By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
MONTEREY, California – Felix Rosenqvist being justifiably upset was an understatement at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
After being the fastest man during Saturday’s final practice, the NTT IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year points leader faced a controversial penalty in Group 2 of qualifying.
Rosenqvist’s No. 10 NTT Data Honda was given a penalty which resulted his two fastest laps that would’ve advance him into the next round revoked due to causing a local yellow and impeding another competitor’s lap.
As a result, he would have to start 14th in Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey.
“I don’t know what they’re thinking. That lap didn’t mean anything for anyone,” Rosenqvist’s stance on the penalty. “I had a spin and then they’re saying that I blocked someone while I was spinning. It was the second lap on blacks which doesn’t mean anything.”
The Swede further blasted the sanctioning body’s Race Control and felt their actions has negatively impacted his bid of locking up top rookie honors as he’s coming into the race with a 26-point lead over Santino Ferrucci (starting 12th) and another 23 points over Colton Herta (pole sitter).
“We were working for three days for this moment. We had the fastest time on track and the guys have been doing an incredible job,” Rosenqvist said. “It’s really unfair for them to just take that away. Honestly, one of the stupidest decisions I’ve ever seen.
“It doesn’t matter. It ruined our day. I don’t know why. Maybe someone has something against me or they want Herta to win the rookie championship. We just have to regroup for the race and find a good strategy starting from the back.”
Rosenqvist’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon, who will start alongside pole sitter Herta, described his the human nature of not having things go a driver’s way.
“He’s been super fast all weekend and of course he gets fired up,” Dixon said. “All of us are extremely competitive. I don’t know what the rule was or how it was. I know he hindered somebody’s lap. When you lose your two quickest and then not advance. Even though he’s done three quick laps that would’ve advance him.
“I can imagine that he’s pretty angry. He’s been knocking on the door all year long. He’s still got a very good shot tomorrow. You can definitely in that position create a very good off strategy race.”
The bid for Rookie of the Year along with many storylines, including the four-man battle for the Astor Cup, will unfold at 3:15 pm EST with the 90-lap contest airing live on NBC.