Felix Rosenqvist

Felix Rosenqvist entered his sixth NTT INDYCAR SERIES season driving for his third different team. Expectations in 2024 are lower.

Nothing against Meyer Shank Racing, a team with one career NTT INDYCAR SERIES victory, albeit a signature victory when Helio Castroneves won his record-tying fourth Indianapolis 500 in 2021. But when the other two teams for which the 32-year-old Swede has driven are annual championship contenders Chip Ganassi Racing (2019-20) and Arrow McLaren (2021-23), expectations are bound to be different.

On the personal side, Rosenqvist also has different expectations, finally inserting himself in front of his job.

“I think most of us, we're roadies,” Rosenqvist said. “We just kind of go from one place to another. We don't really focus a lot on our personal lives. We put ourselves in second place because our careers are such big parts of our lives.”

Rosenqvist noticed from past experiences in motorsports that the most successful drivers also have stable lives away from the track.

“I'm very sure that when you look at good athletes, let's say (Scott) Dixon, you don't become that good if you don't have a good life,” Rosenqvist said. “If you have a good life at home, you're happy; you wake up, you're happy with your life. I think that's a very important thing to perform, and that's what I feel more than anything that I am.

“I kind of prioritize myself a little bit for once and take a couple of deep breaths and settle myself into my private life, as well, which I think is going to reflect on track.”

The start of the season is evidence the new approach is paying off.

Rosenqvist set the fourth-quickest time among 26 drivers in the two-day preseason open test earlier this month at Sebring International Raceway. Then, last weekend in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding, he excelled again.

The Swede was quickest in the opening practice session of the season Friday. A day later, he set the track record in the second round of the three-round qualifying format and started on the front row in second position for Sunday’s 100-lap race in the No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda. He drove to a steady seventh-place finish to start the season.

If someone would have told Rosenqvist entering the season opener that he would finish in the top 10, he would have been ecstatic.

“We talked,” Rosenqvist said of pre-race discussions with team co-owner Mike Shank. “He's been like: ‘Dude, we don't need any miracles. Like if you got to take a P7, take a P7.’

“Obviously, we had a good shot, but we weren't on the best strategy, and we had one poor pit stop, the second stop, which cost us. Considering that, I think it was really good to finish seventh. That’s what we had. We’ll take that. It’s a good start to the season. When our day comes, so it will come, and we'll be up there.”

Rosenqvist said the biggest takeaway from St. Petersburg is MSR showed its speed can compete with that of any team in the series.

“We got the lap record and some cool stuff,” he said. “I think it was a good mix. Whatever day you have a chance to win, you want to win it. But I don't think we had it Sunday.

“We’ll have smiles on our faces, and we'll reload for Thermal Club.”

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES returns to action Sunday, March 24 at The Thermal Club for the $1 Million Challenge (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC, Peacock, INDYCAR Radio Network) in a made-for-TV exhibition event that pays $1 million to the winner.