INDYCAR: Reigning Indy 500 champ Alexander Rossi eyes another drive down victory lane
2016 IndyCar Rookie of the Year
2016 INDY 500 Champion
2016 Andretti Autosport IndyCar Series Race Driver
2016 Manor Racing Official Reserve Driver
2015 Manor Marussia F1 Team Race Driver
2015 GP2 Series Vice Champion (2nd overall)
2014 Marussia F1 Team Official Reserve Driver
2014 Official Caterham F1 Team Reserve Driver and GP2 EQ8 Caterham Racing
2013 Official Caterham F1 Team Reserve Driver and GP2 EQ8 Caterham Racing - Rookie of the Year
2012 World Series by Renault FR3.5 with Arden Caterham & Official Caterham F1 Test Driver
2011 Caterham AirAsia GP2 Series - Testing, Barcelona, Spain, October 2011
2011 World Series by Renault Championship (FR3.5 Series) - Third Overall and Rookie Champion
2011 Caterham AirAsia GP2 Series - Testing, Jerez Spain, September 2011
2010 ART Grand Prix GP3 - 4th Overall Championship
2009 BMW Sauber F1 Testing - F1 Superlicense Qualifications
2009 GP2 Asia / Meritus Racing and Ocean Racing - 9th Overall, 3 Top 5 Finishes
2009 International Formula Master Championship / ISR Racing - 4th Overall and Rookie Champion
2008 Formula BMW World Champion, 1st Place
2008 Formula BMW Americas 1st Champion, 10 wins
2007 Formula BMW Americas 3rd Overall, 3 wins
2006 Skip Barber National Series, 3rd Overall, 4 wins
2006 Skip Barber Western Regional Series, 1st Champion
— courtesy of http://www.alexanderrossi.com
When IndyCar driver Alexander Rossi gets in the No. 98 driver’s seat, his motivation is singular — win.
“Just winning. I don’t really care about anything else to be honest,” the 2016 Indy 500 champ said.
Whether he’s roaring across the finish line at more than 200 mph or coasting across on gasoline fumes at 130 mph — like he did to win at last year’s Indy 500 — winning is paramount for the second year IndyCar driver.
“There’s the phrase, ‘winning isn’t everything,’ but that’s not really my methodology,” Rossi said. “I’m not happy if I’m second or third.”
The Nevada City native, who got his start racing go-karts at the age of 10, will look to implement his winning methodology Sunday in hopes of becoming the first driver since Helio Castroneves (2001-02) to win “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” in back-to-back years. Only five drivers in the race’s history have ever won back-to-back (Wilbur Shaw, 1939-40, Mauri Rose, 1947-48, Bill Vukovich, 1953-54, Al Unser, 1970-71, and Castroneves)
But the road to victory lane is not an easy one, riddled with mechanical pitfalls and other equally ambitious drivers.
For Rossi, who won the 2016 IndyCar Rookie of the Year Award and is considered one of sport’s rising stars, winning has eluded him since last year’s Indy 500 victory. In five races this season, Rossi has placed in the top-10 only twice with his best finish, fifth, coming in Birmingham, Alabama April 23. In his most recent race, Rossi finished in eighth place at the Indianapolis Grand Prix May 13.
The good news for the Rossi and Andretti Auto Sports is the No. 98 car has been fast leading up to the race, clocking a qualifying lap speed of 231.487 mph and garnering the No. 3 pole position. Only Scott Dixon and Ed Carpenter had faster qualifying times.
When the green flag drops Sunday, Rossi will attempt to go from third to first by the time the checkered flag flies and join a very exclusive club of drivers who have won the Indy 500 more than once in a row.
WHAT ARE THE ODDS?
Pole sitter, 2008 Indy 500 winner and four-time IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon is the odds on favorite to win at 6-1, according to OddsShark.com. Penske driver Will Power and Formula 1 transplant Fernando Alonso are behind Dixon at 8-1. Rossi falls down the list at 15-1. Other contenders are three-time Indy 500 winner Castroneves (10-1), two-time Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya (12-1), 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan (12-1), 2014 Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay (12-1), 2016 IndyCar Series champ Simon Pagenaud (15-1), Marco Andretti (12-1), Josef Newgarden (15-1), Takuma Sato (15-1) and Ed Carpenter (15-1).
Last year Rossi came into the race as a rookie on the IndyCar circuit and a relative unknown, but with his thrilling win came a whirlwind of media interviews, sponsor obligations and elevated expectations. Rossi has embraced the extra attention and chalks it up to being just part of the job.
“At this point in my career, I’ve learned how to compartmentalize,” he said of the gauntlet of media interviews and obligations that he has participated in leading up to the race. “It’s two separate sides of your job. It’s not something you think about when you drive the race car and driving the race car isn’t something you really think about when you’re in New York doing a media tour. It’s two different parts of it, and its pretty easy to deal with, honestly.”
Despite a breakout rookie season, Rossi said he doesn’t feel any added pressure this season.
“No additional pressure,” he said. “I put pressure on myself to win every race I participate in, whether its the Indy 500 or a race in Iowa. At the end of the day, it’s all the same for me. They are all races and I need to win and execute well.”
GOOD LUCK CHARM
Rossi, not really one for superstition or ritual, does have a good luck charm when it comes to the Indy 500.
“One of the things some of the drivers do is go to the children’s hospital here in Indy and kind of spend an evening with some of the kids and just play around and stuff,” Rossi said. “I met this little boy named Layden whose personality and smile and outlook on everything was pretty cool.”
Rossi visited his “good-luck charm” Layden ahead of this year’s race, hanging out with him bedside and dropping off some race gear.
WHERE TO WATCH
Coverage of the 101st Indy 500 begins at 8 a.m. Sunday morning on ABC. The race is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email email@example.com.
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