MILLER: Ganassi’s stealth fighter
Three years in the past, Ricky Davis and his crew at Chip Ganassi’s IndyCar workforce had been at Mid-Ohio about to check some child from Sweden with a humorous final title. “We’d by no means heard of him so we googled him and up pops this wonderful résumé of all of the automobiles he’d pushed and the actual fact he’d completed on the rostrum 90 p.c of the time.
“Then he goes out within the take a look at and runs as fast as Dixie (Scott Dixon) on a monitor he’d by no means seen. Had been we impressed? Hell sure, how might you not be?”
Effectively, Felix Rosenqvist’s first IndyCar race Sunday at St. Petersburg simply missed ending up on the rostrum but it surely was laborious to think about a extra spectacular debut.
Beginning third in his NTT Information Honda, the 27-year-old busted round Josef Newgarden within the first nook after which stalked Will Energy for 17 laps earlier than placing on a bodacious transfer braking for Flip 1 to take the lead on Lap 18 (pictured, above).
He led 31 laps and was by no means handed on the monitor however wound up in fourth place as a result of he acquired beat within the pits. His stops had been good however twice he overshot his pit field and as soon as had bother getting his automobile into gear, and people little errors price him a win.
“Some pit stops didn’t actually go as deliberate however the automobile actually good,” stated Rosenqvist, who’s now competing within the 10th sequence of his younger profession. “I feel it was a adequate package deal to win the race.
“I’m disenchanted we didn’t find yourself on the rostrum but it surely was a very good begin to the season.”
Davis is a racer to his core who drove dash automobiles at Manzanita and for the previous 24 years he’s labored as a crew chief for Chip Ganassi’s IndyCar program. He’s received with Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti and Juan Pablo Montoya so he is aware of expertise and he is aware of what this workforce has for the long run.
“Felix is wonderful,” stated Davis, who hasn’t been to victory lane since 2013 however figures that’s going to alter this season. “We couldn’t have requested for a greater job and it’s so rattling thrilling to have him in our automobile.
“And he’s so skilled. He was cool all day on the radio and requested a pair occasions, ‘Am I doing OK?’ Are you able to think about that? His first race, he passes Energy and by no means places a wheel improper within the lead and wonders if he’s doing OK.”
As talked about, no one handed this child all afternoon. Not three of one of the best in open-wheel racing which have 90 wins, seven championships and 42 years of skilled between them.
Eventual winner Josef Newgarden wasn’t stunned with what occurred in Flip 1 on the beginning.
“I assumed he was simply excellent — not too aggressive and never too timid and he wasn’t overzealous,” stated Newgarden. “He’s very, excellent and really, very gifted. I’ve watched him in DTM, Method E and (Indy) Lights. He was fast with simply the correct amount of aggression and that’s what acquired him the lead.
“He’s a rookie however he’s a really skilled driver.”
Stefan Johansson, the previous F1 and IndyCar common who represents his fellow countryman in addition to Dixon, started touting Rosenqvist a yr earlier than he captured the Indy Lights race at St. Pete in 2016. He stated this child was a kind of rarities that comes alongside a couple of times a decade and hoped any individual in IndyCar would snap him up.
However DTM, and Method E got here calling first, so the IndyCar transfer needed to wait till Ganassi pulled the set off final fall.
“I get pleasure from driving all forms of automobiles and I feel it’s helped me,” stated Rosenqvist, whose additionally pushed Method Renault, German F3, European F3, Japanese Tremendous Method, Tremendous GT, Le Mans, the Rolex 24 at Daytona and twice received the Macau Grand Prix. “That was the toughest automobile I’ve ever pushed at the moment and I’m worn out, but it surely was enjoyable and I’m wanting ahead to COTA in a pair weeks.”
It was the COTA Spring Coaching take a look at final month that basically sealed it for Davis.
“He goes out on a inexperienced monitor and units fast time and it holds up for nearly the entire session. That cinched it for me. , we had been sitting on the golf cart earlier than the race at the moment and he appears at me and says: ‘It could be cool to win’ and I instructed him if that occurs and I’m not in victory lane it’s as a result of I had a coronary heart assault.”
It wasn’t removed from being a actuality on Sunday. I predicted a number of weeks in the past that Felix would win not less than one race in 2019 however now I’m pondering possibly two or three. And to be on the protected facet Davis must pack a defibrillator for the journey to COTA.