Felix Rosenqvist believes that dialing himself back slightly was key to the lap that resulted in the first IndyCar pole of his career on the Indy road course on Friday.
The Swede was quick throughout practice, and strung it all together in the Fast 6 to narrowly edge Ganassi teammate Scott Dixon out of the top spot.
“I think we’ve been top five basically every session, [but] you still have to pull it off, and if you’re 0.1s off you can fall down like six spots very easily,” he said.
“It’s tough mentally to go through a session like that, where the lap that you do might be P1, but then the next time you come around you’re like P5. So yeah, it really puts the pressure that you need to deliver every lap. But I felt really good with the car. I felt like I could drive calmly probably for the first time this year without putting like 120 percent effort in, and I think that was the key.”
Although new to IMS – and still relatively new to IndyCar – Rosenqvist is surrounded by a tremendous amount of experience in both Dixon and, more broadly, across the Ganassi team. This, he admitted was a benefit, but only to a point.
“I think if you put together all the guys in our team, there’s a bunch of experience, ranging from Dario (Franchitti) to Chip to Scott and all,” he said.
“There’s plenty of guys you can name that have been around here much longer than I have. So just being around, obviously you pick up a lot of small things that you maybe didn’t think about. But at the end of the day, you have to do it yourself still. No one is going to do the job for you. But I feel sure that I have the best people around me possible, so that’s always a good boost.”
Rosenqvist’s pole came on a day when some of the series’ rising stars shone at the expense of several of the more seasoned veterans, with several Penske cars and all four of the main Andretti entries stumbling on their way to the Fast 6, and Jack Harvey, Colton Herta and Ed Jones stepping up alongside Rosenqvist in their place.
Dixon and Will Power were the only representatives of the “establishment” on the first three rows — a result that Dixon said augers well for the series.
“I think it’s very important,” said the reigning champion. “It’s great to see the influx. I think we’ve seen it in the past couple of years. But yeah, I think in building this series and making sure that it continues strong, it’s definitely what you need. It’s definitely keeping a lot of the veterans honest, and you know, new names, new people from a lot of different places, but obviously they’re all very quick, so it’s great to see.”
For his part, Rosenqvist isn’t looking much further into the future than getting through Turn 1 on Saturday afternoon — a reasonable concern if past races are any guide.
“I think the best place to be is probably in the front,” he said. “At least you don’t have anyone in front of you to worry about. That’s a good benefit for tomorrow, definitely. I mean, I’ve seen some videos from this corner, and definitely there’s some history there. Yeah, also having Scott next to me. Whoever comes out first, there’s probably not going to be any big contact or anything. So I feel as good as I could for that.”