Rosenqvist to AMSP is Official; Dragonspeed Closes Indycar Program

Arrow McLaren SP officially confirmed felix rosenqvist as driver the number 7 car for 2021. The Swedish driver completed his second year in the Indycar series with Chip ganhassi racing. Rosenqvist finished 11th in the season standings and got his first Indycar win at Road America in race 2.

The announcement from the team:

Felix Rosenqvist joins Arrow McLaren SP for 2021

Felix Rosenqvist will join Arrow McLaren SP for the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, the team confirmed today, piloting the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet. Rosenqvist will get his first run in the car and begin duties with the team during an upcoming test at Barber Motorsports Park on November 2nd.

“I can’t wait to take the next step in my career and join Arrow McLaren SP. The team has shown itself to be a consistent challenger this year and I’m looking forward to working with Pato to help take it forward,” said Rosenqvist. “I want to thank Sam, Ric, Zak, and the entire team for giving me this opportunity and I’m already working to be as prepared as possible for next season. It’s going to be fun.”

Rosenqvist, a 28-year-old from Sweden with a diverse motorsport background, will start his third season in the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES, with his career accomplishments already including eight top five finishes and a win at Road America this year.

“We’ve been watching Felix since he came over to Indy Lights in 2016 and have been constantly impressed by his performance over the past two years,” said Arrow McLaren SP co-owner Sam Schmidt. “We think that he and Pato complement each other well and together we believe they will help us on our journey forward as a team.”

“It’s not very often that you get the opportunity to combine two young, established talents like Pato and Felix,” said McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown. “I think this pairing gives us a strong driver lineup and I’m excited to see what they can do together on and off the track.”

Rosenqvist will team up with Arrow McLaren SP driver Pato O’Ward, who finished his first full season in fourth place and looks forward to combining efforts with his former on-track rival.

“I am looking forward to working alongside Felix. He is a driver I truly respect, in and out of the car, and I’m sure we will work well together,” said O’Ward. “I think we can learn a lot from each other to develop the strongest package possible at every race weekend together with the team.”

Follow along with the team on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube at @ArrowMcLarenSP.

Dragonspeed Closure Benefits Meyer Shank Racing

Dragonspeed has closed the doors on its Indycar program. The team debuted at St. Petersburg in 2019 with Ben Hanley. Dragonspeed appeared in the Indianapolis 500 the last two years, finishing 23rd in August.

Team owner Elton Julian cited COVID as a factor in the decision to focus on their sports car program. Julian said the pandemic set his team back two years.

Dragonspeed sold its Dallara chassis to Meyer Shank Racing. The move accelerates MSR’s plan to field a second car in the Indycar series. The plan is to build the schedule gradually as they ddi with Jack Harvey’s now full time entry.

It’s sad to see a team leave the series, but the silver lining could be Meyer Shank adding another entry to the grid.

IMS Test Postponed to Friday

The scheduled Thursday Indycar test has been postponed to tomorrow, Friday, October 3,0 due to inclement weather. Trust me, it’s not clement. Fans are welcome to watch from the turn 2 mounds.

Enter at gate 2, where you will indergo a temperature screening. Facial coverings are required at all times and no food or drink is allowed on the mounds.

Scheduled to participate in the test are Scott Dixon, Takuma Sato, Josef Newgarden, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Ed Carpenter, and Pato O’Ward.

Newgarden and Sato tested Wednesday as the series experimented with some nose pieces.to create more front downforce and improve passing ability.

Yesterday Scott McLaughlin completed his Speedway Rookie Orientation Program.

Rosenqvist Move to AMSP Leaves Gap at Ganassi, Scrambles Silly Season

Photo- Felix Rosenqvist on his way to his first win at road America. Joe Skibinski, Indycar

Arrow McLaren SP continues to dominate the 2021 driver lineup. Their third announcement this week blew the lid off the simmering kettle of Indycar Silly season. Felix Rosenqvist wil move from Chip Ganassi Racing to the second year team to drive the number 7 car vacated two days ago by Oliver Askew. Askew will drive for the team in the season finale at St. Pete if he is medically cleared to drive. Rosenqvist will complete his contract with Ganassi at that time as well.

Rosenqvist celebrates his first Indycar victory at Road America in July. Jos Skibinski, Indycar

Chip Ganassi Racing has an agreement with 7 time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson to run the road course portion of the 2021 schedule. Before the Rosenqvist announcement, ti was assumed that Johnson would be in a fourth Ganassi car. Does he now move to the 10? If so, who drives the car at the four oval races next year?

Helio Castroneves was thought to be a strong candidate for a third car at AMSP. Is that still an option? Will Castroneves now go to Ganassi? I can’t see him being willing to run an oval only program. Tony Kanaan is a possibility for the oval portion of the Johnson ride.

Both AMSP and Ganassi looked as if they would each expand by one car for 2021. That possibility is now in question. Two more cars on the grid would leave more room for drivers looking for work.

Meanwhile, team Penske is expected to run four cars next year with the addition of Scott McLaughlin, who will make his debut at St. Pete.

Andretti Autosport, which ran five cars this season, has only Alexander Rossi and Colton Herta locked in for 2021. Will veteran Ryan Hunter-Reay retire or became an Indy only driver?

Other drivers with uncertain status for next year are Conor Daly, Rinus Veekay, James Hinchcliffe, Charlie Kimball, and Dalton Kellett.

The 2021 lineup, which just a couple of weeks ago appeared to have some minor tweaks plus the possibility of a larger grid, now looks like there may be some major shuffling.

Quick Thoughts- GMR Race 2

First, I want to send best wishes to George and Susan Phillips as Susan begins her journey to recover from cancer. This issue hits me hard. I know they will be fine in the end. I’m glad I got to spend some time with them this weekend. they are such great people.

I though history might be made today. There was, but not the history I expected. The youngest front row in history. I’m sure someone has stats on this, but it may have been the youngest top 3 starters in history.

This was a day for the younger generation to shine. Pato O’Ward and Colton Herta on the front row  had less than two full years of experience between them, and third place starter Alex Palou is a rookie. The duel at the end between O’Ward and seconds year driver Felix Rosenqvist was compelling. Rosenqvist has been close to winning before. he nearly nipped Dixon at mid Ohio last year. This is probably the most patient race I’ve sen Rosenqvist drive.

It was an exciting finish to what was mostly a processional race. Two younger drivers, one Honda, one Chevy, battling in the closing laps, made for great drama..  I happened to be in the right spot at the right time at the end to catch the photos in this piece. The main photo is after.

Before:

RA 20 644

Scott Dixon didn’t go four for four on the season, but the Ganassi team did. The pit bobble bug hit Dixon today. His car didn’t seem to have the pace it had Saturday.

Colton Herta missed the pole, but he had his fourth top 10 and third top 5 of the season. Herta is now second in the point standings. Maybe the television crew could talk about him more than they talk about Ferrucci now?

I watched the replay of yesterday’s start. It seemed O’Ward brought the field to the line a little slow. that  usually leads to the cahos that occurred after the green flag. The restarts looked to be at the correct pace.

Alexander rossi finally got the result that everyone had expected to see all season. A series of unfortunate events has seen Rossi finishing at the bottom of the field. Third place must feel like a victory to him.

Charlie Kimball had a good weekend for A. J. Foyt Racing with an 11th on saturday and a 10th yesterday. Kimball could have a decent season. The team is showing more consistency this year.

I’m not sure what Will Power was doing at the start. It’s too bad NTT Indycar Series officials could only issue one penalty.  I think the penalty of going to the rear of the field is too light, especially when it is assessed that early in the race. It allowed Power to go off strategy and take the lead at one point. I think a drive through at least would be more appropriate.

All in all, it was great to be back at a race.

Safety Protocols

I saw a lot of social media concerns about what was seen on television and posts from the track about lack of social distancing and people not wearing masks. From what I observed, masks were not as prevalent as I expected. Some track personnel weren’t even wearing one. I had mine on when i was walking about, but took it off when I was with people I knew to safe. Some people I saw never wore one all weekend.

As for distancing, there were some large groups of people who seemed to be together both days. The track signage said family groups could be together. I assumed that meant living in the same household. Groups were bigger than that. the top of hill in utrn 5, the most popular viewing spot, was pretty packed on Saturday. yesterday the crowd was lighter and more spread out there. I watche d yesterday from turn 7. A decent amount of people, not a huge group by any means, spread out in their groups. Groups gave each other plenty of space.

The track did everything it could as far as signage and PA announcements. track personnel could not police the entire area. What Road America could have done is sell fewer tickets to this event. Compliance was left up to each individual. Sadly, many chose to not follow the protocols. I don’t believe the track is at fault. their efforts were commendable, but as i said, they couldn’t force anyone to follow their guidelines.

I’m interested to see how Iowa handles distancing in their grandstands next weekend. From what i saw, I just don’t see how IMS can hold the 500 next month. There will be more than three times as many people as there were at Road America. I don’t expect to see better compliance than I saw this weekend.

 

 

Indycar Season Review- Newgarden Reclaims Title and Rookies Shine

Photo: Josef Newgarden on his way to clinching the championship at Weather Tech Raceway Laguna Seca. Photo by Kyle McInnes

In some ways 2019 was an unusual season for the NTT Indycar Series. In other ways, it was a typical season.

Some unusual items:

All three of the championship contenders heading to the final race had at least one finish of 15th or worse.

The seven race winners each won multiple times. I can’t recall that ever happening before. Seven winners seems like the lowest total in a few years as well.

None of the three contenders won a race after July 20.

Alexander Rossi did not lead a lap after his dominating win at Road America on June 23.

Typically, Team Penske drivers led more than 900 laps and won nine races. The team also enjoyed a 1-2 finish in the final standings.

Josef Newgarden combined  consistency and some great pit strategy by Tim Cindric to jump to an early points lead which he held most of the season. Rossi climbed to within 16 points after Mid Ohio, but the lead expanded in the following race after Rossi’s involvement in the first lap incident at Pocono. Simon Pagenaud saved his job with his two brilliant victories in May. He had a 4.8 finishing average over the last six races and came up just 25 points short of his second title.

Rossi was dominating at Long Beach and Road America. He finished second in the Indianapolis 500. The rest of the time he was good, but not great. I thought Rossi was more consistent in 2018. Since his Road America win, Rossi had an average finish of 7.7

Dixon’s Title Defense Stalls

Scott Dixon’s season was typical of his title defense years. He never got going. 2019 was just the second time he has finished outside the top three in the standings.

Dixon finished second three times and third once in the first five races. A 17th place in the Indianapolis 500 followed by a crash and 22nd place in the first Belle Isle race put Dixon  in a hole he could not climb out of. He did bounce back to win the second race at Belle Isle and also won at Mid Ohio. Dixon now has 46 career wins, just six short of Mario Andretti for second place all time.

Rookies Have Outstanding Year

The four rookies- Colton Herta, Felix Rosenqvist, Marcus Ericsson, and Santino Ferrucci- collectively had a season that any rookie group would be thrilled with. The class earned  2 wins, 4 poles, and 6 podiums. Ferrucci had an average finish on ovals of 6.2. Rosenqvist’s street/road course average was a respectable 7.1. Herta took most of the headlines with his three poles and two victories, but mechanical issues and accidents suppressed his averages and kept him behind in the points standings.

wp-15691661470052641739800814825054.png
Felix Rosenqvist edged Colton Herta for Rookie of the Year. Photo: Kyle McInnes

Rosenqvist won the Rookie of the Year title with a fierce drive at Laguna Seca from 14th to fifth to edge Herta by five points. He served notice at St. Petersburg that the rookies meant business when he passed Will Power on a restart. With Rosenqvist staying at Ganassi and Herta moving to the main Andretti team, I see a future rivalry between these two in a couple years.

Surprises and Disappointments

The biggest surprise of the year was Takuma Sato winning two races and earning two pole positions. Sato had a big slump beginning at Texas and was blamed for the early accident at Pocono. It would be nice to see him put a full season together.

Jack Harvey and Meyer Shank racing deserve consideration for driver and team of the year. Harvey earned the team’s first podium at the Indycar Grand Prix. In just 10 races, Harvey had four top ten finishes, got into the Fast Six twice, and finished on the lead lap in seven races. They seemed to struggle after their long break following Road America. If their plan to be full time in 2020 works out, they should be even better.

Zach Veach was probably the most disappointing driver. After finishing 2018 strongly, I thought he would have a great year. He lingered in the back half of the field most weekends and finished 18th in points, ahead of only Matheus Leist and Ed Jones among the drivers who drove all 17 races.

The Best and Not So Best

Not every race can be great, and like most years a few races stood out.

For me, the best races were the Indycar Grand Prix, Mid Ohio, Iowa, and Gateway.

The worst races in my opinion were Pocono, Detroit 1, Toronto, and Portland.

 

 

 

 

Rosenqvist Sets Pace in Practice 3; Qualifying Groups; Announcements

Photo: Kyle McInnes

Felix Rosenqvist led the final practice before qualifying this morning as qualifying groups were set. Team Penske cars of Josef Newgarden, Will Power, and Simon Pagenaud took the next three spots. Title contenders Alexander Rossi 10th and Scott Dixon was eighth.

The session ran green the entire way. Takuma Sato led early in practice and ended fifth. Colton Herta, who led a practice yesterday, was seventh this morning.  Ryan Hunter-Reay, leader of Practice 2 Friday, was 18th.

The top 12:

wp-15690887029284647733870542940238.png

Qualifying begins at 1:35 Pacific time and can be viewed on NBCSN.

Notes

Rahal Letterman Lanigan officially confirmed that Takuma Sato will return to the team for 2020. Sato has won twice and earned two pole positions this year.

The Road to Indy announced that Exclusive Autosport will field teams on all three rungs of the development series in 2020. They plan to have two cars in Indy Lights. This team will be a great addition to Indy Lights and a much needed expansion to the field.

Back with Quick Thoughts after qualifying.

Rosenqvist Cleared to Drive; Reveals New Livery for Saturday

Felix Rosenqvist has been cleared to drive in the Bommariot Automotive Group 500 Saturday night at World Wide Technology Raceway. Rosenqvist was involved inn the first lap crash Sunday at Pocono. The nose of this car lifted into the fence, but returned to the track. he was taken to a local hospital for further evaluation and released later Sunday evening. Yesterday he received the final okay from NTT Indycar Series doctors to drive in this weekend’s event.

Today Chip Ganasssi Racing revealed Rosenqvist’s car for Saturday with Monster Energy sponsorship.

This livery should look great in a night race. I’m wondering if this is the start of Monster Energy’s interest in sponsoring a car on a more regular basis. I hope so.

World Wide Technology Raceway Adds Fan Enhancements

The track  will have three large video boards at the race Saturday.  It will sure be an improvement over the tiny screens from the past two years.

The Stanley Cup, the NHL’s trophy won by the St. louis Blues in June, will be on display at some point Saturday on the fan midway stage. Colton Parayko of the Blues will be the Grand  Marshal  for the race. Blues team captain Alex Pietrangelo will also be at the track.  I am very excited to at last get to see the Cup in person. After the Borg-Warner trophy, I think the Stanley Cup is the coolest trophy in North America.

Back later with some more on the race Saturday.  Look for my race preview tomorrow.

Day 2 Wrap-up

Photo: Felix Rosenqvist at the Indycar Grand Prix. Photo by Kyle McInnes

Felix Rosenqvist spun in turn two at 5:02. His car snapped as it appeared he caught the grass with his left front tire. He backed into the outside wall the went head on into the tire barrier on the inside.  His spinning car just missed clipping Will Power and Jack Harvey just missed running into Rosenqvist. He was checked and released from the infield medical center.

After just a few minutes of green flag running, the yellow flew for a track inspection. Another track inspection with seven minutes left, the track closed for the day.

Josef Newgarden’ s earlier time of 228. 856 held as the fastest of the day. Alexander Rossi was 34th quickest but had the fastest no tow speed.

Alonso talked to NBC Sports about his accident.

“It was understeer on the car, and even if I lifted the throttle on the entry of the corner, it was not enough, and I lost completely the front aero. The wall came too close and too quickly. Unfortunately, it happened today. We will lose a little bit of running time again. I’m sorry for the team, but we will learn and hopefully, we will come back stronger tomorrow. I’m disappointed and sad for the team and for the guys. We worked quite a lot on the car and definitely now it’s quite damaged, so I feel sorry for the team and for my mistake. We will learn from this and hopefully tomorrow we’re back on track and back stronger”

McLaren is repairing the primary car and also building the backup car. they will try both tomorrow and decide which car to qualify.

Notes

The F1 grid lines are slowly returning as the sealant lightens.

Newgarden said that like last year it is difficult to follow especially in a deep pack of cars. He thinks the race will be similar to last year, but it will depend on the temperature. A cooler day might see better racing than a warm day. Newgarden also noted that the team or other teams as well have not tried all the downforce and aero tools Indycar has made available this year.

Rossi said the team completed their checklist for today and then parked the car. He didn’t seem concerned about his speed ranking today and thought being first on the no tow list was irrelevant.

Rosenqvist Wins Pole in a Different Fast Six

Photo:  Felix Rosenqvist on his way to his first career Indycar pole. Photo: Kyle McInnes

 

Scott Dixon and Will Power looked at their Fast Six competition and had to ask, “Who are these guys?”  Two  rookie drivers, Felix Rosenqvist and Colton Herta, had each made one Fast Six appearance this season. For Jack Harvey and Ed Jones, this was new ground.

Each round of NTT Indycar Series  qualifying for the Indycar Grand Prix had twists and turns, with many favorites, including points leader Josef Newgarden and other usual final round residents like Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay not advancing out of Round 1.  Yet things didn’t\;t seem totally amiss. Takuma Sato led Group 1, which was not a surprise this season. Power advanced, but no one thought anything of his fourth place. There was more focus on who didn’t advance than who did. Alexander Rossi and Josef Newgarden watched the rest of qualifying and will start 17th and 13th respectively. Group 2 knocked out Ryan Hunter-Reay and Patricio O’Ward, who faded late in the session after showing early speed.

Probably the shock of Round 2 was Sato not advancing. Sebastien Bourdais and Simon Pagenaud looked like they had a chance, especially given the inexperience of the rest of the group.

Then the Fast Six gave us a rookie pole winner with his veteran five time teammate starting next to him’

Rosenqvist said, ” It was the first time I felt relaxed in the car and didn’t feel I had to push 120%.”

The polesitter has won four of the five Indycar Grand Prix. Weather may be a factor in who wins tomorrow. It is likely the string of winners whose last name starts with P is about to end.

Qualifying Results by Round. Starting Lineup will be up tomorrow with the latest weather update.

Round -1-1

Sato

Bourdais

Rosenqvist

Harvey

Jones

Power

Round 1-2

Herta

Dixon

Ericsson

Rahal

Pagenaud

Pigot

Round 2

Herta

Rosenqvist

Harvey

Power

Dixon

Jones

Fast Six

Rosneqvist

Dixon

Harvey

Herta

Jones

Power

 

Quick Thoughts- Indycar Grand Prix Qualifying

Nice to see so many different drivers in the second round.

Even nicer to see new faces in the Fast Six.

Scott Dixon and Will Power have a big chance to move up in the point standings tomorrow.

I can’t remember the last Ganassi front row lockout. It might have been when Dario Franchitti and Dixon were together.

Jack Harvey was having an under the radar good season. It’s not under the radar now. When you remember Harvey is not full time, this makes a Fast Six appearance even more impressive.

The Fast Six had two rookies, three drivers making their first appearance in the final round, and two drivers who make regular appearances.  The changing of the guard is getting closer.

Weather could play a huge role in tomorrow’s race.

Full qualifying story up later tonight. Thanks for following along today.