Big race coming to Austin

A Q&A with IndyCar driver Alexander Rossi

Alexander Rossi is one of Indy-car's brightest stars. Over the course of his four years, he has won five races including the 100th annual Indianapolis 500 back in 2016. I was lucky enough to be able to talk with him over the phone about this year's Indy-car Classic in Austin's Circuit Of The America's and what you can expect for this year's Indy-Car Season:

Q: So first and foremost, this is a brand new track for you guys. I saw you were No. 1 on the speed chart for your test session, I know you had some experience here in F1 but how was it getting a feel for this new track here in Indy-Car?

AR: Yeah You are absolutely right. It might as well have been a new track because the cars are so much different but, yeah it was a really positive two days for the whole Andretti Auto-sport Organization and we learned a lot of what works and what doesn't and how to maximize the car around that track and definitely having some prior circuit knowledge was a good thing for us and looking forward to using that to our advantage next month.

2- While both cars are vastly different, how does your prior experiences in F1 kind of translate over into what you have going on now?

AR: Very Roughly, yes. I mean it's still the same racetrack regardless of what you car you're driving, you still have the areas where you need to maximize your lap times and of course you have little tricks you do in certain corners but at the end of the day it's a very different race car so you have to kind of rework your driving style a little bit and in a way kind of relearn parts of the racetrack in order to be fast in an Indy-car.

3-For maybe some of the newer fans of open-wheel racing, can you kind of explain the difference between an F1 Car and an Indycar?

AR: The biggest thing really is money. They're both open-wheel cars, they both have a huge amount of Down-force, very lightweight but the biggest thing is a Formula 1 team's budget. If you look at a like a Mercedes Benz type of team, they spend about $300 Million whereas a single-car Indy-car team spends about somewhere in the $4-5 million range, so it's a tenth of the budget so the car's are a little bit rougher. These car's don't have power-steering, they slide around a lot more and you have to work a bit harder to achieve your lap times but at the end of they're still the second quickest open wheel cars on the planet, we are just doing it at a tenth of the budget. With that being said, the racing we are able to put and the show we are able to create with our cars being SPEC puts a whole lot more on the teams and drivers and you have results are that are whole lot closer.

4-To kind of get back to Circuit Of The Americas, with you being sort of the world renowned racer that you are is there any tracks that this track reminds you of?

AR: Yeah, I mean it was designed by one of the same guys who designed a lot of the tracks in Europe so some of the corners are very similar. You know the Esses are similar to the corners in Silverstone, the stadium section you see at Hockenheim so it's very much like a track where I grew up racing around. Austin is a very special track in that sense, you know it's got a little bit of everything.

You can hear the entire interview above.

THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR at Bristol preview

Matt Sullivan/Getty Images


This week NASCAR heads to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Bass Pro Shops Night race. With the playoffs approaching this is definitely one of the wildcard races that can truly make or break a driver's chances of getting into the playoffs. Nicknamed the last great colosseum, Bristol Motor speedway is one of NASCAR's most iconic race tracks on the schedule as it's close quarters racing has always been a big hit among fans. The track is an half-mile oval with 22 degrees of banking like you would see at a much bigger racetrack. While the track has been widened over the years, it is still common practice to see drivers use their bumpers to knock someone out of the way. It should be must-see TV come Saturday night.

Last week, Kevin Harvick was able to rebound after a flat tire and win Michigan. This was the second time in two years that Harvick was able to win Michigan's fall race as he was able to save just enough fuel to get his Mobile one Mustang to victory lane. The race was fairly tame compared to what we have seen over the past two months but it was still a fairly intriguing event. Like we usually see at this track, fuel strategy was the deciding factor in who finished were. In the closing laps, both Penske teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano ran out of fuel as they ran second and third eliminating them from victory. Some of the good stories we saw out of last week's race was how great of a run Ryan Preece had as he was able to claim an impressive seventh place finish. This is the rookie's third top ten of the season as he was able to drive all the way up from 29th to finish where he did. Overall, this has been a difficult season for him but if he can continue to improve like he did last week at Michigan, he should have a bright future in this sport.

It appears as if NASCAR's famed "silly season" is upon as drivers look to secure a ride for next year. The first domino to fall is Matt DiBendetto as it was announced that he will not be returning to the #95 Toyota for Leavine Family Racing. This comes as a bit of a surprise considering how well he has done in this car. This season he has four top 10 finishes and two top fives and was definitely gaining ground so it is sad to see a good driver lose his ride. The driver that will move up and take his place appears to be rookie driver Christopher Bell. While he has remained quiet about what he will be doing next season, it would be safe to assume that he will be next in line to drive this car considering car owner Bob Leavine's relationship with Joe Gibbs. As much as I hate to see Matt lost his place, I think that it is a far cry to say Bell doesn't deserve to be Cup racing. This young driver has been lighting it up in the Xfinity series and I think he will translate well in 2020. As far as it goes for DiBenedetto, he isn't without options. With Toyota's newest crop of young drivers such as Harrison Burton and Todd Gilliand being a few years from being ready to be in the cup series, it wouldn't be a bad idea for Matt to scale down into the Xfinity series for a year or two driving for Gibbs. I think this could help his career as here he will be able to compete for a championship besides you never know what other opportunities could arise in the not to distant future.

Coming into Bristol, the driver that I have winning is Kyle Larson. In interviews and on social media, Larson has called this track his favorite and it makes a lot of sense considering how good his results have been. Larson currently has an average finish here of 7.50, the third highest amongst active drivers.This track almost perfectly complements his driving style considering the best line to run around here is the outside and if you have watched him race, you can tell that's his preferred line. This track also being a short-track really plays a lot into why he has been so good here as well considering he has been racing at tracks just like them around the country when he races his dirt car. Over the years, he has always been close here but this week I think he gets it done and gets his first win of 2019.

(All stats and information used in this article is brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com the best website for all NASCAR stats).

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