LEXINGTON, OH - JULY 29: The crowd watches as Alexander Rossi, driver of the #27 Andretti Autosport Honda, works his way through turn five during the Verizon IndyCar Series Honda Indy 200 on July 29th, 2018, at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Alexander Rossi and his No. 27 NAPA Auto Parts team came into the Honda Indy 200 with a big goal in mind. Rossi’s team was 70 points out of the lead in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings, with five races remaining in the 2018 season. “We said coming into this weekend that we have to execute for five weekends in a row,” Rossi said.

Alexander Rossi’s Mid-Ohio win puts him back into Championship Hunt

On Sunday, the team did just that. Using a two-stop strategy, Rossi was able to hold a late lead on Robert Wickens that saw him in victory lane for the fourth time in his IndyCar career.

“This is the start of that [execution], hopefully,” Rossi said. “We [knew that we] could make a two-stop [strategy work] if we committed early and that’s what we did.”

The win for Rossi catapults him up to second place in the point standings, and 46 points behind leader Scott Dixon, which was huge for the 27 team. Dixon has a track-record five wins at Mid-Ohio, and he could have slammed the door on the championship had he gotten a sixth on Sunday. Though, Rossi made sure that he got his Honda the victory.

“The NAPA Andretti team [was] so on it today,” Rossi said. “They gave me an amazing race car and this one’s for them. It was great strategy all day.  Great fuel mileage from Honda, great tire life from Firestone, so an all-around perfect day.”

Rossi Moves Up The Ladder

This has the potential to put Rossi in elite company. After winning rookie of the year in 2016, the American is looking to etch his name in the history books. His emergence has been one of the quickest the sport has ever seen.

Though to win the big stage, he has a lot of big competition that includes people not named Dixon. For instance, Will Power has shown a lot of poise in the past decade of racing and has also shown the ability to rattle off multiple wins in a row.

Right in front of Power is the defending champion: Josef Newgarden. Last season, Newgarden earned four top-two finishes in the final five races of the season. That includes a win at Gateway Motorsports Park, where the series will travel in a few weeks.

IndyCar’s next race will be on Sunday, August 19 at Pocono Raceway. Fans can catch the live broadcast at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Verizon IndyCar Series Standings
1. Scott Dixon 494 points
2. Alexander Rossi -46
3. Josef Newgarden -60
4. Will Power -87
5. Ryan Hunter-Reay -95
6. Robert Wickens -114
7. Simon Pagenaud -150
8. Graham Rahal -159
9. James Hinchcliffe -166
10. Sebastien Bourdais -201

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