INDIANAPOLIS — Alexander Rossi was asked what made the difference in the end that cost him in his duel with Simon Pagenaud in the closing laps of the 103rd Indianapolis 500.
He said it was the horsepower differential between Chevrolet and Honda and the straight-line speed.
“Obviously the 22 guys fully deserve it,” Rossi said. “They were on pole. He led probably 70 percent of the laps. Yeah, I mean, he was a deserving winner for sure.”
The last caution particularly hurt him, as he was going to cycle out to the lead at the conclusion of the green flag pit cycle, having passed Pagenaud for said spot.
“We were doing a lot better on fuel mileage than (Pagenaud) was, so that was the first kind of nail in the proverbial coffin.”
On the final restart with 13 laps to go, Pagenaud pounced on him coming to the line and took the lead heading into Turn 1. He was able to match him for a few laps, and even took the lead with three laps to go. But with two to go, Pagenaud overtook him for the final time and won.
“We didn’t have the speed out front,” he said. “I mean, I was flat for the last 15 laps, and there’s not much more you can do.”
Bad luck basically sums up the day for Rossi at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In addition to the untimely caution, he suffered a slow stop because the fuel pump wouldn’t connect to his car. Then came his battle with the lapped car of Oriol Servia, who blocked him for multiple laps.
“I think it was one of the most disrespectful things I’ve ever seen in a race car, to be honest,” he said. “He’s a lap down and defending, putting me to the wall at 230 miles an hour. It’s unacceptable. It’s unacceptable for him, and it’s unacceptable that INDYCAR allowed it to happen as long as they did.”
At the end of the day, it was an excellent race to the win that he and Pagenaud put on. Maybe in time, he said he could take solace in that aspect.
“Ultimately it was a good day for the team,” he said. “You know, I think that we put a huge focus all month as we always do on the race car. The car was by far the best in the field in terms of what we could do and pass at will when I needed to. I didn’t see anyone else doing that. So a huge testament to the whole Andretti Autosport organization for really my fourth year here giving me a car that was capable of winning.
“So that’s a great thing, and I’m very, very thankful for that.
“But as I said, leading up to this many times, once you’ve won this thing once, the desire to win just ramps up exponentially every year, so it sucks to come this close and really have nothing that we as a team could have done differently. I’m proud of them. I’m proud of the effort that they always put in, and yeah, when we get No. 2, it’s going to be probably a huge explosion of emotions because we all want it really bad.”
He leaves Indianapolis third in points, trailing new points leader Pagenaud by 23.