Rossi crashes hard ahead of IndyCar qualifying at Barber

LEEDS, Ala. (AP) — Alexander Rossi destroyed his car in Saturday morning practice at Barber Motorsports Park, where Andretti Autosport had under three hours to repair the damage ahead of IndyCar qualifying.

Rossi hopes to use Barber as his breakout race in a frustrating start to the season, the final year in his contract with Andretti. He showed speed in Friday practice and planned to use the 45-minute Saturday morning session to prepare for...

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LEEDS, Ala. (AP) — Alexander Rossi destroyed his car in Saturday morning practice at Barber Motorsports Park, where Andretti Autosport had under three hours to repair the damage ahead of IndyCar qualifying.

Rossi hopes to use Barber as his breakout race in a frustrating start to the season, the final year in his contract with Andretti. He showed speed in Friday practice and planned to use the 45-minute Saturday morning session to prepare for qualifying.

But Rossi lost control of his car in the 17th and final turn with 31 minutes remaining in practice and slammed hard into a barrier on Barber’s permanent road course. The impact caused significant damage to his car and after climbing out, Rossi surveyed the carnage with his arms folded across his test.

“An unfortunate mistake on my part,” he said as crew members from all four Andretti teams thrashed to make an engine change for the Honda and repair the damage.

“There’s a huge amount of guys, a lot of different color shirts here, and they’ll get it done. They are very good in these type of fire-drill situations.”

Debris from Rossi’s car caused a flat tire for Helio Castroneves and Castroneves needed to be towed back to the pits.

Rossi has had a terrible start to the season. He was 20th in the season-opener at St. Petersburg, ran only 11 laps at Texas before a battery failure ended his race, and was eighth at Long Beach. He’s a free agent but believed to be headed to Arrow McLaren SP next season in a third entry; Michael Andretti has alleged he holds exclusive negotiating rights on Rossi and the driver can’t yet talk to other teams.

The morning practice was particularly sloppy as Romain Grosjean, Rossi’s teammate at Andretti, went off track, as did two-time Barber winner Will Power.

“It’s not good off track,” Grosjean said of his detour through the gravel trap, “but it’s good on the track.”

Rinus VeeKay paced the session and was followed by Pato O’Ward, who holds the qualifying record at Barber, and Colton Herta, the Andretti driver who was fastest in Friday practice.

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