Arrow McLaren SP is back to normal this weekend in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES event at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, or at least “99 percent” of it as Felix Rosenqvist described Friday.
Rosenqvist, the driver of the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, missed two races recovering from a nose-first impact with the Turn 6 barrier in the June 12 street race in Detroit. While the Swede had pain throughout his body, there were no broken bones, and he could take solace in knowing he didn’t make a mistake – it was labeled a mechanical failure.
However, Rosenqvist said there were concerns from the administered concussion test.
“Which doesn’t really mean I had a concussion,” he said. “It just gave us some indication that something could be wrong and (INDYCAR’s medical team) didn’t want to take the risk, which I believe and understand. Obviously, it’s frustrating when you feel fine, but it was just (the decision).”
Rosenqvist was asked to work through the symptoms by letting his body rest up to prepare for this weekend’s The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Presented by the HPD Ridgeline. In the week following the accident, he was limited light, 30-minute exercises of low heart rate, and he was asked to avoid watching too many screens and not work out as he normally does.
“I think everyone treated it really well, and I got really good help from INDYCAR to put me through the best possible rehab,” he said. “Now, I feel 99 percent recovered, and I think it’s to all the professionals that helped me to get to this place so quickly.
“It’s one of those cases where you can’t be too careful.”
Rosenqvist was back at pace in Friday’s 45-minute practice on the 13-turn, 2.258-mile permanent road course. He had the fastest lap at the session’s halfway point before spinning in Turn 1 – causing a red flag -- and he finished the session in the 13th position.
Rosenqvist said he felt ready to rekindle the momentum his program had leading up to the Detroit doubleheader.
“When you get in the car for the first time in a season, you’re really excited to see what it’s like – I feel a certain level of that again,” he said. “It’s crazy how quickly you become hungry, especially when you’re not driving. You’re watching everyone else drive, and you just want to get back into it and you picture yourself driving, and you think about it and so hopefully that kind of fire will be a positive thing.”
From a team perspective, Arrow McLaren SP president Taylor Kiel said it is good to have Rosenqvist back alongside Pato O’Ward (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet) as O’Ward tries to secure the organization’s first NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship. The two drivers have built tremendous rapport to the point O’Ward vowed to win the Detroit race Rosenqvist missed, and he did.
Rosenqvist said he was watching the race as his girlfriend drove them back home to Indianapolis.
“It was pretty cool when he said that to me,” Rosenqvist said. “He’s a man of his word.”
O’Ward stands 28 points behind series leader Alex Palou (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) with seven races remaining in the season. They were second and ninth, respectively, on Friday’s speed chart.
The 26-car field will have another practice Saturday at 9:05 a.m. (ET) in anticipation of NTT P1 Award qualifying at noon. Both sessions will air live on Peacock, NBC’s streaming service, with qualifying also airing on the NBC Sports Network at 8 p.m.
Sunday’s 80-lap race is set for noon, live on NBC and the INDYCAR Radio Network.
Firestone Celebrates at Home
Mid-Ohio serves as a homecoming for Firestone, one of INDYCAR’s cornerstone partners which has its headquarters 75 miles away in Akron, Ohio.
“It’s the one race on the schedule where our tire builders, engineers and technicians get to celebrate the hard work they put in all season,” said Cory Williams, lead program engineer for Bridgestone Americas Motorsports. “We get the chance to have our families out to the race and to show off our work on the race tire up close.”
Firestone provides INDYCAR teams with six sets of primary (black) tires, four sets of alternate (red) tires and five sets of rain (gray) tires, plus an additional set of primary tires for rookie drivers. Firestone is using the same compound and construction as it used at this event in 2020.
Odds and Ends
- How did Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay (No. 21 Sonax/Autogeek Chevrolet) fare in driving with eight screws in his surgically repaired clavicle from a cycling accident June 14? He seemed to have no issues in going the entire session and posting the 18th-quickest lap time. NBC Sports reported that the team put additional padding under his head-and-neck protection device, and he has been limited to 10 consecutive pushups rather than his standard 80.
- Mid-Ohio is the only track on the schedule where a current driver has won twice as many races as any other driver in history. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon (No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda) has won six times. Next closest: Emerson Fittipaldi with three. Dixon was seventh in Friday’s practice.
- Former Formula One driver Romain Grosjean (No. 51 NURTEC ODT Honda) turned his first laps at the Mid-Ohio circuit during a June 22 test with Dale Coyne Racing with RWR, and he had the same impression of the circuit that many others before him have had. “It feels like a roller coaster,” he said. Grosjean was sixth on Friday’s speed chart, which represents his average starting position (6.8) in his six INDYCAR races.
- Grosjean’s teammate Ryan Norman (No. 52 KOINU INU/EVO Honda) got his first INDYCAR weekend off to a good start, finishing 22nd on Friday’s driver list. The former motocross standout won two races in Indy Lights and tested here June 22.
- Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda) nearly was on the wrong end of that roller coaster. He lost control of his car in the downhill back end of the circuit known as “Thunder Valley,” and he nearly hit the concrete wall on the left side. Herta regained control of the steering wheel with quick hands just in time to keep the car rolling forward without contact.
- Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Takuma Sato (No. 30 Panasonic/Mi-Jack Honda) wasn’t quite so fortunate. He avoided heavy contact, but he got the car straight enough to hit the tires with the nose of the car. The team had to replace the front wing assembly.
- Weather conditions were interesting Friday. The practice began at 67 degrees and ended with heavy rain drops. Things are projected to change as the weekend progresses. Sunday’s outlook is temperatures in the upper 80s and sunny.