AUSTIN, TX – Two weeks ago in the NTT IndyCar Series season opener on the streets of St. Pete, rookie Felix Rosenqvist led 31 laps and brought his No. 10 Honda home fourth. It was a dazzling Indy Car debut for the Swedish rookie.
Fellow rookies Colton Herta and Santino Ferrucci also finished in the top 10 that day. Now, this strong rookie class is looking extremely quick in race No. 2 at the Circuit of the Americas.
Two of the top five starting spots belong to rookies. In fact, four of the top 11 starters are first year IndyCar drivers. That shows you how strong this class is.
Herta, made it to the Firestone Fast Six on Saturday as he was the underdog story of the session. Herta, was going against both Chip Ganassi Racing drivers, half of the Andretti Autosport fleet to go along with the active leader in poles in Team Penske’s Will Power. That’s a tall task. Combined, there’s 393 poles between those three teams. Harding, has zero.
Power, won the pole in St. Pete and has 56 career Indy Car poles now during his storied career. Only Mario Andretti (67) has more. Ganassi and Andretti are no slouches either. It was those five vs. Herta for the pole for Sunday’s 60 Lap race.
Nevertheless, here Herta was. Granted, this shouldn’t be a shock though as he was first, first, first and second respectively in test back in February and second in the opening practice session of the weekend on Friday morning. The problem was, Herta’s Honda engine blew and caught fire in that practice session. His team had to work hard to get his car repaired just to get back on track for the late afternoon warmup later on in the day.
They’d end up 12th in practice on Saturday but storm their way through the first two rounds of qualifying on Saturday to make a Fast Six appearance. He will start fourth in Sunday’s race. If you remember right too, Herta had the speed to make the Fast Six in St. Pete but his lap was penalized for impeding Charlie Kimball’s progress.
After two races, Herta’s speed is there as he should be 2-for-2 for Fast Six appearances.
O’Ward dazzled too.
In his IndyCar debut in Sonoma, Patricio O’Ward made it to the Fast Six. For Sunday’s race at COTA, he will start eighth in his No. 31 Chevrolet. He hasn’t been in an Indy Car race since Sonoma and only tested at Barber just last week. Here he is beating his teammate Max Chilton in two of the three practice sessions and out qualifying him by five positions.
Throw in Rosenqvist (5th) and Ferrucci (11th) and you have a strong chance the rookies land in the top 10 again.
For Rosenqvist, he outqualified Scott Dixon for a second straight race and looks as quick, if not quicker right now than his five time champ teammate. Ferrucci, outqualified his four time champion teammate of Sebastien Bourdais too after out performing him in the race at St. Pete too.