When rumors first began that Alexander Rossi might not be returning to F1 but instead coming to IndyCar I was not thrilled. Rossi himself did not appear thrilled. He was quite public saying he was looking for a seat in Formula One and that IndyCar would be an option only if Formula One did not work out. Well as we know Rossi signed with Bryan Herat/ Andretti Autosport for the 2016 season driving the No. 98 car. I was so disappointed. There are so many talented drivers who would do anything to drive an IndyCar and Rossi gets a great deal with a great team and doesn’t seem to appreciate it.
If you know anything about me you know I love IndyCar because of the drivers. They are the heart and soul of racing in my book and I will defend them to the end but I was having a tough time with Alexander. As the Indianapolis 500 approached I had thirty drivers I wanted to win. Some more than others but I would have been happy with 30 different outcomes. Juan Pablo Montoya was not on my list. JPM has just never been a favorite and he had just won in 2015. I was hoping to see someone new. Ryan Hunter-Reay was also not on my list. While many say he is great with fans that has just not been our experience. RHR won in 2014 so he already had his win, I was hoping he wouldn’t repeat. The third driver I did not want to win was Alexander Rossi. Rossi just didnt seem to understand how special IndyCar is and especially what winning the 500 means. This was the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. I wanted someone to win who truly understood what an honor that would be. I wanted Marco Andretti to win, or Helio Castroneves make history with a fourth win, or A.J. Foyt’s team win at the place that made A.J. a household name. It was an amazing race and while it was won on fuel strategy it kept us guessing until the last second. In the end it was Alexander Rossi that took the checkered flag. I’m always disappointed when the race is over simply because the race is over but this year the 100th race was over and one of the three drivers I didn’t want to win had just won. Wow! It took me awhile to wrap my head around that.
Rossi did seem very humbled and shocked by the win and I began to soften on my feelings towards him. As I said I will always defend my IndyCar drivers. This post is about the closest I will come to saying anything bad about the drivers and I’m actually struggling to write this. I’m a diehard fan and love the sport, I want to like the drivers. Listening to the radio conversations between Rossi and Herta also made me like Rossi a bit more. As the season progressed and I adjusted to the fact that Rossi had won I became more accepting. I began to feel that if Rossi stayed in IndyCar I would be much happier about his win. At Road America the boys and I were able to meet Alexander. We got his autograph and a picture and I asked him point blank do you plan to stay in IndyCar. He was vague in his answer saying he didn’t know. I said that I hope he does which was true, part of the reason I’m not a big Montoya fan is because he won the 500 and left for NASCAR. I want our drivers to stay in IndyCar but especially our 500 winners.
As the season went on it seemed more likely that Rossi would stay in IndyCar. Rumors even went around putting him in a Penske car. Turns out Josef Newgarden got the Penske ride and Alexander Rossi would be staying with Andretti Autosport. There is still some speculation as to who will call his races as many are suggesting that Bryan Herta will be calling Marco’s races. Either way I’m thrilled that Rossi is staying in IndyCar.
On Wednesday the Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosted the unveiling of the Borg-Warner trophy complete with the newest winners face on the trophy. I tweeted Alexander that morning saying he must be having a good year as he made the front of the Nolen Christmas card. He responded with in minutes and that my friends is what I love about our IndyCar guys (and gals). I guess he does have what it takes to be one of the best. Talent, a great personality and an appreciation for the fans. Watching the live videos (Watch here And here) also showed how much he did appreciate winning and how daily he is learning what a true honor it is to have won such a prestigious race.