more into the marbles.

“I had no problem pulling it up. I wasn’t locked up or anything.

For his part, Wickens said if Rossi wanted to make the move, “go for it.”

“I need to see it before I comment on anything but I didn’t really want to defend too hard because there was so much marbles offline so I figured if Alexander wants to go there, go for it,” he said.

“I gave him space around the outside. I broke late. I made the corner and then we had some contact and obviously it put me into a spin into the wall. I ended my day with one lap left in the race. Not the way I imagined the day going for me or my Lucas Oil guys.

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