MONTEREY, Calif. – Chip Ganassi Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist blasted IndyCar officials after a harsh qualifying penalty hurt his chances of winning 2019 Rookie of the Year.
“They ruined our day,” he told IndyCar on NBC reporter Marty Snider in a rare display of rage for the oft-reserved Swede. “I don’t why. Maybe someone has something against me. Or they want (Colton) Herta to win the rookie championship, whatever. But I guess I have to regroup for the race and find a good strategy starting from the back.”
Rosenqvist spun midway through Group 2 in the first round of qualifying Saturday at Laguna Seca Raceway and failed to advance because IndyCar officials disallowed his fastest two laps (and also prevented him from advancing) on the 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course.
Rosenqvist, 27, will start 14th in Sunday’s season finale, which he enters ranked eighth in the standings as the top rookie and 26 points ahead of Santino Ferrucci.
Colton Herta, the other contender for rookie of the year, will start on pole position. He will enter Laguna Seca trailing Rosenqvist by 49 points in a race that will pay double points.
“I don’t know what they’re thinking,” he said. “That lap didn’t mean anything for anyone. I had a spin. Then they’re saying I blocked someone while I was spinning. It was like the second lap on blacks, which doesn’t mean anything.
“We’ve been working for three days for this moment. We had the fastest time on track. The guys just did an incredible job. I think it’s pretty unfair for them to just take that away. Honestly one of the most stupid decisions I’ve ever seen.”
An IndyCar spokesman said Rosenqvist was penalized because he interfered with the qualifying run of Hinchcliffe, who went 0.7 seconds slower in the segment after the No. 10’s spin. According to Rule 126.96.36.199, “if a car interferes with the qualification attempt of another car, the best two timed laps shall be disallowed, and the car shall not advance.”
Asked whether Rosenqvist could face further penalty or sanction for accusing officials of playing favorites, an IndyCar spokesman said the series doesn’t announce fines.
Rosenqvist had entered qualifying as among the favorites to win the pole position and possibly break through for his first IndyCar victory. He was fastest in Saturday morning’s practice, second fastest in both practices Friday and third in Thursday’s test.
“He’s been super fast all weekend, you know, and of course he gets fired up,” Scott Dixon said of his Ganassi teammate. “I think all of us are extremely competitive. It’s the environment.
“I can imagine he’s pretty angry. But he’s been knocking on the door all year long, and I think he’s still got a very good shot (Sunday). You can definitely in that position create a very good off-strategy race.”
Points leader Josef Newgarden said he would have liked to have seen Rosenqvist make the Fast Six, not just because it potentially could help his championship bid.
“To be fair to Felix, he has been fast all weekend,” Newgarden said. “He probably would have been in contention for the pole without a doubt. If you look at where Dixon has been, I think he’s been a fair bit quicker than Dixon this week. Just on merit he probably should have been up there.
“But yeah, that’s more beneficial to us if he’s in the mix, more helpful. But I don’t think it changes things dramatically. It just would have been interesting to see him up there in the mix.”