CHEVROLET RACING IN NTT INDYCAR SERIES
GALLAGHER GRAND PRIX
INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY QUALIFYING RECAP
FELIX ROSENQVIST PUTS CHEVROLET ON POLE FOR INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY ROAD COURSE RACE
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA (July 29, 2022) – It was a good day for Chevrolet powered drivers in NTT INDYCAR Series Firestone Fast Six qualifying for the Gallagher Grand Prix. Felix Rosenqvist, No. 7 Vuse Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, won the NTT P1 pole award for Saturday afternoon’s race on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
It is the second pole of the season for Rosenqvist and third of his NTT INDYCAR career.
Four of the six drivers in the final round of qualifying were Team Chevy drivers. Rosenqvist’s teammate and winner of race number two at Iowa Speedway, Pato O’Ward, captured the third starting position in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.
Will Power, No.12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Chevrolet, will roll-off in fourth with teammate Josef Newgarden, No. 2 PPG Chevrolet.
The remainder of the Firestone Fast Six were Alexander Rossi and Christian Lundgaard.
The 85-lap Gallagher Insurance Grand Prix is set to start 12:30 p.m. with broadcast on NBC beginning at noon, and INDYCAR Radio.
CONNOR DALY, NO. 20 BITNILE CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 10TH:
“Being fastest in the first round against (Will) Power and (Josef) Newgarden is something we can really be happy about. We’ll see what happens tomorrow, we are in a decent spot. When you start in the Top 10, you can move your way forward and hopefully end up with a podium.”
YOU HAD A GREAT RUN IN MAY, QUALIFIED WELL IN THE DRY AND RACED WELL IN THE WET. YOUR BEST QUALIFYING OF THE SEASON, WHAT CAN YOU DO TOMORROW?
“We just need to put in a solid race. Its been a real challenge for us this year, but a lot of those times we have had great race pace. We will see what we can do when it comes to tomorrow. We like the red tires and its obviously a bit of a red race, so we will see what happens. Just thankful to be back in Indianapolis and have a great day.”
DALTON KELLETT, NO. 4 K-LINE INSULATORS USA CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 24TH:
“Overall tough qualifying for us. Just didn’t feel like we’ve quite got the most out of the reds. Still struggling with the same thing since the start of the first practice: understeer in high and low speed corners. So, trying to dial some of that out. We thought we made a good decent swing at it for qualifying but still kind of missed on the balance a little bit with the reds. We opted to go to reds early and were one of the first ones on reds, so that never really helps. We’re still looking for a chunk of time so we’re gonna figure out just how we can get a little more front grip dialed into this No. 4 K-Line car and see what we’ve got for tomorrow.”
PATO O’WARD, NO. 5 ARROW MCLAREN SP CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 3RD:
“It was a great day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course for the team. Felix is on pole, that was a great lap, and the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet is P3. I’m super pumped for that, because of where we were in Practice 1 and at the start of the qualifying.
Great job to everyone and tomorrow is all about keeping our nose clean in Turn 1 and in the rest of race. We have some great race cars underneath us and hopefully we end up with a great team result.”
SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN, NO. 3 GALLAGHER CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 15TH:
“Disappointed we didn’t transfer to round two, so starting further back than is ideal. I know my guys will give me a great Gallagher Chevy for the race tomorrow. With good strategy and our usual great pit stops, we will be able to move our way forward on Saturday.”
KYLE KIRKWOOD, NO. 14 SEXTON PROPERTIES CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 21ST:
WHAT WAS YOUR FEEDBACK TO THE TEAM ABOUT THE RACE CAR?
“Yeah, I think it was just very similar to what we had in practice where we are fighting a little bit of a balance issue. For some reason we are not as good as we were at the test a month ago, so we are trying to figure it out. We have a lot of time between qualifying and practice to really figure it out and nail it down. We are working on it and now that we have some time to sit down and focus on what we have, where we are at, and what the differences are because there has been a clear difference in the data compared to the test and now. Hopefully we can figure it out overnight and we can go into warm up with a good car.”
THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT YOU HAVE RACED HERE BEFORE IN YOUR INDYCAR CAREER. CAN YOU RACE YOUR WAY FORWARD TOMORROW?
“I think so. That all depends on what happens in the warm up tomorrow. We have been solid here late on runs and we were really good late on the primary tires at the last race. So, that could potentially be very good for us.”
WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 4TH:
HOW WAS YOUR CAR AND WHAT’S THE OUTLOOK FOR TOMORROW?
“The car was really good. I think a few more adjustments would have helped us in the Fast Six, but I am happy to be in the top four. We will see in the warm up how it is and make some changes tonight and hopefully put us in a good position.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN, NO. 2 PPG TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 5TH:
“I am just happy to be back and I was really motivated to be here this weekend. If we weren’t in this race, it was going to be very difficult to stay in this championship fight. That was kind of the end for me. I know that we had to be in the race and whatever I have to do to be fit and prepared is number one on my plate. We are here and I have had a tremendous amount of support. I can’t thank the INDYCAR staff enough for all their help after the event, and then obviously everybody at Team Penske has just been unwavering with their support for me. Yeah, we are ready to go and we will be able to race tomorrow now.”
WHAT WERE YOUR SYMPTOMS AND WHAT WERE YOU DOING TO BE READY TO GET BACK?
“I don’t want to get into too much of the medical side, but I certainly hit my head pretty hard on Sunday afternoon. Obviously the main concern at that point is a concussion and just trying to make sure there is no lingering long term effects from that. Thankfully I am in really great shape and you know, I have felt good the rest of the week. So, I think we are in a pretty good spot for tomorrow.”
DID YOU HAVE A CONCUSSION WHEN YOU HIT YOUR HEAD?
“You know, I can’t confirm that and I don’t know that I did. I think if you were a doctor you probably would have said I was concussed after Sunday night so it’s probably fair to say that. Then it turns into a question of how severe was it and how long was it going to linger.”
DOES THIS PUT THE TEAM TO A TEST SINCE YOU WERE KNOCKED OFF KILTER AND THAT YOU COULDN’T REALLY DO WHAT YOU PLANNED TO?
“Yeah, its not ideal. Coming into this weekend, I had planned on being on the simulator Monday before coming here. That would have been nice to have that prep. We could have been in a better position coming into this weekend, but we are not in a bad spot this weekend. Luckily we have great cars here at Team Penske and I have great teammates to lean on. We qualified in the top five and I think that puts us in a great spot for PPG and Team Chevy tomorrow.”
(JAMES) HINCHCLIFF SAID HE WAS TALKING TO YOU TO GIVE YOU INSIGHT ABOUT WHEN HE WENT THROUGH THIS. DID THAT HELP AT ALL OR DID IT JUST MAKE YOU LAUGH?
“No, my lovely and amazing wife did most of the communication for me. She was communicating with anyone that had any sort of advice. Whether it was good or bad, we would filter it out but we had a lot of….yeah, Hinch was one of them. People like Hinch have been through incidents like this and they are not all like for like. His is not necessarily what I was going through, but any information on what people do in these kind of moments is helpful. So, there were a lot of people who reached out and we definitely took use of it.”
HOW ARE YOU APPROACHING THIS WEEKEND TO POTENTIALLY TAKE THE POINT LEAD?
“I am just ready to be in the fight. We are well in the thick of the championship and we have a great opportunity here to stay in the fight. I think it will go all the way down to the final event and possibly win the championship, that is my focus. I would have loved a little more today. I felt like on new tires we had pole pace, but on used tires we lacked some of that pole pace that we needed. We are going to try and clean that up for tomorrow. I think looking after the tires is always critical. If we can do that job, and have a good race here, then it should set us up nicely for the last four events of the year.”
RINUS VEEKAY, BITCOIN RACING TEAM WITH BITNILE, QUALIFIED 8TH:
“We didn’t make the Fast Six, but I think we have a solid car. Like race day wise we are pretty consistent on both tires, which is important. I am pretty happy with that and I think we couldn’t really nail the last bit of balance in the final part of group two qualifying. Bummer, but I won a race here from seventh, so I will have better tires for the race.”
PRESS CONFERENCE INTERVIEW WITH POLE WINNER FELIX ROSENQVIST AND PATO O’WARD:
THE MODERATOR: Pato O’Ward, he’ll start third tomorrow inside of row No. 2. Your thoughts on the team going 1-3 in qualifying today?
PATO O’WARD: Yeah, it’s a great team result. Extremely happy with, first of all, making it to the Fast Six because when we started qualifying we were in trouble, just as we were in FP1. We turned — I don’t know how we did that, but we turned it around, and we got the car into a window where I could work with it, and yeah, like Alex said, I think Felix — I don’t think anybody had anything for Felix’s lap. Great job to him. Super happy to see that for him. He deserves it. He’s been working really hard, and it’s a great result for the team.
Q. We heard you on the radio I think it was in that first segment, you hopped on the radio and said, We are blanked, because it wasn’t going to go well. Was there a turning point or something you changed that maybe you can talk about, or how did you get to this point?
PATO O’WARD: Yeah, sometimes it’s hard to judge. The problem is for us at least in the past it’s always been your balance on blacks has to be pretty tough to drive in order for it to be decent on reds. It was extremely difficult to drive, like even worse than FP1 in the morning, so I was like, oh, we’re in trouble. But they were like, man, we can’t change anything.
I was like, you know what, I’m just going to try and pull something out of my hat to see if we can transfer, and when they told us we transferred, I was like, whew. Then we were able to make a longer change, which then put me in a way happier window for the second shot of qualifying and then that transferred us into the Fast Six.
Q. Pato, at Iowa Felix told us whatever happens is sort of out of his hands; no matter how well he does, he can’t really influence the team’s decision if they bring him back. When you look at how well he’s been driving lately, is he going to make this really difficult for the team if he keeps excelling like this through the rest of the year? Is it going to be really hard to say goodbye to him?
PATO O’WARD: I mean, I love the guy, and I think what makes the atmosphere in the team so good to work around him is that he’s a genuine good guy, and it’s very easy to work with him. It’s in his best interest for the whole team to do well. He won’t section himself off and kind of — in the back of his head kind of wish bad upon the other car just to do better. No, I think that’s what makes our team very special is we’re all obviously pushing each other, but we’re both working together to create a package that’s going to be easier for both of us to drive and just to get better.
The point is to have a team that is P1 and P2, right? That’s always going to be the goal.
I just think he fits exactly what the team of McLaren Racing and all that stands for. In order to create a team or to make a team better and drive it forward, you need complete trust and transparency when working with each other. If you don’t have that, you’ve got nothing.
Q. Pato, obviously you talked about the struggles in practice and then early in qualifying. When you found out you transferred and you’re waiting there and the team is making some changes on the car, mentally what’s your thought process? Do you want to improve that? What are your overall thoughts and what thoughts are you changing to try and improve for the next round?
PATO O’WARD: Well, sometimes you just don’t know what to expect so you kind of just take it as it comes to you. At that point the feeling that I had before we went on the reds, it was like, well, this is going to be a handful. But then on the prep lap, I guess, before you do your flier, you get a little bit of a feel for what it’s going to be like when the tire is coming up to temp, and it was a significant step into, okay, I can work with this.
But that’s it, man. Sometimes it works out that way and sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes it feels great in the first run and then you put the other set of tires, and it’s like, what the heck happened.
It’s tough. It’s extremely tough to nail both types of tire compounds in terms of balance. You’ve got to be a little unhappy with one of them to excel in the other one. You always kind of want to excel on the red one because the black ain’t going to transfer you anywhere unless you’re a second and a half faster than anybody, which doesn’t happen in the series.
Yeah, it’s tough, and it speaks to how hard it is to qualify in INDYCAR and how competitive it is.
I know in the Fast Six it didn’t really seem like it was that tight based on Felix’s lap. I know it was a great lap. But before that, I think transferring was a tenth or less than a tenth, or from like fourth to 12th or something. You’ve got to nail it.
PATO O’WARD: We’ll have fun.
Q. It seems like a big swing. Do you have to re-platform it almost to try to get a little bit better?
PATO O’WARD: What’s confusing sometimes is we were here in May, and we had a very solid qualifying. We had a very good race until it started raining. Anyway, we had pace.
We obviously come here with pretty much the same, and we’re six-tenths off. But only one car is six-tenths off and the other one is okay.
I’m still in the process of — and I think I’m probably never going to find it, but I don’t know why it happens. It’s very, very sensitive, and it’s extremely sensitive in how you, one, push the tire, and two, how hard you’re attacking the corners, because it’s just so flat, so there’s no cambers or off cambers that you can kind of take into your advantage.
But yeah, it’s just every time we come here, it doesn’t matter if it’s the same track, it’s always different, at least that’s my experience, and I think a lot of people would agree. Maybe others don’t. But yeah.
THE MODERATOR: Obviously joined by the pole winner now for tomorrow’s Gallagher Grand Prix, second pole of the season, third of his career, which goes back to the IMS road course here in 2019. Congratulations, Felix Rosenqvist. Your thoughts about the day and starting P1 tomorrow?
FELIX ROSENQVIST: Thanks. It’s been a pretty smooth day, surprisingly smooth, and I think those guys are kind of rare in INDYCAR. I think the whole team has just done a really good prep work for this race. We tested here like a month ago, which I think really helped. We kind of got here with a good starting package, so we knew that this was going to be one that we had to really extract everything in qualifying.
But yeah, it was really cool. We did only one lap in Q1, saved those tires for the Fast Six, and everything just worked out to plan. Man, it’s rare to have those days, but I think today was just a day about execution, and now eyes forward to tomorrow.
Q. Pato, any thoughts about the tire inconsistencies and stuff like that. Is that something you felt within the team or experienced at some point during the last two seasons?
PATO O’WARD: I have, yes. I’ve had this year and last year. You just never know when it’s going to happen, and it’s just obviously unfortunate. When we get it, other guys might not, but then maybe they can get it another time, but you just never really know when it’s going to happen to you, so you have to obviously analyze and see if it’s not an issue that wasn’t that.
Yeah, I think everybody is on the same boat. Everybody has had it at least once sometime.
Q. Felix, to use your nickname, Tall Swede is starting last, so I guess that makes you Short Swede starting up front. Does it surprise you Marcus is starting last in tomorrow’s race, and how do you think he’s going to get through the field like that, because it can be difficult to pass sometimes.
FELIX ROSENQVIST: Man, I feel with Marcus the further back he starts, the better he finishes. He has like a magic way of just always being there in the end.
That’s probably why he’s leading the championship, man. He’s probably the best racer in the field right now. I don’t really think he’s worried about it, either.
Every time I talk to him and he’s had a bad qualifying, it’s just like, oh, I’m just going to drive up the field. Yeah, good for him. He’s really figured out how to go forward in this series, and I think that’s — I love being here on pole, but that’s only like 10 percent of the job done, and the rest you have to do what Marcus is doing right now.
I’m not too worried for him. I’m sure I’m going to see him around somewhere tomorrow in the race.
Q. Correct me if I’m wrong, I think this is where you got your first pole in 2019. What is it about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course that you’ve gelled with and gotten accustomed to quicker than almost anywhere else?
FELIX ROSENQVIST: I wouldn’t say it’s my best track. I mean, I have two poles here, but I wouldn’t say result-wise it’s my best track. I’ve been struggling a little bit here in the races historically.
I just feel like we’ve worked very hard as a team to improve this track as we go here twice a year, and at some point last year we were like, guys, we need to improve at the Indy GP because we’re struggling.
Since then every time we come back here I feel like we’re just getting better and better. We had a test here a couple of weeks ago where I think we found some really good things, and we were pretty sure where we wanted to start today in terms of setup, and yeah, it’s just been a smooth day.
Lucky to have one of those days. I’m sure the next weekend will not look the same.
Q. Felix, your race engineer just told me he thinks he’s been 15 years since his last road course pole, so he’s really happy with you right now. Can you talk about the evolution within the team this season with some engineering additions? Obviously Gavin Ward just came on. It seems like we should expect you and Pato to be in the Fast Six or up front in the ovals almost wherever we go. Is this a real revolution we’re watching?
FELIX ROSENQVIST: I think so. I think we as a team have, from an engineering standpoint, we’ve been pretty — I wouldn’t say wildly all over the place, but we’ve been very experimental the last two years, especially on my car. Pretty much every weekend where we go somewhere, Craig is calling me on Monday, like hey, are you open to try something different, and I’m like, yeah, like we’re two cars, and I think Pato in general is more inclined to run kind of what we ran last year with a little evolution, and I’ve been trying more like new philosophies of setup.
Surprisingly it’s not often you do like a big change and it works, but almost everywhere we’ve gone, like me and Craig and the guys at the 7 car have kind of been able to develop something new that works, and I think suits me better, as well.
But it’s almost been that way everywhere. Sometimes Pato’s package works better, like at Iowa, for example. Like day one his car was probably a little bit better than mine, and then day two I went to his car, and it’s been good like that. You kind of have to do that as a two-car team.
But at this point I feel like we gather so much info that we can be a bit more sure where we want to start, and also with Gavin coming along, I think that’s kind of his role, as well, to kind of have a little overview of the whole situation with both cars and just lead us in the best direction for me and Pato.
Yeah, we have a really good engineering crew. Like they’re really clever people. We have a lot of fun in that truck. There’s a lot of laughing and jokes and stuff going around, but then when it’s time to switch on, I feel like everyone is like laser sharp.
I’m really enjoying the working environment right now.
Q. Who won at miniature golf between you and Pato earlier this week?
FELIX ROSENQVIST: He beat me in pickleball before Iowa, so it seems like whoever wins in sports before the weekend is kind of like coming out ahead.
Q. From what I’ve read and heard you say, next year you want to be back here. How is this series compared to where you’ve run before? How is INDYCAR competition-wise, and I understand you hope to be back here again next year because you like it that much.
FELIX ROSENQVIST: Yeah, naturally because we’re doing well and I really enjoy my place in the team and just happy in general, it would be weird to not want to go back, I think. Obviously it’s not that straightforward, so we’re going to have to see what’s going to happen.
I think I’m in a good place no matter what happens. I’m going to have a good job somewhere.
Yeah, INDYCAR, I think it’s kind of addicting in a way. Like it’s very tough. It’s probably — I wouldn’t say like — the driver level is high everywhere in professional championships, but it’s just such a team effort to get everything right on the day in terms of setup, pit stop strategy. The driver has to be fit, he has to be focused. There’s just so many variables, and if you lose one second in a pit sequence, you’re gone. That’s your day gone.
I think that whole thing becomes — like when you succeed and when you win a race or get a podium or whatever, it’s just something you want to do again because it’s very rewarding when you do well, but it can also be brutal when you’re struggling, as I did last year. It was a super tough season for sure.
But yeah, I’m doing well, and I want to continue that, so yeah, hopefully I’ll stay.
Q. Do you work out every day?
FELIX ROSENQVIST: I wish I could say —
Q. I don’t mean with peewee golf. Do you physically work out?
FELIX ROSENQVIST: Yeah, I mean, in some kind of shape or form.
Q. I guess with your future undecided, things are difficult, but I know you’ve come to really love this place and everything that it means to the championship and the history of the series and everything. If this is your kind of last time here for a little while, does this pole make that — is the pole more special basically because of that?
FELIX ROSENQVIST: I mean, I don’t really think about that, to be honest. But I felt like when I drove here this morning, just I love this place. I had like a love-hate relationship. Coming here the first time I had a pole, and then I crashed in the 500 practice, and Chip was angry at me, and it was like such a roller coaster of emotions that are tied to this place.
But this year, man, like finished fourth in the 500, leading for a while towards the end, this pole, it’s just becoming a place that I really love and becoming kind of acquainted to the Indiana in general.
Yeah, it means a lot for sure to do well here.
Q. You spoke about the team effort; you’ve finally found this path or midpoint between the Pato drive mode and your drive mode for this first and third place on this qualification.
FELIX ROSENQVIST: I guess you mean that we’ve found something that works for both drivers? Yeah, man, I think we had pretty different days. Pato had a tough day in practice, and I think he did a really good job bouncing back. He kind of turned around his car a lot, and we kind of stayed the same and just stuck to what we had in practice.
But it’s good to see. I think this is probably like the fourth time we’re both in the Fast Six this year, so I feel like we both figured something out in qualifying together with the team.
As I said before, I think the car is just suited more towards me this year, so I feel like I can maximize it pretty much everywhere we go now, so yeah, that’s a good thing.
Q. The boys were talking about it before you arrived and how sensitive the IMS road course is. Tomorrow before the race obviously between the warm-up and the actual race you’ve got the Cup cars out on the track, as well. Is that going to impact the difference between what the car is like during the warm-up to the race?
FELIX ROSENQVIST: Good question. I don’t really think so. I have to say that this track is probably one of the few that doesn’t — it doesn’t really pick up a lot of rubber. When you look at practice, the lap times we do early on, like even when it’s only three, four cars on track, like that lap time normally stays to the end of the session. There’s not a lot of track evolution. So I think it would kind of be the reverse with NASCAR being out. I think the bigger worry there is if they’re like tearing up the grass or the curbs or something.
No, I’m not too worried about that. I think it’s going to be a pretty straightforward weekend in terms of track grip.
Q. I don’t know if Pato is your agent but he’s working hard to keep you in that INDYCAR seat. What does that mean to you, for him to feel so strongly each week to plug away for you?
FELIX ROSENQVIST: It means a lot to hear that. I would obviously say the same for him. I think we have a very strong working relationship right now on and off the track. I think it’s kind of rare that you have a teammate that you don’t really try to hide anything, and I think that’s the best possible situation for the team because the more competition there is, like the more negative competition it is between the teammates, the worse for the team, because it’s like you’re hiding stuff from each other; you maybe don’t tell how your car is; you kind of build up a little fence to your car.
But I feel like we have just full transparency between the two cars, between me and Pato. Today when he was struggling we’ll talk about it, like hey, maybe try this, try that. It’s just great, and we have a good time out of the track, as well, when we’re here in Indy. We always play mini golf or pickleball or just go for dinner.
Yeah, I think even for other drivers and team owners reaching out and showing support and kind of saying that they want me to stay in the series, I think it means a lot. I’m really thankful for all those comments, and hopefully that’ll be the case.
Q. (No microphone.)
FELIX ROSENQVIST: Well, I consider myself pretty easy to get along with, but for sure I had bad teammates that you don’t trust and you don’t like, and you just have to get on with it. I think when you spend so much time together over a season, like it’s just so helpful if you can actually enjoy hanging out.
But I think with Pato it’s very special for sure. It’s something I hope that will last longer.
Q. Your contract situation notwithstanding, just as a driver, do you have interest at all in driving a stock car at some point in your career?
FELIX ROSENQVIST: I think I would love to try it, especially on a road course. I feel like I’m a few laps behind when it comes to the ovals to beat those guys. It feels like they’re very experienced. But yeah, if an opportunity comes, I would definitely be open. I saw Daniil Kvyat; is he here this weekend? That’s super cool. Maybe one day — I’m always open to try anything, so just give me a call.
Q. What is the most interesting car you’ve raced would you say?
FELIX ROSENQVIST: The most interesting? I think I did a couple of races in Carrera Cup. I did one race in the Super Cup. That was a very tricky car to drive, like very soft and no ABS, and it was very difficult to get a lap right. But very good for driving. If you can be quick in that, I think you can probably be quick in anything.
Man, I have to say the INDYCAR is just so tricky. Like to get it right in these cars is like — yeah, it’s like one out of 10 laps you get it right. All the other laps you feel like you left something on the table.
It’s probably one of the hardest cars I’ve driven, as well.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations again, second pole of 2022, third of his career, Felix Rosenqvist will start from pole tomorrow for the Gallagher Grand Prix.
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