By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
DETROIT — NTT IndyCar Series rookie Felix Rosenqvist was looking to put the bad result at the Indianapolis 500 behind him and did so with a fourth place result in the first of two races in the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.
The Swedish sensation started fourth ahead of the 75 minute race and was never below fifth place as he fought with Takuma Sato to try to get onto the podium for the first time in NTT IndyCar Series competition. However, Sato and Rosenqvist had small contact that gave Rosenqvist a moment to think about a late race charge.
“I don’t know, I mean [Sato] got me fair and square into 3 and I had a cutback onto him into 4 and I don’t know, he turned in like I wasn’t even there,” said Rosenqvist. “I don’t know why you’d do that because I went with my whole car on the grass and we touched and it could’ve ended both of our races. I had the corner, I was on the inside so I don’t know why [INDYCAR] didn’t do anything about it and then I don’t know why he did it. He’s pretty crazy I’d have to say but anyway we got it home to fourth place which is good for a day like today where anything can happen.”
A torrential rain storm within the break following the IMSA race ending saturated the track and all competitors had to put on wet weather tires. After Ed Jones went into the Turn 7 tire barrier on Lap 17, Rosenqvist came in for slick tires after other competitors switched to slick tires in an experiment with the track drying out.
“In the wet the Firestone tires were really good, they held on well and they didn’t drop off massively,” said Rosenqvist. “Then when it started drying that’s when it’s really tricky because it’s like the tires grip and then there’s no grip, it’s kind of snappy when driving with the slicks on a half-dry track and yeah, I think the last couple of laps I felt like I was quicker than Sato but it was just so much risk if you wanted to go past someone. It’s tough conditions and you saw what can happen with many other drivers so it was a good day.”
This is the third street course Rosenqvist has competed on in NTT IndyCar Series competition following a fourth at St. Petersburg and a 10th at Long Beach. The No. 10 NTT Data Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing had a less than stellar month at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a 28th place finish but was looking forward to getting to a new venue.
What may have been surprising was how challenging the track was to drive. Rosenqvist said that the 2.35 mile temporary circuit on Belle Isle could be the most challenging street course he’s ever driven.
“It’s like a momentum track,” said Rosenqvist. “You just go quicker and quicker and quicker and it’s kind of hard to do a quick lap immediately, you kind of have to build up to it because it’s so technical. I struggled yesterday but then today I figured it out and it’s good fun when you’re quick but it’s not good fun when you’re slow.”
Qualifying for the second race begins at 10:45 a.m. ET and can be viewed on NBC Gold. The second race from Detroit will air on NBC starting with pre-race at 3:00 p.m. ET.