Josef Newgarden won. Alexander Rossi was the star. Robert Wickens continues to impress. Passing and the racing was better. The finish was great. The crowd was small.
IndyCar’s first short oval test of the UAK 18 had mixed results. There was more passing, but it wasn’t always easy. Leader Sebastien Bourdais needed several laps to lap the last car in the opening stint. The beginning of the race looked like it was going to be a repeat of first two races here. After the first of two caution flags, Alexander Rossi gave the fans something to hold their interest. A lap down following his drive through penalty for hitting of his crewman, Rossi was determined to unlap himself. He sliced through the field, eventually regaining his lap on the track. He had the fastest car all night. Rossi even led some laps before finishing third. Until the final restart, most drivers st a he’d single file, saving g tires. It made me almost wish for a fuel saving race..
Newgarden, who took fresh tires during the yellow, roared to the front and passed rookie Robert Wickens with two laps to go.
Despite the new aero package, passing was still difficult. The tire degradation didn’t help create as much passing as hoped.
Robert Wickens had another great race was again leading with two laps left. He will get that first win before Indy.
Alexander Rossi’s second straight podium puts him in a great position to fight all season long for the title.
Will IndyCar return to Phoenix? I think the race, which was the best of the three in this set, was good enough to warrant a return. I’m concerned that IndyCar left without a renewal. Both sides sound like they’re interested. Attendance was said to be slightly better.
Sebastien Bourdais’s day got off to a bad start and kept getting worse. He cannot afford another race like that this early in the season.
Why did the last caution take so long? I understand wanting to sweep the track, but no one was using that part of the track anyway.
Race control deserves credit for its judicious use of the yellow. They could have thrown three more but didn’t. Teams might need to adjust strategy to not expect as many cautions this year.
Back Friday with my Long Beach preview.