DETROIT – Alexander Rossi admitted on Friday he only watched the start of the 103rd Indianapolis 500 before turning off the replay.
“I’m over it,” Rossi said Friday. “I haven’t watched all of it. I’ve watched clips. I haven’t watched the whole Indy 500. I don’t have the mental longevity.
“I roughly know what happened.”
What happened is Rossi finished second to Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud by .2086 of a second in last Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.
He arrived at Belle Isle on Friday, determined to put last year’s near-miss and last week’s thrilling finish behind him as he prepares for Sunday’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.
Rossi was the fastest driver in Friday’s combined practice sessions with a time of 1:15.1367 around the 2.35-mile, 14-turn temporary street course for a fast lap of 112.595 mph in the No. 27 NAPA Honda.
That was just a tick faster than Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden, who ran a fast time of 1:15.6641 for a speed of 111.810 mph.
“Considering most of the guys didn’t get around on (Firestone) Reds, it’s kind of irrelevant,” Rossi said. “I think the team obviously carried on from last year. We had a good car last year. Ryan (Hunter-Reay) was obviously very quick, Marco (Andretti) was quick, all four cars were.
“To be able to pick up where we left off is a good start.”
The track surface at Detroit is known for its bumpiness. Rossi has learned to adapt to those bumps.
“When I first came here, it was quite a shock from all of the other street tracks we come to,” Rossi said. “It’s definitely a unique place. You have to learn to love the bumps. I think that’s probably what you heard me say. Kind of figure out ways to get around them. There’s certain bumping in braking zones and in corners that if you have a slightly different line or approach with your driving style, you can mitigate the impact that the bumps have.
“I think you can see a bit of separation at a place like this just for small driving style differences, which is great. At the end of the day, even with all that being said, we saw it’s so close at the top, close throughout the whole field. Pretty normal of Indy car racing.”
Newgarden’s speed was a matter of keeping pace with the track conditions. The teams return to the track Saturday for qualifications, split into two groups with 12 minutes set aside each group. Those run from 10:45 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. E.T.
“I think we’re all trying in a way to stay on the island this weekend,” Newgarden said. “I think everyone is pretty worn out, all the mechanics, engineers, a lot of the drivers are. It’s a big month for everybody.
“I’m a little worn out, but pretty good. It’s nice to be back in a regular weekend that’s a little bit more low-key. I think we had a decent start today, not 100 percent sure where we stack up. I think we’re a little bit further back than where we were on that final red tire run. Some of the Andretti boys look really good. Some of the Ganassi guys look really good. We’ll see.
“I think we’re in that top-five mix. In the pecking order we’re probably more towards the back of the top five. A little bit of work to do. So far not too terrible.”
Former winner Scott Dixon was third, Will Power was fourth and Graham Rahal rounded out the top-five.