Rosenqvist Chases Down O’Ward for Thrilling First Career INDYCAR Victory at Road America
ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin – Felix Rosenqvist outdueled Pato O’Ward in a thrilling late-race battle to score his first career NTT INDYCAR SERIES victory in the REV Group Grand Prix presented by AMR Doubleheader Race 2 on Sunday, July 12 at Road America.
Rosenqvist’s drive in the No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda ended the undefeated start to the 2020 season by his teammate, Scott Dixon. But the 28-year-old continued the dominating start for Chip Ganassi Racing, which has won all four NTT INDYCAR SERIES races this season.
CLICK HERE: Official Race 2 Results
“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.”
2019 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year Rosenqvist completed a stirring comeback to pass O’Ward on the second-to-last of the 55 laps of the race, pulling away to win by 2.8699 seconds at the checkered flag. His previous-best finish was second last year at Mid-Ohio and Portland.
O’Ward dominated the day in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, winning the NTT P1 Award for pole in qualifying this morning and leading 43 of the 55 laps. But as the end of the race neared, O’Ward’s used Firestone red tires, the alternate compound option, began to fall off and allowed Rosenqvist to close the gap quickly. 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.
“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.”
Following Rosenqvist and O’Ward on the podium was Alexander Rossi in the No. 27 AutoNation / NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda with his best finish of the season after a rough start to the year. Rossi’s previous best finish this season was 15th at the season opener June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Marcus Ericsson finished fourth for his third straight top-10 finish and his best result of the season in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
Colton Herta rounded out the top five in the No. 88 Capstone Turbine Honda. Herta is the only driver to score a top-10 finish in every race this season. The consistent start to the year leaves him second in the series standings, 54 points behind Dixon, whose three-race win streak ended with a 12th-place finish in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
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 on 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.”
The scintillating finish between Rosenqvist and O’Ward capped a race that was eventful and exciting from the start. In Turn 1 on the first lap, multiple veteran drivers saw trouble and had their days ended.
Heading into the first corner, Will Power in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet made contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay and the No. 28 DHL Honda. The contact sent Hunter-Reay spinning into the corner, ending the 2012 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion’s day and resulting in a 22nd-place finish.
The contact had a ripple effect as Santino Ferrucci, driving the No. 18 SealMaster Honda, made contact with Jack Harvey in the No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXMHonda. Ferrucci was assessed a penalty for avoidable contact but rebounded to finish sixth. Harvey finished 17th.
Then, in Turn 3 just as the caution flag flew, Power made contact with Graham Rahal’s No. 15 Fifth Third Bank Honda. Rahal attempted to correct the car, but instead he went spinning into the grass and made heavy contact with the wall. He was checked and released from the infield care center and finished 23rd. Power also was assessed a penalty for avoidable contact.
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 rebounded to finish 11th after bringing out the final full-course caution flag of the race.
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES will be back in action this Friday, July 17 at Iowa Speedway for another doubleheader weekend at the .875-mile tri-oval. 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.
‘What They’re Saying’ from the REV Group Grand Prix Race 2 Top-10 Finishers
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.”
REV Group Grand Prix Race 2 Results
Click HERE to view and download the official results of the REV Group Grand Prix presented by AMR Race 2.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
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
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.