Former Formula One race driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series rookie with Bryan Herta Autosport Alexander Rossi pulled off what some might say an impossible result by winning the biggest prize in motorsports, the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.
The 24 year old Californian started Sunday’s race from 11th place on the grid in the No.98 NAPA Auto Parts Honda and made his way through the field coasting across the finish line at the end of the race ahead of Carlos Munoz giving Andretti Autosport a 1-2 finish and Honda’s first victory of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season.
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports James Hinchcliffe started the race from pole position and swapped the lead a number of teams with the No.28 DHL Andretti Autosport Honda of Ryan Hunter Reay but in the end it was Rossi who used his Formula One knowledge of conserving fuel to take victory at the Brickyard in front of a sell out crowd. Ironically the last time the race was sold out was over thirty years ago before Rossi was born.
Speaking after winning the Indy 500, Rossi commented by saying:
I have no idea how we pulled that off, I don’t even know where to begin, In February I wasn’t even thinking about Indy car, and now we’ve just won the Indy 500. We struggled a little bit in the pit stops but Bryan (Herta) came up with an unbelievable strategy. I can’t believe we’ve done this! Thanks to an amazing group of people who gave me an opportunity to come here this year.
Co-owner of the No.98 Honda Bryan Herta who served as Rossi’s strategist on Sunday commented by saying:
Man, it was so close at the end, “For a rookie to drive with the poise he did in such a tough situation – I was telling him, ‘Don’t let anybody pass you but save fuel’ – and he did it.
Rossi continued by saying:
Michael Andretti whose team runs the No.98 in partnership with Herta commented by saying:
After that last pit stop, I knew that Alex was going to try it, We knew then, all right, if he’s going to try it, we’re going to try different strategies. It really worked out. We had two cars that had a shot at winning with two different strategies. To be a part of history, to win the 100th running, to win it with a 1-2 finish is incredible. I’m a bit speechless.
It was Andretti Autosport’s 4th Indianapolis 500 win following 2005 Dan Wheldon, 2007, Dario Franchitti, Ryan Hunter Reay 2014 and the second for Herta in the No.98 following Dan Wheldon’s win in 2011.