Felix Rosenqvist believes he’d have scored his first career IndyCar victory at Mid-Ohio on Sunday if he’d had one more lap to chase down teammate Scott Dixon.
The Swede’s fight against his Ganassi stablemate over the final two laps provided a thrilling climax to what had already been an eventful afternoon, and while it was ultimately settled in Dixon’s favor, the New Zealander was struggling badly with his tires and Rosenqvist is confident that with just a few more corners, the result would have been different.
“I think we have to keep perspective,” Rosenqvist said. “We had our first podium today and also a one-two finish for Chip Ganassi Racing. Obviously tough when I think we really had the right strategy and the pace to win the race. With those five lapped cars in front of us it was going to be difficult, and I was really frustrated on the radio, and Barry (Wanser), my strategist, tried to really keep me calm and tried to pick off one by one, so I used a lot of Push-to-Pass to get through (Max) Chilton and Marco (Andretti) and whoever was in front of me.
“I really want to credit (team owner) Chip (Ganassi) for letting us race. The last lap, I think everyone really enjoyed that. We were enjoying it. We were banging wheels in Turn 2 there, was a bit exciting. But Scott is always going to fight you hard but fair, and I think I did the same, and maybe one more lap we could have got him.”
The scrap was especially intense for one involving drivers who work out of the same garage, but Rosenqvist said that he trusted Dixon to give him space – a trust that almost backfired when he mistakenly thought that Dixon was letting him through at Turn 2, resulting in the pair bumping when they tried to occupy the same patch of road
“I thought he actually kind of let me go because he was going a lot slower at the time, and then he kind of veered in at the last moment and we hit a little bit,” Rosenqvist said. “Just kicked up a lot of dirt on my tires. I couldn’t really make the attack I wanted for the last couple of corners. But he’s clever and he’s never going to be easy to pass, even when he’s running out of tires.
“If it was someone else, obviously you would have gone a bit harder. But being Scott, you know he’s going to fight you fair. I mean, I know a couple other drivers in this championship who I wouldn’t go even as hard as I did with Scott because there would just be an accident. So yeah, I think he’s always on the right level of aggression and safety at the same time.
“And I really enjoy… every time I fight against him, it’s actually impressive how clever he is, not only when it comes to his speed but also the way he races, and when you race side by side, he rarely takes the wrong decision, and you could see that today. He was on four tires, low fuel, and he still came out in front. I’m sure we would have got him with another lap, but the race is what it is. Credit to him, and maybe next time we get him.”