Rosenqvist Power Surge Continues with Long Beach Pole

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Saturday, April 20, 2024) – Felix Rosenqvist continues to benefit from a change in scenery in 2024, winning the NTT P1 Award for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on Saturday.

Rosenqvist moved from Arrow McLaren to Meyer Shank Racing after the 2023 season, and he delivered MSR its first-ever pole for an NTT INDYCAR SERIES points-paying race with a lap of 1 minute, 6.0172 seconds in the No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda on the 11-turn, 1.968-mile temporary street circuit.

“It was hard,” Rosenqvist said. “Honestly, I didn’t think I had it because I had a big tank-slapper out of (Turn) 5. This is a hard-fought one. It doesn’t come easy. Every lap out there, you’re flirting with the walls. That was a fun one.”

While it was Rosenqvist’s first pole with MSR, it was the Swede’s sixth career pole since he joined the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in 2019. His last pole came in the season finale last September at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, his final race for Arrow McLaren.

Since moving to MSR, Rosenqvist has qualified second at the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding and finished second in the non-points The Thermal Club $1 Million Challenge last month, where he also qualified first.

The margin of Rosenqvist’s superiority today was as thin as tissue paper. Two-time series champion Will Power, the leading pole winner in INDYCAR SERIES history, qualified second at 1:06.0211 in the No. 12 Verizon Business Team Penske Chevrolet – .0039 of a second behind Rosenqvist. That’s the tightest front-row margin on a street circuit since knockout qualifying started in the series in 2008.

Power’s strong performance came after his Saturday morning practice session was truncated by two slaps of the Turn 8 wall. It also was Power’s best qualifying performance on a road or street circuit since he surpassed Mario Andretti as the INDYCAR SERIES’ all-time pole winner with his 68th career pole in September 2022 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Power won two NTT P1 Awards last season – both on the oval at Iowa Speedway – to increase his career total to 70.

“Just getting into the (Firestone) Fast Six again is a big deal for me,” Power said. “I’ve been working hard on my qualifying. Been quick all year in practice, so super-stoked to transfer. Obviously, it’s a bit (tough) when you miss out by that much, but Felix must have done a phenomenal lap. I couldn’t pick anywhere where I made a mistake. It was about as good as I can do.

“Cool to get the Verizon car on the front row again. It’s been a long time. We can certainly win from there.”

Live coverage of the 85-lap race starts at 3 p.m. ET Sunday on the USA Network, Peacock, INDYCAR LIVE and the INDYCAR Radio Network. Final practice starts at noon ET Sunday, with coverage on Peacock, INDYCAR LIVE and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

Series points leader Josef Newgarden, who won the season opener in St. Petersburg, qualified third at 1:06.1059 in the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet. Two-time series champion Newgarden will be joined in Row 2 of the starting grid by Colton Herta, who qualified fourth at 1:06.3784 in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda fielded by Andretti Global.

Marcus Ericsson was the second Andretti Global driver in the Firestone Fast Six, qualifying fifth at 1:06.4039 in the No. 28 Delaware Life Honda. Reigning and two-time series champion Alex Palou also will start on the third row after qualifying sixth at 1:06.5444 in the No. 10 DHL Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Another bright spot for MSR besides its maiden pole by Rosenqvist was the solid performance by Tom Blomqvist, the top rookie qualifier in 15th in the No. 66 AutoNation/Arctic Wolf Honda. Reigning FIA Formula 2 champion Theo Pourchaire qualified 22nd for his NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut in the No. 6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet. Pourchaire is replacing David Malukas, who continues to recover from surgery to repair wrist injuries suffered in a preseason mountain biking accident.

Margins were very tight throughout all three rounds of qualifying on a partly cloudy Southern California day, and those tight gaps caught out two drivers quick in sessions earlier this weekend.

Pato O’Ward, who led Friday practice, was eliminated in the first round of qualifying and will start 14th in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet. Reigning Long Beach winner Kyle Kirkwood, quickest in pre-qualifying practice Saturday morning, didn’t make it past the second round of qualifying and will start 10th in the No. 27 AutoNation Honda fielded by Andretti Global.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

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