AUTO RACING ROUNDUP: Rossi earns a pair of top-10 finishes; DiBenedetto wins All-Star Open

After a rough start to the season, Alexander Rossi is back on track and charging up IndyCar’s overall points leaderboard.

With a pair of top-10 finishes in the doubleheader at Iowa Speedway last Friday and Saturday, the Nevada City native shot from 18th to 10th in the overall points standings. Rossi now has 118 points on the season. Scott Dixon leads all drivers with 244 points.

In the first race, the Iowa 250 Race 1, Rossi qualified in fifth and ran as high as second before finishing in sixth. The sixth place finish tied his best ever at the track.

“I think our car was all right, I think we went on the strategy to win the race but we didn’t have the car to do that amount of laps,” said Rossi in a press release. “Ultimately, it was the right strategy but the wrong car for that strategy. Our strength was the first 30-40 laps of the stint, but then we couldn’t look after the tires like the people that beat us. It’s disappointing because I thought that the AutoNation/NAPA team was looking good for at least a podium, but it slipped away from us with tire degradation.”

In the Iowa 250 Race 2, Rossi started 21st on the grid, worked his way up to fifth during the race and eventually crossed the finish line in eighth.

“Everyone hung in there and the AutoNation/NAPA guys were awesome in the pits again, which is so great and such a reward for their hard work this offseason — couldn’t have done that without them,” said Rossi, who drives the No. 27 car for Andretti Autosport. “Rob (Edwards) had a good strategy call to get us back on the lead lap. Ultimately, I think it was an OK day considering where we started. I think we were a little bit worse in some places than yesterday and a little bit better in some places. I think, ultimately, we just had an eighth-place car so that’s the way it went. We’ll keep marching forward.”

Through the first three races of the season, Rossi notched finishes of 15th, 25th and 19th, but since then has reeled off three-straight top-10 finishes.

Simon Pagenaud won the Iowa 250 Race 1, and Josef Newgarden took the checkered flag in the second race.

Since joining the IndyCar circuit in 2016, Rossi has had seven race wins, including the 2016 Indianapolis 500, and finished among the top-three in the overall points race the past two seasons.

IndyCar has the next couple of weekends off and gets back to racing Aug. 9 with the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

DiBenedetto wins All-Star Open, places 13th in race

NASCAR driver Matt DiBenedetto, a Grass Valley native, settled into the driver’s seat for a busy stretch of racing last week.

Last Wednesday, the veteran driver won the All-Star Open at Bristol Motor Speedway to ensure his spot in the All-Star Race later in the day. DiBenedetto would go on to finish 13th in the All-Star race. Chase Elliott claimed the checkered flag.

On Sunday, DiBenedetto competed in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway and placed 17th. Austin Dillon took first place.

For the season, DiBenedetto has two top-five finishes and five top-10 finishes. He is ranked 12th in the overall points race.

DiBenedetto, who drives the No. 21 car for Wood Brothers Racing, is now in his sixth season in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Next up for DiBenedetto is the Super Start Batteries 400 Thursday at the Kansas Speedway. The race is set to start at 4:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on NBCSN.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email [email protected] or call 530-477-4232.

More: AUTO RACING ROUNDUP: Rossi earns a pair of top-10 finishes; DiBenedetto wins All-Star Open

More from The Union