St. Pete was a great start for Felix Rosenqvist and for Team Ganassi

Good start for team Ganassi at St. Pete as the INDYCAR season is underway AP -PHOTO

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Felix Rosenqvist was buckled into his brand new race car and ready to pull off pit lane when his boss leaned into the cockpit.

“Hey,” Chip Ganassi told his newest driver, “it’s nice to finally have you here.”

Very nice indeed.

Rosenqvist had a stellar IndyCar debut that validated all the buzz surrounding Ganassi’s new hire. He finished fourth, one spot shy of the podium, but used two strong on-track passes on former series champions Josef Newgarden and Will Power to officially announce his arrival. He passed Newgarden for second at the drop of the green flag, then chased Power — one of the drivers Rosenqvist said he most admires in the series — and used a strong inside move on a restart to claim the lead.

He led 31 laps, was never passed on the track and fell out of contention for the victory only because of troublesome pit stops. That he still finished fourth — two spots behind teammate and reigning IndyCar champion Scott Dixon — was no small feat because Rosenqvist drove the final third of the race with a pinched nerve in his right arm.

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