Rossi took over the lead of the Gallagher Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, after Andretti Autosport-Honda teammate Colton Herta suffered a mechanical issue at half-distance. Rossi, who hadn’t won since June 2019, went on to lead 44 laps, holding off the impressive rookie Christian Lundgaard to clinch his eighth IndyCar win.

“Relief, I think is the main word,” said Rossi who contended for the 2018 and ’19 titles. “We’ve had some race wins that we’ve thrown away for sure, and we’ve had some weekends where we’ve just kind of not had the pace, and for whatever reason.

“I think that we knew things were trending in a good direction this year, and we had a solid test here a month or so ago. I think the one constant has been just the mental strength of the whole team. As challenging as it is for me, it’s also hard for them. They go in every day and work their butts off, and when they don’t get results, it’s hard for them, as well.

“I think as a unit, that’s one of our strengths is being able to continue to just push forward. It’s a big team win and a big thank you to the whole organization. Obviously the cars were fast. It sucks what happened to Colton but I’ve had my share of things. It comes full circle, I guess, sometimes, so it’s good to be up there.”

Rossi said of his 49-race winless streak: “It’s human nature to start to question things when it continually doesn’t kind of fall your way. You just have to remember that you’ve done it before, you can do it again, type of thing. It’s nice to reestablish that, and this sport is so much about you’re as good as your last race, it doesn’t matter who you are. You have to go out there every weekend and kind of re-prove yourself.

“It’s nice to be back up there, but we have another one in five days, six days, so it all resets again.”

Rossi will leave Andretti Autosport at the conclusion of the season to join Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet, after seven years in Michael Andretti’s squad. He admitted that winning for the team with whom he scored a remarkable Indy 500 win in 2016 as a rookie was emotionally significant.

“It would have been a pretty sad story if we weren’t able to,” he said. “I’m happy that we don’t have to have that conversation of like, ‘Oh, well, it’s been cool, too bad we couldn’t win in three, four [seasons] or whatever.’ I’m glad we don’t have to have that conversation.

“I’ve had the majority of the same group of guys, probably 70 percent of the same group of guys since 2017. As I said before, it’s been hard for them, as well, so it’s great to do it as a unit and as a group on the #27 car, to kind of get this behind us, and hopefully we can have a pretty strong run to the end of the year.”

Rossi spoke gIowingly of the team he’s about to leave, saying that he had not spotted a drop in their dedication to him since he told them of his departure.

“No one ever quit, no one ever stopped –  ‘Oh, Alex is leaving, so who cares anymore?’” he said. “That was never a thing, and I’m so appreciative to Michael and all the engineering staff for continuing to push to give me the best possible equipment. I’ve been in situations in the past where that’s not necessarily been the case, and I think that that is a testament to them as people and as a race team, and we couldn’t be here without them. So it’s a huge win for myself but definitely for all the #27 guys, as well.”

He later added that he “was so lucky for so many years to drive with Ryan [Hunter-Reay] and Marco [Andretti] and they became such good friends of mine and people that I rely on in my personal and professional life.

“I think those relationships, the relationship with Michael and [team COO] Rob Edwards and my engineer Jeremy [Milless] – those are things I’ll have with me for the rest of my life, which is very special. I’m grateful to them for the opportunity.”


By admin