INDIANAPOLIS – When Alexander Rossi won the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 back in 2016, most said then that a worse winner couldn’t have won. See, everyone just kind of assumed that Rossi was only using the NTT IndyCar Series as a stepping stone back to a seat in Formula One.
With arguably the biggest race in the Indy 500 history being run, to have a driver that we thought then had no regard for the race itself nor a future in the series longterm reach victory lane, well it wouldn’t bode well for the series.
How can you promote the race when the winner didn’t care to be here? Some chastised him for not being emotional enough following such a big win too.
But, as we sit here today, we couldn’t have been more wrong.
Alexander Rossi practices his No. 27 Honda during practice for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 – INDYCAR Media Site
Rossi, is in his fourth Indy Car season and is eyeing a new contract for 2020 and beyond to remain here in the series. As he could command some serious attention to go back overseas and finish what he started, he has shown no interest.
The 2016 race actually worked out in Indy Car’s favor more than anyone could have known then.
It wasn’t that Rossi didn’t care for his ‘500 win, he just didn’t know what to expect. The Indy 500 wasn’t something that Rossi chased. When he was a teenager, he moved overseas to pursue an F1 seat. When he was little, his family would take up early on Sunday mornings and watch F1 races, not Indy Car.
He grew up in northern California, NOT Indiana. So, we should forgive him for now showing as much emotion because he was very emotional, he just didn’t know what to expect.
He’s honest when he says that he didn’t think he had any shot of winning that race that year. When he crossed the yard of bricks first, he knew his life would change.
Now, it’s in his blood. He doesn’t want to leave. When someone wins the Indy 500 and it’s not him, Rossi gets genuinely jealous, so much so, he has to take a break off social media.
“It’s not hard as all,” Rossi said about the ‘500. “Once you get a taste of it — this one is weird. I feel like other races you win, it kind of — of course you would happily win again, but this one is like you get a small taste of it, and the desire ramps up I think even more, and you don’t want anyone else to be able to experience that and kind of get to celebrate it for the next 12 months, because that’s the special thing about this race is there’s — every couple of months there’s something that’s kind of reminding you of your accomplishment and ceremonial things, and I think that’s very cool.
“I remember the year — 2017 when Takuma (Sato) won, I just stopped looking at his social media because I was jealous. It’s definitely — the desire to win again is pretty strong. So it’s not hard to come back and want to do it again.”
Rossi, has been quick in his other three chances too. He finished in the top 10 in 2017 and charged from the last row to a top five finish last year. This year, he’s been quick again and should be a favorite in Sunday’s 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 (11 a.m. ET/NBC/INDYCAR Radio Network).
Rossi, has won the top events in Indy Car. He’s a two time Long Beach winner. He’s won at Watkins Glen. He’s won at Pocono. He’s won at Mid-Ohio. It’s just that he’s come to find out that Indy means a lot more than anything.
For a driver we all thought initially didn’t care, well he does. He cares just as much, if not more than anyone else.