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Alexander Rossi is a racer best known for being a former Formula 1 racer, winning the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie in 2016, and for winning the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2021.
But not all of his challenges play out in the spotlight or in front of thousands of adoring fans. One of the challenges of an endurance race like the Rolex 24 is surviving and thriving on a lack of sleep. That's part of the game.
Unlike the rest of us, when racers are tired, they can’t simply stick their heads out the window or turn up the radio. When the eyes burn or get weary from lack of sleep, a racer can do nothing. Rossi spent his last stint of this year’s Rolex 24 watching the sun coming up Sunday morning, knowing he missed another good night's sleep.
So how did he shake off the sleepiness for his last turn in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05 DPi.
"I mean it's the adrenaline of the competition and you try not to die," Rossi said, laughing. "So those two things pretty much keep you awake.
"But yeah, for sure, it's a tough call when they knock on your door at 5:30 and you went to bed at 2 after driving for three, four hours. But it's the same for everyone. It's part of what makes the 24 hours of Daytona so unique and so special and such a challenge to win."
Merely falling asleep is a huge challenge.
"You can sleep; it's hard to fall asleep, just because you know, again, you have that adrenaline still going and usually there's some sort of caffeine supplements that you've taken up until that point. But once you kind of just close your eyes and you fall asleep, it's fine."
Well, almost fine.
"I'm sure a lot of people in the room agree that like 20-minute naps are great," Rossi said. "Two-hour naps are terrible. So you kind of get a two-hour nap and it's like the worst thing. Your body thinks you're done for the day and then you're not. But like I said, same for everyone. It's all good."
In the end, the Wayne Taylor Racing No. 10 couldn’t defend its overall win from last year despite a valiant effort in the closing laps. Ricky Taylor wheeled the car to second place, 3.028 seconds behind the winning Meyer Shank Racing No. 60 Cadillac.