Rosenqvist and McLaughlin praise depth of talent in IndyCar after thrilling Laguna Seca qualifying

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Qualifying at Laguna Seca delivered another superb IndyCar qualifying session as Felix Rosenqvist secured a fifth career pole. It’s also his second of 2023. That means no driver on the grid this year has bagged more than two poles this season.

Polesitter Rosenqvist and P2 man Scott McLaughlin discussed the quality and depth in the series when they were told eight different drivers scored two poles across the 2023 campaign. In Saturday’s qualifying, 0.0097s covered the top two in a brilliant end to the Fast 6.

Photo credit: Penske Entertainment | Joe Skibinski

The 31-year-old Swede explained how a lap that was 3% under the limit when he first drove in the series in 2019 would have got the job done. Now, everything needs to be perfect.

“I think it’s just there’s so many things. Obviously I’ve been in the series for a while now. I feel like when I came into it, you could kind of do a 97% lap if you knew you had the car underneath you and execute. It would normally be enough.

“Now you have to throw everything at it, not only drive-wise and executing the lap, you need the tyre temps to be right, out-laps to be right. You have to have a good set of tyres with you in the Fast Six. You need someone not to put sand on the track in front of you. There’s so many factors.

“I struggled to get into Q2. Then I was pretty comfortable into Q3. Then pole. Every time you’re out there fighting it out, it’s like you have to throw everything at it.”

Three-time Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin agreed with the assessment made by his Swedish rival about how tough it is, and how difficult it can be getting out of Round 1 now.

The 30-year-old New Zealander also praised the talent of the various men and women in the teams up and down the IndyCar paddock.

“Yeah, I think it just shows the talent that we’ve got up and down the depth of the teams. Everyone’s getting so good right now. There’s mechanics and engineers that are going from different teams. Everyone is sort of half understanding what everyone’s doing. Up and down the lane it’s so tight. You just can’t miss.

“Yeah, for me the most stressful part of my weekend is Q1, getting through that, because you know you have the potential if you get through that. Somewhat easier once you get through that session. Q1 is the hardest session by a mile, just getting through that. Then it’s more cadence after that. You have clearer track, whatnot.

“Getting through that is hard. It’s the parity we have, the drivers we have, the tracks we get to race on. A lot of fun.”

There has been some positive signs in regards to TV ratings this year and that the series is starting to get more of the attention it deserves.

McLaughlin explained how every little detail needs to be perfect to be a polesitter and winner in the fiercely competitive series.

“We were just saying in the trailer, it’s so hard to put it together, as you can see by all the red flags and stuff this weekend. The limit is so small, but you have to be on it.

“I said to Cindric, Tim Cindric, yesterday, this is why you come INDYCAR racing. This is why everybody is talking about it. It’s why it’s so cool. You’re so close to the limit. There’s nothing left in the car. The downforce, you’re right on the maximum of everything.”

Photo credit: Penske Entertainment | James Black