Rosenqvist outduels O'Ward for first IndyCar win
Both young drivers were going for their first IndyCar win and it was Felix Rosenqvist who ran down Pato O'ward and passed him with 1.5 laps to go to win the 2nd half of the Road America doubleheader in a hard fought battle.
O'Ward led most of the race (43 of 55 laps) but in the end O'Ward did not have the tires left to hold off the Ganassi Honda. Still, 2018 Indy Lights champion O’Ward, who is racing in his first full-time season, scored his best career finish in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.
Andretti Honda driver Alexander Rossi finally got a podium finish but he had nothing for Rosenqvist and O'Ward and had to settle for a distant third.
“It feels so good,” Rosenqvist said. “It’s been a long time. We’ve been close so many times. This race was for my 10 car crew, the NTT DATA crew. Also Honda. I’m really proud to be powered by NTT 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. Super pace, the car was fantastic. It’s four out of four for Ganassi, which is huge.”
“I gave it everything, every little bit I had,” O’Ward said. “I was pushing, pushing, pushing, but I just couldn’t keep Felix behind me. I really want to thank Arrow McLaren SP, Team Chevy. The car was really, really good. We just missed that little extra in keeping the rear tires under us. But we’re here.
“We got some good points this weekend, and we’re looking forward to Iowa. We like running up front. I think we showed that we have everything to do it. I’m excited for the rest of the season.”
Chip Ganassi's team has now won all 4 IndyCar races of 2020.
Dale Coyne Racing Honda drivers Santino Ferrucci and Alex Palou were 6th and 7th.
Rosenqvist proved to have one of the fastest cars all day long. He started seventh and found himself in the top five quickly. He spent most of the afternoon hunting down O’Ward, who jumped out to a lead as large as nine seconds at one point.
A problem during a pit stop hindered Rosenqvist’s drive to the front. The jack dropped while the left front tire was not secured. The crew had to jack the car again to fasten the tire, and Swedish native Rosenqvist lost all progress he had made on Mexican driver O’Ward.
Rosenqvist’s chase resumed after the pit road mishap with a 7.5-second gap to O’Ward. He closed the gap to around five seconds when he made his final pit stop on Lap 43, two laps later than O’Ward’s last stop. Rosenqvist exited pit road with a 5.4-second gap to O’Ward with 12 laps to go.
But Rosenqvist continued to chip away at O’Ward’s lead, helped by more durable Firestone black (primary) tires and a joust between O’Ward and the lapped No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet of Conor Daly over the final stint, which put O’Ward in turbulent air and cost him time.
Rosenqvist caught O’Ward on Lap 54 to go and made a thrilling pass for the lead exiting Turn 5.
Rosenqvist looked to the outside of O’Ward but then backed out and went low, pulling a crossover move on O’Ward. The two raced side-by-side toward Turn 6 just inches apart from each other. With the momentum, Rosenqvist cleared O’Ward in the next corner and sailed to the checkered flag for his first career victory in North America’s top level of open-wheel racing.
“It was a lot of hard-earned seconds there that we lost in the pit a couple of times,” Rosenqvist said. “But we had so much pace. We kept closing in half a second every lap. And then when they said Pato was on the used reds, you obviously get a lot of faith that he might drop off in the end, and that’s what happened.
“Just stay cool, and then we went for it, really. Used all my push-to-pass on one lap and got him. So, it was a really good fight with him there. Got a little squirrelly coming out of Turn 5 there, but good show and good fun.”
It was a bad day for Penske Chevy veteran Will Power who hit just about everything on the opening lap and took out Ryan Hunter-Reay in Turn 1 and he took out Graham Rahal in Turn 3. The race was restarted on Lap 3, but it went back under yellow flag conditions at the end of the lap with more trouble from Power. The 2014 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion went off course in Turn 13 and spun into the grass.
Power recovered to finish 11th, one spot better than Scott Dixon who won yesterday but was slow all day today.
At the drop of the green, as a result of the first corner Will Power frenzy, several cars checked up, with one car making contact to the rear of Jack Harvey’s AutoNation/SiriusXM machine.
Sent spinning off track, Harvey was still able to keep the car running and escaped damage, but was shuffled back through the field to P18.
“It was another tough day for us,” said Harvey. “We’ve had the speed all year, really, but certain things keep happening to us that prevent us from actually putting that speed towards a good result. We’ve started from the front row, we’ve started within the top ten, but we just can’t seem to have luck on our side to get a result that’s representative of our pace. The Meyer Shank Racing guys did a great job all weekend long setting up a solid car and they had great pit stops yesterday and today. Hopefully we will have a better round at Iowa next weekend.”
1st – FELIX ROSENQVIST (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “It feels so good. It’s been a long time. We’ve been close so many times. 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. We had so much pace. We kept closing in half a second every lap. And then 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. 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. We came out of our pit (stops) in clear air. Whenever this guy (strategist Barry Wanser) gave us clear air, we were really fast. We showed that before. What amazing feeling. I’m so glad we had the John McCain tribute on the car, and to be able to do this for NTT DATA and the family really means a lot to us at the team.”
2nd – PATO O’WARD (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “It was really tough. The Ganassi cars and Felix (Rosenqvist) had a lot of pace. We did a really good job managing the whole race. Toward the end, we had to mix with some lapped cars and some dirty air, and it really hurt us. I gave it every single little bit that I had. I was pushing, pushing, pushing but I couldn’t keep Felix behind me. I really want to thank Arrow McLaren SP and Team Chevy. 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.”
3rd – ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 AutoNation / NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): “After the last couple races, it’s good to finish on the lead lap. 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. A big thank you to the 27 AutoNation / NAPA boys, and congrats to Honda and HPD. Honda has won every race this year, and it’s pretty amazing. Things are going the right direction; we just have to keep executing.”
4th – MARCUS ERICSSON (No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “It was a great race, and I feel we got a great result for the guys and Huski Chocolate. We had a ton of pace and a lot of great overtakes. Honda and HPD power was fantastic, and we really had a great car. It was a tough race. I’m energized for the rest of the season, and it felt good. I can’t wait to get to Iowa for two more.”
5th – COLTON HERTA (No. 88 Capstone Turbine Honda): “Qualifying was better today, but we had an average race today. We should’ve been closer up to the front, but we made a couple wrong calls. Unfortunately, that’s how it goes sometimes. The car seemed pretty OK. The Firestone tires held up well, and I didn’t have a problem with the drop-off. Our Capstone crew’s stops were good. I’m happy with fifth and a nice amount of points for us and for Honda. Happy to be going into Iowa’s doubleheader weekend in second place.”
6th – SANTINO FERRUCCI (No. 18 SealMaster Honda): “We started 11th, and on the first lap there was a lot of checking up ahead of me. I got penalized and dropped back to last place. The SealMaster Honda was on rails, and Jimmy (Vasser) called a perfect strategy. We were able to make the fuel number and still have a quick pace and bring it home for a sixth-place finish … the double six at the doubleheader. It was an incredible weekend to have our Wisconsin SealMaster franchisee at the track supporting us.”
7th –ALEX PALOU (No. 55 Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh Honda): “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. 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. So, we lost a lot of track positions there. Unfortunately, I then made a mistake when I came out in traffic after our second stop. I pushed too hard to try to keep my position and instead I lost four places, so that wasn’t great. 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. Obviously, I would say that when you’re running second in the opening stint, you want to finish there, but still, I think we did a good job. We’re still learning. 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.”
8th– TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Panasonic/Mi-Jack Honda): “From yesterday, we couldn’t get the balance right, so overnight we had to change quite a lot. So, it was a little bit of a gamble to go into qualifying with the unknowns. We had to take two new (sets of) reds tires for qualifying, which was a sacrifice for the race, but we improved our starting position, which was good. At the start, the guys in front had a big crash, and I had nowhere to go and lost a lot of positions, like the last three races. We gradually came back, and I think the boys did a fantastic job on the pit stops. We gained quite a lot of positions, so in the end fighting for eighth place is not ideal, but to be racing with the Penske’s, I don’t think was too bad. Hopefully next week at Iowa continues the trend of improving finishing positions from 10th, ninth and now eighth. We will definitely try.”
9th – JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet): “Just a tough day for our PPG Chevrolet. Not the kind of day we wanted, especially when you see someone like (Scott) Dixon not have a very stellar day, either. We just didn’t have the speed we were hoping to have. I thought we made some good changes overnight, but the race didn’t play out in our favor today. Early on, we knew we were going to be fighting some aero issues being back in the pack, so we switched to more of a fuel strategy/track position race. It could have played out a few different ways, but it just wasn’t meant to be today. All in all, we had some speed in our Chevrolet this weekend, and we showed that with the pole and leading a bunch of laps yesterday. We just couldn’t put everything together. We will move on and focus our efforts on Iowa now.”
10th –CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 4 Tresiba AJ Foyt Enterprises Chevrolet): “I’m really excited to get the first top 10 of the season here in race No. 2 at Road America. The No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet team worked really hard overnight to get the car ready for qualifying. We qualified 13th, had a good run there, had to save a little fuel at the end, make it across the line, come home 10th. I think it’s a good weekend – 11th yesterday, 10th today – put some points in the bank, and we’ll head to a doubleheader at Iowa next weekend”
Remainder of Drivers (alphabetical – with finishing position):
MARCO ANDRETTI (Finished 19th – No. 98 U.S. Concrete / Curb Honda): “It was a rough weekend for the 98 team. After mechanical issues causing us to end the race early yesterday, we had hoped for a better day today. The guys worked hard getting the car into a good spot, but we just weren’t able to do much. The nice thing about having a compacted schedule is we’re back at a track next weekend and have a doubleheader and a good chance at making up some points. I’m really looking forward to going back to Iowa, where I enjoy racing at and I’ve won at in the past.”
OLIVER ASKEW (Finished 21st – No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “Looking forward to putting this behind us. Our race was compromised from the beginning after being hit in the rear. Lost a lot of downforce from the underwing and also had a gearbox issue, so we were way behind pace and focused on finishing the race. Really unfortunate circumstances and definitely a weekend to put behind us. We are taking this as a learning experience and moving on to Iowa next week.”
MAX CHILTON (Finished 15th – No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet): “It was a bit of strange race with all the different strategies, so it was difficult to see where we actually were throughout the race, but we were consistently making passes and hitting fuel numbers. Honestly, it just boils down to how tight the INDYCAR field is. We really weren’t that far off of the leaders with the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet. Obviously we would’ve liked to qualify higher and finish the race higher than 15th, but when you really take a look at the race as a whole, it’s a lot easier to see the positives and potential. Also, the guys did a great job this weekend – they didn’t miss a beat coming into such a busy doubleheader weekend. This weekend was definitely a learning experience for us, and we just keep getting stronger and stronger every race. It’ll be a few weeks before I’m back on track at Mid-Ohio, but I’m really looking forward to cheering on the team next weekend and seeing what they can do in Iowa.”
CONOR DALY (Finished 18th – No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet): “We were the victim of a start stack-up. We had a good start; everyone started going, but then they all stopped. It's a circumstance of starting in the back. We had some damage immediately and once we got that fixed, we just tried to make something of our race. We didn't get the yellow that we needed to catch up. On reds there at the end, we were really fast. That was encouraging, and we were able to make up some spots. Obviously, it was a tough weekend. Overall, I'm thankful for the work that were guys did to get us back out there. We'll rebound at the next one, for sure.”
SCOTT DIXON (Finished 12th – No. 9 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. 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. I can’t wait until Iowa. Racing every week and staying in a groove is what everyone wants to do.”
JACK HARVEY (Finished 17th – No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda): “It was another tough day for us. We’ve had the speed all year, really, but certain things keep happening to us that prevent us from actually putting that speed toward a good result. We’ve started from the front row, we’ve started within the top 10, but we just can’t seem to have luck on our side to get a result that’s representative of our pace. The Meyer Shank Racing guys did a great job all weekend long setting up a solid car, and they had great pit stops yesterday and today. Hopefully we will have a better round at Iowa next weekend.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (Finished 22nd – No. 28 DHL Honda): "We had a decent start, and I think we were going to have a good day today for the 28 DHL Honda team. It’s unfortunate. We finally got some points yesterday. The first two races of the season we had our own issues – electrical and mechanical – so finally we were on our way, and then Turn 1 happened. We could have had plenty of time to battle it out today, but it is what it is. We’ll pick up and move on to Iowa for another doubleheader next week. Big thanks to everybody involved. The guys did a great job this weekend on the car, the DHL Honda crew was amazing, and thanks to all our sponsors and fans that made it out. It’s great to have you all back at the track."
DALTON KELLETT (Finished 20th – No. 14 K-Line USA/AJ Foyt Enterprises Chevrolet): “We’re wrapped up here at Road America. It was a great race weekend, lots of learning for me with the doubleheader, lots of experience gained. The team gave me a great car to learn and keep on progressing, so working with the 14 car crew and Charlie (Kimball) and the 4 car crew, we got some great data. We’ll be debriefing after this. We want to keep getting better, keep progressing. Obviously, we don’t want to be coming home 20th ; we want to be fighting with the pack. I think we’ve got some good information coming out of this weekend and going into Mid-Ohio – it’s one of my favorite tracks – so it’s going to be a fun weekend. We’ve got about three weeks to think about things, so we should be able to regroup and come back strong then.”
SIMON PAGENAUD (Finished 13th – No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “I’m ready to get to Iowa and get the Menards Chevrolet back up front. This was not our best weekend, but I have to give it to my guys: They never gave up and worked really hard all weekend long. Both days, we tried a lot of different strategies to try and gain back the track position that we needed from qualifying further back in the field. Yesterday, we should have had a top 10, and today we gave it all we had. Just had to play the cards we were dealt and try and make it up through pit strategy and fuel savings. At times, the car was a handful, and at times we were as fast as the leaders. Time to shift our focus to Iowa Speedway. There are a lot of points we can make up with another doubleheader weekend.”
WILL POWER (Finished 11th – No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “Man, just a rough race for us today. I guess in the end, things could have been worse, and an 11th-place finish is a small victory. I don’t really agree with the penalty from early in the race. I felt that was just a racing deal. So, we had to come in and change the front wing, then I made a mistake and ran off the track, and we had to make another stop for another wing change. Just not the day we needed for the Verizon Chevrolet. Got a podium yesterday but just didn’t have it today.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (Finished 23rd – No. 15 Fifth Third Honda): “I’m OK. I’m sorry for Fifth Third Bank and for all of our partners that were hoping for a good day just like us. It’s disappointing to see desperation moves like that, that early in the race. I’ve made them before, so I know them well. We’re OK from the hit. It was a disappointing end to our race today, and we had a really good chance for a good finish. It was extremely short with only doing one turn. I’m pretty upset with the way it all worked out, but we’ve got Iowa next week and we’ve got to look ahead and try to do a better job there. We had a good car this weekend. Our guys did a good job, but it’s just a shame we didn’t get a chance at it today.”
ZACH VEACH (Finished 16th – No. 26 Gainbridge Honda): “Honestly, just a weekend to forget. We had good pace at the beginning and had a pretty good start off of other people’s misfortunes, which got us up to ninth for the first stint. The next two-three stints we were stuck saving fuel. I just didn’t have the pace Alex (Rossi) had when it came to saving fuel, so we just fell back, which is frustrating because we had a car that’s much faster. I need to figure out some things on saving fuel because we were creating a bigger void than there should have been. After this weekend, I’m really looking forward to getting the Gainbridge Honda to Iowa next week.”
RINUS VEEKAY (Finished 14th – No. 21 Direct Supply Chevrolet): “It was a really tough weekend. We were struggling for speed, but we worked super hard to make the best out of it. I did everything I could, I drove the Direct Supply car the best I could! I'm really ready to try again in Iowa.”
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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