INDIANAPOLIS — Arrow McLaren Racing comes into the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500 (May 28) on a high note. While they’ve yet to win a race this season, they have the points leader in Pato O’Ward who has three runner-up finishes in five races as well as having 2 of the 3 drivers on the podium in the GMR Grand Prix and all three cars in the top five.
“To get three cars in the top five is near on impossible these days,” Rossi said. “Arrow McLaren has done a phenomenal job all year. You can’t talk about how challenging it is to add a car in the off-season. They’ve done it with relative apparent ease. There’s a lot of work behind the scenes.”
They one upped it on Saturday of opening day of Indy 500 Time Trials. All four McLaren cars made the Fast 12 Shootout. Rossi will start seventh.
“I think it’s still a pretty big day for us,” Rosenqvist said. “I mean, we’ve been good here the last couple years. Today to have all the cars in the top eight, in this competition, it’s really hard. We saw with Tony today, even if he’s doing a perfect job, still things that can outside factors that can play in, it can become really difficult in this field.
“Super proud of the whole team for executing. That last run we did was just phenomenal. Almost in a 234 average. That was pretty mind-blowing how we found so much speed. We weren’t super happy on our first run, so we had two or three reasons to think we were going to go quicker. We kind of put them all together, wow, what a run.
“Team Chevy as well, great job. Yeah, just a fun time to be in Arrow McLaren right now. Everything kind of resets for tomorrow, but we definitely feeling good right now.”
Rossi told me on Wednesday morning, ahead of the opening day of practice for the 107th Running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, that they’re still to this day bringing in new people to the organization, but that he feels like it’s paying dividends too.
“I mean, we’re still bringing on new people. But I think the integration of everyone is seamless at that point,” he says. “We’re a three car very cohesive team. So it’s, it’s amazing that we were able to do that so quickly. There are more was absolute chaos. But every single day that we’re on track working together, it’s it’s just getting better and better.”
In saying that, Rossi told me that he’d grade the performance of the car an A but the results a B thus far.
He’s had three top 10 finishes himself in five races. It’s just the fact that they’re almost playing catch up on race days as to why they’re not getting the results fully that they deserve.
The main improvement area now is to qualify better. He frustrated in the sense that he’s qualified between 10th and 12th in four of the five races. This time, he will start the race off a bit better.
“We’ve had a really strong pace on Sundays, we just haven’t gotten the results that we feel like we deserve. We’re missing a little bit on Saturdays,” he admitted. “I mean, it’s a very different car than I’m used to. I just haven’t quite found my happy spot for like the ultimate lap. It’s close. It seems like we’re permanently qualifying 10th, 11th or 12th. It’s not a disaster. We’re certainly much better in race pace, or have been so far this year.
“I mean, it’s not the end of the world. We’ll get there. It’s competitive, and you can’t be missing a 10th of a second. Ultimately that’s what we’re missing.
“We’ll keep our heads down. A bit of a shift now for the next two weeks. Yeah, really looking forward to getting started on the oval.
“The pieces are coming together.”
He was second quickest on Saturday so that’s an improvement.
Rossi comes to the ‘500 on the heels of a podium too. With having momentum now, I was curious his thoughts on in a series as difficult as this one (5 different winners in 5 races), is it harder to get momentum or keep it?
“That’s a good question. Probably keep, you know, I think I think every driver and team can like look back on weekends of like, you can pull positives out of anything, right?” he told me. “And so like internally, that can be good momentum, even if like the result doesn’t show it like take RLL for example. Like I think as a three car group, they probably have a lot of good momentum. So it’s definitely harder to keep you know, the series is so competitive and you can go one weekend from thinking you’ve got everything sorted out to the next beam. absolutely nowhere. So it’s challenging.”
Rossi has made seven career starts in this race and will make his 8th in Car No. 7. He won his rookie year in 2016, was seventh in 2017, fourth in 2018 and runner-up in 2019. While he led 17 laps and finished 27th in 2020, he was back in the top five last year.