Following the disappointment of missing out on a podium finish at COTA two weeks ago, Alexander Rossi is focused on maximizing points at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.
Rossi finds himself 4th in the NTT IndyCar point standings after two races, 40 points down on leader Josef Newgarden. And according to the 2018 series runner-up, the route to victory lane at Barber Motorsports Park goes straight through the Firestone Fast Six.
“Barber is notorious for being a track that is hard to pass on”, said Rossi ahead of this weekend’s third round of the NTT IndyCar Series.
Rossi aims to lead from the front
Since 2012 the race winner has only qualified outside the top 3 twice which on both occassions was Penske’s Josef Newgarden. The 2017 IndyCar Champion won from 5th in 2015 and 7th in his championship year.
Rossi is therefore pragmatic about the challenge facing the Andretti Autosport NAPA crew: “we will need to start up front in order to maximize the weekend from a points perspective.”
The inaugural IndyCar Classic at COTA was a race of highs and lows for Rossi. Demonstrating race winning pace across the weekend, the timing of the only full course caution of the day punished the 27-year-old and long-time race leader, Will Power.
Podium finishes were replaced by a DNF for Power and a late fightback to 9th for Rossi.
Reaching the Firestone Fast Six is the key to victory
Even though a significant early-season points gap has emerged, Rossi is content that his #27 Honda has the potential to put pressure on Newgarden for the championship lead, starting at Barber this weekend.
“We’ve had the pace to run in the Firestone Fast Six at both races so far this season, and it will be important to keep that going this weekend”, said the 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner. However, Barber remains one of the few tracks on the IndyCar schedule that Rossi is yet to fully master.
“Barber has been a bit of an odd track for us in the past”, he admitted. The former F1-driver has struggled to get a handle on the 17-turn road course in qualifying trim. Despite posting a top-5 finish in 2017 Rossi has posted an average qualifying start of 15th since his 2016 IndyCar debut.
Rossi confident in ‘new approach’ to qualifying
But the American is assured that his poor qualifying form at Barber will be a thing of the past come Saturday. “We have developed a new approach going into this weekend, so I am confident in our potential”, said the Andretti Autosport driver.
The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama weekend starts with practice Friday, April 5 from 11.15am (local) and knockout qualifying for the Firestone Fast Six from 3pm Saturday, April 6.
The green flag drops on the 90-lap race Sunday, April 7 at 3.15pm (local) with exclusive coverage on the NBCSN network.