INDIANAPOLIS — It’s been a while since Alexander Rossi has felt this feeling that he’s bearing on his 30 year old mind. He hasn’t left a race track with the race winning trophy in 1,133 days or in racing terms 49 races.
His last win came back in 2019 at Road America. That drought ends in Saturday’s Gallagher Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Rossi led the final 17 laps en route to his 8th career victory.
“Relief, right?” Rossi said after scoring his 1st win in what to him seems like an eternity. “Yeah, I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s human nature to start to question things when it continually doesn’t kind of fall your way. You just have to remember that you’ve done it before, you can do it again type of thing. It’s nice to reestablish that, and this sport is so much about you’re as good as your last race, it doesn’t matter who you are. You have to go out there every weekend and kind of reprove yourself.”
He’s tried so damn hard to each race. Rossi is one that always gives it his all no matter what. Even with moving on to Arrow McLaren SP next season, he’s not thinking about it yet. His focus is on ending his tenure with Andretti Autosport the right way.
He feels he owes it to his team who most of them on his car now have been there since the beginning in 2016.
Which is why he finds it ironic that this win drought comes at the site of his 1st career win in the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 in 2016.
“For me, being my seventh season in the series and knowing what it means to the NTT INDYCAR Series, as well, yeah. I kind of was hoping on the Road America weekend for it to kind of start and end this drought or whatever there, but it actually ended here was actually kind of a cooler story,” he says. “To be able to go up on the lift with the guys and let them experience that because that didn’t exist in 2016, there’s a lot of special things about this place. The fan turnout here for us as INDYCAR drivers is always amazing, and seeing everyone with the merch and the autograph session, it’s just a very special thing today for sure.”
This place can be one that could make him hate it. He’s experienced the highest of highs in winning arguably the biggest race that this place has ever seen in 2016, one that has propelled this series to the wave that it’s on now. To the lowest of lows in losing this thing in every imaginable fashion. He’s left here heartbroken. Bruised. Battered. Humbled. Now for the 2nd time, he leaves here a winner.
“Yeah, I mean, it’s a hard one to put into words,” he said of Indianapolis. “Every time I come here, I just appreciate it more and more, whether it’s for an event — I mean, obviously the 500, but whether it’s this event, a sponsorship thing, a media thing, giving laps around the track. Like it’s just such an amazing place for us.”
When he won the 100th Running as a rookie, he didn’t know what to expect from his 1st career win being here and in a race of that magnitude. He wanted more. He nearly did in 2017. He started on the front row but finished 7th. He was 4th in 2018. 2nd in a late race shootout with Simon Pagenaud in 2019. A controversial penalty in pit road sent him to the back in 2020. He’d wreck while trying to come back through. Last year he had a top 3 car. An ill timed 1st caution pinned him a lap down. He came from 20th to 5th this year.
In his return trip this weekend, albeit on the road course, he wins.
“No, not quite,” he said of experiencing the joy and comparing it to a win on the oval. “But it’s still an awesome thing. Like I got another ring, which I didn’t know you got a ring for this event, so that’s cool. Your picture will get to be on the Pagoda going into May next year, which is great, unless they change that, which will piss me off. I’ll put my own picture up.
“But no, there’s just so many things that come with winning at Indy that you don’t get at another event, so it is more special than other races, but no, it’s still a far ways behind the oval.”