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.

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Following Houston's 6-4 road trip, the Astros returned home to finish the first "half" of the season before the All Star break hosting Florida and Texas. Houston's road trip was filled with clutch performances in New York, dominance in taking 3 of 4 in Toronto, and a dose of close calls and tough realities with a short-handed team against Minnesota.

Now the Astros hope to take care of business against the lowly Marlins and division rival Rangers. The Texas series, in particular gives Houston the opportunity to reassert their hold on the #2 spot ahead of the Rangers who have won their last 5 games in a row (as of the time this was published). Both teams have won 7 of their last 10 games and hope to catch a free-falling Seattle team to overtake the division lead.

Dana Brown told the media last week he expects both Justin Verlander and Kyle Tucker to be reactivated following the All-Star break but Tucker's updates continue to be more promising than Verlander's and MUCH more promising than Lance McCullers. Astros manager informed the media this week that McCullers has been shut down from throwing after his arm did not respond well to his recent bullpen sessions and the team is formulating the plan for what's next for the embattled pitcher. McCullers hasn't pitched since the 2022 postseason and underwent season-ending flexor tendon surgery last June. McCullers is under contract with Houston until 2026.

An eventual return for Kyle Tucker would spur a juggling act from Joe Espada to find a proper balance of time for all his outfielders, none of which have separated themselves offensively. Chas McCormick had a great month of June recording an .804 OPS but that run looks more like an anomaly as his scuffles have continued over the past 2.5 weeks, recording just 4 hits over his last 32 plate appearances.

While Jake Meyers has wowed fans and teammates with his glove this season, his offense has hit a skid, hitting just .184 with a .565 OPS over the past month. After rookie Joey Loperfido's torrid debut, he too has struggled with the bat, hitting just .216 with .599 OPS over the same time period.

An unexpected bright spot has been the recent play of first baseman Jon Singleton. Over the last 4 weeks, "Big Jon" is batting .302 with an .802 OPS. It's worth mentioning that Singleton's season numbers are better than Florida's Josh Bell, who drew interest from Astros fans over the past several seasons as a potential answer at first base. Bell has 135 more ABs this season so its not quite an apples-to-apples comparison but there's no doubt Singleton's contributions were sorely needed following the release of Jose Abreu.

To watch part 1 of this week's episode of Stone Cold StrosStone Cold Stros, just click the video above or to listen to the entire episode on podcast, search "Stone Cold Stros" in your favorite podcast app or click one of the following links.

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