Rosenqvist Finally Turns Luck Around to Grab Maiden Win at Road America

5 Mins read
Photo Credit: Joe Skibinski / Courtesy of INDYCAR

After three disappointing finishes to start the 2020 NTT Data INDYCAR Series season, Felix Rosenqvist is the driver to finally end Scott Dixon’s three race win streak and take the second leg of the REV Group Grand Prix presented by AMR Doubleheader at Road America

It all kicked off in turn one on lap one, as polesitter Patricio O’Ward got a great launch and avoided all of the chaos that happened behind. Right at the start, Conor Daly rear-ended O’Ward’s teammate Oliver Askew, breaking his front wing and causing issues for Askew.

Ryan Hunter-Reay was punted off by Team Penske’s Will Power and crashed hard into the tyre barriers. He was able to walk away, but it cut his race short. In the same corner, Santino Ferrucci tagged Jack Harvey, and spun the Brit around.

As the field made its way to turn three, Power was involved in another incident, making contact with Graham Rahal and sending him into the kerbs and spinning, making hard contact with the end of a concrete barrier. Before the full spin, Rahal banged tyres with eventual winner Rosenqvist, who miraculously wasn’t damaged by the impact.

This chaotic first lap led to penalties for both Power and Ferrucci, who were penalized for avoidable contact. Power was forced to the back of the field when the green flag flew again on lap five, and Ferrucci’s penalty didn’t come until after the restart.

After one lap of green flag racing, Power was sliding off in turn 13 much like Alexander Rossi did yesterday, smashing an advertising board and stalling outside of the final corner. He was able to get back going and got to the pitlane, joining Ferrucci on an alternative strategy.

The nerves settled after the green flag dropped again on lap eight as O’Ward shot back out into the lead. Third place driver and yesterday’s third place finisher Alex Palou made a move reminiscent of the one he made on Hunter-Reay yesterday in the same spot on Colton Herta for second place. 

Saturday’s polesitter Josef Newgarden was one of two drivers in the top 20 to start on the black wall Firestone primary tyres, but his strategy didn’t work out as he slipped outside the top 10 and had to pit early for new red wall option tyres.

Lap 12 is when the leaders began to make their first pit stops as Scott Dixon and Colton Herta came in for primary tyres. Dixon had a mistake on pit road with issues on the right rear tyre which cost him time, sadly not the only mistake on pit road for the championship leader.

Lap 14 saw the likes of rookie Rinus Veekay and Alexander Rossi come in for primary and option tyres respectively. The very next lap Veekay ran wide in the final corner and it knocked the Dutchman out of the top 10. 

O’Ward’s overcut on Palou was successful, as the Mexican came in to pit on lap 15 for primary tyres. He was able to maintain a large gap to Palou as he got right back to dominating like he had until that point.

On Lap 17 Chip Ganassi Racing‘s Swedish duo of Rosenqvist and Marcus Ericsson came in for their pit stops, with Rosenqvist being able to overcut Herta and move into an effective third place on his new primary tyres. 

Power and Ferrucci led the group on track as they were first and second on their alternate strategy, but O’Ward quickly swallowed them up by lap 21. During this period Alex Palou fell off the pace and Rosenqvist became the man hunting down O’Ward.

Herta was the first of the frontrunners to make their next pit stop at lap 26 for another set of primary blacks. The very next lap saw Rossi pit for the same tyres and he was able to blend in ahead of Power and Ferrucci. 

Lap 28 was when leader O’Ward made a move to primary tyres, and Rosenqvist followed suit the next lap. However, the team dropped the car off the jack before the left front tyre was on, costing him precious seconds in the pits. Luckily, he was able to keep hold of second place.

No matter the gap O’Ward had, Rosenqvist slowly cut into it as the stints wore on. Lap 39 saw Ferrucci and Power in for their last stops onto primary blacks, and Lap 40 saw the likes of Herta and Dixon come in.

Dixon’s woes on pit road continued as he stalled the car in the pit lane, much like Newgarden did yesterday. He was able to keep it from stalling a second time, but after running with the top 5 all day, it was a tough break for the five time champion.

Lap 41 saw O’Ward come in for his final stop, gambling to put on used option reds to go to the end of the race, as third place driver Alexander Rossi came in for fresh primary blacks.

Rosenqvist came in the very next lap to put on sticker blacks on what was a poor in-lap, forcing him to methodically hunt down O’Ward once again. 

Drama began as with eight laps to go, O’Ward ran into lap traffic in the form of Conor Daly who had just come in for fresh option tyres. O’Ward crashed with Daly in the first race of the doubleheader, but there was no bad blood as Daly let the leader go.

Daly didn’t let him streak away however, which really allowed Rosenqvist to catch up as O’Ward began to struggle with his tyres. 

With four to go O’Ward let Daly past him, with the gap to Rosenqvist behind him now two seconds. This group caught Dalton Kellett by turn five, who slowed down and let them past on the run up to turn six.

Three to go now as Rosenqvist had the gap down to 1.2 seconds on O’Ward, as the leader’s worn option tyres really began to show as he went wide in Canada Corner, allowing Rosenqvist to close even more.

With two laps to go Rosenqvist finally caught the Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet and tried to go around the outside at turn five, and was able to get alongside O’Ward with a switchback move as they made contact going up towards turn six.

They went side by side into turn six and O’Ward went a bit wide, and Rosenqvist was able to make the move stick and never look back to win his maiden INDYCAR race, and put an end to a dismal start to the year.

In an interview with The Checkered Flag conducted before the series got to Road America, Rosenqvist called this weekend a “perfect scenario” to kickstart his season, and after a spark plug issue saw him finish 18th in race one, he made it count in race two as Ganassi has now won every race so far this season. 

The race was also very impressive for third place finisher Alexander Rossi who, like Rosenqvist, has struggled since the season started and has been looking for a change of fortune. 

Rosenqvist’s fellow countryman and teammate Marcus Ericsson also had a stellar drive, looking incredibly fast as he came home fourth. 
The series now heads to Iowa Speedway for another doubleheader on July 17th and 18th, this time on an oval.

110Felix RosenqvistChip Ganassi Racing1:51:22.039
25Pato O’WardArrow McLaren SP+2.869
327Alexander RossiAndretti Autosport+8.616
48Marcus EricssonChip Ganassi Racing+14.223
588Colton HertaAndretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport+32.416
618Santino FerrucciDale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan+35.888
755Alex Palou (R)Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh+36.770
830Takuma SatoRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing+47.943
91Josef NewgardenTeam Penske+48.786
104Charlie KimballA.J. Foyt Enterprises+53.060
1112Will PowerTeam Penske+53.971
129Scott DixonChip Ganassi Racing+54.534
1322Simon PagenaudTeam Penske+56.393
1421Rinus Veekay (R)Ed Carpenter Racing+60.437
1559Max ChiltonCarlin+60.468
1626Zach VeachAndretti Autosport+66.835
1760Jack HarveyMeyer Shank Racing+68.295
1820Conor DalyEd Carpenter Racing+105.468
1998Marco AndrettiAndretti Herta Autosport-1 Lap
2014Dalton Kellett (R)A.J. Foyt Enterprises-1 Lap
217Oliver Askew (R)Arrow McLaren SP-2 Laps
2228Ryan Hunter-ReayAndretti AutosportCrash
2315Graham RahalRahal Letterman Lanigan RacingCrash
(R) – Rookie
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