After enduring a difficult stretch for the past three seasons, Alexander Rossi made a triumphant return to Victory Lane after winning the Gallagher Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course on Sunday, July 30.
The 30-year-old Rossi from Nevada City, California, was running in second place approaching the halfway segment between Laps 42 and 43 of 85 when his teammate and race leader Colton Herta fell off the pace and was eliminated following a mechanical issue. From there, Rossi assumed full control of the race and managed to beat rookie Christian Lundgaard by three-and-a-half seconds to snap a 49-year winless drought and record his first NTT IndyCar Series victory of the 2022 season.
With on-track qualifying that determined the starting lineup occurring on Friday, Felix Rosenqvist started on pole position for the second time this season after notching a pole-winning lap at 125.030 mph in one minute, 10.2265 seconds. Joining him on the front row was Alexander Rossi, who clocked in his best lap at 124.539 mph in one minute, 10.5030 seconds.
When the green flag waved and the race commenced, the field fanned out to multiple lanes through the frontstretch and entering the first turn as Rosenqvist retained the lead ahead of Alexander Rossi and Josef Newgarden, who bolted his way from the third row to third place. Then in Turn 2, Pato O’Ward, coming off his victory at Iowa Speedway, plummeted down the leaderboard after getting hit by Will Power and spinning while running towards the front.
With the event remaining under green, Rosenqvist retained the lead ahead of Rossi and Newgarden. His No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Dallara-Chevrolet continued to lead the field through the 14-turn circuit and back to the frontstretch as the first lap was recorded.
Through the second lap, Rosenqvist remained as the leader by seven-tenths of a second over Rossi followed by Newgarden, Herta and Lundgaard while Conor Daly, Devlin DeFrancesco, Alex Palou, Scott McLaughlin and Jack Harvey were in the top 10.
During the following lap, the first caution flew when Dalton Kellett made contact against Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Carvana Dallara-Honda as he spun in Turn 7 in front of O’Ward’s No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Dallara-Chevrolet. During the caution period, few names like Takuma Sato and O’Ward pitted while the rest led by Rosenqvist remained on the track.
When the event proceeded under green by the fourth lap, Rosenqvist continued to lead ahead of Rossi and the field. A few laps later, Colton Herta, who won at Indy’s Road Course in May, muscled his No. 26 Gainbridge Dallara-Honda into the runner-up spot while Lundgaard and Newgarden, who was penalized and forced to surrender two spots on the track for exceeding track limits, were in the top five.
Then on the seventh lap, Herta gained strong run and overtook Rosenqvist in Turn 7 to move into the lead. Shortly after, teammate Rossi took over the runner-up lap as Lundgaard moved his No. 30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara-Honda into the top three.
Through the first 10 scheduled laps, Herta was leading by more than a second over teammate Rossi followed by Lundgaard, Rosenqvist and Newgarden while Conor Daly, Scott McLaughlin, Devlin DeFrancesco, Alex Palou and Jack Harvey occupied the top 10. Behind, Graham Rahal was in 11th ahead of Rinus VeeKay, Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves and Romain Grosjean while Marcus Ericsson was in 19th ahead of Jimmie Johnson and Will Power.
Shortly after, names like VeeKay, Dixon, Castroneves, David Malukas and Callum Ilott pitted under green. By then, Simon Pagenaud made an unscheduled pit stop. When Lap 13 occurred, more names like Palou, Rahal, McLaughlin and Conor Daly, who stalled his car, pitted under green.
During the following lap, Herta surrendered the lead to pit along with Rosenqvist, Rossi and Lundgaard as McLaughlin moved into the lead.
By Lap 20, McLaughlin, who continued to stretch his fuel tank as part of a strategic move, remained as the leader by more than 14 seconds over Ericsson while Johnson, Power and O’Ward were in the top five. By then, Herta was in seventh behind Takuma Sato while Kellett, Rossi and Lundgaard were in the top 10. Newgarden was in 11th ahead of Palou, Simon Pagenaud, VeeKay and Rosenqvist while Dixon in 18th in between DeFrancesco and Harvey.
Two laps later, the leader McLaughlin pitted his No. 3 Gallagher Dallara-Chevrolet under green along with Ericsson. Once Jimmie Johnson pitted by Lap 24, Power cycled his No. 12 Verizon 5G Dallara-Chevrolet into the lead followed by O’Ward, Sato, Herta and Rossi.
At the Lap 30 mark, Power was leading by more than three seconds over Herta followed by Rossi, Lundgaard and Sato. McLaughlin was in sixth while Newgarden, Palou, Pagenaud and VeeKay were in the top 10. By then, O’Ward pitted for fresh red tires.
During the following lap, Power surrendered the lead to pit for fresh red tires along with Sato while Herta cycled his way back into the lead ahead of teammate Rossi.
Then on Lap 35, names like VeeKay, Rosenqvist, Rahal, DeFrancesco, Jack Harvey, David Malukas, Helio Castroneves, rookie Kyle Kirkwood, Dixon, Grosjean and Conor Daly under green as Simon Pagenaud’s No. 60 SiriusXM Dallara-Honda was off the pace after running out of fuel as he came to a stop off the course in Turn 10. Just as Herta, Rossi, Newgarden, McLaughlin and Lundgaard peeled off the track to pit, the caution flew for Pagenaud’s issue.
When the green flag waved and the race restarted on Lap 38, Herta retained the lead ahead of teammate Rossi, Lundgaard, Power, Johnson, McLaughlin, Newgarden and O’Ward.
Then as the event reached its halfway mark between Laps 42 and 43, Rossi assumed the lead after teammate Herta, who was leading, fell off the pace through Turns 10 to 12 due to a mechanical issue with no clutch as his car came to a stop inside the pit lane entrance. With Herta out of contention and out of the race, Rossi was out in front by more than a second over Lundgaard followed by Power, Johnson and McLaughlin while Newgarden, VeeKay, Rahal, O’Ward and Dixon were in the top 10.
Through Lap 50, Rossi’s No. 27 NAPA/AutoNation Dallara-Honda was leading by more than three seconds over Lundgaard’s No. 30 while Team Penske’s Power, McLaughlin and Newgarden were in the top five. By then, Johnson surrendered his spot in the top 10 to pit. Meanwhile, Castroneves was mired back in 22nd after making earlier contact with Kirkwood that sent Kirkwood spinning in Turn 9. The contact prompted IndyCar to issue the four-time Indianapolis 500 champion a penalty for avoidable contact.
With less than 30 laps remaining, Rossi continued to lead by nearly four seconds over Lundgaard as Power, McLaughlin and Newgarden remained in the top five. VeeKay was in sixth ahead of Rahal, Dixon, Palou and Rosenqvist. By then, O’Ward was back in 11th and Ericsson was in 12th while Sato, Harvey and Callum Ilott were in the top 15. David Malukas was in 16th followed by Conor Daly, Devlin DeFrancesco, Romain Grosjean and Helio Castroneves while Jimmie Johnson was back in 22nd.
Then with nearly 25 laps remaining, Power pitted under green along with O’Ward, Dixon, Sato and Ilott. Newgarden, VeeKay, Rahal, Palou, Harvey, Malukas, Daly, DeFrancesco, Grosjean and Johnson pitted not long after before the leader Rossi pitted along with Lundgaard, McLaughlin, Rosenqvist and Ericsson.
Down to the final 20 laps of the event and with most of the leaders having made a pit stop under green, Rossi retained the lead by two-and-a-half seconds over Lundgaard while third-place Power trailed by. Power’s teammates McLaughlin and Newgarden remained in the top five while VeeKay, Rahal, Dixon, Rosenqvist and Palou were scored in the top 10. Ericsson, meanwhile, was in 11th ahead of O’Ward, Sato, Ilott and Harvey while Malukas, Daly, DeFrancesco, Grosjean and Castroneves occupied the top 20. Following his late pit stop, Jimmie Johnson was mired back in 23rd behind Kyle Kirkwood.
With 10 laps remaining, Rossi, who was trying to navigate his way around the lapped car of Dalton Kellett, continued to lead by less than three seconds over runner-up Lundgaard and more than 14 seconds over third-place Power as McLaughlin and Newgarden remained in the top five. In addition, VeeKay, Rahal, Dixon, Rosenqvist and Palou continued to run in the top 10.
Down to the final five laps of the event, Rossi stabilized his advantage to four seconds over Lundgaard while third-place Power trailed by nearly 16 seconds as he could not close in on the top-two competitors.
When the white flag waved and the final lap started, Rossi remained as the leader by more than four seconds over Lundgaard. Despite making light contact with the wall earlier, Rossi, who had a clear racetrack in front of him, was able to smoothly navigate his way through the 14-turn circuit for a final time and cycle back to the frontstretch as he claimed his first checkered flag in more than three years.
With the victory, Rossi became the eighth different winner of the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series season as he also notched his eighth career victory and his first since winning at Road America in June 2019. He also became the second American competitor to win in this year’s IndyCar season and he recorded the fourth victory of the season for Honda. The victory occurred as Rossi is down to his final four races with Andretti Autosport before moving to Arrow McLaren SP in 2023.
“It’s a relief, man,” Rossi said on NBC. “It’s been so many things for so long. I do feel for Colton [Herta]. I do, but I’m happy. Thankfully, something came our way. I just wanna give a huge shoutout to Andretti Autosport and their continued belief, NAPA Auto Parts and AutoNation. I’m so happy to drive pink. The Honda power. There’s just been so much belief for so long and it’s nice to finally accomplish it. To kind of come back at Indianapolis at home is pretty amazing…It was the No. 27’s turn [to win]. That’s awesome.”
Meanwhile, rookie Christian Lundgaard claimed both his career-best IndyCar result and maiden podium result by finishing in second place in his 14th series start while Will Power, who won the Gallagher Grand Prix a year ago, reassumed the points lead after rounding out the podium in third place.
“I think at the end of the third stint, I was catching Alex [Rossi],” Lundgaard said. “I was really hoping because every pit stop, we always caught up. We lost a bit in the beginning of the stint. I think the Andretti car just had so much better power than we did today. That was what killed our rear tires and we struggled on the long run. But, it sure does feel like a birthday present. I think the results speak for themselves. Coming in this weekend, we knew we had a strong car. I wasn’t so happy in practice. I think there was definitely something we found there. Then, we rolled into qualifying with last year’s car. Look where we are. I love to be at Indy. Now to have a podium, this being the place. I would’ve preferred it now being the other way around, but we’ll take that next year.”
“Definitely a rough start,” Power said. “[I] Got pushed around in Turn 1, got pushed into Pato [O’Ward], we spun him. Then, Helio [Castroneves] went for a big move and pushed me on the curb, but great recovery. You can never expect a normal day in IndyCar. It was just one of those things. Everyone’s very aggressive and it’s so hard to win in this series. It’s the toughest series in the world. Everyone fights hard for positions. Just got to keep in clean, but great job by the Verizon 5G guys. It’s amazing that we can go all the way back there and recover to third. I’m so happy for that. It’s gonna be coming time here. Just gotta do what you know. I know this game so well. I know I can change very quickly, but you got to take what you can get every race day.”
Power’s teammates McLaughlin and Newgarden finished in the top five while VeeKay, Rahal, Dixon, pole-sitter Felix Rosenqvist and Alex Palou completed the top 10.
Following the event, Conor Daly, who ended up 17th, was issued a penalty from IndyCar for late blocking against 18th-place finisher Devlin DeFrancesco, whom Daly vocalled his displeasure towards for forcing him off the track in Turn 12 earlier.
There were five lead changes for five different leaders. The event featured two cautions for five laps.
With his third-place result, Will Power leads the standings by nine points over Marcus Ericsson, 32 over Josef Newgarden, 38 over Scott Dixon, 46 over Pato O’Ward, 52 over Alex Palou, 81 over Scott McLaughlin and 113 over Alexander Rossi.
1. Alexander Rossi, 44 laps led
2. Christian Lundgaard
3. Will Power, seven laps led
4. Scott McLaughlin, 10 laps led
5. Josef Newgarden
6. Rinus VeeKay
7. Graham Rahal
8. Scott Dixon
9. Felix Rosenqvist, seven laps led
10. Alex Palou
11. Marcus Ericsson
12. Pato O’Ward
13. David Malukas
14. Callum Ilott
15. Takuma Sato
16. Romain Grosjean
17. Conor Daly
18. Devlin DeFrancesco
19. Helio Castroneves
20. Jack Harvey
21. Dalton Kellett, one lap down
22. Jimmie Johnson, one lap down
23. Kyle Kirkwood, one lap down
24. Colton Herta – OUT, Mechanical, 17 laps led
25. Simon Pagenaud – OUT, Off Course
Next on the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series schedule is the second annual running of the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix at Nashville Street Circuit in Nashville, Tennessee. The event is scheduled to occur on Sunday, August 7, at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.