Can Felix Rosenqvist Claim the Rookie of the Year Honors?

by The Earl of Indy, Robert Earl |

It all comes down to this: the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series finale has arrived, and it is all still to play for. Along with the outright title race, the parallel Rookie of the Year chase will be another focal point this weekend as the single-seater Dallaras descend on Laguna Seca ? with Felix Rosenqvist bidding to bring home the ROY prize to Chip Ganassi Racing for the first time in 20 years.

Having joined the IndyCar fray this season following two years in Formula E, Rosenqvist quickly snatched the command among the series? 2019 newcomers.

The Swede finished fourth overall on his debut in St. Petersburg in March?and has led the rookie charts for most of the campaign ever since, only briefly toppled. Heading into the finale, Rosenqvist has a 26-point advantage on which to lean over closest rival Santino Ferrucci (USA), with third-placed Colton Herta (USA) the only other man still in contention for the rookie title.?

However, with double points up for grabs this weekend (100 instead of 50 for a win, etcetera), Rosenqvist knows all too well that things are far from settled.

?It will be tough, and everything really can happen in this championship,??says Felix Rosenqvist. ?From purely a pace perspective, I feel confident. We?ve been really fast on road courses lately with two podiums from the last two races at this kind of track, so that is reassuring. It is a long race on Sunday though ? and one mistake could be it. We really need to be on top of our game, be awake on the strategy calls and execute a solid race.?

Felix Rosenqvist

Should Rosenqvist succeed in sealing the Rookie of the Year award, he will become only the fourth driver in history to do so for Chip Ganassi Racing, following in the footsteps of IndyCar legends?Eddie Cheever (1990),?Alex Zanardi?(1996) and?Juan Pablo Montoya?(1999).??

?They are some big names,??Rosenqvist continues. ?I grew up watching Montoya race, and I could only dream of being in his shoes one day. It?s hard to grasp the fact that I?m here now, 20 years later. I will give it everything I?ve got to bring home Rookie of the Year to Chip and the guys.?

Felix Rosenqvist

As for the overall aggregate classification, Rosenqvist heads to Laguna Seca sitting in eighth place. An ideal outcome this weekend could yet see the 2015 European F3 champion advance a place or two in the standings, but the man himself ? a two-time podium finisher this season ? is rather chasing another goal to supplement his ROY ambitions.

?We were second in Portland last time out, and second at Mid-Ohio in the previous road course race before that,??Felix?Rosenqvist concludes. ?I would lie if I said I wasn?t chasing a first victory. That?s a box I would really like to tick off ? and I believe Laguna Seca could be another great opportunity for us. I can?t wait to hit the track in the #10 NTT DATA Honda.?

Felix?Rosenqvist

Located close to Monterey on the outskirts of San Francisco, Laguna Seca has reached international acclaim thanks to its iconic ?Corkscrew?; a steep downhill twist of corners made famous by Alex Zanardi?s pass on Bryan Herta for the lead in 1996.?

Laguna Seca has not formed part of the schedule in American top-tier single-seater racing since 2004, returning to the calendar for the first time in 15 years this weekend. In order to help teams acclimatize to the Californian venue, virtually a new acquaintance to all, an extra test day will take place on Thursday.

STANDINGS – ROOKIES (TOP FIVE)
NTT IndyCar SeriesAfter 16/17 races

1: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE), 365 p.
2: Santino Ferrucci (USA), 339 p.
3: Colton Herta (USA), 316 p.
4: Marcus Ericsson (SWE), 252 p.
5: Patricio O?Ward (MEX), 115 p.