Alexander Rossi recalls 2016 Indy 500 victory; last year’s disappointment


Before the morning of his May 29, 2016 victory in the 100th Indy 500, Alexander Rossi had no idea what the race meant and how much it would impact his career.

During an insightful sitdown (watch the full interview in the video above) with NBC Sports’ Marty Snider for today’s Indy 500 prerace show (1 p.m. ET, NBC), the Andretti Autosport driver went in-depth on why Indianapolis Motor Speedway was so life-altering.

“I knew nothing about tracks, nothing about ovals, nothing about the team,” Rossi said about beginning his rookie season in the NTT IndyCar Series four years ago after a stint in Formula One. “I was trying to absorb as much as I can as possible. And then Race No. 4, the Indianapolis 500 comes about, and I was forced to learn very quickly about IndyCar and what it means.

“It was amazing how it worked out. That gave us the introduction to NAPA and allowed me to develop relationships with (team owner) Michael (Andretti), Bryan (Herta) and Honda.  It’s amazing looking back how that day kind of completely changed the course of my career forever. And it’s pretty remarkable.

THE 104TH INDY 500How to watch Sunday’s race on NBC

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS: Andretti Autosport has found its stride at the Brickyard

Before winning the iconic race with a fuel mileage gambit, Rossi said he had watched the Indy 500 but never attended the race or watched the winner’s celebration. He laughs now about photos that show him looking bemused after the victory because “it’s a perfect representation of that race and that year.”

“I didn’t have this idea of what you’re supposed to do,” he said. “It was my fourth IndyCar race, and I’d never been successful in a normal IndyCar race. I didn’t know what I was doing. It was a very strange situation. I pray I get the opportunity to do it again.”

He nearly did last year, finishing second to Simon Pagenaud in a thrilling finish that he told Snider was the most gutting and disappointing result of his career.

Alexander Rossi Indy 500
Alexander Rossi will start ninth in the 104th Indy 500 after winning in 2016 and finishing second last year (James Black/IndyCar).

“I think more about last year more than 2016 about what could I have done differently,” Rossi said. “That sticks with you even more than the one I won because it’s the one that kind of got away.”

What he remembers most about the 2016 victory actually was the buildup and “the hour and a half before you get in the car. It was the best thing I’ve ever done. Understanding that elevates (IMS) above just being a racetrack.”

Rossi, who is starting ninth in today’s race, told Snider that he hopes that the 104th Indy 500 (which is being held without fans for the first time) is won by a former winner because “I’d hate for someone to feel like they missed all that comes with this event” when there is a crowd of 300,000.

“A lot of people talk about drivers who have been here 10 years trying to win it and the huge emotional relief that comes with that,” Rossi said. “But I think there’s something pretty unique for the guys who have won it. They know what that’s like and every year they don’t achieve it, it sucks even more.

“This is the one race on earth for an entire year, you’re celebrated for what you accomplished. A lot of other tracks, you win and are the hero until Monday or Tuesday, then everyone focuses on the next event. This one is literally 12 months. It seems every month you’re getting some award or honor, and it’s really special.”

Rossi also discusses his rough start to the 2020 season, why he still needs a championship and his fearlessness of passing on restarts during the interview with Snider, which you can watch during NBC’s broadcast of the 104th Indy 500 today starting at 1 p.m. ET.

Alexander Rossi Indy 500
Alexander Rossi is seeking his first victory this season in today’s 104th Indy 500 (Chris Owens/IndyCar).

IndyCar releases schedule for 2023 season

IndyCar schedule 2023
Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NTT IndyCar Series’ 2023 schedule will feature the same number of races and tracks as this season with some minor reshuffling of dates.

IndyCar will open the 2023 season March 5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, and will conclude Sept. 10 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. The 107th Indy 500 will take place May 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 17-race schedule will conclude with a stretch of eight races in the final nine weeks.

“The NTT IndyCar Series is on an impactful upward trajectory, making progress at a pace that befits our thrilling style of competition,” Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “The 2023 season provides an opportunity to further build on this trend, bringing our sport and its stars to more markets and households and reaching new consumers across the globe.”

There will be 15 events on NBC: 13 races (including six of the final seven) plus Indy 500 qualifying May 20-21. There also are three races on USA Network and the Toronto race exclusively on Peacock. All races on NBC and USA also will have live simulstreams on Peacock.

In partnership with NBC Sports, the 2022 IndyCar season was the most-watched in six years and the most-watched across NBC Sports on record. The 2022 season also was the most streamed season on record.

“We’re very excited for our 2023 NTT IndyCar Series schedule and to build on this past season’s viewership milestones,” NBC Sports vice president of programming Mike Perman said in a release. “In providing comprehensive coverage across NBC, Peacock and USA Network, NBC Sports is once again looking forward to telling the stories of these world-class drivers and this compelling series.”

Notable elements on the 2023 schedule:

–There will be the same balance of seven road course races, five street courses and five ovals.

–St. Pete will be the season opener for the 13th time.

–The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will move from Belle Isle to the streets of downtown.

–The NASCAR doubleheader weekend at the IMS road course will shift to mid-August.

–The World Wide Technology Raceway event will move from Saturday to Sunday.

Start times for the 2023 events will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the 2023 IndyCar schedule:

Date Race/Track Network/Platform
Sun., March 5 Streets of St. Petersburg NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 2 Texas Motor Speedway NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 16 Streets of Long Beach NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 30 Barber Motorsports Park NBC, Peacock
Sat., May 13 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) NBC, Peacock
Sun., May 28 The 107th Indianapolis 500 NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 4 Streets of Detroit NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 18 Road America USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 16 Streets of Toronto Peacock
Sat., July 22 Iowa Speedway – Race 1 NBC, Peacock
Sun., July 23 Iowa Speedway – Race 2 NBC, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 6 Streets of Nashville NBC, Peacock
Sat., Aug. 12 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) USA Network, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 27 World Wide Technology Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 3 Portland International Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 10 WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca NBC, Peacock

*dates and networks/platforms are subject to change