Rosenqvist On Pole For IndyCar Grand Prix

Felix Rosenqvist celebrates winning the pole for the IndyCar Grand Prix. © [Andy Clary/ Spacesuit Media]

Felix Rosenqvist celebrates winning the pole for the INDYCAR Grand Prix. © [Andy Clary/ Spacesuit Media]

The technical Indianapolis road course and cold temperatures caused a lot of problems for the drivers of the NTT IndyCar Series at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway but a rookie figured it out beating the field including his champion teammate. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist outpaced Scott Dixon by just under two hundredths of a second to capture the pole position for the INDYCAR Grand Prix.

With his first career pole, the 27 year old Swedish driver scored the 90th pole position for the Chip Ganassi Racing team in the NTT IndyCar Series.

“It’s a cool feeling that it happened here,” said Rosenqvist. “I love qualifying. It’s always a special feeling when you get your first pole in a series. The first two laps I didn’t really feel like I had a grip and then the final lap there was just something switching on and I was like ‘OK, this could be good.’ But honestly I didn’t think it was going to be.”

“It worked out pretty well, we ended up second,” said Dixon, recalling his starting position of 18th in this race last season. “We tried to do a one and one, definitely piecing two laps together would have been better,” he explained about the Fast Six strategy of running a single lap, changing tires and then running a final lap. “I think the start of my first lap was really good and I didn’t do well in the second half, and then on the second lap I kind of messed up Turn 2.”

Talking about a bunch of youngsters in the Fast Six, Dixon said, “It’s great to see the influx (of young drivers) to keep the series strong.”

But Rosenqvist was not the rookie expected to lead the field for tomorrow’s race. Colton Herta topped the earlier practice session and seemed to improve each round, even setting the quickest lap of entire qualifying session. But, when it came down to the final round, the speed wasn’t there.

“Just need that little bit more,” explained Herta. “We haven’t been in the Firestone Fast Six since we raced at the Circuit of the Americas, so it was great to be back this weekend. I look forward to having a great race tomorrow.”

How it all went down:

In the first qualifying session to determine the top twelve, Takuma Sato stepped up his pace and topped the pack. Sebastien Bourdais, Rosenqvist, Jack Harvey, Ed Jones and Will Power filled the list of drivers moving into the second round. It was a battle of teammates at the end as Team Penske’s champion Josef Newgaren knocked out Helio Castroneves and then was knocked out of the top six by Power. Along with the surprise of the Penske drivers not moving forward was Alexander Rossi not quick enough and will start the race in seventeenth.

Round two was a battle between young speedster Colton Herta and veteran Scott Dixon. The two exchanged the top spot several times but at the end it was the quickest guy in practice, Herta on top. Dixon remained second with Marcus Ericsson, Graham Rahal, Simon Pagenaud and Spencer Pigot moving forward to the Segment 2. Santino Ferrucci had two strong laps at the end but came up short at the line.

Dixon and Herta continued to show speed leading the Fast 12 early with Indy road course ace Power in the mix before the field switched to the red walled tires. As time ran out, Herta ran a lap just shy of the track record to top the field and put himself in the Firestone Fast Six. Rosenqvist was second quick followed by Harvey. Power, Dixon and Jones completed the top six. For Harvey and Jones, it was the first time they made the Fast Six.

Five drivers from different teams, two first time Fast Six competitors, four drivers with a combined Fast Six experience of seven appearances, two rookies, a three time pole sitter/race winner… an interesting mix to run for the pole. No one has won the IndyCar Grand Prix starting from further back than fourth, so the stakes were high.

While Dixon made a tire change during the session, the other five drivers gave it what they had one one set. With time running out, Harvey set the pace but then was knocked down a spot as Rosenqvist saved his best for the final lap. Herta made his run but couldn’t keep the pace at the end with a lap under a tenth of a second slower than Rosenqvist. Dixon came close but couldn’t top his teammate and would have to settle for the second by the slim .02 second margin.

INDYCAR Grand Prix qualifying results
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana – Qualifying Friday for the INDYCAR Grand Prix NTT IndyCar Series event on the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, engine, time and speed in parentheses:

1. (10) Felix Rosenqvist, Honda, 1:08.2785 (128.597 mph)
2. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 1:08.2979 (128.560)
3. (60) Jack Harvey, Honda, 1:08.3238 (128.512)
4. (88) Colton Herta, Honda, 1:08.3743 (128.417)
5. (20) Ed Jones, Chevrolet, 1:08.4609 (128.254)
6. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 1:08.7901 (127.640)
7. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 1:08.2153 (128.716)
8. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 1:08.2445 (128.661)
9. (7) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 1:08.2497 (128.651)
10. (18) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 1:08.2998 (128.557)
11. (30) Takuma Sato, Honda, 1:08.3300 (128.500)
12. (21) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 1:08.4697 (128.238)
13. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 1:08.6240 (127.949)
14. (19) Santino Ferrucci, Honda, 1:08.4499 (128.275)
15. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 1:08.6497 (127.902)
16. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 1:08.6235 (127.950)
17. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 1:08.6994 (127.809)
18. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 1:08.7710 (127.676)
19. (31) Patricio O’Ward, Chevrolet, 1:08.7487 (127.717)
20. (26) Zach Veach, Honda, 1:08.8170 (127.591)
21. (4) Matheus Leist, Chevrolet, 1:08.7751 (127.668)
22. (59) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 1:08.9572 (127.331)
23. (98) Marco Andretti, Honda, 1:08.8995 (127.438)
24. (14) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 1:09.1230 (127.026)

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