With three laps remaining in the Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America, Alexander Rossi did his best to time his restart perfectly in order to get a jump on Josef Newgarden for the win.
Rossi was a bit too close to Newgarden when the two-time champion hit the throttle, however, and was not able to make a move for the top position.
He quickly lost ground, was nearly 0.75 seconds behind by the time he passed the starter’s stand, and found himself having to defend against the cars behind.
Despite trying to break the draft down the long front stretch, Rossi was not able to hold off Marcus Ericsson and ended up losing second place as well.
Talking after the race, Rossi described how Newgarden had a better car, but he still had to try to be aggressive at the restart if he was going to be able to get his first win in three years.
“A little disappointing when you start on pole and can’t convert,” said Rossi. “It was generally a good day I think. Josef had a little bit better pace than us. I think we were the second best car.
“[I was] pretty aggressive on the restart there to try and do something. Just kind of overstepped a little bit. That’s what allowed Marcus [Ericsson] to get by.
“[Newgarden] went pretty early on the first [restart]. I went with him on the second and actually got too close. Yeah, he executed well. It was my mistake, which allowed Marcus to get by. You got to try in those situations to go for the win.
“Ultimately I don’t know that we would have been able to win. Got held up with Scott McLaughlin a little bit coming into the pits when we were trying to leave on the first sequence.
“From there on it was trying to close the gap that got started there. A little disappointing, but all in all I think it was a very positive weekend for us for obvious reasons.”
Newgarden described after the race that he had been paying attention to his strengths against Rossi all race, and planned the timing of his restart to give himself the advantage.
His plan worked to perfection, and he was able to claim him third victory of the season, taking home a $1 million bonus at the same time.