The top 5 lessons Alexander Rossi taught us by winning the Indy 500

By John Jensen/used with permission Alexander Rossi, drenched in traditional cold milk, celebrates his Indy 500 win in the winner's circle.

By John Jensen/used with permission
Alexander Rossi, drenched in traditional cold milk, celebrates his Indy 500 win in the winner’s circle.

Alexander Rossi, the rookie winner of the 100th Indianapolis 500 race, taught some lessons yesterday. Were you paying attention?

Some of the lessons were ones you likely learned at some point, but maybe have forgotten. Some of them maybe you never thought of or never learned.

Here are five lessons that we all should take to heart:

You don’t have to be the fastest.

People will debate whether the 24-year-old from California had the fastest car out there. While he had the fastest lap of the race at 225.288 miles per hour, drivers James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay led more laps than Rossi. (Hinchcliffe led 27; Hunter-Reay led 52; Rossi led 14.) Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan and Townsend Bell also had fast cars.

In fact, at one point in the race, Rossi was 33rd. That’s last place at Indy.

You don’t have to have the most experience.

Rossi didn’t have the most experience. In fact, he became an IndyCar driver in February. Before that, he was a rising driver in Formula One, trying to make a career of it. But he hadn’t raced on an oval track until April, just two months ago, according to USA Today.

Rossi was the ninth rookie to win the race in its 100-year history, and the first rookie to win in 15 years, according to ESPN.

You don’t have to have the most money.

Bryan Herta’s IndyCar team merged with Andretti Autosport, headed by Michael Andretti, in the offseason, and had to do that to have an IndyCar this year, according to USA Today. That partnership paid off well for both teams.

Sometimes, you have to take risks.

While all other car teams were planning when to stop one more time for “a splash” of fuel, Rossi’s team was calculating speed and distance, and trying to determine whether, with smart driving, it could get that car to the checkered flag without a pit stop.

The team also had to consider various scenarios of what would happen if the caution flag came out anytime during those last laps. A caution flag can make or break you when it comes to racing.

The team decided it would try to conserve fuel when it could and not bring the car in for even a bare-minimum pit stop. Rossi drove 36 laps without taking on fuel. No other car drove more than 31 laps without stopping for gas, according to USA Today.

Always, you have to run your race, not anyone else’s.

While other teams were trying to figure out when to come in for fuel, and wondering/worrying when everyone else was going to do that, Rossi’s team figured out a strategy and stuck with it. And it paid off. They came in first, won the historic Indy 500 and coasted across the finish line at a cool 179 miles per hour while other cars were driving the full-out 220+ miles per hour to try to win.

In fact, Rossi cut it so close that the car didn’t even have enough gas to get around the track for his victory lap. He had to be towed in.

In post-race interviews, Rossi said, “I just focused on doing the best job I could.”

Now that’s a lesson for all of us.