Alexander Rossi has gone into the final race of the last two NTT IndyCar Series seasons with a chance to win the outright championship. The only problem was, the last two years, he’s faced a sizable deficit.
Rossi, said last September that his main goal for the 2020 season was to head to Laguna Seca this year with the points lead, not chasing any one. But, in order to do so, he knows that he needs to start the year off better and when he does, put a whole season together.
That for himself, puts a lot of pressure on his shoulders. Despite a new contract for 2020 to remain at Andretti, he knows that you’re only good as your last race and his last race wasn’t good enough to earn him his first championship.
“Racing is a very difficult sport in the sense that you’re only as good as your last race,” said the California native. “You’re constantly having to go out and reprove yourself regardless of what you’ve accomplished in the past. There’s so many guys coming in, your job security really doesn’t exist.”
Rossi, came out of the gates blazing in 2018 with three straight podiums and six top five finishes in the first seven races. Over the final 10 races though, Rossi only had four top five results.
In IndyCar, there’s really no margin for error. You realistically need to be a top five machine as much as you can. That in turn means you really want to come out of the gates swinging in St. Pete because you don’t want to be playing catch up early.
Yeah, it’s very important,” Rossi said on Monday about starting off the 2020 year off with a good finish. “Obviously racing is a pretty big momentum-based sport. If you can start off the year on the right foot, it’s a positive thing.
“St. Pete is an interesting place. It’s a very challenging street circuit. It’s one that most guys have a lot of experience on. It’s always very close and pretty tightly in it together in terms of the qualifying results. You have to be on your A game for the first race of the year which is always a little bit of a challenge having been out of the cars for a while.”
The challenge this year is, while the physical car itself is similar to the 2018 and 2019 version, the added Aeroscreen could potentially change things. Some drivers and engineers think that the added piece could change setups on these race cars.
For Rossi, he’s ho-hum on it as he hasn’t had much seat time this offseason to know one way or the other on how his No. 27 Honda will handle with the new safety device on the streets of St. Pete this weekend.
“We’ve really only had at Andretti a day and a half with the weather at COTA,” Rossi said of the Aeroscreen. “That was kind of a half day. Sebring is kind of its own unique animal.
“I don’t really know that we know, to be perfectly honest with you. It’s definitely different, but the extent of that won’t become clear to us until probably at least Friday night in St. Pete.”
Rossi, has made four past starts on the 1.8-mile street circuit with finishes of 12th, 11th, third and fifth respectively.