Alexander Rossi kept saying he was disappointed not to win the Indianapolis 500 after finishing fourth on Sunday — and no doubt, that’s true.
But he could barely hide a smile while surrounded by reporters on pit road after the race, because Rossi knew he just did something pretty cool.
After starting 32nd — second to last — on the most difficult passing day in the last half-dozen years at Indy, Rossi nearly ended up on the podium. And he seemed to will himself to the front thanks to gasp-inducing moves on multiple restarts, where he improbably made the outside lane work.
Rossi said it wasn’t a matter of having giant balls, but rather “just opportunity, man.”
“It’s not anything to do with anything else,” he said. “You try to make the most of the opportunities that are presented to you.”
Come on, though! Other drivers weren’t making those type of moves work — or even daring to try them, seemingly. Rossi did, and put on the most memorable show of the Indy 500 despite losing out to Will Power.
“It’s just a different mindset,” he said of starting at the back. “You’ve got to expose the car. You’ve got to do some things you’re uncomfortable with and hope they work out.”
They did. It’s fitting Rossi was accompanied Sunday by several of his fellow contestants from last season of The Amazing Race — winners Jessica Graf and Cody Nickson, along with Kristi Leskinen (Team Extreme) — because that was certainly a fitting description for how he drove. Leskinen snapped photos of the media mob surrounding Rossi on pit road to ask him about his feat.
Rossi has a subtle approach to answering questions and doesn’t seem to get caught up in his own hype. But he acknowledged the good day in his own way, noting this year’s new IndyCar made it so “your ass is clenched around here quite a bit of the time.”
When Rossi was asked about his level of confidence in making those moves, he basically gave a verbal shrug.
“Confident enough,” he said. “I mean, you never know. The inside was blocked, so sometimes there’s not any other option. And I’m not going to lift, so…”