After the 102nd Indianapolis 500 was in the books, one could only imagine what the outcome might have been had Alexander Rossi started in the fourth or fifth row instead of the last one.
Because, just like at Phoenix last month, nobody passed any more cars and nobody did it with any more panache.
The 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner put on a show Sunday as he charged from 32nd to fourth in the NAPA Honda and made one of the most bodacious passes in recent history.
“I feel like we did what we could and maximized what we had,” said Rossi, whose effort put him two points behind leader Will Power in the Verizon standings heading for the double-header in Detroit. “Hats off to the NAPA crew, Andretti Autosport and Honda – everyone was on their A game today.”
After posting the 10th-fastest speed in the opening round of time trials, Rossi had a big moment on his last lap during the second day of qualifying and that relegated him to the back row.
“You can’t help but think what we could have done from ninth or 10th like we were hoping for, but at the end of the day that was what we got,” he said.
“They gave me all the tools I needed. With this car, it is so difficult to pass. The fact that we were able to pass 28 cars I think is a testament to the team.”
At one point, it looked like 32nd to first was a distinct possibility. On Lap 153, the 26-year-old Californian used the high side in Turn 1 to vault past Simon Pagenaud and teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay and go from fifth to third. It was a breathtaking move but, in the end, he had to settle for fourth.
“Doing anything more than that from the last row was going to be a challenge,” he said. “But I don’t look back on anything and wish we’d done anything different.
“It was a good day from a championship perspective but we didn’t have enough to win. So congrats to Will.”