LEXINGTON, Ohio — In a successful qualifying session ahead of Sunday’s (July 3) Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Felix Rosenqvist gave his No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet crew a big reason to smile with a fourth place result.
As teammate Pato O’Ward celebrated scoring the fifth pole position of his IndyCar Series career, Rosenqvist elated his crew with a lap of 1 minute, 7.2163 seconds to average 120.935 mph around the 13-turn, 2.258 mile road course, placing the car behind O’Ward, Scott McLaughlin and Colton Herta.
That qualifying performance means that the 31-year-old has qualified in the top eight on seven occasions this year, competing in the Firestone Fast Six in four of those races. Mid-Ohio is the ninth race in the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series championship.
While Rosenqvist is happy about being that high on the grid, there’s always questions about what could have been, especially after qualifying fastest in his round one group and second fastest in the second round of qualifying by .0097 seconds to advance to the Firestone Fast Six.
“I don’t know, I mean, kind of mixed feelings about finishing fourth,” Rosenqvist said. “I think whenever you’re in the Fast Six, (you) want to go for the pole, but yeah. We were really fast on the new tires and we were fastest in the first segment and then second in the second, just like a thousandth (of a second) behind Scott (McLaughlin). And then the Fast Six, I don’t know. It just, it seems to be our thing. We’re always in the Fast Six, but we’re never better than fourth.
“Good day starting fourth, I think it’s continuing a really good momentum for us. So we’re really excited.”
Rosenqvist was puzzled over what dropped him from a top two position in the first two rounds to fourth in the final round of qualifying, thinking that the process for getting the Firestone red sidewall alternate compound tires up to temperature might need some adjusting. The red sidewall tires are softer and provide more grip than the black sidewall primary compound but aren’t designed to last as long, making them the preferred tire late in qualifying.
“I think we have to change the approach somehow, the way (we) bring in the tires or which set of tires (we) use,” Rosenqvist said. “You know to be honest, we just kind of gambled, because it seems like we’re always doing the wrong decision and today we [were] just like, ‘Yeah, let’s try this.’ And I don’t know, that’s probably a mix of a whole bunch of things with tires and tire warm up. And maybe, I don’t know, maybe we’re using the tires too hard when they’re new or something like that.”
Rosenqvist’s only start this year better than fourth was when he won pole position in single-car qualifying at Texas Motor Speedway, his first pole on an oval.
There has been much speculation about Rosenqvist’s future, especially since O’Ward has three race wins since the pair started being teammates at the start of 2021 and Rosenqvist has yet to find victory lane since joining the team. There have been questions about the Swede’s future and while McLaren have released a statement that Rosenqvist will be with the organization in 2023, McLaren did not announce whether Rosenqvist will be racing in IndyCar or in Formula E.
“Man, it’s such a big puzzle that’s outside of my control,” Rosenqvist said. “But as I said, I think a result always helps (and) whether you say it or not, I think it’s always going to play in your favor.”
Mid-Ohio is a special place for Rosenqvist. He first tested an Indy car at Mid-Ohio back in 2016 and scored his first IndyCar podium at Mid-Ohio in 2019 as the two-time Macau Grand Prix winner chased Scott Dixon down in the closing laps but could not pass Dixon for the win despite having a car that was noticeably faster.
“A result here would be probably better than a lot of other ones,” Rosenqvist said. “I mean, really good memories coming here for the first time when I was a fair bit younger than I am now doing laps in Scott Dixon’s car. It was pretty cool and then I came back a year after (to test again) and then 2019, I had my first podium finish here. I’s always been a place I like, so it would be cool to step it up on the podium tomorrow.”
The Honda Indy 200 airs live Sunday July 3rd at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC.