Rossi to make 100th IndyCar career start at Long Beach

Competing in his seventh full-time season in the NTT IndyCar Series, Alexander Rossi is set to reach a milestone start. By taking the green flag in this weekend’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach at the Streets of Long Beach, California, the driver of the No. 27 Andretti Autosport Dallara-Honda will make his 100th career start in the IndyCar circuit.

A native of Auburn, California, Rossi made his inaugural presence in the IndyCar Series at the start of the 2016 season. By then, he was coming off a part-time stint for Manor Marussia F1 Team, where he competed in five Grand Prix events as a reserve F1 competitor. Despite remaining as a reserve competitor for Manor entering the 2016 season, Rossi opted to compete in the IndyCar Series on a full-time basis and in the No. 98 Dallara-Honda for Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb Agajanian. 

Making his debut in the 2016 season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in March, Rossi finished 12th after starting 18th. Through the following four events, he recorded his first top-10 career result by finishing 10th in the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course in May.

A week later, Rossi achieved a pinnacle moment in his racing career by winning the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and claiming his maiden IndyCar career victory. The win came after Rossi took the lead with four laps remaining while the front-runners pitted for fuel and barely had enough to coast across the finish line with the victory over teammate Carlos Muñoz, Josef Newgarden and Tony Kanaan. With the victory, Rossi became the 70th different winner of the Indy 500 and the first rookie IndyCar competitor to win the event since Hello Castroneves made the last accomplishment in 2001. He also achieved the fifth Indy 500 victory for Andretti Autosport.

Following his Indy 500 victory, Rossi went on to finish in the top 10 in four of the remaining 10 IndyCar events of the 2016 season. A day after finishing in fifth place in the season-finale GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway and capping off his first full-time IndyCar campaign in 11th place in the final standings, Rossi was named the 2016 IndyCar Rookie of the Year.

Remaining at Andretti Autosport on a new multi-year contract deal, Rossi recorded two top-five results and five top-10 results through the first 11 IndyCar scheduled events and was ranked in ninth place in the standings. He then picked up his first podium result of the season after finishing second in the Honda Indy Toronto at Exhibition Place in July before claiming another podium result in the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway in August with a third-place effort. Two races later, Rossi claimed his second IndyCar triumph at Watkins Glen International after starting on pole position for the first time in his career and leading 32 of 60 laps. He went on to conclude the season in seventh place in the final standings.

For the 2018 IndyCar season, Rossi, who remained at Andretti Autosport for a third full-time stint, swapped numbers with teammate Marco Andretti, giving the Californian the No. 27 to sport to his Dallara-Honda. Three races into the new season, Rossi claimed his third IndyCar career win following a dominating performance from pole position in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in April. The early win to the season marked the first time where Rossi emerged as the points leader.

Rossi, however, lost the points lead during the following three events, but reassumed it after finishing in third place in the first of a Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix doubleheader feature in The Raceway at Michigan’s Belle Isle. During the second Belle Isle event, however, Rossi, who dominated and was battling teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay for the win, locked up his car with seven laps remaining and plummeted to 12th place in the final running order. In addition, he dropped from first to third in the standings while being overtaken by Will Power and Scott Dixon.

Despite the misfortune, Rossi remained in contention for the title for the remaining nine events of the schedule, where he finished on the podium four times. During this stretch, he also claimed back-to-back victories in the season at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and at Pocono between July and August.

Entering the finale at Sonoma, which marked Rossi’s 50th IndyCar career start, he trailed Dixon in the standings by 29 points. At the start of the finale, however, he made contact with teammate Andretti that damaged the front wing of his car and sent him to the rear of the field. He recovered to finish seventh despite running out of fuel on the final lap, but he concluded the season as the championship runner-up behind Dixon. Though he fell short in claiming his first IndyCar title, the 2018 season was a career season for Rossi, who achieved career-best results in wins (three), podiums (eight), poles (three), laps led (415), average-finishing result (5.7) and standing result (second).

Rossi commenced the 2019 season with a fifth place result at the Streets of St. Petersburg. Three races later, he claimed his first victory of the season at the Long Beach Street Circuit, which also marked his second consecutive win at the circuit in Southern California. In a similar fashion to the previous season, Rossi remained in contention for the title as he earned another victory of the season at Road America in June along with six podium results through the following 12 scheduled events. When the season concluded at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on September, however, Rossi, who finished sixth in the finale, settled in third place in the final standings and 33 points shy of his first IndyCar title.

Coming off two strong seasons, the 2020 season, which was reduced to 14 scheduled events amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, was a disappointing season for Rossi, who endured a winless season for the first time in his career. Despite recording five podium results throughout the season, including two season-best runner-up results at Mid-Ohio and Indy’s Road Course event between September and October, he was not a factor for the title as he settled in ninth place in the final standings.

Rossi endured another difficult season in 2021, where he only managed a single podium result with second place at Portland International Raceway in September along with four starts on the front row. When the season concluded, he ended up in 10th place in the final standings. 

Through 99 previous IndyCar starts, Rossi has achieved seven victories, six poles, 25 podiums, 814 laps led and an average-finishing result of 9.8. He has finished 20th and 27th respectively during the first two IndyCar events and is ranked in 27th place in the championship standings while he continues his pursuit for his first IndyCar title.

Rossi is set to make his 100th NTT IndyCar Series career start in the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach at the Streets of Long Beach, California, on Sunday, April 10 on NBC. The event’s coverage is scheduled to commence at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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