“Everyone said if it stayed green all day, a two-stop strategy wouldn’t work,” seventh-place Ryan Hunter-Reay said after his Andretti Autosport teammate Alexander Rossi won Mid-Ohio with two stops on a caution-free day.
“We were wrong.”
Andretti COO Rob Edwards, who serves as Rossi’s race strategist, says the decision to go against the grain as the only entry to opt for two stops came after careful consideration. After recording the largest margin of victory this season, the two-stop idea, which came courtesy of the man behind the wheel, left 23 other IndyCar drivers wondering what they missed in their pre-race strategy meetings.
“Coming into the weekend, and again last night, Alex thought we should look at the two-stop option,” Edwards told RACER. “We did everything we could to talk ourselves out of it, but kept coming back to some trigger points that made us go with it.
“The first was that we could get the lap time and fuel mileage we needed. We started with that from Lap 2 onwards. To our pleasant surprise he was hitting both.”
There was a point somewhat early in the 90-lap Honda Indy 200 race where Edwards also flirted with switching to a three-stop plan.
“I think some contenders like two of the Penske cars and [Chip Ganassi Racing’s] Scott Dixon all went in with the idea of doing two, and at various points in the first stint, bailed out,” he said. “We got to Lap 23 or 24 and were stuck in traffic, it was tempting to bail out. But at that point, everyone had bailed, we talked about it, gave Alex some back and forth on our thoughts for a lap, then we got by one of the cars we were stuck behind, that feed up some open space, and we made [the two-stop] work from there.”
After praising his driver for a flawless day of work, Edwards was thankful for applying a bit of debate prep experience for hitting the mark on race strategy.
“It’s one of those cases where you go in trying to argue the other side of the debate,” he said. “We figured we couldn’t do two stops, argued it through every point that we could think of, and came out on the right side. These days are fun because they don’t come along very often.”