Mid-Ohio: Where Rosenqvist's IndyCar pursuit began

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The following story first appeared on the INDYCAR Mobile powered by NTT DATA app. For more information,visit www.indycar.com/mobile-app

LEXINGTON, Ohio -- The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is where it all began for Felix Rosenqvist and his quest to drive in the NTT IndyCar Series.

It was August 2016 when Rosenqvist participated in a test at the 13-turn, 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. At that time, the Swede was a part-time Indy Lights competitor for Belardi Racing with hopes of making it to the NTT IndyCar Series.

“I tested at Mid-Ohio in 2016 back when INDYCAR gave teams a free test date in addition to the normal testing day if they ran an Indy Lights driver,” Rosenqvist told NTT INDYCAR Mobile. “The Indy Lights driver had to run more laps in that car than the regular IndyCar driver, who was Scott Dixon.

“It was all pretty smooth between Belardi and Chip Ganassi Racing. Off we went.”

Rosenqvist said driving the car with the previous aero kit was “pretty physical,” and he did more than 100 laps around the permanent road course.

“I never jumped out of the car because we had a tight plan,” he said. “I was pretty knackered after that day, (but) it was awesome. I remember it was really good fun. The track was slippery and at the end of the day, it was super grippy.

“It was the most fun car I had driven at that point and it still is one of my best days in a racing car.”

Rosenqvist, who hails from Varnamo, Sweden, competed in 10 of 18 Indy Lights Series races in 2016 for Belardi Racing. He won three races.

The following year, Rosenqvist was back in the Ganassi car for a second test at Mid-Ohio.

“It was exactly the same thing, just one year later to get another test date for the team,” Rosenqvist recalled. “That is when we started having serious talks about doing the whole season this year.

“It was always my goal to impress them enough to get a ride in IndyCar. Whenever you are in a car, you want to show you are fast and can give good feedback. That was a big opportunity for me, especially that first test because I didn’t have much going on at that time. For sure, it was a big part of where I am today.”

Rosenqvist is back for his first official NTT IndyCar Series race weekend at Mid-Ohio. The series rookie is having a solid initial season in the series and hopes the track where he began his quest will give him another great moment in his career.

“I think more than anything, it’s a place with good memories because I had my first IndyCar test there with Chip Ganassi Racing, but I have never raced there in any class,” Rosenqvist said. “I really like this track, and I think it suits me well. I feel like we should have a good one because we have some good updates on the car for this race compared to last year so it should be good.”

Rosenqvist believes the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is very different than other tracks because of the rapidly changing grip level throughout the race weekend. That makes every practice important because the track conditions change dramatically.

“What is very unique is the tarmac is stones in the asphalt,” Rosenqvist explained. “There is no grip in the beginning. When I did my second test for Ganassi, I ran 10 seconds slower. It was like running in the rain. Then when the tracks grips up, it gets really grippy. That’s pretty special.

“It’s a very short, twisty, up and down track. It reminds me of some tracks in Sweden with a lot of elevation. It’s hard to put a lap together but I think it’s a lot of fun. You have a really quick corner in Turn 1 and Turn 11 as well.

“It gives you everything at the same time.”

When Rosenqvist straps himself into the No. 10 NTT DATA Honda at Chip Ganassi Racing for Sunday's race, he will have a chance to reflect on the beginning of his IndyCar Series career, coming on the same track just three years ago in a test session.

“It was the start of this,” Rosenqvist said. “It was a special time of my career and I had a lot of success at that time with a couple of wins in Toronto and I finished on the podium at Spa and had my first Formula E test shortly after that. That’s when things really kicked off in my career.

“Even in IndyCar, it took a few years, but that’s where it all started. It’s a positive feeling going there, for sure.”

Sunday's race will air on NBC at 4 p.m. ET. Radio coverage will be provided by the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network (also via SiriusXM on Sirius 98, XM 209 and SXM 970).

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