NEWTON, Iowa – To say Alexander Rossi had an eventful day in the Iowa Corn 300 would be an understatement.
The rookie charged from 17th on the grid to finish sixth Sunday, leading a struggling Andretti Autosport camp on an Iowa Speedway track where it had previously won seven times in the past nine years, including the last six in a row.
With a racing background comprised mostly of road courses, Rossi backed up winning the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in May with the second top six of his young Verizon IndyCar Series career – both coming on ovals.
The 24-year-old Californian managed to lead four laps following a sequence of pit stops, but strategy plagued the No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda team and put Rossi a lap down.
It was while battling to get his lap back at the midpoint of the race coming off Turn 2 that Rossi had a run-in with 2004 Verizon IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan, who was running third at the time. Rossi dove under the No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet entering Turn 1, but quickly pushed up the 0.894-mile track, moving Kanaan out of the groove and nearly into the SAFER Barrier.
The 41-year-old Brazilian recovered and continued on to finish seventh, while a late caution helped put Rossi back on the lead lap.
“That was my bad,” Rossi said of the incident. “I need to go talk to (Kanaan), for sure.
“The low line had been fine for me and then that lap I got down there and I guess the marbles had built up. So when I passed him on the inside, the front just took off and I was immediately on the radio like, ‘I’m sorry.’ But yeah, that was definitely on me.”
Immediately following the race, Kanaan went to the Andretti-Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian pit stall to talk with the rookie.
“He apologized” Kanaan said. “I think on a short track like that (Iowa), it’s the way it is.
“But I don’t think it was necessary because it wasn’t even for a position. At that time, he was a lap down. I can see what happened. It could have happened to anybody. Obviously you can’t avoid it, it is what it is.
“The good side is that none of us crashed, so it could have been a lot worse.”
After the race, Rossi flew immediately to Los Angeles to be part of ESPY Awards week. Along with reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, Rossi is nominated in the Best Driver category for the show airing live on ABC beginning at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday. Voting is open here until the broadcast begins.