IndyCar drivers who can find something more and take over a race are extremely rare. Josef Newgarden certainly fits that bill and, with his third win of the season, the Team Penske driver has served another notice of his intention to become a three-time champion by the end of the year.
Newgarden’s victories are rarely of the flashy variety, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s nearly impossible to beat on even terms. He is the only driver to claim two wins this year, let alone three, and with teammates Scott Mclaughlin and Will Power adding one each, Penske is off to a flying start as he seeks to claim his first championship since 2019. .
Chevrolet also deserves a round of applause for its return to title form. Six wins from eight races – with Pato O’Ward’s win at Barber adding to Penske’s tally – has the Bowtie leading the Constructors’ Championship 678-618 over Honda.
Would anyone like to lead the championship for more than one race? Road America’s 55 laps led to the sixth straight change of hands with the leaderboard as Will Power’s poor day brought Marcus Ericsson back to the points lead after briefly holding it and losing after the Indy 500.
Over eight races, the leaders leaving each race were:
St. Petersburg: Scott McLaughlin
Texas: Scott McLaughlin
Long Beach: Josef Newgarden
Barber: Alex Palou
Indy GP: will to power
Indy 500: Marcus Ericsson
Detroit: Will Power
Road America: Marcus Ericsson
With his victory, Newgarden went from P5 to P3 in the standings (-32 points to Ericsson). Power’s forgettable race was accompanied by a drop to P2 (-27) and despite dropping to 26th in the race with engine issues, Pato O’Ward was not heavily affected during his time. from P3 to P4 (-45). Ditto for Alex Palou, who finished last on Sunday and only fell from P4 to P5 (-47).
Scott Dixon held the position at P6 but lost more ground (from -53 after Detroit to -69).
Let’s end by taking a moment to salute the work done by Newgarden to go from 16th place in the championship in the first round to 3rd place, and Rossi’s rise from 20th place at St. Pete to 7th (-75) at halfway through the season. Felix Rosenqvist also deserves the same praise for his move from P17 to P8 (-90).
Those crisp sounds heard in the back of Pato O’Ward’s Chevrolet Arrow McLaren SP weren’t as expensive as expected. A Chevy spokesperson confirmed the Mexican’s engine fired and ran smoothly in the paddock after the race, but the 2.2-liter twin-turbo V6 had to be ripped out and sent back to Detroit for a full Chevy inspection. Racing and hopefully returned to O’ Ward’s No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP entry to avoid a grid penalty.
In 2020, Scott Dixon was the dominant driver within the Chip Ganassi Racing team as he won his sixth championship. There were a few occasions where his teammates finished ahead of the #9 Honda, but not many, as Dixon was the top CGR rider in the majority of races. The baton was passed last year to CGR newcomer Alex Palou, who not only won the title but also became the first rider to return home for most events.
The baton has been passed again, at least in all eight rounds so far, with Marcus Ericsson leading the four-car home team halfway through the races (Texas, Indy GP, Indy 500 and Road America).
There’s no doubt that Dixon and Palou will be looking to regain control in the coming months, but if Ericsson’s bullish form of late, including the clash with his teammate on Sunday, tells us anything, it’s that he’s on a mission to do great things this year and isn’t worried about playing well with others. The shifting tides within CGR certainly make for something worth following for the rest of the year.
SIMILAR FOR HERTA
Building on Ericsson’s rise to top performer at CGR, Andretti Autosport saw a similar development take place between Herta and Rossi. Of the 16 races in 2021, Herta was the undisputed leader with race results, holding Andretti’s best performance from eight outings. So far in 2022, it’s even between them with three each; Grosjean was the first driver to return home the other two times.
The trend to note here is that Herta has been Andretti’s best player in just one race since Texas in March – when he won at the Indy road course in May – and since then has been c It’s Rossi again, Rossi and Rossi.
It’s fair to say that Devlin DeFrancesco hasn’t covered himself in glory on several occasions this year, but should he be parked, as Will Power suggested after the race? The Andretti Autosport rookie found himself in the crosshairs of another veteran after Sunday’s messy streak where he and Power made contact twice in the space of three corners. The young Italian-Canadian driver blamed Power for the first wheel slap incident in Turn 3 and, at Turn 5, it was Power on the receiving end of the contact that threw his car into the wall.
The two drivers pointed at each other. Power suggested recovery was on the cards at a future race, but those were just useless words unless he wanted to give up hope of winning the championship. So was this nothing more than a proverbial storm in a cup of tea, or should more disciplinary action be taken by IndyCar beyond the stop-and-go penalty that was issued?
Parking DeFrancesco will not help him improve in any way. Despite his youth – he’s only 22 – DeFrancesco has a ton of experience, having raced around the world in junior single-seaters and sports cars. What DeFrancesco lacks, however, is mileage in the big open-wheelers, and it’s here that I think the call to quit Indy Lights after one season repeatedly exposes the lack of experience he has. needs it the most. That’s why removing him from the seat would only exacerbate the problem and kill his confidence.
No disrespect to Devlin, but he’s not an O’Ward, Herta or Kirkwood who only needed a year of Lights to be ready for IndyCar. Going back isn’t the answer for DeFrancesco; he’s here and he has to find the right balance between aggression and caution that was lacking in Texas and again last weekend.
Today, Takuma Sato is revered for his “No Attack, No Chance” mantra that led him to six IndyCar wins, including two Indy 500s. Step back in time to his rookie season in 2010, which came after 90 Formula 1 races, and it’s easy to forget how lousy it was for Taku as he seemingly hit everyone but the race car on his way to 21st in the standings.
I’m not saying DeFrancesco is ready to become everything Sato has evolved over the years, but he’s not the first rookie to make big mistakes on his IndyCar debut. Let’s give him more time to see how he evolves.
IMS/IndyCar sent out a cool note over the weekend from Road America that highlighted its efforts to participate in Indianapolis-area Pride Month activities in June.
- [On Saturday]we will have approximately 30 company representatives marching in the Indy Pride Parade on Mass Ave. downtown.
- On Sunday, we’ll celebrate a member of the LGBTQ+ community in the sport’s fastest seat at Road America. She will be a member of the USA Women’s Hockey Team to support diversity/inclusion efforts in the sports world.
- We also hosted leaders from our local Indy Pride Chapter during the month of May and they will be coming to IMS for another visit this month in honor of Pride Month.
For those who asked why Romain Grosjean’s #28 Andretti Autosport Honda was sporting Pride colors in May rather than June, it was down to the timing of DHL’s sponsorship package for the year.
Grosjean’s car had a different title sponsor in June with Zapata in Detroit and UniFirst last weekend, so DHL went early with the rainbow livery on the sidepods of No.28 last month, but the Frenchman of Swiss origin continued to represent by wearing the same DHL racing suit in Pride colors at both events.
- Jimmie Johnson’s spin and stall into the gravel trap of Turn 3 on lap one elicited the loudest collective groan I’ve heard at a media center this year.
- Hey, a neat and tidy start happened at Road America! Who thinks ?
- Sharp observation from Michael Edlund:
— Michael Edlund (@ArcticLeo) June 13, 2022
- My friend Russ Thompson, NBC’s Supreme Intergalactic Stat Lord, has been tracking driver penalties since 2014. I know this because I asked Russ if the four penalties Tatiana Calderon received at Road America is a record for just one event by a driver. Since the 2014 season, the answer is yes.
- Tati was sentenced to the back of the pack on lap 10 for speeding in the pits. She was given a drive-through on lap 39 for another speeding violation, told to give up a position on lap 48 for not maintaining the speed of the pace car and gave the same penalty on the following lap . She also lost a huge amount of time in the pit lane when her car stalled, was restarted, jumped forward a few inches and stalled again. By the time the car successfully left, 90.7 seconds had been spent in pit lane, nearly triple the length of its other stops, which left the No. 11 Chevy a lap behind. With this problem, plus all the penalties accumulated, she spent 225.6 seconds in the pit lane. Scott Dixon, whose No. 9 Ganassi team was the fastest on the day, spent a total of 97.0 seconds on the lane… Calderon would be credited with P25.
- Until April it would have been crazy to suggest Rossi would become the best Andretti driver in the championship, but here we are in June with him holding the P7 leading Herta to P11 and Grosjean to P12.
- As we were cruising Road America on a golf cart with fellow reporter Jack Benyon, we met a happy family on a golf cart ahead of us and saw that it was IMS President Doug Boles turning and waved behind the wheel. It was a reminder of how much Boles loves racing – he wasn’t on the track for business; it was simply to enjoy the sport in another iconic location. Some of the nicest and most passionate racing fans in the country congregate at Road America, and if you’ve never been there, be sure to catch next year’s race.