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Rossi confident Detroit GP victory charge was on if he had "one more lap"

Alexander Rossi believes he needed just one more lap to catch Will Power, after finishing second in the Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle for Andretti Autosport.

Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport Honda, Pit Stop

Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport Honda, Pit Stop

Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

Rossi delivered his first podium since Portland last year after charging up from 11th on the grid and running a brave three-stop strategy. After climbing to sixth in the opening laps, he made his first stop as early as lap four in order to ditch the alternate-compound tyres, so he could spend the remainder of the race on blacks.

The strategy worked well, because he was back up to fourth after he pitted with the two-stoppers from lap 24. He then passed the Chip Ganassi Racing duo Alex Palou and Scott Dixon, who were running the alternate compound for their middle stint, on laps 39 and 43 respectively, before pitting for the final time on lap 46, while 19.4s behind Power.

Following Power’s out-lap on his final stop, the gap was 16s with 20 laps to go, and it proved just enough for Power to win by 1s as he nursed his alternate tyres over the closing stint.

“I think one more lap would’ve been really interesting,” said Rossi to NBC. “But you’ve got give credit to the #12 guys and Will for what they did. It was really hard at the end to hang on.

“Huge thanks to all of the guys on the #27 NAPA AutoNation Honda, it was amazing. Yet again, we came here with an amazing car but didn’t quite get the win.

“It was a good recovery from yesterday; that strategy was good. We’ll take it.”

Rossi has now gone 44 races without a win, and this week it was confirmed he had decided to move to Arrow McLaren SP.

“We’re finally just executing our potential,” he said. “It’s been frustrating for a lot of reasons, but the speed has been there, but it’s just been a lot of factors.

“In the past two weeks the team has just executed in a big way in pressure moments [he climbed from 20th to fifth at the Indy 500] and thanks to them we’re going to Road America, a place where we’ve had some success, so it would be fitting to come full circle with a win there, so we’ll try for that.”

Asked whether he considered himself still in the fight, now that he’s up to seventh in points, he replied: “Yeah, this team and who I am as a person, we’re going to try and win this championship. I don’t care about any of the external factors.

“We're here to win and we'll keep pushing.”

Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet, Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport Honda, Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet, Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport Honda, Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

Power: Fluctuating qualifying form improves racing skills

Detroit GP winner Power believes that occasionally qualifying badly has helped to improve his judgment when racing in the pack.

Power, who leads the championship by three points after seven of the 17 rounds, came from 16th on the grid in yesterday’s race at Belle Isle to be leading by lap 14, and he went on to score his 41st victory. In April at Barber Motorsports Park, the #12 Team Penske made a similar climb from 19th on the grid to finish fourth.

Although Power is aiming to beat Mario Andretti’s all-time pole-winner record – he’s currently three behind – he says that fluctuations in qualifying form have upped his judgment in race day situations.

“When I used to qualify on pole very often and start at the front very often, you're not racing in the pack very often,” he said. “Now rarely am I right at the front for qualifying. Sometimes, but no one is consistently at the front anymore: it's just too tough.

“So you're racing around other cars, you get very good at that, too. You get very good at restarts, good at judging where you should be. That's something I missed out early on in my career because I was so fast, I was in the front, I was always leading.”

Power who has finished in the top four in six of the seven races this season, said he had made a slight mental shift last season, but it had been masked by misfortune, causing him to finish only ninth in the championship.

“I certainly perfected that sort of mental place you need to be in, decision-making and such,” he said. “But that was there last year. It's just that I had a lot of unfortunate things happen that really put me out of contention in some big races, in some races where I was top three for sure, so it wasn't obvious.

“It looks like a big change, but it's not a big change. I've had years of this. I'm so experienced at it, I understand the game so well. I'm just executing as you should at my experience level. You're getting everything right, like all the details.”

Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet

Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

Power said that his opening two stints of the Detroit race, where he built a 20s lead on primary Firestone tyres, to give him sufficient margin to retain the lead when he had to nurse the alternate-compound tyres in the third stint, reminded him of the ‘zone’ he used to access regularly in qualifying.

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“It's hard to get to that place,” he said. “I used to be there a lot when I was younger. But, yeah, it's just one of those zones where everything's clicking so well, you're 100% in the middle. It's that flow state. You can't make a mistake, you don't make a mistake. Just so much space there to play with it, like manipulate it. It’s hard to explain.

“But I would get in that state for qualifying often, pump out some pretty ridiculous laps. That was today: that was the race for me. In a really good spot.”

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