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Rossi Takes Best Shot from Center Ice in Chicago

Alexander Rossi admitted he had a lot to learn about the Verizon IndyCar Series when he made his debut in March 2016.

Rossi was a fast learner, earning a stunning, strategic victory just two months later in the biggest race of all – the 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

Now you also can add hockey to the list of activities where Rossi proved he learns almost as fast as he drives in his No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts Curb Honda car.

Rossi participated in the popular “Shoot the Puck” promotion Thursday night, March 23 at center ice of the United Center in Chicago during the second intermission of the NHL game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Dallas Stars. It was the culmination of a busy day of promotional activity for the Verizon IndyCar Series and the 101st Indianapolis 500 in the Windy City.

Participants shoot three pucks from center ice toward the goal, trying to score through one of three small holes at the bottom of a board covering the net. Donations are made to charity for winning shots.

Rossi, who grew up in Northern California with no hockey experience, was a quick study with a stick in his hands. He came close to scoring on his third and final shot, drawing cheers from the capacity crowd of 21,798.

“The atmosphere at the United Center is awesome, and I had a great time watching the game and playing Shoot the Puck,” Rossi said. “My hockey skills aren’t quite pro level yet, but I’m down to keep practicing and give this another try next season. The Blackhawks’ organization is a first-class host, and hopefully I can return the favor by bringing a few players to an IndyCar race down the line.”

Rossi joined a list of prominent athletes who have celebrated major victories by playing “Shoot the Puck.” Other recent participants included stars from the World Series champion Chicago Cubs and U.S. Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Simone Biles.

Alexander Rossi with Jim Corneilson
Alexander Rossi
Alexander Rossi with Marian Hossa

After the game, Rossi visited the Blackhawks’ locker room and chatted with five-time NHL All-Star and three-time Stanley Cup winner Marian Hossa of the Blackhawks, who scored for Chicago in its 3-2 shootout victory Thursday night. Rossi and Blackhawks right wing Hossa compared racing in Hossa’s native Europe and in the United States, about the diverse road-street-oval venue mix of the Verizon IndyCar Series and about the sheer enormity of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Rossi also met NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and famed Blackhawks national anthem singer Jim Cornelison, who let Rossi try on his Blackhawks’ 2015 Stanley Cup champions ring.

Andretti Autosport driver Rossi also participated in various media interviews in Chicago, including with WGN Radio and 120 Sports.

The next Verizon IndyCar Series event is the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, April 9. The INDYCAR Grand Prix is Saturday, May 13 at IMS, followed by the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on Sunday, May 28.

Visit www.IMS.com to purchase tickets for the fourth annual INDYCAR Grand Prix on May 12-13 and the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 28, and for more information on the entire Month of May schedule at IMS. Kids 15 and under are free to all 2017 racing events at IMS when accompanied by an adult General Admission ticket-holder.

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