For Alexander Rossi at Andretti, ‘It was time for a change’

DETROIT – To understand why Alexander Rossi felt he needed to switch things up and leave Andretti Autosport – a team he won seven times with (including four times in 15 races over 2018-19) – we need look no further than why he nearly left three years ago.

Rossi, who joined Andretti in 2016 after several years chasing an F1 career that sputtered out, began his 2019 campaign in a contract year and started 5th-9th-5th. To most drivers, those aren’t anything to write home about, but similarly nothing to panic over either. And yet, having finished runner-up in the championship the year prior, Rossi and his father Pieter, who manages his career, were nearly ready to pack up shop and find a new home.

The bold strategy call from Alexander Rossi's No. 27 team didn't pan out Sunday in St. Pete, leaving him 20th.

Then Rossi won from pole at Long Beach and finished on the podium five times in six races between the Indy 500 and Toronto. But take a second and think about that: A pair of top-5 finishes to start the year, something that at that point in the year, only three other drivers had done. One who hadn’t (Simon Pagenaud) managed to edge Rossi for 2nd in the championship race.