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IndyCar Indy 500

Rossi expects Indy 500 “comers and goers” with new rules

Arrow McLaren IndyCar driver Alexander Rossi believes this Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 could be enlivened by the extra downforce options that teams can now turn to.

Alexander Rossi, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

During Friday’s two-hour Carb Day practice, 2016 Indy 500 winner Rossi was one of the drivers to experiment with the underwing strakes that IndyCar has opened up for use along with bargeboards and an increased range of rear wing angles.

Drivers have continued to complain about the ability to overtake, especially when mired in a pack of cars, but Rossi is sure it’s a step forward from a competition standpoint.

“It’s hard to pass, so IndyCar has given us more downforce options, which certainly hasn’t solved the main problem of being able to follow when you’re three, four, five cars deep,” said Rossi.

“But it’s supposed to be hard! The harder it is, it separates the good cars from the not-so-good cars.

“I think what you’re going to see this year, which is great, is that because there are more downforce options, people aren’t going to be running the same things.

“In years past, everyone ran the same option. I think you’ll see some comers and goers in the race, which I think will be very exciting.”

The former Andretti Autosport driver will be making his first Indy 500 start without Honda power when he lines up in his Chevrolet-powered McLaren on the inside of row three.

Preview: What to watch out for in the 2023 Indy 500

Rossi thinks that his inside knowledge of the rival engine – along with the arrival of veteran team-mate Tony Kanaan for his final IndyCar start – has been beneficial in Chevrolet’s favour.

“Oh yeah, there’s certainly a difference,” when asked by Autosport what he’s felt from the switch to Chevy power.

Alexander Rossi, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

Alexander Rossi, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

Photo by: Geoffrey M. Miller / Motorsport Images

“And that’s been a positive thing that myself and Tony have been able to bring to the table.

“Talking to Chevy and the team, we can very clearly point out the strengths and weaknesses of the package, and work to improve it and make it better. I think that’s been a good asset to have this month, certainly for the rest of the year.”

All four McLaren entries will start inside the top nine positions, with Felix Rosenqvist third, Pato O'Ward fifth, Rossi seventh and Kanaan ninth. 

Rossi said the McLaren squad has “an amazing shot with four very good racecars” on Sunday.

“Obviously we’ve had years where nobody wants to lead, and then a year like 2019 where Simon [Pagenaud] wanted to lead the whole thing,” he added.

“You can win this race so many different ways, so I don’t know that anyone is too concerned about fuel mileage, it’s the strategy game with the driver – it’s easy to save fuel with the slipstream – so we’ll have to wait and see how it unfolds.”

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