The best way for a driver to reward their crew after a big crash is with a strong run in qualifying or the race, and that’s precisely what Alexander Rossi delivered for his No. 27 Andretti Autosport team.
In fact, he rewarded his own crew, upper management and mechanics from a number of his teammates’ cars (note the diversity of shirts at work, above) as a flurry of hands were required to remove the battered transmission and suspension at the back of his car and prepare a stripped-down spare. Honda Performance Development also called for the No. 27’s engine to be changed after being involved in the heavy reward smash during Saturday morning’s practice session.
With just over two hours to split the car in half and install all of the fresh items for qualifying, the team had the car done, sent through technical inspection, and on pit lane with just enough time for Rossi to roll out for the first round of knockout qualifying.
Having made it all the way through the Firestone Fast Six, Rossi came away as the best of the four-car squad with a supreme effort to claim fifth on the grid for Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.
“It was unbelievable,” Rossi said. “I think it was six of the guys involved, management involved. It was a big, big situation to do an engine and a gearbox. So, yeah, I put them in a very tough situation. It was amazing just to be out there in the first place, have the opportunity to compete and qualify. Obviously we knew that the car had been strong all weekend.
“We didn’t get a chance on the red tires, so the first run was kind of guessing a little bit. I was just pleased to be out there. I mean, obviously when you advance all the way to the end, you hope for a little bit more. Ultimately where we were two hours ago, I think everyone is relieved and happy that we got through that. Every result that we get this weekend is down to those guys, for sure.”