Andretti optimistic about keeping Rossi, Honda

Image by Michael Levitt/LAT

Andretti optimistic about keeping Rossi, Honda

IndyCar

Andretti optimistic about keeping Rossi, Honda

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Alexander Rossi said Sunday in Toronto that he’ll have a decision on where he’s driving in 2020 “before the end of the year.”

But, after speaking with Michael Andretti, maybe the most coveted free agent in IndyCar is staying put despite interest from Roger Penske and at least one other major team in the IndyCar paddock.

Andretti, who along with Bryan Herta gave Rossi his first IndyCar ride in 2016, said last month that his team wanted to keep the 27-year-old Californian and that the 2016 Indy winner wanted to stay

Asked Sunday prior to the start of the Honda Indy Toronto if he had made progress in negotiations with Rossi, Andretti was upbeat.

“I think things are getting there. They’re not there yet but we’re close. I think it’s going in the right direction.”

It’s believed Penske wants to sign the ex-Formula 1 driver who has won seven times since 2016; was runner-up in the 2018 point standings; and is now just four points behind Josef Newgarden in the 2019 NTT title race.

Other than confirming that Simon Pagenaud would be back next year after he won Indianapolis last May, The Captain never discusses driver changes or renewals until the end of the season. The winningest car owner in IMS and IndyCar history indicated earlier this summer to RACER.com that he would only be running four cars at Indianapolis, but evidently that is subject to change if Rossi would come aboard.

It was also rumored over the weekend that Sam Schmidt, Rick Peterson and ARROW have made a substantial offer for Rossi’s services, but Schmidt wasn’t in Toronto and Peterson couldn’t be located for comment.

It looks increasingly likely Andretti Autosport will keep both Rossi and Honda power in 2020. Image by Galstad/LAT

Keeping Rossi is likely Andretti”s primary focus, although which manufacturer powers his four-car team is a question that also looms large.

It’s believed Chevrolet is making a play for Andretti Autosport, while Honda desperately wants to hold on to one of its flagship teams that includes Ryan Hunter-Reay and teenage sensation Colton Herta and Marco Andretti.

RHR won the 2012 IndyCar title for Andretti, though, with Chevrolet.

Andretti was asked if there had been any movement on the engine front:

“Honda has been great — we’ve had a really good relationship, and we’re hoping we can put something together. It’s getting real close there too.”

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