IndyCar driver Alexander Rossi looks forward to getting back in car, competing for championship
Since making his way to IndyCar in 2016, Alexander Rossi has weaved his way to the front of the pack and proven himself to be among the elite drivers in the series.
With an unrelenting drive to win, the 28-year-old Nevada County native has already notched 28 top-five finishes, claimed six poles and won seven races, including the 2016 Indianapolis 500, since joining IndyCar. After finishing second in the series’ overall points race in 2018 and third in 2019, Rossi has set his sights on bringing home the points championship this season.
IndyCar was set to wave the green flag on the 2020 season in mid-March with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, but that race along with several others have either been canceled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing Rossi and his fellow IndyCar drivers to patiently wait to return to the track.
Last Thursday, IndyCar announced it plans to start the season June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway.
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In the meantime, The Union caught up with Rossi to find out how he’s navigating life during the COVID-19 pandemic.
WALTER FORD: With the racing season on hold for now, how are you filling your time?
ALEXANDER ROSSI: In addition to a full schedule of iRacing practice and races, I’ve been doing a lot of house projects. I recently moved into a new house in Indianapolis, and this extra time has allowed my girlfriend and I to do some work on the landscaping, garage and basement. Other than that, I train for a couple of hours each day, and we’ve been doing a lot of home cooking.
FORD: I see you’ve been doing a lot of iRacing. Why has iRacing been so popular among pro drivers?
ROSSI: I wouldn’t say it’s popular among that many IndyCar drivers. To be honest, we were sort of forced into it and most of us had to buy or borrow the sim equipment, and many of us had to learn iRacing from scratch. But the learning process has been a cool challenge and it’s allowed not only the drivers to stay in touch with each other, but also drivers and sponsors can stay in touch with the fans. I’ve been doing some extra iRacing events aside from IndyCar, just to have some fun racing with drivers and athletes from different disciplines.
FORD: How are you staying sharp for when races start back up? What kind of team interactions/practices are being allowed right now?
ROSSI: I have a home gym and training is a big part of my day. Staying in proper physical condition for racing is important, since we honestly don’t know how the schedule will play out for 2020. Due to stay-at-home orders, we’ve had no in-person meetings with our engineers or members from Andretti Autosport, but we are in touch via phone and email nearly every day. Prep for the race season never stops.
FORD: Of the races that have been canceled this season, which one disappointed you most to see fall off this year’s schedule?
ROSSI: Obviously, the Grand Prix of Long Beach. I’ve won it the last two years, and it’s one of my favorite courses regardless of how I finish. Plus, being from California, I usually have a lot of family and friends come out. So it’s disappointing for them as well.
FORD: When the season does start up again, what are you most looking forward to?
ROSSI: Very simply, I’m looking forward to getting in my race car.
FORD: You’ve been racing IndyCar since 2016. How have you matured/grown as a driver/competitor during that time?
ROSSI: The relationships you have with your team and fellow drivers is very different in IndyCar versus F1. My growth has come from the camaraderie with my Andretti teammates and what I’ve learned from them over the past four years.
FORD: What has been some of the best advice you’ve received since joining IndyCar?
ROSSI: It came from Bryan Herta who was a co-owner of my car for the first two years and an ex-Indycar driver himself. When explaining the art of oval racing to me he said, “If it doesn’t feel right, no matter how marginal, pit, because it’s probably not right and you will save yourself and the car.” Each time I’ve ignored the advice, it’s ended poorly.
FORD: What do you hope to accomplish in the 2020 season?
ROSSI: I’ve been close to the IndyCar Championship two seasons in a row, and that’s the main goal for me in 2020.
FORD: You’ve developed quite the fan following, especially in the last few years, what is your favorite thing about interacting with fans?
ROSSI: In IndyCar versus other race series, the fans have a lot of access to the drivers and garage areas. Not only do they get to see the cars and technology up close, but they get to see the down-to-earth side of the drivers. For kids or people new to IndyCar, I think this is a great way for them to become fans for life.
FORD: Any shelter-in-place silver linings?
ROSSI: As mentioned, getting a lot of the “house list” taken care of and spending an insane amount of time with my dogs. Needless to say, they are very happy.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4232.
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