Amid Indy 500 celebration, Alexander Rossi looks ahead to Belle Isle
DETROIT (AP) — Alexander Rossi's Indianapolis 500 victory turned this week into a bit of a whirlwind.
For a driver who usually sticks to a rigorous fitness regimen, the travel and attention have broken his routine.
''It's stressing me out,'' he said. ''It's weird. My life feels a little bit disrupted, but it's a good problem to have. I'm not going to complain about it.''
Rossi was in Detroit on Thursday, the site of the next IndyCar stop this weekend at Belle Isle. With races Saturday and Sunday, this event is a chance for Rossi to build on his unexpected triumph at Indy - but he could fade from the spotlight if he doesn't race well.
Rossi's victory last weekend moved him from 17th to sixth in the series standings, so a run at a championship is possible if he starts having more consistent success. But Rossi had raced on only one oval before Indianapolis. He's still an IndyCar rookie who returned to his native U.S. when he had no full-time Formula One ride this season.
''All the tracks that I haven't been to are always going to be difficult,'' Rossi said. ''I'm really looking forward to Road America and Watkins Glen, Sonoma. Those are my three ones that I'm really stoked about.''
Perhaps it's no surprise that he mentioned the road courses, as opposed to ovals like Texas and Iowa. This weekend's races at Belle Isle will be on a street circuit.
The 24-year-old Rossi generally works out seven days a week, having switched recently from a focus on cardiovascular activities to more strength training. He says he's been unable to keep up with that routine amid post-Indy hoopla that included travel to New York and Texas.
''It's been very busy. Part of me is still obviously thinking about the 500 and talking about it and kind of reliving that, but at the same time I'm very focused on what's going on this weekend,'' he said. ''It's been a little bit of a juggling act, and I'm glad I was finally able to sleep last night.''
Rossi did not finish higher than 12th in his first four races of the season, but he managed a 10th-place showing in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, two weeks before the Indy 500 that he won when he outlasted everyone else running nearly on fumes.
''It's very important that we focus forward and we don't take anything for granted,'' he said. ''It's no secret that we've struggled up until the month of May, and the Indy GP was really a turning point for us.''
The good news for Rossi continued Thursday, when NAPA Auto Parts announced it will sponsor him through the double-header at Belle Isle. Rossi's team was put together by Bryan Herta and merged with Andretti Autosport. Michael Andretti said he hoped to continue sponsorship conversations with NAPA beyond Detroit.
''NAPA joined us just in time for the historic 100th Indy 500 and we couldn't have been more thrilled with being able to provide them the win,'' Andretti said in a statement. ''It's great to see the partnership expand into a sponsorship for Alexander in Detroit and we hope to continue conversations and grow into an even larger relationship.''
More victories - or at least more strong finishes - could certainly help Rossi's sponsorship outlook as he tries to show his victory at Indy was no fluke.
''In this sport, you're only as good as your last race,'' he said. ''You're constantly having to prove yourself, so it's very important that we have a strong weekend, and hopefully good things will come.''
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