Rossi’s rise an outlier on quiet day for Andretti, Penske, RLL

Jake Galstad/Lumen

Rossi’s rise an outlier on quiet day for Andretti, Penske, RLL

IndyCar

Rossi’s rise an outlier on quiet day for Andretti, Penske, RLL

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Outside of Chip Ganassi’s five-car team, the rest of IndyCar’s big Indy 500-winning programs fell well short of expectation on Sunday. The lone bright spot to be found among Andretti Autosport’s five-car effort was 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi, who put his Speedway skills to work while motoring from 20th to fifth in the No. 27 Honda.

“It was a really strong day for the whole No. 27 team,” Rossi said. “To start 20th and end in the top five is a great accomplishment. I think due to some amazing work in pitlane and the great strategy we were able to capitalize when we needed to and the car was good. Everything went our way. Unfortunately, we ran out of time at the end. I don’t know if we had the overall pace to win but it was nice to be in there with a shot.”

Next best on Andretti’s list was Devlin DeFrancesco whose debut at Indy resulted in 20th-place; elsewhere, Team Penske’s top driver was Josef Newgarden who persevered to earn a disappointing 13th.

It had looked like a decent finish inside the top 10 was in the cards for the two-time series champion, but after stalling the No. 2 Chevy during a pit stop in the middle portion of the race, Newgarden was forced to claw his way back from 27th.

“It was another heartbreaking day around here,” he said. “I’m not sure what happened in our pit stop that ultimately did our day in. We had a stall, and it looks like somehow I got stuck in second gear instead of first gear. I’m not sure if that’s on me or not and not sure why that happened. We will have to analyze the data. If that’s on me, I feel terrible. We have a great team, and we did a great job all month. I felt like we were fighting for it all day long. I think we could have run in the top five. I am disappointed for our partners. We will assess it and come back stronger the next time around.”

At Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, a punishing month of May met a safe end where its driver trio all improved in the race, but with Graham Rahal’s progress from 21st to 14th serving as their highlight of their day, the lack of competitiveness stifled RLL’s ultimate potential.

“We just didn’t have it,” Rahal said. “The car didn’t have the natural speed that we needed. I feel bad for the guys because they put their heart and soul into this, and today was a great example. The car balance wasn’t that bad; we’d be following quite close sometimes, but we can’t draft up. The boys did a good job in the pits and that’s the reason we went forward in the race, so thanks to them. We will take a good dive into what exactly we need to be better. On to Detroit. I’m excited for Thursday, Friday of next week to come. We will get back on track and move forward.”

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