Alexander Rossi had a chance to win his second Indianapolis 500.
The 27-year-old, who was the 500 champion as a rookie in 2016, took the lead with less than six laps to go on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But, he was passed by Simon Pagenaud in the final stages of the race and finished in second place.
“We just didn’t have the straight-line speed,” Rossi told reporters after the race. “(Pagenaud) was a deserving winner for sure. But that last yellow really hurt us because we were doing a lot better on fuel mileage than he was, so that was the first kind of nail in the proverbial coffin.
“And yeah, the second one was just – we didn’t have the speed out front. I mean, I was flat for the last 15 laps, and there’s not much more you can do.”
Rossi had a setback during a pit stop on lap 138 as he was stalled for 23 seconds while his team struggled to fuel up his car. Rossi was visibly frustrated at his crew.
“It wasn’t a human error, it was a mechanical problem, but still, it’s not something that we can have here,” Rossi said. “It’s the biggest race in the world, and 75% of the time we can’t get fuel in the race car. … We need to address that for sure, but I think the whole 27 NAPA Andretti Honda boys did a great job of recovering. … Ultimately it didn’t affect the end result. I think we’re lucky that it didn’t.”
Rossi, however, bounced back from the miscue and moved into first before he was overtaken by Pagenaud.
“Ultimately it was a good day for the team,” Rossi said. “But as I said, leading up to this many times, once you’ve won this thing once, the desire to win just ramps up exponentially every year, so it sucks to come this close and really have nothing that we as a team could have done differently. I’m proud of them. I’m proud of the effort that they always put in.”
Takuma Sato finished just behind the two leaders while Josef Newgarden and Will Power – the defending champion – rounded out the top five.