Alexander Rossi Emerging As A Colorful IndyCar Personality

Indianapolis 500 champion Alexander Rossi shown addressing media at Watkins Glen International. [Joe Jennings Photo]

Indianapolis 500 champion Alexander Rossi shown addressing media at Watkins Glen International. [Joe Jennings Photo]

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Alexander Rossi, the 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner, visited Watkins Glen International over the weekend to build up hype for the upcoming Verizon IndyCar Series event on the legendary course and to discuss racing in general. And later this week, he will join his Andretti Autosport teammates for a test on the lightning-fast course.

“We had a good run here a year ago and this is a place we are all fond of,” he noted. “The repave made this course one of the best ones in the world. It surprised everyone as to how fast it was. This race has become a highlight one for all the drivers, and every lap and every corner you have a big smile on your face. You can only say that about Indianapolis and here, so it would be neat to get a win and to be able to hang a wreath at the Seneca Lodge.”

A year ago, Rossi seemed to be ill at ease in talking about his victory in the 100th anniversary running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. Actually, it was difficult to get him to talk at all. Whether he was so overwhelmed with the win, a carryover from his F1 experience or otherwise is unknown. But today Rossi came off as a changed man, coming across as talkative, charming, personable and comfortable in addressing any and all subjects.

Even though he won the 500 a year ago, the remainder of his season didn’t go well, but his performance and success this season has shown much improvement. While he’s yet to win another race, he fervently believes it is just a matter of time.

His Andretti Autosport team fielded six cars in the 2017 500, including one for international driving star Fernando Alonso. According to Rossi, Alonso was a delight to work with and he among others hope the F1 champion will give it another shot. And he said the enormity of preparing six cars is beyond comprehension. “All six cars were incredibly fast and at one point, five of us headed the field,” he added.

Flashing back to the May 2016 event, Rossi confirmed he still hasn’t watched a replay of the 500 but he vividly recalls the finish, hearing the fans cheer as his car was running so slow until it totally ran out of fuel. “It was so special because with my engine turned off I could hear the fans but I couldn’t decide if they were happy for me or bewildered. For me, it was a very cool experience,” Rossi said.

Including this weekend’s Cup event, Rossi was witnessing only his second stock-car race, the first being the Brickyard 400. While he enjoyed the experience and talking with the competitors, it isn’t something he’s interested in doing at this time. “I’ve never driven a car with a roof over my head other than my passenger car,” he commented.

Addressing the 2018 car, Rossi expressed high enthusiasm with it and said it will require a different skill set to race it. “This new car should help the series grow and is a step in the right direction, particularly on the short ovals. We have one of the best shows on the planet now, and this is going to make it even better. IndyCar has done an amazing job with the new car; they have listened to us and maximized the areas where the existing car is weak. The results should be seen quickly.”

Not only is Rossi emerging as a star driver, his new-found charisma makes him into a personality that will do the Verizon IndyCar Series proud. And his easy-going manner should delight fans and sponsors, too.

Indianapolis 500 champions are unique individuals, and Rossi realizes what he has accomplished and wears the crown proudly.

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