Alexander Rossi started from the front row and led 61 laps before a late race incident ended the day – and the season – prematurely.
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES traveled to St. Petersburg, Florida, to finish the 2020 season where it all attempted to begin seven months ago. The setting for what is usually the season opener, the Firestone Grand Prix on the Streets of St. Pete served as the season closer under a revised schedule called for by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Dressed in AutoNation’s #DrivePink livery, to honor Pink October and Breast Cancer Awareness month, Alexander Rossi’s No. 27 machine took the final green flag of the season from the second position, marking his 13th career front-row start and best qualifying result of 2020.
“I think every round of qualifying we got better,” said Rossi after Saturday’s knock-out qualifying. “It’s a really good effort for the team to do the off-line development – we haven’t been to a street course yet this year, so to have three cars in the top six is a testament to that.”
Rossi took an early lead in Sunday’s 100-lap race and dominated well through the halfway point, collecting 61 laps led before things turned grim. Rossi was leading the field through lapped traffic on Lap 70 when the 27 spun entering Turn 4, damaging the car and ending the day along with any hopes of a season-ending victory.
“I just lost it in Turn 3,” said Rossi. “It’s been tough all weekend and it was just a human error. It’s unfortunate, I think the 27 AutoNation / NAPA Andretti Honda guys were phenomenal. Andretti Autosport was phenomenal all weekend. This is the first time it’s happened to me – to crash from the lead. I’m so sorry to the boys, and we’ll come back strong next year.”
With 14 rounds of competition in the books and a 2020 Series champion crowned, the teams head home to Indianapolis where 2021 preparations are already underway. The racing returns to the Streets of St. Pete for a new season opener in just four months’ time.
Start / Finish: 2 / 21
Points Earned: 12
Points Standing / Total: 9th / 317 pts.
Based in Indianapolis, Indiana, and led by racing legend Michael Andretti, Andretti Autosport fields multiple entries in the NTT IndyCar Series, including the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS / AutoNation Honda piloted by Alexander Rossi. The global racing enterprise boasts over 200 total race wins, four IndyCar Series championships, four Indy Lights championships, one Indy Pro 2000 and one USF2000 championship. The team has also captured victory five times at the famed Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, including the 100th Running with Alexander Rossi in 2016.