Amid the long shadow of Scott Dixon winning the Honda Indy Toronto to tie Mario Andretti for second place on INDYCAR’s all-time wins list, with 52 each, the drive of Dixon’s former Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Felix Rosenqvist, shined.
Rosenqvist used a bump-and-run pass on Alexander Rossi on Lap 45 to finish a season-best third, which he hopes secures him a ride next season in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.
Rosenqvist already knows he will drive for McLaren Racing, but it has not been determined if he will stay in the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES or return to Formula E, where he was a race winner in the 2017-2018 season.
In recent weeks, McLaren Racing has announced the signings of Rossi, the 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner, and reigning series champion Alex Palou while retaining Pato O’Ward. The wild card in the matter is the status of Palou, whom Chip Ganassi Racing has also staked claim to for 2023.
“Yeah, I think this weekend hopefully makes (team officials) doubt some things,” Rosenqvist said. “It’s still a long way to go in the year, but as I said, each race we keep getting better and better. This is the trajectory I want to be on, and I’m so excited for the rest of the season.”
Rosenqvist has finished in the top 10 of five of the past six races. Sunday’s podium at Exhibition Place was his first top-three finish as an Arrow McLaren SP driver.
Graham Rahal, who finished fourth in the No. 15 United Rentals Honda of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, said Rosenqvist has nothing to prove to anyone.
“The guy’s an exceptional talent,” Rahal said. “He belongs in INDYCAR racing, and I hope he finds a spot. I know if we had room at the inn (at RLLR), I’d be pushing for him (to be hired).”
Rosenqvist was on the charge throughout the 85-lap race after starting eighth. But the pass that will be debated came on Rossi as they drove through Turn 3 in a fight for third position. Rosenqvist got inside Rossi, and they bumped as they climbed the hill toward Turn 4. Rossi lost the grip on his steering wheel, and the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation Honda of Andretti Autosport hit the left-side wall, ending his race.
“It wasn’t big,” Rosenqvist said of the contact. “He’s also staying on the outside.”
The Swede went on to say Rossi was more to blame, although neither driver was penalized.
Rossi clearly wasn’t pleased with the incident, but he stopped short of criticizing a driver that he will work with in some form in 2023.
Rahal: Fourth ‘Feels Like a Win’
Rahal certainly was pleased with a fourth-place finish after what has been a difficult season for the organization his father co-owns. His previous best finish this season was a pair of sevenths (in St. Petersburg and Long Beach).
“(Fourth) feels like a win, particularly today I don’t think it was given,” Rahal said.
Indeed, Rahal started 14th after he failed to advance out of the first round of Saturday’s qualifying even as it seemed he had a car capable of moving on.
Rahal praised his team for staying committed to the process.
“When you’re down in the dumps like (our team) has been and you get abused like we have been all over social media – even in the paddock everybody’s going, ‘What the hell’s going on with you guys?’” Rahal said. “Everybody expects more from us. We expect more of ourselves. For those guys to keep their chins up – did you see the team’s smile this weekend? That’s worth the price for me. The result’s even better.
“I’m super proud of them. (There’s) a lot of heart in this program. Hopefully this is a kick-start of great things to come.”
Next up: Iowa Speedway Doubleheader
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES heads to Iowa Speedway for a weekend full of racing and concerts.
Practice begins Friday at 4:30 p.m. (ET) on Peacock Premium, with the Hy-Vee Deals.com Presented by Doordash staged at 4 p.m. (ET) Saturday and the Hy-Vee Salute to Farmers 300 Presented by Google at 3 p.m. (ET) Sunday. Both races will air live on NBC and the INDYCAR Radio Network.
The return to the short oval in Newton, Iowa, features concerts by Tim McGraw and Florida Georgia Line on Saturday, Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton on Sunday.
There is no charge for admission Friday.
Odds and Ends
- Takuma Sato (No. 51 Deloitte Honda of Dale Coyne Racing with RWR) got squeezed by two other cars in Turn 1 on the opening lap, hitting the outside wall with his left front wheel. He could not continue. “There was nothing I could do,” he said.
- The caution for Sato continued Toronto’s run of never having a caution-free race. This was the 36th race.
- Josef Newgarden (No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet) was running third and eyeing a chance to challenge for the race win when the final pit stop came. But he did not get as close to the fueler as he would have liked, and the slowness of the stop dropped him in the order, to 10th, where he finished. He is fourth in the standings, 44 points out of the lead.
- Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet) started deeper than 15th for the fourth consecutive race, the most of his career, but he could not deliver the magic he showed at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course while driving from the back of the field to finish third. In this one, he started 16th and finished 15th. Power remains second in the standings, but he fell to 35 points behind Marcus Ericsson (No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda), who finished fifth.
- Reigning series champion Alex Palou (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) rallied from a difficult week to finish sixth. He had the public contract squabble early in the week, hit the Turn 2 wall and had a mechanical failure ahead of the race.
- Rookie Kyle Kirkwood (No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevrolet of AJ Foyt Racing) had late-race contact with Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Carvana Chip Ganassi Racing Honda). Kirkwood said he didn’t think Johnson saw him making a passing attempt, but Kirkwood was penalized for avoidable contact.
- Indy Pro 2000 points leader Louis Foster of Exclusive Autosport completed his sweep of the weekend with a 3.9-second victory over Pabst Racing’s Jordan Missig. Foster won for the sixth time this season, and he has seven series wins in all. The next race, an oval, is Aug. 18-20 at World Wide Technology Raceway.
- Jace Denmark gave Pabst Racing a sweep of the USF2000 weekend by winning his third race of the season in Sunday’s Race 2. Teammate Myles Rowe, the series points leader, finished fifth after winning Saturday’s Race 1. DEForce Racing drivers Thomas Nepveu and Dylan Christie completed Sunday’s podium. The final race of the season is Sept. 1-4 at Portland International Raceway.