We all knew that this year’s NTT IndyCar Series rookie class would be strong. This was some of the most talent that the series has seen for first year drivers in years. Heading into Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the battle for Rookie of the Year is tight.
Currently, Felix Rosenqvist leads Santino Ferrucci by just 14 points for that distinction. Colon Herta, a race winner already this season (COTA), is just 34 points out himself. Marcus Ericsson is 43 points behind too.
Despite being rookies, all but Ericsson head to Mid-Ohio with some great success on this track in the past. That has them with high hopes for this weekend’s race.
While Rosenqvist has never actually competed in a race at Mid-Ohio, it’s the spot to initially earned him a seat in Indy Car. This is the place where he first tested a car for this series and he had such a great test, it turned enough heads to where Chip Ganassi Racing hired him for 2019.
“This is the track where I sort of got my introduction to the team I guess you could say,” Rosenqvist said. “I’ve tested (at Mid-Ohio) a few times in Scott’s (Dixon) car over the years before coming to INDYCAR full time. It’s a track I’m familiar with and one I think we should be able to compete at and get a good result. The INDYCAR Rookie of the Year race is tight and we want to continue to lead that. Starting toward the front at Mid-Ohio is key for the race as well with track position, so qualifying is very important this weekend. I’m looking forward to getting going. The team has won here almost 15 times between the INDYCAR and IMSA programs over the years, so they know how to get it done around this place.”
For Ferrucci, Mid-Ohio is one of the few tracks that he had experience on in North America before he headed overseas with an F1 dream.
“It’s nice to be going to Mid-Ohio this weekend,” said the Dale Coyne Racing driver. “It’s a track I know and one I’ve raced well at, getting multiple podiums back when I first started racing cars in 2013. I’m happy to be going back. The track at Mid-Ohio is super fun to drive and it has a lot of rhythm to it. It’s always a pleasure. The racing there is really good and there’s a fair amount of strategy as well. I think the team has had a good package there, so hopefully, we can finish out these three races in a row with a good result.”
Herta, has past Road to Indy starts at Mid-Ohio. He finished 10th, 16th and 13th respectively in USF2000 in 2014. In four Indy Lights starts, he has three runner-ups. Now, he comes in an Indy Car to what he describes is his favorite track on this continent.
“I’m very excited for the Honda Indy 200 this weekend because Mid-Ohio is my favorite track in North America,” said Herta. “It’s always such a fun race with so many fans who camp out the entire weekend. I’m confident in the hard work the Harding Steinbrenner Racing guys have been doing in between Iowa and this coming weekend so we can have another great result.”
The only one without experience is Ericsson, but with all the momentum that Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has right now, he should still contend.
“I’m really looking forward to getting to Mid-Ohio,” said the Swedish rookie. “It looks like a beautiful track with nice, sweeping high-speed corners, some technical parts and a lot of elevation changes. It doesn’t look easy, but I did a day in the simulator and that felt really good, so I’m looking forward to trying out the real thing. Also for us, coming from the last two weekends in Toronto and Iowa, we had a lot of pace in the No. 7 Arrow SPM car but didn’t have the results to show for it for different reasons. I think we’re all very eager to put together a full weekend and get a great result out of it because we feel we have it in us. I’ll be working hard to make it a good one.”