Rosenqvist relieved by breakthrough weekend in Nashville

Felix Rosenqvist believes that a combination of factors have contributed to his strong practice and qualifying performance on the streets of downtown Nashville.

The Swede had struggled at several road and street courses this season – his third in IndyCar but his first at Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet.

Much of this struggle, for a driver who scored a win and a pole position at Chip Ganassi Racing, was attributed to AMSP's unique setups which generate tire temperatures more rapidly than their rivals but also cause the car’s handling to feel quite different to that of other IndyCars.

While Pato O’Ward has flourished with this setup, scoring two wins and lying second in the championship, Rosenqvist had looked strangely off the pace until race days (except on ovals).

However, he has been a top-six contender throughout practice around the 2.17-mile Nashville street course and nailed fifth fastest time in qualifying today. He’ll start fourth due to Alex Palou’s engine-related grid penalty.

“Coming to the Fast 6, I was like, OK, let's go, let's try to go for the pole,” said the 29-year-old Swede. “Maybe I overdid it a little bit. But I also … didn't really nail my tires. They kind of came in at the end of my first lap, then during my second lap they kind of faded away a little bit.

“I think Chevy has done a really good improvement for this weekend. We were working really hard the last couple weeks to improve some stuff. Seemed to have really helped. The whole team, I think it's good to kind of bounce back inside a top five again. It's been a while since we were there…

“I think when you're in the Fast 6, you always want to go for the pole. It's obviously bittersweet, but we really haven't been this competitive until this point in the season.

“It's good to have a little break [in the season]. I think we learned a lot in that time. Coming back to a track like this would definitely benefit us. We're normally really good on the street tracks. In Detroit we were pretty quick in the race.

“It felt really good from the start yesterday. Just happy now for the whole team, Arrow McLaren SP, to be back where we belong. Hopefully we can keep this trend for the rest of the year.

Asked about Chevrolet’s improvements, Rosenqvist said: “It's hard to explain everything. I think just drivability has been a little bit of an issue all season. I think we really made a good step. Yeah, from the moment we tried it in Portland [test], going here, it's just been better. I think everyone's been happy with it.

“I think it shows as well, at least from my side, that's been one of my biggest struggles: just drivability, being consistent in general. And that's been a way different car for me this weekend. So, yeah, really happy with our progress.

Asked by Motorsport.com if he had diverged from the O’Ward-type setup to one of his own, or had just adapted to it now, Rosenqvist replied: “I think more than anything you get used to it. Sometimes in life you can't pick what you're going to have.

“It's not as easy as just taking out a bit of front wing. There's a philosophy that's been rooted in the team for a long time: if you start changing too much, you kind of don't even know what you're doing any more. You always have to stick to what you know, then fine-tune it.

“I think now we're kind of getting to a point where for me as well it makes sense. As we've seen all weekend, I've kind of been up there all the time. I can always lay down a lap when I want to.

“That hasn't been possible earlier this year as it has been for Pato. He's definitely capable of dealing with more sketchiness when it comes to the car.

“I think this has been one of our biggest steps this year for sure.”

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