ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (AP) — Felix Rosenqvist passed Pato O’Ward on the next-to-last lap and earned his first career victory Sunday in the second half of an IndyCar doubleheader at Road America.
Rosenqvist won by 2.8699 seconds and became the first driver other than Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon to take an IndyCar race this year. Dixon’s three-race winning streak ended with a 12th-place finish.
O’Ward and Rosenqvist were both chasing their first career victories, and they traded the lead throughout the second half of the race.
O’Ward, who had the pole position, pulled ahead in the 43rd of 55 laps. Rosenqvist gradually cut into his lead and finally passed him at Turn 7 of this 14-turn road course that’s just over 4 miles long.
Rosenqvist became the first Swede to win an IndyCar race since Kenny Brack’s 2002 victory at Mexico City. Rosenqvist had two second-place finishes last year.
Alexander Rossi, who won at Road America last year, finished third for the best result of what has been a disappointing season for the Andretti Autosport driver. Rossi ranked second in the point standings in 2018 and was third last year, but he hadn’t finished higher than 15th in any of the first three races this season.
Rosenqvist’s victory at least temporarily ended Dixon’s season-long dominance. Dixon started the year with victories at Texas and Indianapolis before winning Saturday at Road America.
This weekend’s doubleheader marked the first time spectators were allowed during this pandemic-delayed season. IndyCar organizers allowing fans on a case-by-case basis as they rely on local and state health guidelines wherever the races are held.
Dixon was the first driver to win three straight IndyCar events since Simon Pagenaud did it in 2006.
The only other drivers to win as many as three straight races to begin a season are A.J. Foyt (seven in 1964), Sebastien Bourdais (four in 2006) and and Al Unser Sr. (three in 1967).
Will Power finished second to Dixon on Saturday and created some commotion at the start of Sunday’s race.
On the opening lap, Power’s Chevy hit Ryan Hunter-Reay from behind and also made contact with Graham Rahal in a separate incident, knocking both Hunter-Reay and Rahal out of the race after they went off course. Power was penalized for avoidable contact and got sent to the back of the pack on the restart.
“He seems to be driving a little bit desperate today,” Hunter-Reay said in a television interview after the restart. “He’s been a wrecking ball so far.”
Rahal’s Honda was knocked off course, and the left side of his Honda hit the end of a concrete railing. Rahal and Hunter-Reay both were checked and released from the infield care center.
Power’s tough day continued a few laps later when he spun and hit a sign on Turn 13. He recovered and briefly took the lead on the 17th lap before eventually finishing 11th.