Rosenqvist Uses Exciting Pass For First Career IndyCar Series Victory

Felix Rosenqvist looks to pass Pato O'Ward to win the Road America REV Group Grand Prix Race 2. © [Kenneth Midgett/ Spacesuit Media]

Felix Rosenqvist looks to pass Pato O’Ward to win the Road America REV Group Grand Prix Race 2. © [Kenneth Midgett/ Spacesuit Media]

by John Wiedemann

Elkhart Lake, WI – Race 2 of the REV Group Grand Prix got the fans at the track and at home on their feet and wrapped up the doubleheader weekend with an exciting finish. Two future stars of the NTT INDYCAR Series showed that their future is now battling over the closing laps with Felix Rosenqvist chasing down and passing Pato O’Ward with a lap and a half left in the race.

Road America REV Group Grand Prix Race 2 podium: Pato O'Ward (second place), Felix Rosenqvist (winner), Alexander Rossi (third). © [Andy Clary/ Spacesuit Media]

| Driver: Pato O’ward| Team: Arrow McLaren SP| Number: 5| Car: Dallara DW12 UAK18|Keyword: Chevrolet|Keyword: Arrow Electronics|| Driver: Alexander Rossi| Team: Andretti Autosport| Number: 27| Car: Dallara DW12 UAK18| Keyword: Honda|Keyword: NAPA Auto Parts|Keyword: AutoNation|| Driver: Felix Rosenqvist| Team: Chip Ganassi Racing| Number: 10| Car: Dallara DW12 UAK18| Road America REV Group Grand Prix Race 2 podium: Pato O’Ward (second place), Felix Rosenqvist (winner), Alexander Rossi (third). © [Andy Clary/ Spacesuit Media]

“It feels so good. It’s been a long time. We’ve been close so many times”, said first time series race winner Rosenqvist driver of the NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. “This race was for my No. 10 car crew, the NTT DATA crew. Also Honda. I’m really proud to be powered by HPD and Honda this year. It’s been really good. Every race just hasn’t had a lock, just hasn’t come together until now. Today we went all for it. We had super pace, and the car was fantastic. It’s four out of four for Ganassi, which is huge.”

O’Ward started on the pole in his Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet after winning qualifying earlier in the morning. Using the top starting spot, O’Ward had possession of the lead for 43 circuits of the 55 lap event, initially only giving up the spot during pitstops.

But the number 10 car of Rosenqvist was always there, just about five seconds back for most of the race, just waiting for his moment to pounce.

That moment came to be when on the final stop, O’Ward’s team chose scuffed red Firestones and Rosenqvist chose the harder blacks. With Rosenqvist showing quick pace on the blacks, O’Ward had no choice but to get all he could on the softer tires before they went away. Slowly but surely, throughout the final run to the checkers, Rosenqvist chipped away at the lead. Just tenths at first built up to half second chunks per lap.

“When they said Pato (O’Ward) was on the used reds (Firestone alternate tires), you obviously get a lot of faith that he might drop off in the end, and that’s what happened”, explained Rosenqvist. “I just wanted to stay cool, and then we went for it, really. I used all my push-to-pass on one lap and got him. So, it was a really good fight with him there. I got a little squirrelly coming out of Turn 5 there, but a good show and good fun.”

The pass for the lead started with Rosenqvist looking to the outside of O’Ward as the two dove down into turn five. Then Rosenqvist cut underneath and was side by side with O’Ward up the hill into turn six with the two Indy Cars almost getting together. O’Ward tried to hold on to the outside lane through turn six but the advantage belonged to Rosenqvist heading down the hill to turn seven. With a slight lead, Rosenqvist drove around the outside of O’Ward to finally take the position. O’Ward made one more attempt to get position racing into turn eight but by that point, Rosenqvist had taken command and raced ahead toward the white flag to run one more lap to achieve his first IndyCar Series victory.

“It was really tough. The Ganassi cars and Felix (Rosenqvist) had a lot of pace”, said O’Ward. “We did a really good job managing the whole race. I gave it every single little bit that I had. I was pushing, pushing, pushing but I couldn’t keep Felix behind me. The car was really, really good but missed that little extra to keep the rear tires under us. We’re here. We got some good points this weekend. We are looking forward to Iowa. We like running up front, and I think we showed we have everything to do it.”

Last year’s winner at Road America, Alexander Rossi raced to a third place finish, a refreshing result after a season of struggles. After starting tenth, the driver of the AutoNation / NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda charged through the field but was slightly off the pace of O’Ward.

“After the last couple races, it’s good to finish on the lead lap”, said Rossi. “There has never been a question of our commitment and determination, and I think that was on display today. We just kept our heads down and kept working at it. It was good to get some momentum going, at least. Our season started later than others, but we’re going to take this to Iowa next weekend and hopefully continue on this trend. Things are going the right direction; we just have to keep executing.”

Rosenqvist’s Ganassi Racing teammate Marcus Ericsson finished fourth followed by Colton Herta in the Capstone Turbine Honda for Andretti Autosport and then Dale Coyne Racing teammates Santino Ferrucci and Alex Palou in their Hondas.

Top Rookie finisher Palou had his ride in the mix with the leaders until the first pitstop and then struggled from that point on.

“Our first stint was really good. I felt great. I think Pato (O’Ward) had more pace than us, but we were really strong compared to others”, said Palou. “Then we stopped and switched to the black tires, and I don’t know what happened on that second stint, but we lost grip and didn’t have the pace to keep up with the others. But it was good that at the end of the day we came back from 11th to finish seventh. It’s not ideal, but I’m happy to finish in the top 10. It was fun; I learned a lot this weekend. Overall, I think we had an amazing weekend for Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh. We’re only in our fourth race, so I’m looking forward to what we can do with more race experience as we move forward.”

Scott Dixon, winner of the first three races this season, started the race near the front but wasn’t on pace with the top group and with an alternate fuel strategy, finished 12th in his PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

“I guess you can’t win them all, but we sure tried to with the start to the season we’ve had”, Dixon said. “First off, huge congrats to Felix (Rosenqvist) for that drive. I’m so happy for him and NTT DATA. It’s another win for them at Road America. We all knew this moment was coming for Felix, and it was just a matter of time. What a start for CGR and Honda, though. Four-for-four on the season. Not the day we wanted with the PNC Bank car, but we fought balance and the rear tires just kept going away.”

Up next for the NTT IndyCar Series is another doubleheader weekend, this time for oval racing at the .875 mile Iowa Speedway. The first race begins at 8:30 p.m. (ET, NBCSN) Friday, with Race 2 of the Iowa INDYCAR 250s scheduled for 8:30 p.m. (ET, NBCSN) Saturday.

Point leader Dixon is ready. “I can’t wait until Iowa. Racing every week and staying in a groove is what everyone wants to do.”

REV Group Grand Prix Race 2 Results
ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin – Results Sunday of the REV Group Grand Prix NTT INDYCAR SERIES event on the 4.014-mile Road America, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (7) Felix Rosenqvist, Honda, 55, Running
2. (1) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 55, Running
3. (10) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 55, Running
4. (16) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 55, Running
5. (2) Colton Herta, Honda, 55, Running
6. (11) Santino Ferrucci, Honda, 55, Running
7. (3) Alex Palou, Honda, 55, Running
8. (12) Takuma Sato, Honda, 55, Running
9. (14) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 55, Running
10. (13) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 55, Running
11. (8) Will Power, Chevrolet, 55, Running
12. (6) Scott Dixon, Honda, 55, Running
13. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 55, Running
14. (15) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 55, Running
15. (21) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 55, Running
16. (17) Zach Veach, Honda, 55, Running
17. (9) Jack Harvey, Honda, 55, Running
18. (20) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 55, Running
19. (19) Marco Andretti, Honda, 54, Running
20. (23) Dalton Kellett, Chevrolet, 54, Running
21. (18) Oliver Askew, Chevrolet, 53, Off Course
22. (4) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 0, Contact
23. (5) Graham Rahal, Honda, 0, Contact

Race Statistics
Winner’s average speed: 118.942 mph
Time of Race: 1:51:22.0391
Margin of victory: 2.8699 seconds
Cautions: 2 for 4 laps
Lead changes: 8 among 3 drivers

Lap Leaders:
O’Ward 1 – 14
Rosenqvist 15 – 16
Power 17 – 20
O’Ward 21 – 27
Rosenqvist 28 – 29
O’Ward 30 – 40
Rosenqvist 41 – 42
O’Ward 43 – 53
Rosenqvist 54 – 55

NTT INDYCAR SERIES point standings: Dixon 173, Herta 119, O’Ward 110, Pagenaud 110, Newgarden 106, Ericsson 93, Power 92, Rahal 88, Rosenqvist 88, Ferrucci 87.

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