AUTO SPORTS: Nevada City native Rossi gears up for Indianapolis 500 |

AUTO SPORTS: Nevada City native Rossi gears up for Indianapolis 500

Nevada City native Alexander Rossi prepares to qualify on the opening day of qualifications for the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis May 21, 2016
Associated Press | AP


What: 100th running of the Indianapolis 500

When: 9 a.m., Sunday

Channel: ABC

As an accomplished race car driver, Nevada City native Alexander Rossi has competed all over the globe, from Mexico to Monaco and beyond.

The road now takes Rossi to “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” the Indianapolis 500, where he will compete in the 100th running of the historic race Sunday.

“Honored to be involved, hungry to maximize our potential and excited to get racing,” Rossi said of his emotional state leading up to the race. “When I first walked the track and got a feel of the place, the history, and the potential. It’s a very special and it’s a magical place.”

After a solid week of practice, Rossi said he feels confident he’s ready for one of the biggest races in his career.

“It’s one of the biggest for sure,” he said. “I was very comfortable in the speed around IMS straight away. There are no speeds like this in motorsports. I cannot describe in words what it’s like to turn into turns 1 and 3 at 250 mph flat out. It’s an incredible place and my confidence, and the team’s, is very high. My focus is doing the job I need to do and get us in the best position possible. I know there will be an overwhelming feeling of inspiration on Sunday morning when 350,000 people have packed in the speedway, the national anthem is playing and drivers are ordered to their cars.”

Rossi is in his first season on the IndyCar circuit after spending time on the Formula 1 and GP2 circuits last year. Rossi has found mild success this season with Andretti Herta AutoSport, earning one top-10 finish in five starts. He is currently 17th in the IndyCar season standings. After a solid qualifying run, he will start in 11th place Sunday, and believes he has the ability and the car to be a contender.

“Of course I want to win, and to be frank the Andretti car is good enough to make the top step of the podium,” Rossi said. “As a racer, that is always the aim and there’s no deviation from that, but in racing there are a lot of factors that come into play, many of which the driver and team do not control.”

As for the keys to reaching the podium, Rossi said it will come down to his team and its race-day strategy.

“First and foremost it’s having a good team around you,” Rossi said. “We’ve put in some pretty solid testing this week and positive results in the run up to the race, mostly being at the sharp end of the grid, so I believe we’re doing all we can to put ourselves in the best position possible. Then reliability and strategy come into play; it’s a long race, so we need have a good solid car in traffic and confidence in reliability. Once that is in order, strategy with fuel, tires and pit stops will be key to the checkered flag. With all that we’ll be looking to make sure we give ourselves every opportunity to get the best out of the race, while knowing full well there will be variables and yellow flags out of our control.”

Despite being a globe-trotting race car driver since he was 16, the now 24-year-old Rossi said he has a great affinity for his hometown of Nevada City and appreciates the support he receives from his fans throughout Nevada County.

“Enormous gratitude and humility for the support of my hometown my whole career,” he said. “My career has been incredibly humbling and it means a lot to hear and read messages from Nevada County. I am very thankful for my roots and my hometown.”

Rossi also had a message for young aspiring drivers.

“Follow and chase your dreams. Take no shortcuts, work harder than your competitors, make the sacrifices, build the necessary relationships and lastly, first learn how to lose,” he said. “No one needs to learn how to win, that’s the easy part; but losing at times is your best teacher and motivator. Put in the work, make the sacrifices, really believe that you are able to achieve what you want to do and never, never, never give up.

“My father has an engraved plaque on his desk that says just that: ‘Never, Never, Never Give Up.’

The Indianapolis 500 is set to get started at 9 a.m. Sunday and will be televised on ABC.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email

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