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IndyCar Laguna Seca

Rossi needs to “understand why we were good” at Laguna Seca

First IndyCar podium finish of 2024 puts ex-F1 racer seventh in points, just behind Arrow McLaren team-mate Pato O’Ward

Alexander Rossi, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

Alexander Rossi put together his most complete weekend of the 2024 IndyCar Series season by finishing third on Sunday at Laguna Seca.

The result is not only Rossi’s best result of the season, it also stands as his third top five over the last three races, and sixth top 10, to sit seventh in the championship standings after eight points-paying rounds.

Sunday’s result matches his best with Arrow McLaren since last year’s race on the Indianapolis Road Course.

Rossi started third and his pace was strong early on as he pitted early on lap 23 of 95, switching from harder primary tires to the softer alternates, and utilized the undercut to cycle into the lead. A caution on lap 36 set up an opportunity to pit again, but he lost track position to Andretti Global’s Colton Herta due to a slow exit from his pitbox.

From there, Rossi was chasing Herta to the finish, despite a mix of strategies and chaos that resulted in three cautions over the final 20 laps – including two in the last 12 – on the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course.

“I think it was a good day for the organization,” said Rossi, also referencing the results of team-mates Pato O’Ward (eighth) and recently-signed rookie Nolan Siegel (12th).

“Our pace out front, pushing, was certainly better than what we could do once it kind of switched to a fuel[-saving] race.

“Nonetheless, it was a great job by the team all around to manage a difficult race with the strategy flipping back and forth. Kind of wild there with all the restarts at the end.

“Ultimately we'll take a lot of positives from this weekend and build on it going into Mid-Ohio where we're starting a whole new wild, crazy, unknown era of hybrids.”

Alexander Rossi, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

Alexander Rossi, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

Photo by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images

Rossi’s No. 7 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet was out front for 10 laps, but he acknowledged that a big part of that came down to being able to take advantage of the pace through his qualifying performance, which was only his second Fast Six appearance of the year thus far.

“We were able to just start strong this weekend,” Rossi said. “Obviously qualifying was strong for us.

“We know how important qualifying is to get a good result in this championship. We knew we had a good shot at it today.

“I was glad we were able to manage the race and have good pace in all phases. It was a welcome change of pace. Hopefully it gives us a good foundation, good framework to go forward for what few road courses we have left in the year.”

And while Rossi is eager to build on this result, he pointed out that the team and himself need to study the key reasons that made the difference.

“I think it’s just understanding why we were good,” Rossi said. “It’s always easy to Monday morning quarterback when you’re bad, believe it or not, it’s a little harder to understand when you’re good.

“So, we’ll just keep working at it.”

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