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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

MRTI: Road America Sunday notebook

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Sunday at Road America for the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires saw two series complete their second races of the weekend, with the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda taking to the track – the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires completed their weekend on Saturday.

Indy Lights saw a driver take an emotional first career win, while a chaotic USF2000 race saw the championship leader complete a weekend sweep.

Reports on both races are below.

Indy Lights: Franzoni Takes Emotional Maiden Win in Indy Lights

Victory Franzoni took an emotional first career victory Sunday at Road America. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Victor Franzoni finished third in Race 1 on Saturday, but did so despite driving what he described as “the worst of my career” to the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

Sunday, however, was the exact opposite for the affable Brazilian driver, who took his maiden Indy Lights win in what has been an emotional weekend for him and his Juncos Racing team as they raced in memory of the late Jeff Green, Franzoni’s Pro Mazda teammate last year.

Pato O’Ward started on the pole, but engaged in an intense duel with Santi Urrutia in the opening laps.

Their battle came to a head on Lap 4, when Urrutia tried diving inside of O’Ward entering Turn 5, but they both ran wide on the exit – O’Ward even took to the outside grass – which opened the door for Franzoni to blitz by both of them entering Turn 6.

O’Ward, Urrutia, and Colton Herta then immediately had a hard fight for second, which saw them go three-wide in Turn 8. Ultimately, Urrutia lost out as he was pushed off the track and suffered front wing damage, forcing a pit stop for repairs – he ultimately finished seven laps off the lead in seventh.

Up front, Franzoni pulled away from everyone to win by nearly seven seconds. Herta emerged in second after battling with O’Ward, while Aaron Telitz passed O’Ward in the final laps to take the final spot on the podium. Ryan Norman rounded out the top five, with Dalton Kellett finishing sixth.

Full results are below.

USF2000: Kirkwood Survives Race 2 Carnage to Complete Weekend Sweep

Kyle Kirkwood survived a lot of chaos to win Race 2 at Road America and complete the weekend sweep. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

While Race 1 almost appeared easy for Kyle Kirkwood, who passed pole sitter Jose Sierra for the lead in Turn 1 off the start and then led every lap on the way to victory, Race 2 was a completely different story.

Kirkwood needed to outduel Kaylen Frederick and Lucas Kohl and survive a seemingly endless slew of carnage in Race 2 to grab the win, his fifth of the year, to complete a weekend sweep.

Three times the race was slowed by full-course cautions for on-track incidents.

The first came on the opening lap for separate incidents involving Sabre Cook, Russell McDonough, Jose Sierra, and Max Peichel – Cook and McDonough appeared to go off into the Turn 1 gravel, while Sierra and Peichel got together approaching Turn 5 and ended up against the outside wall.

A second caution was flown only a couple laps after racing resumed when Darren Keane and Kyle Dupell got together in Canada Corner, spinning off the track and stalling as a result.

And a third caution was flown in the waning laps when Lindh, who had been running second, went off into the Turn 3 gravel trap, while Kory Enders and Calvin Ming got together and spun in Turn 6.

Up front, Lucas Kohl had worked his way into the lead, passing Lindh in Turn 1 off the start, while Kirkwood had moved up to second, ahead of third-place runner Kaylen Frederick.

A restart with one lap remaining saw Kirkwood jump to the outside of Kohl entering Turn 1, and he completed the pass before they even got to the corner, Frederick then was able to get around Kohl for second, while Colin Kaminsky and Igor Fraga rounded out the top five. Of note: second-place man in the championship Alex Baron finished seventh, allowing Kirkwood to widen an already immense championship lead.

Results are below. Kirkwood now leads Baron by 94 points. Frederick now sits third, jumping ahead of Fraga and Sierra, who sit fourth and fifth.

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