It was a long wait for Alexander Rossi to return to Victory Lane.
The tally racked up to a 49-race drought that totaled 1,133 days since his last win in the NTT IndyCar Series, which was at Road America on June 23, 2019.
The 30-year-old California native and driver of the No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda seized the moment and retuned to the top step of the podium in Saturday’s Gallagher Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
“Yeah, it’s a lot of relief I think is the main word,” said Rossi, now an eight-time winner in IndyCar. “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.”
Although the stats will show Rossi leading a race-high 44 of 85 laps around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course, it wasn’t an all-out dominating performance from the drop of the green flag. Early on, it was actually his teammate, Colton Herta, who appeared poised to claim the win, but a mechanical issue around the midway point hindered Herta into an early retirement from the race and allowed Rossi the opportunity take control.
“It sucks what happened to Colton but I’ve had my share of things,” Rossi added. “It comes full circle, I guess, sometimes, so it’s good to be up there.”
With such an extended time since his last win in North America’s premier open-wheel championship, Rossi continued to acknowledge the “relief” of the result.
“Yeah, I don’t know how else to describe it,” said Rossi, the 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner. “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 reprove yourself.
“It’s nice to kind of be back up there, but we have another one in five days, six days, so it all resets again.”