Alexander Rossi returns to drive at Indy for first time since winning 500

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Monday marked 72 days since the biggest day of Alexander Rossi’s life.

It was back on May 29 that the California native and Verizon IndyCar Series rookie literally came out of nowhere to win the milestone 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500.

When he finally returned to Indianapolis Motor Speedway once again in a race car on Monday (he attended NASCAR’s Brickyard 400 last month as a fan) as one of six drivers in a closed Firestone tire test, Rossi’s triumphant win and sold-out grandstands were replaced by the atmosphere of just another tire test and empty stands.

“It’s a lot quieter and you’re not as worked up about everything, for sure, but yeah, the first lap was special,” Rossi told IndyCar.com of taking his first lap on the legendary 2.5-mile Monday since his win in the 500.

Rossi was one of four former Indy 500 winners to take part in the test: Tony Kanaan (2013), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2014), Juan Pablo Montoya (2015 and 2000) and Rossi (2016). Also taking part were Graham Rahal and Ed Carpenter.

While his bank account is significantly larger and the winner’s trophy holds a prominent place in his home, winning the 500 really hasn’t changed Rossi.

While he could afford caviar and filet mignon three times a day, Rossi would rather chow down at places like Jimmy Johns (he gets all the sandwiches he can eat for the next year and a half).

As part of his winner’s duties, he rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange – well, it was actually pushing a button, as he told IndyCar.com – and attended the ESPYs, where he lost to Kyle Busch as Best Driver.

“Other than that, normal life hasn’t changed,” Rossi admits.

Rossi doesn’t want to live on his Indy 500 laurels by any stretch. He told IndyCar.com that — his biggest win notwithstanding — the rest of this season has been a mixed bag of ups and downs.

His 500 win is his only podium finish thus far in 2016; he has no other top-fives and just three other top-10 finishes in the first 12 races of the season.

He’s gone through a particularly rough stretch of late, with finishes of 12th (Belle Isle 2), 15th (Road America), sixth (Iowa – his best finish this season other than at Indy), 16th (Toronto) and 14th (Mid-Ohio).

Rossi knows what he needs to do:

“I need to win more races, man,” he told IndyCar.com. “(Winning the 500 is) unbelievable, it’s amazing, it’s given my career new life, for sure.

“But you’re only as good as your last race so we need to definitely work on improving things and winning more at all the other tracks.”

Now that the 500, the Brickyard and Monday’s test are in his rearview mirror, Rossi had a chance to reflect on how the last 2 1/2 months have been.

“I have a whole new kind of outlook on the Speedway,” he told IndyCar.com. “That was very cool to come back here.”

Click here to read the full IndyCar.com story.

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Ganassi announces multiyear sponsorship extension with American Legion for No. 10

Chip Ganassi American Legion
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Chip Ganassi Racing announced a new primary sponsorship deal with The American Legion this week, shoring up the funding on its No. 10 Dallara-Honda of Alex Palou.

The 2021 NTT IndyCar Series champion primarily had driven with NTT Data sponsorship the past two seasons. But NTT Data will move next season to McLaren Racing as a primary sponsor for Felix Rosenqvist in 10 races and on the Indy 500 car of Tony Kanaan (who drove an American Legion car for Ganassi at the Brickyard last year).

It was the latest twist in a McLaren-Ganassi saga that included a contract dispute for the services of Palou (who is expected to move to McLaren in 2024 after reaching an agreement to race with Ganassi next year).

Ganassi stayed within its own walls to help plug the sponsorship gap left by NTT Data, re-signing The American Legion to a multiyear extension. The Indianapolis-based non-profit organization, which has been sponsoring Ganassi cars for the past few seasons, also will be associated with other Ganassi drivers, including Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson and development driver Kyffin Simpson in Indy NXT.

The Ganassi organization will continue promoting The American Legion’s “Be The One” campaign aimed at reducing veteran suicides. The team launched an online auction for the initiative this week.

“Supporting our nation’s veterans is of immense importance to our organization and we are humbled to continue supporting The American Legion’s mission in ending veteran suicide,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a release. “We will do absolutely everything we can to help veterans get the support they need while raising public awareness of the ‘Be The One’ platform.”

“We have received an overwhelming amount of support from fans, active-duty military members and veterans as a result of this partnership and we’re pleased to see it grow,” said Dean Kessel, chief marketing officer at The American Legion. “Thanks to the continuous collaboration with the team’s other partners, and the promotion of the ‘Be The One’ initiative, we are discovering more ways to engage with the military community than ever before. We want all veterans to know that it’s okay to ask for help.”