INDIANAPOLIS – Heading into the oval action on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, everyone kind of assumed Felix Rosenqvist would likely be the Rookie of the Year for the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver had just earned his first career NTT IndyCar Series pole for the INDYCAR Grand Prix the weekend prior and had three straight top 10 finishes on the season including an eighth place run in the May 11 race on the 2.439-mile IMS road course.
Plus, the No. 10 Honda that he was driving had led at least one lap in nine of the last 11 Indy 500’s. But, after a practice crash last week, Rosenqvist never looked the same. He’d qualify 29th.
Then, we thought maybe Colton Herta or Marcus Ericsson would win the prestigous award. Herta, qualified his No. 88 Honda fifth, best among rookies, while Ericsson would roll off 13th.
But, in the end, it was another rookie who for sure will take home the award on Monday. Santino Ferrucci started 23rd but brought his No. 19 Honda home seventh for a career best result on his first start on an oval.
See, Ferrucci grew up racing on road and street courses. He cited street courses as his favorites to race on. That’s why it wasn’t too shocking that the rookie finished ninth in the season opener on the streets of St. Pete.
But, on Sunday, Ferrucci was stellar. He methodically charged his way up through the field and was up there battling with the best of them for a top 10 finish on a beautiful afternoon in Indianapolis.
“These guys did a hell of a job, and I had a hell of a race car,” said the Connecticut native. “I think if it wasn’t for that unlucky yellow toward the end, with 65 or 70 laps to go right after we pitted, we could be drinking the milk. But I can’t complain. I mean, it is my best finish in the series, and it is in the Indy 500. This place is an intimidating enough as it is, and these guys did some of the best work I have ever seen.”
Ferrucci started the month off with a 10th place finish in the INDYCAR Grand Prix. He leaves Indy with three top 10 finishes in six tries this season which moves him all the way up to 10th in the series standings heading to a doubleheader on a street circuit next weekend.
That’s an eight position improvement in the standings.