The star rookie from the season-opening St. Petersburg race didn’t carry his momentum forward to Circuit of The Americas where a tangle at Turn 19 dropped Felix Rosenqvist down the running order and from the top of the NTT IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year standings.
Both Rosenqvist and Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon struggled at COTA. Despite top-six starts for both drivers, Dixon finished a disappointing 13th and Rosenqvist’s damaged race car took the checkers in the 23rd position, five laps behind race winner Colton Herta.
The Swedish IndyCar newcomer made forward progress early in the 60-lap race, running in the eighth position for the first eight laps before his first pit stop on Lap 10. He rose as high as sixth in his second stint and ran in ninth after his second stop before he spun on his own and fell to 11th.
A green-flag pit stop on Lap 41 dropped Rosenqvist to 14th. Two laps later, contact with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ James Hinchcliffe sent the No. 10 Honda into the Turn 20 wall, bringing out the race’s only yellow flag from Laps 44–49.
The dust-up occurred as the two drivers were muscling their cars through the circuit’s 19th corner, a turn that garnered attention throughout the weekend due to INDYCAR’s decision to not enforce track limits.
“We had good speed in the NTT Data car and we just couldn’t get where we needed to in the race,” said Rosenqvist. “I made a mistake and spun which didn’t help. Then Hinchcliffe and I got together and I got knocked out.”
Valiant repair work by his Ganassi crew got Rosenqvist back onto the racetrack last in the 24-car field while Will Power’s unfortunate mechanical failure and subsequent retirement promoted the Swede to 23rd.
Rosenqvist entered the COTA weekend with a nine-point lead over fellow rookie Herta after one race on the strength of his fourth-place finish at St. Pete. The flipped result for the two drivers in Austin gave Herta a 35-point advantage heading into Round 3 at Barber Motorsports Park.
With 15 races remaining for IndyCar in 2019, the rookie standings remain in flux, especially with full-season rookies Marcus Ericsson and Santino Ferrucci joining Rosenqvist and Herta as contenders for year-end honors.
All four drivers will be present April 5–7 when the IndyCar field reconvenes for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.