INDIANAPOLIS — Alexander Rossi is like any other athlete. They expect greatness and deliver when given the right tools to do so. In saying that, they expect wins too. They expect to be great. That’s why it’s the losses that stick out more than the wins.
He’s no different. His 2016 win forever shaped his life. He didn’t know it then, but Rossi found out after why an Indianapolis 500 win is so special. So much so, he doesn’t want anyone else to feel that joy. He wants it all for himself and would love nothing more to hog that glory.
“I love this event. I love every year coming here,” Rossi said on Thursday. Every year that goes by for this event that we’re not successful is another year of suffering until the next opportunity. I can’t wait for Sunday. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity at my 7th one. Obviously we’ve had a lot of highs and lows, generally a lot of highs. I think we can have a really good day Sunday and will need somethings to fall our way. I think everybody will need to have something fall their way.”
Rossi says that for this race, it’s so long that you don’t have to take many, if any, risks. It just doesn’t pay off in the long run. You have to make smart calculated moves. That’s why the races in 2017 and 2020 still haunt him more than his 2016 win.
“Yeah I lose sleep over 2017 and 20,” Rossi told me. “19 I think ultimately the right guy won. He was on pole and led the most laps. We gave him a good run for it but he was the best car. Obviously that’s the closest we got to winning our 2nd but ‘17 we had the car to beat. All of us at Andretti did and ultimately an Andretti car did, but that one was the easiest race I’ve ever done in my whole life in terms of running up front around here. And then in 20, we were leading that one and then had that penalty that put us to the back and I crashed that I was pretty pissed off. I’d say 17 and 20 for sure stand out to me than 16.”
As far as why he felt that way in 2017? He said the Honda aerokit was more superior and that they were the only big Honda team at that time. Chip Ganassi Racing has since come back to Honda power.
Rossi starts 20th for Sunday’s 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500 (11 a.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network). It’s not ideal but not impossible either.
“There’s certain guys when you get behind them, you’re like “thank God” because it’s going to be super easy to pass them. There’s other guys where you’re like shit, this is going to be a good 20 laps before I can figure out a way to get around him,” he said.
Rossi feels good with his car. He’s ready. He knows the speed isn’t in it to beat Ganassi or the ECR trio on pure pace alone but this race isn’t always won on pure speed. You have to be there at the end.
He’s smart enough and talented enough to do so.