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“I think it’s so cool that he’s going to join us next year,” said O’Ward, runner-up in last year’s 500. “I think he’s going to really enjoy. Definitely going to be probably the quickest he’s ever going to go in his life. So I’m sure he will enjoy that.
“He drives so many different cars. He jumps into whatever opportunity that he wants to either experience or enjoy. The guy can wheel a racecar. I’m excited to have him as a teammate.
“I met him a little bit, not last year but two years ago in Abu Dhabi when he was there after he won the NASCAR championship. I was so happy to see him do so well on his comeback to NASCAR after the mishap that he had a few years ago.
“I’m a big fan of him. I think he’s great. I feel like I can speak on behalf of the whole team –everybody’s really excited to have him around.”
This year, Arrow McLaren will also run four cars at the 500, with the extra entry, the #66, to be driven by 2013 Indy winner Tony Kanaan. The 2016 winner, Rossi, believes that both this year and next, the team will benefit from its brief expansion in the Month of May. He added that it will be a privilege to be involved in one half of Larson’s hectic Memorial Day Weekend, since the Hendrick Motorsports ace will head from Indianapolis down to Charlotte to take part in NASCAR’s Coke 600.
“It’s a hell of a story, man,” said Rossi. “It’s really, really cool to be able to witness part of someone doing the double. That’s such an amazing thing for any racing driver, to have the opportunity to do that.
“Obviously I think he’s one of the elite racing drivers on the planet. He’s going to come in and have his own kind of opinion and experience to bring to the table.
“I think both years we’ve got a lot of really exciting things to look forward to in terms of our four-car lineup for the 500.”
While it’s uncertain whether Rosenqvist will still be at Arrow McLaren in 2024 – his ride is believed to be under threat from Alex Palou – the Swedish ace appreciates the 30-year-old Californian’s talent.
“I actually met him at the simulator, kind of showed him around a little bit,” he said. “It’s going to be a while until he’s in our car. But it was fun just showing him around the steering wheel – he actually got to jump in the car a little bit – and just talking about the race.
“He sounded very interested, especially in the road courses actually. I tried to convince him to maybe try to do a road course as well. That would be fun.
“He’s a great talent. Actually I’ve heard a lot of people already betting for him to win the race. That’s kind of the expectation that he has. I think people truly believe he can do that.
“Again, it’s an opportunity to learn from someone that comes from a completely different environment. Already the little chat I had with him, 30 minutes, I felt like I learned something.”