Felix Rosenqvist 2019 IndyCar Rookie of the Year

Felix Rosenqvist powers through the field to seal 2019 NTT IndyCar Rookie of the Year title

by The Earl of Indy, Robert Earl |

Felix Rosenqvist did what he had to do as he battled through the pack to seal the NTT IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year award with a storming drive in the season finale. 

Rosenqvist clinched the rookie title after advancing from 14th on the grid – a result of a controversial penalty handed out in qualifying – to finish in the top five at Laguna Seca on Sunday.

In doing so, the Swede becomes the first driver since Juan Pablo Montoya in 1999 to win the Rookie of the Year award for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Winning Rookie of the Year was always one of my goals this season, and for obvious reasons you never get a second chance,” says Felix Rosenqvist. “For that reason, I’m pleased to have wrapped it up. I’m also very happy for all the guys at the team. They haven’t won this title in a while, and they really deserve this after all the hard work they’ve put in on the #10 NTT DATA car this year. Big thank you to Chip Ganassi Racing and our great partners.”  

Felix Rosenqvist

Rosenqvist was on electrifying form all weekend in California, topping final practice and heading into qualifying as one of the favourites for pole. Despite setting the pace again in the first segment of qualifying, however, Rosenqvist was denied the opportunity to advance after the stewards deemed him to have impeded another driver while spinning early on, relegating him to 14th on the grid.

Rosenqvist, however, battled back with assertiveness in the race to eventually finish in fifth place – putting moves on rookie rival Santino Ferrucci, championship frontrunners Alexander Rossi and Simon Pagenaud, as well as eventual 2019 champion Josef Newgarden along the way.

By the fall of the chequered flag, Rosenqvist’s rise proved enough to hand him the rookie crown despite fellow newcomer Colton Herta winning the race.

“It was a fun race,” Rosenqvist says. “I think I used some of my anger from yesterday to move forward today. I knew I had to advance and that we had the car for it, but it was also a bit edgy with the tyres and making them last. P5 is good given the circumstances and I’m happy with the amount of passes I did, but this was a race we could and probably should have won. The pace was incredible this weekend.”

Felix Rosenqvist

Thanks to his top five finish on Sunday, Felix Rosenqvist jumps to sixth in the final 2019 NTT IndyCar Series standings. Since the turn of the millennium, a rookie driver has only matched that record on two occasions: in 2001 (Felipe Giaffone, sixth) and 2012 (Simon Pagenaud, fifth).

Along with his Rookie of the Year award, Rosenqvist’s CV this season also contains one pole position, two podiums and ten finishes inside the top ten. Rosenqvist has led a total of 71 laps during his rookie campaign in the series.  

“To be honest, I’m actually more proud of finishing sixth in the overall championship than winning Rookie of the Year,” Rosenqvist concludes. “Not meaning to sound silly, but I was actually sort of expecting that. Ending up as high as sixth in my first year, though, in such a strong field, really gives me confidence heading into the off-season. I can’t wait to build on this in the future. We’ve had our ups and downs, like everyone, but at the end of the day I think we should be really proud of what we achieved this year in a rookie campaign.” 

Felix Rosenqvist

Felix Rosenqvist ends the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series with a final tally of 425 championship points. Champion Josef Newgarden racked up 641.

— Special Thank to Felix Racing for working with 33 Dreams of Indy the entire season.

Puffy Lux