Rossi is chang­ing per­cep­tions as he chases IndyCar ti­tle

San Francisco Chronicle (Sunday) - - PAGE 2 -

It was just as­sumed that Alexan­der Rossi didn’t want to be an IndyCar driver when he joined the se­ries. His ca­reer had been aimed at mak­ing it in For­mula One, and when that didn’t come to­gether, IndyCar was the only thing left.

So he be­came the vil­lain, which doesn’t at all fit the driver raised in Ne­vada City (Ne­vada County).

“I don’t think per­cep­tion was ac­cu­rate or fair,” Rossi said about his IndyCar ar­rival. “That’s not who I am. I am a very in­tro­verted per­son and that’s not the per­son­al­ity one needs to have to be a vil­lain.”

In his third sea­son now in IndyCar, Rossi has proven he does in­deed want to be part of the se­ries and per­haps may be­come its next cham­pion.

Rossi trails four-time se­ries cham­pion Scott Dixon by 29 points go­ing into Sun­day’s sea­son fi­nale at Sonoma Race­way. It would be an im­pos­si­ble mar­gin to over­come but the fi­nale is worth dou­ble points and any sort of er­ror by Dixon would open an op­por­tu­nity for Rossi.

All he’s needed since he got his seat was an op­por­tu­nity, proven his rookie year when he won the In­di­anapo­lis 500 in his first try. It was the 100th run­ning, no less, and Rossi had to flaw­lessly save fuel to snatch the ca­reer-mak­ing vic­tory. His tran­si­tion to the se­ries has been swift and this year he’s be­come a break­out star and the new face of the An­dretti Au­tosport or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Rossi has three vic­to­ries this sea­son and has race-by-race chased af­ter Dixon, who held a 70-point ad­van­tage over Rossi ear­lier this sum­mer. If he can over­take Dixon on Sun­day, the 26-year-old would be­come the fastest to win a cham­pi­onship since Se­bastien Bour­dais did it in his sec­ond CART sea­son in 2004.

His climb has been steady and Rossi be­lieves he’s grad­u­ally built a strong fan base. He has a pop­u­lar pod­cast with fel­low driver James Hinch­cliffe,

teamed with Conor Daly for a star­ring stint on “The Amaz­ing Race” and ac­cepted that part of his job as an IndyCar driver is to pro­mote both the se­ries and him­self. Rossi didn’t fully grasp that when he won Indy in 2016, but now takes pride in help­ing IndyCar’s growth.

“I love this cham­pi­onship and ev­ery­thing it rep­re­sents,” he said. “I feel very for­tu­nate to have the op­por­tu­nity to be here. I wouldn’t want to have it any other way.”

NAS­CAR Xfin­ity Se­ries: Ross Chas­tain held off Justin All­gaier for his first NAS­CAR Xfin­ity Se­ries vic­tory, pulling away on the fi­nal restart in Las Ve­gas for a long-awaited break­through in his 132nd se­ries start. Chas­tain led 180 of the 200 laps, but had to dig in on sev­eral restarts to stay in front of All­gaier, the reg­u­larsea­son Xfin­ity cham­pion.

Chas­tain’s Chevro­let swept all three stages in the sec­ond start of his three-race con­tract

with Chip Ganassi Rac­ing, per­se­ver­ing each time the ac­tion slowed in the wreck-filled race. NHRA: Clay Mil­li­can pow­ered to the No. 1 Top Fuel qual­i­fy­ing po­si­tion in the play­off-open­ing Dodge NHRA Na­tion­als at Maple Grove Race­way in Mohn­ton, Pa.

Court­ney Force topped the Funny Car lineup at the first of six events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Rac­ing Se­ries Count­down to the Cham­pi­onship. Tan­ner Gray was the fastest in Pro Stock, and Matt Smith took the No. 1 spot in Pro Stock Mo­tor­cy­cle. For­mula One: Lewis Hamil­ton sur­prised him­self by find­ing per­fect lines to take pole po­si­tion at the Sin­ga­pore Grand Prix, while ti­tle ri­val Se­bas­tian Vet­tel had to set­tle for third, just be­hind Red Bull’s Max Ver­stap­pen. Hamil­ton se­cured a recordex­tend­ing 79th pole in For­mula One and 200th for a Bri­tish driver.

Matt Slocum / As­so­ci­ated Press

Ne­vada City’s Alexan­der Rossi won Po­cono last month for his third vic­tory of 2018.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.