The last time 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi raced at Road America was in 2008 – when he was 16 years old!
“I won quite a bit at Road America in Skip Barber and Formula BMW,” Rossi said in a recent IndyCar teleconference. “The last race I had at Road America was in BMW.
“It was a triple-header weekend, actually, and I won two of the three. I definitely like the track and know my way around there.”
Even with the lengthy time away from the 4.048-mile, 14-turn track – one of the premier road courses in the world – Rossi believes that now that he’s older (24), wiser and an Indy 500 champion, he’s ready to pick up where he last left off at Road America eight years ago for this weekend’s Verizon IndyCar Series Kohler Grand Prix race.
“I wouldn’t say the outlook has changed,” Rossi said. “My goal from the beginning of day one in IndyCar was to be fighting at the front. That outlook is no different.”
When Rossi first heard that the Verizon IndyCar Series would be racing at Road America in this, his rookie season in the series, it further added to his anticipation of the next step in his racing career.
“When I first looked at the schedule, the three races I was most looking forward to was Long Beach, the Indy 500 and Road America,” Rossi said. “I’m very, very excited to get going there.
“It’s one of my favorite tracks in the world, and I think it’s a fantastic venue, and I’m very excited that the Verizon IndyCar Series is returning back there.”
Even though he’s enjoyed past success at Road America, Rossi isn’t looking back at what he previously did there, but rather what he hopes to do this weekend and going forward from there.
“No, (past) results don’t play into that,” Rossi said. “I think the layout is awesome. It’s very high speed. It’s long. It’s over four miles, which is a different type of challenge. You know, there’s three very long straightaways. Yeah, I like everything about it.
“I didn’t say it would be easier. I just said it would be an easier weekend for me just because I know the layout of the track. I think that the guys in the IndyCar championship are incredibly capable, and it’s a very, very, very competitive group of guys. So nothing about it will be easy, it’ll just make my life a little bit better when I roll out of pit lane for the first time.”
That’s especially true given that at his core, Rossi is a road course specialist. And with Road America, Mid-Ohio and Sonoma still to come, not to mention street courses like Toronto, the second half of the season could bring additional surprises like what he did at Indianapolis.
“Yeah, for sure there are certain tracks that I am looking forward to from the aspect of I just know where they go and kind of how they drive a little bit,” Rossi said. “I think the tracks that I know (that will host upcoming IndyCar races) are Road America, Mid-Ohio and Sonoma, so those will be, for lack of a better word, the easier ones for me.”
And which may potentially lead to his second career IndyCar win — or maybe even more.