Verizon IndyCar Series driver for Team Penske, Will Power, has claimed that Alexander Rossi is now “the person to beat” in the race for the championship this season. This follow’s Rossi’s dominating drive in the 2018 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, where the Andretti Autosport never looked as though he would lose the race having started from pole position.
Power’s comment came in the post-race press conference at Long Beach. The Australian started and finished second to Rossi and was the only driver to give the American any pressure during the eighty-five lap race. During the final nine-lap sprint to the finish, following the race’s final caution, Power was running second with more push-to-pass available to him. Despite that, Rossi was able to keep the former series champion and previous Long Beach winner at bay to win the race by just over a second.
Will said in the press conference after the race that he now considered Rossi as the potential favourite for this year’s championship, whilst also going on to praise the high calibre of drivers in the series at the moment.
“I think he’s going to be tough to beat in the championship,” Power said. “He’s definitely what I’d call a standout of the field right now in every respect. Even when we saw him at Phoenix, on the oval [where Rossi finished third]. Yeah, you’ll have to beat him, I think.”
“I would say right now is the most competitive, talented group of drivers that the series has seen,” he went on to say. “When you look at how Rossi has come on and the rookies that are here this year, guys like [Robert] Wickens and so on, it just gets harder and harder. And the common body kit was a really, really good idea. To win and be on pole these days, you’ve just got to get it so right.”
When Rossi learned of Power’s press conference comments, the American seemed thankful, but he also downplayed the statement that he would be the one to beat for the rest of the season:
“That’s cool,” Rossi said post-race, “But we’ll see next weekend, right? You’re only as good as your last time on track. Until we hopefully are in the fight for a championship at Sonoma and we can come away with that, then everyone else is the person to beat, as well.”
Rossi, too, went on to celebrate how competitive the field is for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series, in particular pointing out how much speed some of the rookies have shown in just the third three races so far this year:
“This is the most competitive championship I’ve ever participated in,” Alexander added. “When you add in the Scott Dixons and the Will Powers of the world; guys that just – all they know is winning – and then you combine it with drivers who are massively talented like Rob [Wickens] and Jordan King, and these rookies who are making an impression, Zach Veach, who drove from P17 to fourth today… I think you have talent across the entire board.
“I would absolutely agree with Will on that, and it’s great. It creates a very good show for the fans, and it demands perfection, and it demands us to be on top of our game. You can never rest on your laurels, you’ve got to keep pushing.”
The fourth round of the 2018 Verizon Indycar Series, the Grand Prix of Alabama, takes place this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park.