It was nothing but hugs, daps, and high fives on pit lane within the Andretti Autosport team after Alexander Rossi captured pole position at the Road America circuit where he simply destroyed the field in 2019.
Three years removed from his last NTT IndyCar Series win, the Californian did his part to solve that lingering problem by taking his first pole in three years with the No. 27 Honda. The sense of relief was palpable among the crew on Rossi’s car and from the three other Andretti entries where crew members, drivers, and management came to congratulate their teammates.
For those who thought Rossi’s best days were behind him, let his fifth place at the Indy 500, second last weekend in Detroit and run to P1 on Saturday in Wisconsin serve as a results-based counter-argument.
“You know, I’m pretty new to the 27 car,” Rossi’s race strategist Brian Barnhart told RACER. “But the guys that have been there for a while have had a lot of really tough breaks the last year or two. Alex has worked really hard to get back to where he is now, and he has got the bit between his teeth. He’s a beast. And the crew is jelling. We’re clicking well. We’ve got some new guys on the crew that took us a couple of races to get going, but right now the momentum is good and we’re just trying to keep the train rolling.”
Some have asked whether Rossi’s return to form has been linked to the recent announcement of his signing with Arrow McLaren SP in 2023 — if it’s been like a pressure relief valve of sorts — but according to Barnhart, there’s no linkage between the two.
“No, he’s unchanged,” he swiftly said. “It’s us clicking better as a group and reading him better and understanding better what he needs from us as a team, and simply our execution has been where it belongs. We’ve shot him in the foot too many times coming down pit road with some less than stellar pit stops…that’s probably an understatement.
“But the boys have worked real hard and cleaned up our stops. Now the momentum is rolling in a positive direction and we’re just going to keep going because he’s unchanged. He hasn’t changed a bit. We’re just starting to execute, to deliver for a guy who is always ready to deliver for us.”