FORT WORTH — Like all European road racers who switch to American oval-track racing, Felix Rosenqvist admits turning left at over 220 mph at Texas Motor Speedway can mess with your head.
“For sure. I mean, I remember the first time I came here,” said Rosenqvist, who made his TMS debut as an NTT IndyCar Series rookie in 2019. definitely wasn’t fun. I was really scared the first time I came here, and it was actually the first superspeedway I’ve ever done. But as of 2020, this is a track where I’m feel really calm and confident.
“And, yes, I definitely feel like I have unfinished business in Texas.”
Indeed, a “recharged” Rosenqvist won his first NTT P1 oval on Saturday afternoon in qualifying for Sunday’s XPEL 375. Rosenqvist lapped TMS’s high-banked 1.5-mile oval in a two-lap cumulative average of 46.8906 seconds at 221.110 mph before having to sweat Scott McLaughlin’s knockout attempt for rival Team Penske.
The last of 27 drivers to qualify, McLaughlin’s figures of 46.8936 seconds at 221.096 mph fell to within 0.003 seconds of his second pole in as many starts in 2022.
“It was a bit of torture watching this thing unfold,” said Rosenqvist, a 29-year-old Swede and driver of the No. 7 Chevrolet Vuse Arrow McLaren SP.
Sunday’s 248 laps / 372 miles will be Rosenqvist’s fifth start at ‘The Great American Speedway’.
“We have days like this, and it’s fantastic,” Rosenqvist said. “But when you have a tough day at Texas Motor Speedway, it’s not fun. That’s when you really see the real champions, I think, come out.
Johnson qualifies in the middle of the pack: Jimmie Johnson’s highly anticipated open-wheel IndyCar debut, a seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, will be launched from 18th on the grid. A seven-time Cup winner at TMS, Johnson’s two-lap average was 47.1562 seconds at 219.865 mph in the #48 Carvana Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. It will line up on the outside of row 9.
The special practice goes smoothly: Seven riders, including XPEL 375 poleman Felix Rosenqvist, racked up 292 laps/438 trouble-free testing miles during a half-hour session designed to sink into the track’s second furrow.
IndyCar teams have been plagued here in recent years by slippery conditions resulting from the application of NASCAR’s corner-sprayed PJ1 traction compound.
Speeds on Saturday ranged from the hot lap of four-time defending Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves at 216.842 mph in the No. 06 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda fielded by Meyer Shank Racing to the conservative lap of Pato O’Ward at 203.709 mph in the arrow No. 5 McLaren SP Chevrolet. Rosenqvist clocked 31 laps with a top speed of 208.841 mph in his No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevy Vuse which won the pole.
Will Power of Team Penske, who lobbied IndyCar officials for the session, posted a mixed review. “Yeah, you can run up there… now the next step would be to take that stuff up there,” said Power, who ran 44 laps with a top speed of 211.193 mph in the Verizon Team Penske Chevy n ° 12. “There is definitely less grip. All you need is half another lane… that would be such a different race, a much better race. I think we can work it out. We’ll see how it performs tomorrow.
Harvey crashes during final practice: England’s Jack Harvey crashed out of Turn 2 in Saturday’s final hour-long free practice session, an accident that will force him to use his backup No.45 Honda Hy-Vee.
Harvey’s Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing front tires went through some of the controversial PJ1 traction compound and slammed into the outside wall at high speed. Harvey was checked at the track medical center and cleared to drive on Sunday. Harvey will retain his 24th grid position in the 27-car field.
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