After Indy 500 win, Alexander Rossi’s final 2016 goal: finish rookie season in top 10

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There’s an old saying in motorsports “that one race does not a season make.”

Well, except for maybe Alexander Rossi.

The rookie IndyCar driver from Auburn, Calif., unquestionably had the biggest finish of any driver in the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2016 when he was the unlikely winner of the milestone 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Rossi was virtually everyone’s darling for the week following taking the checkered flag in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

But once Indy was in his rearview mirror and he proceeded to the two races at Belle Isle the following week, Rossi went from sudden star back to being just another rookie.

And that’s how his season will ultimately finish — or will it?

Rossi comes into Sunday’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma – at his home racetrack of Sonoma Raceway – ranked 11th in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings. A strong finish in the season finale could potentially see him finish his first IndyCar season with a top-10 showing.

Admittedly, he’s had some good finishes other than Indy, but no podium showings: sixth at Iowa, eighth at Watkins Glen and pair of 10th place finishes (Indianapolis Grand Prix and Belle Isle 1).

But then there’s the other side of the coin: he’s also had 10 finishes in the first 15 races between 11th and a season-worst 20th (twice).

But his Watkins Glen finish — coupled with his reputation as a strong road course racer — leaves Rossi optimistic that he can wrap up the season on a high note.

“There is so much that I am looking forward to this weekend, that it’s hard to choose just one thing,” Rossi said. “Whether it’s my home race in California, double-points season finale or the fact that 100-plus friends and family are coming out to watch – some for the first time.

“I want to take all of this energy and use it as even more fuel to end the season on a high note. I’m proud of how the No. 98 team has steadily improved throughout the year and I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish this weekend.”

It may not equal what he accomplished at Indianapolis, but it’ll be a great way to wrap up a year, nonetheless.

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