First IndyCar victory was meaningful in many ways for Felix Rosenqvist

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The long wait for his first NTT IndyCar Series victory was followed by a long drive for Felix Rosenqvist.

After winning Sunday at Road America, the Swede made the five-hour trip “straightaway” to his home in Indianapolis for a reunion with his girlfriend, Caroline, whose return to the United States had been delayed because of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic-related travel restrictions.

“She’s been back in Sweden for three months, but she came back in Indy the same day as the race,” Rosenqvist told NBC Sports. “(The victory) was actually the best possible way to celebrate after three months being apart.”

IOWA UP NEXT: Information for watching the 2020 IndyCar schedule

It was among many reasons that the Chip Ganassi Racing driver savored the breakthrough in the 21st start of his IndyCar career, which made big headlines in his native country’s major newspapers.

Joe Skibinski/IndyCar

Rosenqvist, 28, showed massive potential amidst some major heartbreaks last year for a proud No. 10 team that had gone nearly six years without a victory. He then weathered an agonizing start this season as teammate Scott Dixon opened 2020 with three consecutive victories.

The nadir was a crash while running second with 10 laps remaining in the June 6 opener at Texas Motor Speedway. Rosenqvist spun after forcing the issue on the treacherous outside in Turn 2 while navigating lapped traffic and trying to chase down the dominant Dallara-Honda of Dixon. The move earned a call with team owner Chip Ganassi.

“Obviously it was a situation neither him or me wanted to have,” Rosenqvist said. “We know that we are quick and can do great things, but that whole situation was obviously suboptimal.

“Chip’s very short. He just told me, ‘Let’s try to get the points here. And not do rookie mistakes.’ Because I’m not a rookie anymore.”

Rosenqvist said he appreciated the reminder of Ganassi’s direct and no-nonsense leadership style.

“Even with the tough start we had, he’s been very supportive and hasn’t been any strange feelings or anything,” he said. “He’s just been pushing all of us along. And yeah, I think that’s good with him. He will really credit you when you do well, and then he will try to help you in any possible way when you’re not performing.

“It’s very easy, and it doesn’t take many seconds to have a talk with him because he’s honest. There’s so many people in this business that can say one thing and then mean another behind your back. With Chip, what you know you always will have is full support in trying to accomplish the job and also full honesty. That’s all you can ask for.”

Ganassi’s oft-tweeted motto is “#ILikeWinners,” and Rosenqvist was knocking on the door of becoming one since the March 10, 2019 season opener when he finished fourth and led 31 laps in St. Petersburg, Florida, in his IndyCar debut. Though slower to adapt on ovals, he finished second at Mid-Ohio and Portland en route to sixth in the points standings as the 2019 rookie of the year.

That promise made the mediocre results early in 2020 – his best finish was 15th in three races prior to his victory – even more exasperating, particularly when juxtaposed against Dixon’s hot start.

Felix Roesnqvist won in his No. 10 Dallara-Honda by 2.8699 seconds Sunday at Road America (Joe Skibinkski/IndyCar).

“First of all, I’m happy for Scott because if he does well, everyone is happy on our team, and that’s what drives us forward,” he said. “But obviously it’s frustrating to see the potential the car has, and you’re not able to use it. … When you have your day, that’s when you have to make the most of it. That’s the lesson I’ve learned. Sunday we had one of those days and realized early in the race that, ‘OK, this might be a good chance to win the race, and we have to go get it.’ Every race will not be like that, but the one chance you get, you’ve got to take it.”

It still wasn’t easy as first-lap contact with Graham Rahal damaged the left-front wheel hub of Rosenqvist’s No. 10 Dallara-Honda, costing his pit crew a few extra seconds to change tires on every pit stop.

By running what Ganassi engineer Chris Simmons tweeted were “40 straight qualifying laps,” Rosenqvist still managed to track down Pato O’Ward (who also was seeking his first victory) to make the winning pass with two laps remaining

“That was really big and showed even more what a great race we had that we managed to win it even with that damage,” he said. “I like those kinds of races. You’re not really dependent on other people or how the strategy is. You just get clean air and do what you do best and go fast in the car. That’s what I love. You just go into that rhythm and flow because it’s all going to come down to the last couple of laps and every tenth of a second matters.”

The victory mattered especially to the crew of the No. 10, which won three consecutive championships with Dario Franchitti from 2009-11 but hadn’t been in victory lane since Aug. 30, 2014 in Fontana, California, with Tony Kanaan.

Felix Rosenqvist said longtime No. 10 crew chief Ricky Davis, who has worked at Ganassi for more than 20 years, got choked up Sunday after the victory.

“He has kind of joked that, ‘I didn’t think I would live to see another win,’ ” Rosenqvist said. “He was very emotional about it. He definitely deserves it. Every time we show up he’s just so motivated and ready to go win. That’s why we do it.

“They’ve been fighting so hard for this win. It’s been kind of heartbreaking in the short time I’ve been with the team how close we’ve been, especially with the expectations we had. We felt we can win races. Just hasn’t happened. It was a great monkey off our back. Just a great reminder of how good my crew is. It was so cool to see them celebrating after the race.”

Felix Rosenqvist and his No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing crew celebrated their Road America victory in socially distanced style (Joe Skibinski/IndyCar).

IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta: How to watch, start times, schedule, entry list

AUTO: NOV 13 IMSA - Motul Petit Le Mans
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Start times, TV schedule: The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will conclude the 2022 season this weekend with the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta, which also will mark the end of the line for the DPi class.

The premier Daytona Prototype international category, which started in 2017, will be replaced by the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with its LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to Le Mans.

For the third time in four years, an Acura will be crowned the champion in DPi as the No. 10 of Wayne Taylor Racing holds a 19-point edge over the No. 60 of Meyer Shank Racing.

Last year, WTR’s No. 10 entered the season finale with a 19-point lead but lost the title to the No. 31 Cadillac of Action Express.

Full-time WTR drivers Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor (who will be joined by Brendon Hartley in the No. 10 this weekend) have a series-leading four victories this season. The MSR duo of Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves this weekend) won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and have five runner-up finishes this year.

Championship scenarios in the other four categories:

GTD Pro: Points leaders Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet will clinch the title by starting in their No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.

–GTD: There are 140 points separating the top four teams with Roman De Angelis and the No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 leading by 45 points.

–LMP2: John Farano is first in the driver standings by 33 points over Dwight Merriman and Ryan Dalziel. In the team standings, the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports leads by 19 points over the No. 8 Tower Motorsport (Farano’s team).

–LMP3: No. 54 CORE autosport drivers Jon Bennett and Colin Braun lead by 83 points over the No. 74 Riley Motorsports of Gar Robinson.

With the 10-hour race requiring an extra driver, several stars from other racing series have been added. In addition to Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Ryan Hunter-Reay will serve as third drivers in Chip Ganassi Racing’s pair of Cadillacs.

Jimmie Johnson also will be making his last DPi start in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac with Mike Rockenfeller and Kamui Kobayashi. Petit Le Mans could mark the last start in an IMSA prototype for Johnson, who has said limited inventory likely will keep him out of the GTP category in the Rolex 24 next year.

Here are the start times, starting lineup, schedule and TV info for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta (all times are ET):


Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta start times, schedule, TV info

When: Saturday, 12:10 p.m. ET

Race distance: Ten hours on the 12-turn, 2.54-mile road course

TV: Noon-3 p.m., NBC; 3-10:30 p.m., USA Network. Peacock, the NBC Sports App,and NBCSports.com will have streaming coverage of the event from flag to flag beginning at noon. Leigh Diffey and Dave Burns are the play by play announcers with analysts Calvin Fish, Townsend Bell, James Hinchcliffe and Brian Till. The pit reporters are Kevin Lee, Hannah Newhouse, Dillon Welch and Matt Yocum.

IMSA.com live TV qualifying stream: Friday, 3:35 p.m. ET.

IMSA Radio: All sessions are live on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com; SiriusXM live race coverage will begin Saturday at noon (XM 207, Internet/App 992).

Forecast: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 63 degrees with an 85% chance of rain at the green flag.

Entry list: Click here to see the 48-car field for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta


Daily schedule IMSA Petit Le Mans

Here’s a rundown of the Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia:

Wednesday, Sept. 28

9:30 a.m.: Mazda MX-5 practice

10:25 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup

12:30 p.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

1:15 p.m.: Mazda MX-5 practcice

2 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup practice

3:30 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

Thursday, Sept. 29

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

9 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup qualifying

9:50 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

11:40 a.m.: Prototype Challenge qualifying

12:10 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

1:50 p.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 1

2:55 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

5 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 1

6 p.m.: Michelin Challenge qualifying

7:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

Friday, Sept. 30

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge race

9:50 a.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 2

10:55 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 2

1:10 p.m.: IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race

3:40 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying

Saturday, Oct. 1

9:15 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

12:10 p.m.: Petit Le Mans