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.”

Australia SuperCar Champion gets IndyCar Test at Team Penske

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Scott McLaughlin’s latest reward for winning the 2019 Virgin Australia SuperCar championship is an INDYCAR test at Team Penske.

“Scott has been incredibly successful for DJR Team Penske over the last three seasons and he has become a true champion of our sport,” said team owner Roger Penske, who will become the owner of INDYCAR, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500 in early January. “He certainly embraces new challenges and we think this is a great opportunity to utilize the IndyCar Series rookie testing program so Scott can experience what it is like to get behind the wheel of one of our Indy cars.”

McLaughlin, who has scored back-to-back Virgin Australia Supercars Champion for DJR Team Penske (DJRTP), will participate in an INDYCAR Rookie Evaluation test at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla. on Monday, January 13.

“I am always open to new challenges and I’m thankful to Team Penske for providing this opportunity to test an Indy car,” said McLaughlin, who established a new Supercars single season record with 18 victories this past season. “We had an amazing year in 2019 and I’m looking forward to defending our Supercars championship next season. I’m also excited to grow as a driver and being with Team Penske creates cool opportunities to try something new. Although I have spent a few hours in a simulator earlier this year, it’s going to be a blast to see what one really feels like at a place like Sebring.”

McLaughlin joined DJR Team Penske in 2017 as one of the brightest stars in Supercars. He has produced 35 victories and 44 pole positions over the last three seasons while helping DJRTP claim team championships in 2017 and 2019, the driver’s title each of the last two seasons and the legendary Bathurst 1000 race in October, along with co-driver Alex Premat.

McLaughlin will defend his Supercars title for DJRTP in 2020 in the No. 17 Shell V-Power Ford Mustang.  He will build on his already successful racing career by driving a full-sized open-wheel car for the first time.

Team Penske enjoyed another successful IndyCar Series season in 2019. The team earned its record 18th Indianapolis 500 victory as Simon Pagenaud captured the checkered flag in May, while Josef Newgarden won his second series title in three years and the team’s 16th INDYCAR Championship. Team Penske will once again compete with three full-season entries in 2020, featuring series champion drivers Newgarden, Pagenaud and Will Power.

Team Penske is one of the most successful teams in the history of professional sports. Cars owned and prepared by Team Penske have produced more than 540 major race wins, over 620 pole positions and 37 Championships across open-wheel, stock car and sports car racing competition. Over the course of its 53-year history, the team has also earned 18 Indianapolis 500 victories, two Daytona 500 Championships, a Formula 1 win, overall victories in the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring along with a win in Australia’s legendary Bathurst 1000 race. Team Penske currently competes in the IndyCar Series, the NASCAR Cup Series, the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The team also races in the Virgin Australia SuperCars Championship, in a partnership with Dick Johnson Racing, as DJR Team Penske.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500