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As Formula E season ends, Rosenqvist’s IndyCar buzz heats up

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LEXINGTON, Ohio – It’s not often a guy with less than a full season in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires competition gets on the radar as a highly rated potential Verizon IndyCar Series prospect.

Felix Rosenqvist, though, is not your average Indy Lights part-timer.

The Swede just completed his first full season in the FIA Formula E Championship this weekend in Montreal with Mahindra Racing, finishing third in the series with several wins.

But he has also been the subject of intense hype and speculation in the Verizon IndyCar Series paddock, following his second test with Chip Ganassi Racing at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course prior to Montreal. This all comes after an impressive partial season in Indy Lights last year with Belardi Auto Racing, when he won three races.

The disclaimer first is that Rosenqvist, who’s become a jack-of-all-trades in the last two years with the variety of series, machinery and continents he’s raced on, will only become a realistic IndyCar prospect if he doesn’t have an existing commitment that comes first. And certainly, one would figure Mahindra to be keen on retaining Rosenqvist’s services for a second season in that championship if possible.

Nonetheless, the chatter is there about Rosenqvist in IndyCar as a true “can’t miss, blue chip” prospect, and the prospect of him racing here is a tantalizing one.

“After I did Indy Lights last year, I told myself that I probably wanted to come back one day,” Rosenqvist told my MST colleague Luke Smith at this weekend’s Formula E finale in Montreal.

“I quite liked it over there, quite a relaxed racing attitude, a bit more friendly than Europe. I said that IndyCar is one of the championships I always really liked.

“It’s a bit like Formula E, you have street circuits, you have normal circuits, you have ovals. It’s like three different championships in the same championships.

“I would say the best driver normally wins the championship. We’ll see what happens. It’s always difficult to say, but it was definitely a good session and hopefully another opportunity for the future.”

Rosenqvist said because of how much Formula E is growing, that it’d be harder to do a complementary program either way, if Formula E or IndyCar was the priority.

“I think both Formula E and IndyCar are getting so big now, you cannot really combine much,” he explained. “I’m lucky this year to be able to do Super Formula on top of Formula E. I think it’s the only championship which doesn’t really clash. I think we are lucky as long as we can do that, but one day I think Formula E drivers will have to commit 100 percent.”

Rosenqvist, who is managed by ex-Formula 1 and IndyCar veteran Stefan Johansson, said it’s “hard to say” whether he could be considered for the IndyCar free agent pool this year, and preferred to focus on Montreal before worrying about his future.

Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull stopped short of saying Rosenqvist would be an ideal teammate for Scott Dixon, also managed by Johansson, next year in IndyCar, but certainly highlighted his ability after his second test.

“First of all he’s a quality guy. He’s grown up in a system of racing where every day counts. You have to get the most out of today,” Hull told NBC Sports at Mid-Ohio.

“I think he represents a lot of young guys that because of the way economy of Formula 1 has changed, they don’t get the opportunity to get to the grid without having money. As an example today, on the Formula E grid, there’s a lot of guys on that grid who should be in F1 today but can’t buy their way in.

“He deserves an opportunity just like a lot of other young guys do. He’s young, aggressive, and has a lot of ability.

“I think he represents the kind of driver that should be driving IndyCars.

“I don’t think it’s fair to single him out and say, ‘hey, that’s the guy we want’ – but we want guys like him driving our race cars.”

Luke Smith contributed to this report

Al Unser Jr. back in IndyCar after a decade away: ‘Life is very good’

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There’s been somewhat of a hole in Al Unser Jr.’s heart ever since he retired from racing in 2007.

It was a void, something was missing.

But now, after a decade away from racing, Unser has found the right medicine to fill that hole in his heart: he’s back in the racing game again.

No, he’s not driving again (although he does participate occasionally in vintage races), but the two-time Indianapolis 500 (1992 and 1994) winner is definitely back in the IndyCar world.

And he couldn’t be happier.

“For me, it’s a dream come true,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “Since I stepped out of the race car and retired from racing, there’s been something missing from my life, and it’s racing.”

Unser has hooked up with Harding Racing. The team competed in three races last season as a ramp-up for a full 17-race effort this season. While Unser’s official title with the team is “consultant,” he’s involved in so much more.

His main role is as a driving coach to 2015 IndyCar Rookie of the Year Gabby Chaves. But he’s also involved in so many other areas, including helping the team obtain sponsorships and much more.

He then added, “I’m involved in every sense of the word except actually driving the car. And I’m happy about that because I’m too old to drive the car.”

Unser, who won CART championships in 1990 and 1994, is now 55. He’s so involved with his new job that he even moved from his native New Mexico and has relocated to suburban Indianapolis.

Not only is it a new start for Unser, it also is for Chaves. After running all 16 races in 2015 for Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian, he competed in just seven races for Dale Coyne Racing in 2016 and only three races for Harding Racing last season.

But he definitely impressed the team, with a fifth- (Texas) and ninth-place (Indianapolis 500) finish in the first two races and 15th (Pocono) in the team’s final run of the season.

That’s why when Harding Racing decided to go fulltime in 2018, Chaves was their pick for behind the wheel. And Unser was their pick to help guide him to potential stardom in the series.

“(Team owner) Mike Harding is definitely a person that when he decides to do something, he does it right,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “The potential for this organization is through the sky. We’re all working really hard here and we see the potential.”

And as for Unser?

“Life is good, life is very good,” he told IndyCar.com. “We’re back full force, eager and better than ever.”

Click here for the full story about Unser from IndyCar.com.