Felix Rosenqvist

When push literally came to shove Sunday in the final laps of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear, it was the pushing and shoving of Arrow McLaren teammates that captured the audience’s attention.

Turn 3 was the inviting corner on this new 1.7-mile temporary street circuit, and that’s where teammates Alexander Rossi and Felix Rosenqvist found themselves locked in a thrilling battle for the same piece of real estate on Lap 97 of the 100-lap race.

Rosenqvist took his car to the inside of Rossi, and they had flush side-to-side contact at corner apex. Rossi got pushed wide, and he fought back to draw alongside heading to Turn 4, but Rosenqvist wouldn’t let Rossi have the position. It wasn't the first time they jousted, either, as they made contact while racing side-by-side in Turn 3 on Lap 68.

“I was on the inside, and he squeezed me quite a lot on the first hit,” Rosenqvist said of Rossi on the NBC broadcast. “I had to run into him or I was going to clip the left (side) wall.

“On the exit, you’re racing to the next corner. I think I was a fair bit ahead. He played it hard on entry, and I played it hard on exit. So, I think it was fair.”

Rossi clearly wasn’t pleased with the outcome.

“We’ll discuss it internally,” he said.

Rosenqvist’s aggressiveness carried him all the way to third place, his first podium finish of the season. Rossi settled for his second consecutive fifth-place finish after the one he scored in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. Rossi has finished third, fifth and fifth in the past three races.

Rossi said it was appropriate he finished fifth, as that’s where he was when the late flurry of restarts began. He started the 100-lap race in 13th, drove to fifth, capitalized on Turn 3 contact between Will Power and Scott Dixon to move to second place, then drifted back in the final laps.

“I think we (were) given those spots kind of at that third-to-last restart, where we kind of inherited second,” Rossi said of the Power-Dixon tangle. “Then (we) kind of ended up back where we started.

“It was a good day overall. I think the pace was good. The team did an amazing job in pit lane. The strategy was right. I’m happy with everything, so we’ll take another top five and move on to Road America.”

Rosenqvist said the tussle with Rossi had nothing to do with his contract status beyond this season. At least by what’s known publicly, the Swede doesn’t have a contract with Arrow McLaren or any other NTT INDYCAR SERIES team. But Rosenqvist has seemed confident he will have a ride somewhere, and McLaren Racing team principal Zak Brown recently said he figured another team might sign Rosenqvist before Arrow McLaren makes a decision in July.

“I race the same every race; I don’t think it has anything to do with the future,” Rosenqvist said. “I’m not worried about my future. I’m racing as hard as I can every race. I mean, it’s always tough out there in INDYCAR.

“I shouldn’t be ashamed of being elbows out. I think it was all fair play. In the car it’s tough, and I don’t want to race teammates too much. It’s never fun, but that’s the way it is in INDYCAR.”

Rosenqvist added that “if you’re raced hard, you have to race hard back.”

Arrow McLaren racing director Gavin Ward tried to downplay the tension.

“You know, we let our guys race,” he said. “We have regular conversations about how we want to engage the team. We’ll take the day, and we’ll try to learn and be better.”

The Arrow McLaren driver not involved in the incident was Pato O’Ward, whose race ended on Lap 43 with contact in Turn 9. He was trying to stay on the lead lap with race leader Alex Palou behind him when he came upon the lapped car of Santino Ferrucci. O’Ward overshot the corner and hit the wall hard with the left-front corner of the car.