RACING

Green Flag: Gallagher Grand Prix

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The present and future of Arrow McLaren SP will be on display today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway when the green flag flies for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES Gallagher Grand Prix.

NTT P1 award winner Felix Rosenqvist and teammate Pato O’Ward will start first and third respectively in the 85-lap road race (noon ET, NBC and INDYCAR Radio Network), along with Alexander Rossi, who will leave Andretti Autosport for Arrow McLaren SP at the end of the season, lining up in second position.

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Rosenqvist will start from the top position for the third time in his NTT INDYCAR SERIES career. He and Rossi will be looking for their first series wins of the season. O’Ward is a two-time winner this year.

SEE: First line

“We tested here about a month ago which I think really helped,” said Rosenqvist, who drives the No.7 Arrow Chevrolet McLaren SP. “We kind of came here with a good starting package, so we knew it was going to be (a race) that we really had to extract everything in qualifying.

Pole winners on this 14-turn, 2.439-mile permanent road course have won the race five times. Five races remain in this championship pursuit, and every point counts.

The spotlight will also be on series points leader Marcus Ericsson, who will start from last position – 25th – after shutting down his engine as a precaution at the start of his qualifying round on Saturday. Stopping on the track like Ericsson did, he drew a red flag and banned him from further racing in the session.

But Ericsson, whose team replaced the car’s Honda engine on Friday afternoon, has a track record of strong performance. He has improved his position in 18 of his last 22 races, including the last nine, with an average gain of 4.1 positions per race.

Ericsson has finished in the top 10 in 19 of the last 22 races since its first race in Detroit last year. Consistent production is part of what led his closest challenger, Will Power, to describe him as “probably the best driver on the show.”

Ericsson, who leads Power by eight points, was flattered by the comment made last weekend at Iowa Speedway.

“Hearing that from a guy like Will means a lot,” said the #8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda rider. faster. He’s one of the toughest competitors on the grid, so hearing him say that means a lot. I was happy to hear that.

According to Trackside Online research, Ericsson has gained 700 points since last year’s ‘500’, which leads all drivers. The 30-year-old Swede leads the road course and oval points standings this season, and he could also be in the top five on street circuits, if not for finishing 22nd at Long Beach and failing to finish the race for the only time. this season.

Ericsson led the points standings after six of 12 races. In the GMR Grand Prix here in May, Ericsson finished fourth after starting 18th, another example of how he has come through the field many times.

Rosenqvist even joked about it on Friday.

“Every time I talk to him and he’s had a bad qualifying, it’s like, ‘Oh, I’m just going to cross the peloton,'” the poleman said.

Says Ericsson: “One of my strengths has always been my racing skills and my ability to pick the right situations to fight. That’s why we’re leading the championship because we’re so good at transferring from where we start to good finishes. We have to keep doing this for the last five (races). That’s the key, and I think we can.

It starts with a good run on Saturday. He certainly has a long way ahead of him. Others too.

In addition to Power, who drives the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, four former NTT INDYCAR SERIES champions are in pursuit of the season title. Josef Newgarden (No. 2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet) and Scott Dixon (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing) are third and fourth respectively, both 34 points off the lead. Newgarden have the advantage thanks to their four victories. Alex Palou (#10 The American Legion Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) trails by 36. O’Ward, chasing his first series championship, is 44 points off the lead, making him the closest top six so far in the season since the current points structure was implemented.

After today, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES heads to Nashville for the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix on Sunday August 7th.

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