When IndyCar officials announced the latest revised 2020 schedule last Monday, driver Felix Rosenqvist of Sweden was excited at the addition of a race to the calendar, instead of a subtraction.
Rosenqvist is willing to run as many races as it takes.
“I’m ready for a quadruple-header right now, man,” Rosenqvist told NBCSports.com.
Having as many races as possible in the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season is vitally important to the second-year driver for Chip Ganassi Racing. Rosenqvist believes it’s the best way to determine a true champion in a season interrupted by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“We’re not losing any rounds and we’re actually gaining a race,” Rosenqvist said. “For my part, all I care about is how many races we do. The important thing is doing a proper championship. I’m all for doing double-rounds and triple-rounds. Whatever you have to cobble together for us to do X number of races is important. I believe we are in good hands because everyone wants the same.”
To accomplish that, extra races have been added to the July date at Iowa Speedway and the September round at WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. Also, a third race has been added to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on its road course – the Harvest Grand Prix on Oct. 3.
The doubleheader at Iowa Speedway is the first time this format has been used on an oval in the current IndyCar Series. Twin races were held at Texas Motor Speedway on June 11, 2011 when two races were held on the same night with half-points paid for each of the twin contests.
That could put extra strain on the crewmembers if a car gets wadded up in the first race, but that’s the risk these drivers are willing to take.
“You can crash in practice as well on Friday,” Rosenqvist said. “It’s not going to be easy. I believe everyone has the determination and will to get going properly when we get going. I don’t think anyone wants to sit at home once we get going. Although I don’t work on the car and can understand the challenges. I think everyone will go together and make this happen if we have to.
“In Formula E, we did back to back races two or three times a year. It was exhausting, really tough on everyone. But we made it happen.”
Also consider the challenge of racing through the famed Corkscrew at Laguna Seca on back-to-back days. That’s like riding the most feared roller-coaster at an amusement park, over and over and over.
“That’s fine,” Rosenqvist said. “The biggest worry right now is which double rounds will be really tough on you physically. Doing a race in IndyCar is nothing easy. It’s hard to recover from one in a day. Laguna isn’t one of the physical ones, but Iowa will be two tough races. It’s like anything, if you prepare for it mentally, you’ll always be able to do it. I’m not too worried.
“As long as we don’t start with a doubleheader. That was going to be the toughest.”
That prospect was eliminated with the cancelation of the May 30-31 Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle. That race is scheduled to resume in 2021.
“It’s another street track we are losing and those are always my favorite,” Rosenqvist said. “I’m pretty sad about that. Personally, any races at all, I’m not going to complain at which rounds we get. Even if it is new tracks that we don’t run at, as long as we are driving something, I’m thankful for that.”
That is why Rosenqvist is especially thankful there will be an extra race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in October. This is the first time in history three IndyCar Series races are scheduled to be held at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“I’ve honestly been thinking many times, why don’t we have a winter-season or early season race at the Indy GP track?” Rosenqvist asked. “It’s there. It’s nearby for most of the teams. I think it’s a no-brainer.
“It’s going to be a good one, for sure.”
The driver from Sweden is aware that with the ever-changing nature of the current pandemic, the latest revised schedule may eventually change again. But he has the utmost confidence that series owner Roger Penske and the IndyCar staff are looking at all available options to conducting as many races as possible.
“It’s a big difference compared to when the virus first came, we had dates flying around that weren’t realistic,” Rosenqvist explained. “The schedule that came out two weeks ago was realistic then, but it changes all of the time. We look back with hindsight and realize it might not look good.
“What I think is good is they have a Plan B and a Plan C and the capacity to throw things around if they need to. IndyCar has a good relationship with the tracks and the tracks are willing to compromise and do whatever it takes to get this going. Everyone sticks together in difficult times and whatever we can do, will happen. I’m confident it will be a good turnout.
“If it changes, it does, but I’m sure it will be for the best.”