INDIANAPOLIS — Felix Rosenqvist scored his 3rd career NTT INDYCAR Series pole on Friday afternoon. 2 of his 3 poles have come right here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Both occurring on the 2.439-mile road course. However, while he’s confident in having a fast race car, he says that while stats say one thing, the IMS road course isn’t necessarily his best race track.
“I wouldn’t say it’s my best track. I mean, I have two poles here, but I wouldn’t say result-wise it’s my best track,” he said after scoring the pole for Saturday’s Gallagher Grand Prix (12 p.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network). “I’ve been struggling a little bit here in the races historically.
“I just feel like we’ve worked very hard as a team to improve this track as we go here twice a year, and at some point last year we were like, guys, we need to improve at the Indy GP because we’re struggling.”
He’s not wrong. His best finish in 7 career starts here is 5th in Race 1 of the 2020 Harvest Grand Prix race weekend. Even the year he scored the pole, he finished 8th. He qualified 6th in May’s GMR Grand Prix and came home exactly where he started.
Pato O’Ward earned the pole for this race just last year. He finished 5th. That’s his best finish here too.
At some point, Roseqnvist feels the tide will turn. He credits the test here last month with helping maybe propel him further in Saturday’s 85 Lap race.
“Since then every time we come back here I feel like we’re just getting better and better,” he said. “We had a test here a couple of weeks ago where I think we found some really good things, and we were pretty sure where we wanted to start today in terms of setup, and yeah, it’s just been a smooth day.
“Lucky to have one of those days.”
In saying that, O’Ward starts 3rd on Saturday too. The guy sandwiched between the Arrow McLaren SP sandwich?
Future AMSP driver Alexander Rossi. He has finished well here in the past. He was 4th in this race a year ago. He was 2nd and 3rd respectively in the October doubleheader weekend in 2020.
His problem is qualifying here and on Friday, his No. 27 Dallara-Honda showed early pace which is a good sign for him on Saturday.
“Yeah, it’s great to be here during the GP,” said Rossi after qualifying his car 2nd with a lap of 1:10.5030-seconds on Friday. “We’ve always historically struggled here, especially in qualifying. Our race pace has been good in the past, and that’s never been an issue, but we’ve never been able to qualify here.”
Rossi and the Andretti Autosport group all together were here with AMSP as part of an 8 car test in June. Rossi agreed with Rosenqvist in that the test drastically helped.
“We had a really good test a month ago, and it’s nice to see that translate,” Rossi continued. In saying that, he also notes that the test in Iowa didn’t translate well to last weekend though.
Still, they made it to the Fast 6 as he notes that each time you advance a round, it feels like a mini victory.
“Yeah, it’s hard. Every time you transfer it’s like a little mini-victory, and that helps you get that help of confidence to go the next round,” he notes.
“I always think round 1 is really the hardest, just because it’s been a while since you’ve had the red tires, especially this year, so you’re kind of guessing as to what the grip level is going to be, and usually if you’re pretty successful in round 1, it should transfer in round 2.”
The Team Penske duo of Will Power and Josef Newgarden start behind these 3 but Rossi led practice on Friday too and hopes to give Andretti a clean sweep of road course wins here in 2022 and his 1st win in his last 50 starts.