Angry Felix Rosenqvist accuses IndyCar of playing favorites

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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 8.3.6.1, “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.”

Sports imitates art with Tyler Bereman’s Red Bull Imagination course

Red Bull Imagination Bereman
Chris Tedesco / Red Bull Content Pool
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This past weekend riders took on the Red Bull Imagination, a one-of-a-kind event conceived by Tyler Bereman – an event that blended art, imagination, and sports.

In its third year, Red Bull Imagination opened to the public for the first-time, inviting fans to experience a more personal and creative side of the riders up close and personal.

As the event elevates its stature, the course gets tougher. The jumps get higher and the competition stouter. This year’s course took inspiration from a skatepark, honoring other adrenaline-laced pastimes and competitions.

“There’s a ton of inspiration from other action sports,” Bereman told Red Bull writer Eric Shirk as he geared up for the event.

MORE: Trystan Hart wins Red Bull Tennessee Knockout 

Bereman was the leading force in the creation of this event and the winner of its inaugural running. In 2022, Bereman had to settle for second with Axell Hodges claiming victory on the largest freeride course created uniquely for the Red Bull Imagination.

Unlike other courses, Bereman gave designer Jason Baker the liberty to create obstacles and jumps as he went. And this was one of the components that helped the course imitate art.

Baker’s background in track design comes from Supercross. In that sport, he had to follow strict guidelines and build the course to a specific length and distance. From the building of the course through the final event, Bereman’s philosophy was to give every person involved, from creators to riders, fans and beyond, the chance to express themselves.

He wanted the sport to bridge the valley between racing and art.

Tyler Bereman uses one of Red Bull Imagination’s unique jumps. Garth Milan / Red Bull Content Pool

Hodges scored a 98 on the course and edged Bereman by two points. Both riders used the vast variety of jumps to spend a maximum amount of time airborne. Hodges’s first run included nearly every available obstacle including a 180-foot jump before backflipping over the main road.

The riders were able to secure high point totals on their first runs. Then, the wind picked up ahead of Round 2. Christian Dresser and Guillem Navas were able to improve their scores on the second run by creating new lines on the course and displaying tricks that did not need the amount of hangtime as earlier runs. They were the only riders to improve from run one to run two.

With first and second secured with their early runs, Hodge and Bereman teamed up to use their time jointly to race parallel lines and create tandem hits. The two competitors met at the center of the course atop the Fasthouse feature and revved their engines in an embrace.

Julien Vanstippen rounded out the podium with a final score of 92; his run included a landing of a 130-foot super flip.