Felix Rosenqvist scored his best result of the year so far as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES resumed with a dramatic display on the streets of Nashville, surviving a wild event to lead the Chevrolet contingent in both qualifying and the race.
Returning from the in-season summer break, Rosenqvist delivered an encouraging performance throughout the weekend at the inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix, consistently featuring near the top of the timesheets at Nashville’s all-new street track.
The Arrow McLaren SP driver claimed his best qualifying performance of the season by advancing all the way into the Firestone Fast Six, taking fourth on the grid as engine supplier Chevrolet’s top-placed runner.
On Sunday, however, all chaos erupted in a race which featured no less than nine caution periods and two red flags, with Rosenqvist initially running inside the top five but slipping back in the strategic lottery that ensued amid all the drama.
Eventually coming home eighth, the result still marked a new season best for the Swede, capping off a weekend of much renewed promise as he again crossed the line as Chevrolet’s lead representative.
”There is so much to be said about that race today, but basically it came down to a lottery with all the cautions,” says Felix Rosenqvist. “It was virtually a never-ending story of yellows. At some point it was looking good, the next not, and all we could really do was go along with it. It’s a little bit disappointing to not bring home a better result for the #7 crew, especially with the pace we’ve had this weekend, but I don’t feel there was much I could have done differently today.”
Having threaded his way through the latter stages of the 80-lap encounter, balancing on fuel numbers to avoid a final pit stop, Rosenqvist sat in sixth place ahead of a late-race restart with just three laps to go.
Running on the Firestone black (hard) tyres, however, he was unable to defend from rivals shod with the grippier soft (red) compound behind, slipping to P8 on the penultimate lap.
“We decided to gamble in the pits and try to go to the end, saving a lot of fuel and opting for the black tyres, which I think was the right call”, Rosenqvist explains. “However when they red-flagged the race so close to the end, with the sun going down, our tyre temperature dropped massively and I just couldn’t hold off the guys on reds.
“I’m bummed to lose P6 on the final laps, but this race could have ended anywhere it seems and ultimately we have to be pleased with our best result so far. It’s clearly been a step in the right direction. Last but not least, I want to say big thanks to everyone who got this race together here in Nashville. It’s been a great event!“
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES returns to action in just a matter of days, with the next race staged at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on Saturday, August 14.
NTT INDYCAR SERIES | Rd. 11
Big Machine Music City Grand Prix
1: Marcus Ericsson (SWE), Ganassi, 80 laps
2: Scott Dixon (NZL), Ganassi, +1.559s
3: James Hinchcliffe (CAN), Andretti, +2.391s
4: Ryan Hunter-Reay (USA), Andretti, +2.801s
5: Graham Rahal (USA), RLL, +4.083s
8: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE), AMSP, +5.966s
NTT INDYCAR SERIES | After 11/16 races
1: Alex Palou (ESP), Ganassi, 410 p.
2: Scott Dixon (NZL), Ganassi, 368 p.
3: Pato O’Ward (MEX), AMSP, 362 p.
4: Josef Newgarden (USA), Penske, 335 p.
5: Marcus Ericsson (SWE), Ganassi, 335 p.
23: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE), AMSP, 118 p.