Felix Rosenqvist outduels Pato O’Ward for first IndyCar victory

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Felix Rosenqvist outdueled Pato O’Ward for his first NTT IndyCar Series victory Sunday, making a furious charge into the lead with just more than a lap to go at Road America.

Rosenqvist then pulled away in his No. 10 Dallara-Honda to win by 2.8699 seconds in Chip Ganassi Racing’s fourth consecutive victory to open the 2020 season.

Teammate Scott Dixon had won Saturday at Road America along with the season opener at Texas Motor Speedway and July 4 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

‘HE’S A WRECKING BALL’: Rahal, Hunter-Reay critical of Will Power

Rosenqvist, who shook off contact with Graham Rahal on the first lap, became the first Swede to win in IndyCar since Kenny Brack at Mexico City in 2002.

“It feels so good; i’s been a long time, and we’ve been close so many times,” Rosenqvist, who finished second twice last year as a rookie at Mid-Ohio and Portland, told James Hinchcliffe in an NBC interview. “This race was for my 10 car crew. I’ve been really proud to be part of the team this year. We’ve been really good. Every race just hasn’t had the luck until now. Today we just went all for it. Super pace, the car was fantastic.”

O’Ward settled for a career-best second place in his No. 5 Dallara-Chevrolet after the Arrow McLaren SP Motorsports driver started from the pole position at Road America.

“It was really tough,” O’Ward told NBC pit reporter Dave Burns. “The Ganassi cars had a lot of, a lot of pace. We did a really good job managing the whole race but toward the end when we got into a mix with some lapped cars and some dirty air, and that really hurt us. I gave it everything, every little bit I had. I was pushing, pushing, pushing, but I just couldn’t keep Felix behind me.

“The car was really, really good. We just missed that little extra in keeping the rear tires under us. But we’re here. We like running up front. I think we showed that we have everything to do it. I’m excited for the rest of the season.”

Alexander Rossi finished a season-best third (his first podium finish since Portland last September), followed by Marcus Ericsson and Colton Herta, who extended his streak of top 10s to four.

“It better be,” Rossi said when asked by Burns if this was the jump-start his season needed. “We’ve talked a lot about how difficult it’s been, but I think the one constant has been this 27 AutoNation Andretti Honda team. There’s never been a question of what we’re doing, why we’re doing it. It’s just been problem-solving and just keeping our foot down on the pedal and attacking as much as we can. We knew it would come good at one point. We knew our race pace was all right.

“We’ll take this. It’s not a win, but it’s a step in the right direction. It’s what we need to get the momentum going. Going to Iowa, I think we have some of our mojo back, at least a little bit.”

Santino Ferrucci, Alex Palou, Takuma Sato, Josef Newgarden and Charlie Kimball rounded out the top 10. Will Power finished 11th after being penalized for avoidable contact and spinning in the first five laps.

Dixon finished 12th after starting sixth on the 4.014-mile road course. Two slow pit stops undermined the five-time series champion’s bid to become the first IndyCar driver in 14 years to open the season with four consecutive victories. He still holds a 54-point lead over Herta in the championship standings after four races.

For the second consecutive day, the race had an eventful start as three drivers were penalized for avoidable contact on Lap 1.

The most notable was Power, who ran into Ryan Hunter-Reay in Turn 1 and Rahal on the entry to Turn 3. After being dropped from fifth to 22nd by IndyCar, Power’s miserable start continued on the Lap 4 restart as he veered off course and into a trackside sign in Turn 3 and caused another caution.

Santino Ferrucci, who collided with Jack Harvey, and Conor Daly, who hit Oliver Askew, also were penalized for contact and sent to the rear of the field after the chaotic green flag.

Sergio Perez still has coronavirus; will miss second consecutive F1 race

F1 Sergio Perez out
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SILVERSTONE, England — Sergio Perez will be out for a second F1 race at Silverstone this week after again testing positive for the coronavirus.

The Mexican driver had hoped to return to Formula One after spending seven days in quarantine, but his Racing Point team said this morning he had tested positive.

“He is physically well and recovering,” the team said. “The whole team wishes Sergio and his family well and we look forward to his return.”

That means German veteran Nico Hulkenberg again fills in for Sunday’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix after having also replaced Sergio Perez when he was out for the F1 British Grand Prix at the same venue last week. Hulkenberg did not start that race because of an engine problem.

There are two consecutive weekends of racing at Silverstone as Formula One tries to pack in races following the pandemic-delayed start to the season.

Perez became the first Formula One driver to test positive for coronavirus, and it had been unclear whether he would be available to drive after the period of quarantine was extended to 10 days.

Racing Point also was in the news Friday after being hit with a 15-point penalty in the Formula One constructors’ championship and fined 400,000 euros ($470,000) Friday for using brake ducts based on those from last year’s Mercedes cars.

The stewards ruled that Mercedes was the “principal designer” of the parts, and that Racing Point made only minor changes to computer design data it received from Mercedes.

Rival team Renault filed protests about the legality of the brake ducts, which were added to the “listed parts” under F1 rules for 2020. That means teams must design their own. Racing Point argued it was merely using information about the Mercedes parts to inform its own design.

Racing Point uses customer engines from Mercedes and has admitted basing its 2020 car design on photographs of last year’s Mercedes car. The similarities led to the Racing Point being nicknamed the “pink Mercedes” when it was first seen in testing ahead of the season.

Racing Point can appeal the ruling. The points deduction drops the team from fifth to sixth in the standings, below Renault. The ruling doesn’t affect the points totals for Racing Point’s drivers.