Rosenqvist To Start P1 at Indy Road Course

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, July 30 2022

McLaren driver Felix Rosenqvist won the pole for Saturday’s race in Indy. (Photo courtesy of INDYCAR)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

Even with a signed contract extension from McLaren Racing tucked into his pocket, Felix Rosenqvist is racing for his NTT IndyCar Series future.

The Swede continued his recent resurgence Friday during qualifying on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road-Course, earning the NTT P1 Award for today’s Gallagher Grand Prix with a flying lap that had to impress the braintrust at Arrow McLaren SP.

Rosenqvist recorded his second pole of the season with a lap in 1-minute, 10.2265-seconds/125.030 mph around the 2.439-mile/14-turn layout in the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet. Recall that Rosenqvist bagged his first pole of 2022 on Texas Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval in Fort Worth in March. This was Rosenqvist’s third career series pole and second on the IMS Road-Course. Felix scored his first INDYCAR pole in 2019 at this event.

“I felt so calm in the car,” said Rosenqvist, who transitioned into INDYCAR with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2019 after a versatile open-wheel career in Europe. “I think I knew when I did that lap that it was the one. Big, big thanks to the team. Really good car.”

Live coverage of the 85-lapper will start at noon (EDT) today on NBC and the INDYCAR Radio Network during the Brickyard Weekend featuring the NTT IndyCar Series and NASCAR’s Cup and Xfinity series.

The gap between Rosenqvist’s lap and the best lap of No. 2 qualifier Alexander Rossi was 0.2765-seconds _ the second-largest margin this season on a road or street course. Only Colton Herta’s pole-winning margin of 0.4455-seconds for Andretti Autosport at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach was wider.

Rossi will join Rosenqvist on the front row after qualifying at 1:10.5030-seconds/124.539 mph in the No. 27 Honda. It was Rossi’s best career qualifying effort on the IMS Road-Course.

“That’s a huge effort from Felix,” said Rossi, who will exit Andretti Autosport at season’s end for a fulltime series ride with AMSP in 2023. “Good job for him. This is by far the best result we’ve had here as a team. We had a good test here last month and very relieved it translated.”

Adding to the McLaren angle, de facto No. 1 driver Pato O’Ward _ the native of Mexico who recently signed a contract extension with the organization through 2025 _ qualified third at 1:10.6092 in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.

Five-time IMS Road-Course winner Will Power of Australia qualified fourth at 1:10.6224 in the No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet. Teammate Josef Newgarden _ medically cleared to drive for the weekend after Friday morning’s practice _ qualified fifth at 1:10.6968 in the No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet. Rookie Christian Lundgaard of Denmark rounded-out the Firestone Fast Six at 1:10.7280 in the No. 30 Shield Cleansers Honda fielded by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

Rosenqvist’s pole marked the latest chapter in his summertime surge. All six of his top-10 finishes this season have been scored since the GMR Grand Prix on this layout in early May. Rosenqvist re-signed with McLaren Racing in late June, but CEO Zak Brown hasn’t confirmed where Felix will drive in 2023 for the organization founded by New Zealander Bruce McLaren.

McLaren Racing is evaluating its driver lineups for 2023, including the reported controversial signing of reigning INDYCAR champion Alex Palou of Spain away from Chip Ganassi Racing. The newly formed McLaren Formula E Team will embark on its debut season in the all-electric series next year while expanding Arrow McLaren SP into a three-car team. Rosenqvist will be driving in one of the two series.

Rosenqvist’s career resume includes a previous stint in Formula E, having raced in the series from 2016 to 2019 with three victories, six poles and seven podiums.

A 31-year-old native of Värnamo, Sweden, Rosenqvist joined Arrow McLaren SP in 2021. INDYCAR’s 2019 Rookie of the Year with Chip Ganassi Racing, Rosenqvist finished the 106th edition of the Indianapolis 500 on the 2.5-mile oval fourth on May 29 and currently is ninth in the championship standings.

The soft-spoken Swede has made it clear he wants to remain in INDYCAR with Arrow McLaren SP, and teammate O’Ward and several series rivals congratulated him along pit lane after qualifying. “I appreciate everyone reaching-out,” Rosenqvist said. “It means a lot, and I think it helps to have these kinds of performances.”

Rosenqvist and Arrow McLaren SP turned only one flying lap during the first qualifying group, saving wear on their Firestone Firehawk “red” alternate tires. That paid off with fresher rubber during the Firestone Fast Six.

“Everything has worked out perfectly,” Rosenqvist said. “I’m super-stoked, man.”

Meanwhile, Newgarden’s week-long return from INDYCAR’s concussion protocol ended Friday after the two-time series champ was evaluated by Medical Director Dr. Geoffrey Billows following the morning practice. Dr. Billows declared Newgarden fit to resume all racing activities in the No. 2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet.

Newgarden was held overnight Sunday at a hospital in Des Moines, Iowa, after losing consciousness and falling in the aftermath of a crash during the latter stages of Sunday’s race at Iowa Speedway. Newgarden was leading when he spun into the Turn 4 SAFER Barrier on Lap 235 of 300 around the 0.894-mile oval in Newton. Newgarden had led 148 of the first 234 laps around the “Fastest Short Track on the Planet” and was 2.8384-seconds ahead of eventual winner O’Ward before the crash sequence.

Newgarden was checked at the track’s infield medical center and went on to address the media. However, he later collapsed in the infield bus lot and hit the back of his head on the ground. Newgarden was transported by helicopter to MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center where brain scans were performed and he was held overnight for observation.

Newgarden, who won last Saturday’s first-half of the Iowa doubleheader, was released Tuesday morning and returned to his home in Nashville. Newgarden, 31, was required to visit INDYCAR Medical on Thursday to take the computer-based ImPACT test used to measure and compare a person’s cognitive abilities to a baseline test performed prior to the start of the season.

Newgarden _ the series champ in 2017 and 2019 for team, series and IMS owner Roger Penske _ is third in points, 34 behind leader Marcus Ericsson of Chip Ganassi Racing. 

Friday’s three-round qualifying session was notable for the drivers who will start the race from deep in the field. Ericsson, the reigning Indianapolis 500 champ, will start last in the 25-car field in the No. 8 CGR Honda. The Swede stopped on-track with a mechanical problem on his warmup lap in the first session and never turned a hot lap.

“We had a decent practice session. We had a good direction going into qualifying,” Ericsson said. “Then, leaving the pits, something broke in the car and we needed to investigate what it was. We’ll have a lot of tires (today); it’s a long race and I know the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda is always strong on race day.”

Six-time series champion Scott Dixon, 34 points behind teammate Ericsson in fourth, will start 20th in the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. The IMS Road-Course has been a challenge during qualifying recently for Dixon, as the New Zealander has started 12th or lower in his last five races on the layout.

NTT IndyCar Series point-standings (top-10): 1, Marcus Ericsson, Chip Ganassi Racing, 403; 2, Will Power, Team Penske, 395; 3, Josef Newgarden, Team Penske, 369; 4, Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing, 369; 5, Pato O’Ward, Arrow McLaren SP, 367; 6, Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing, 359; 7, Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske, 317; 8, Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport, 278; 9, Felix Rosenqvist, Arrow McLaren SP, 275; 10, Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport, 265.

Editor’s Note: John Sturbin is a Texas-based journalist specializing in motorsports. During a near 30-year career with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he won the Bloys Britt Award for top motorsports story of the year (1991) as judged by The Associated Press; received the National Hot Rod Association’s Media Award (1995) and several in-house Star-Telegram honors. He also was inaugural recipient of the Texas Motor Speedway Excellence in Journalism Award (2009). His list of freelance clients includes Texas Motor Speedway, the Dallas Morning News, New York Newsday, Rome (N.Y.) Daily Sentinel, Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller Times, NASCAR Wire Service, Ford Racing and Used Car Dealer magazine).


Qualifying Friday for today’s Gallagher Grand Prix NTT IndyCar Series event on the 2.439-mile/14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road-Course, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, engine, time and speed in parentheses:

  1. (7) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 01:10.2265 (125.030)
    2. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 01:10.5030 (124.539)
    3. (5) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 01:10.6092 (124.352)
    4. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 01:10.6224 (124.329)
    5. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 01:10.6968 (124.198)
    6. (30) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 01:10.7280 (124.143)
    7. (10) Alex Palou, Honda, 01:10.2074 (125.064)
    8. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 01:10.3100 (124.881)
    9. (26) Colton Herta, Honda, 01:10.3532 (124.805)
    10. (20) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 01:10.5135 (124.521)
    11. (18) David Malukas, Honda, 01:10.5636 (124.432)
    12. (60) Simon Pagenaud, Honda, 01:10.7624 (124.083)
    13. (45) Jack Harvey, Honda, 01:10.8564 (123.918)
    14. (29) Devlin DeFrancesco, Honda, 01:10.7073 (124.180)
    15. (3) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 01:10.9067 (123.830)
    16. (06) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 01:10.7560 (124.094)
    17. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 01:10.9093 (123.826)
    18. (51) Takuma Sato, Honda, 01:10.8276 (123.969)
    19. (77) Callum Ilott, Chevrolet, 01:11.1195 (123.460)
    20. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 01:10.8938 (123.853)
    21. (14) Kyle Kirkwood, Chevrolet, 01:11.2156 (123.293)
    22. (28) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 01:11.0244 (123.625)
    23. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Honda, 01:11.7710 (122.339)
    24. (4) Dalton Kellett, Chevrolet, 01:12.0060 (121.940)
    25. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, No Time (No Speed)


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, July 30 2022
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