Watkins Glen- The Semi Final

Hard to believe there are just two races left in the Indycar season.  This weekend’s race at Watkins Glen will tell us what might happen in two weeks at Sonoma. It’s great that IndyCar can race at another historic track this late in the season and that it has meaning in the title pursuit.

The return to Watkins Glen last year as an emergency replacement for the failed Boston Grand Prix was a hit with the fans.  The picturesque setting rivals Road America in natural beauty. The track is fast and provides great viewing spots. Unlike last year, when Simon Pagenaud pretty much had the championship in hand, this year will set the stage for a possible title showdown at Sonoma.

This should be another strong track for Chevy, although Honda will not be at the disadvantage they were at Gateway last week. I think we will have as  good a race here as we did at Road America. Penske cars could dominate qualifying with the Hondas of Scott Dixon and Graham Rahal rounding out the Fast Six.

If Scott Dixon wins this race, as he did last year, the series goes to Sonoma with a major points battle to decide the champion. If Josef Newgarden finishes ahead of Dixon, he will be in very good shape barring a significantly bad finish in California to win his first Indycar title. Just 43 points separate the top four in the standings. Will Power is 83 points behind in fifth. Realistically, this race is between Newgarden and Dixon assuming both finish well this weekend.

Other things to watch this weekend- Will A. J. Foyt racing continue the momentum they gained at Gateway? Will Ganassi park another car? Can Ryan Hunter-Reay get one more good result? Alexander Rossi might be in for a very good weekend. He has shown great growth in driving Indycars and is becoming a fan favorite off the track as well.

How will the swirling rumors surrounding Andretti Autosport affect them this weekend? News reported yesterday I’m leaving in the unconfirmed column for the moment.. I think the only solid part as of now is that Takuma Sato is going to Rahal-Letterman -Lanigan Racing as a teammate to Graham Rahal.

Who shows up in Victory Circle? Scott Dixon will win and  tighten up the points race. The series will go to Sonoma with the championship very much up in the air.

I will be at Watkins Glen this weekend beginning Thursday. I plan to drive the original course on the public roads and will share my experience next week. I’m also planning on going to Ithaca for dinner one night. Hope it’s not too much of an odyssey to get there.

Notes

The Mazda Road to Indy season concludes this weekend. Kyle Kaiser wins the Indy Lights title simply by qualifying. Oliver Askew should win the USF 2000 crown. He has a 13 point lead over Rinus Veekay. The Pro Mazda champion  will be either Victor Franzoni or Anthony Martin. Franzoni leads Martin by just 2 points.

Final attendance figures for Gateway have yet to be announced, but it appears the total will exceed 40, 000.  Gateway is my nomination to host the Indycar season finale in the future. More on this next week.

I’m hopeful Andretti Autosport puts an end to all the speculation this weekend and declares which engine they will use this weekend. Manufacture testing starts soon after the end of the season, and they need to get a handle on the new package quickly.

Jack Harvey will drive the SPM number 7 car this weekend and at Sonoma. The two time Indy lights runner-up is the second driver in the car since Mikhail Aleshin left the program before Pocono. This could be part two of an audition for this car for 2018.

Josef Newgarden has three wins and a second place in the last four races.

 

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