More Mid Season Thoughts- Disappointments

Photo:Have we seen the last of Pato O’Ward in Indycar?

There are parts of every season that just don’t come together as some had hoped. Sometimes fans think a team or driver will have a better year than the previous one, but things don’t always work out that way.  Here are four drivers and/or teams, in no particular order,  I feel have not been as strong as I expected.

Zach Veach

Maybe I was expecting too much at once. Veach, in his second year at Andretti Autosport, has actually improved his average  qualifying position through Texas to a 15.4 from 17.2 in 2018. His finishing average has dropped just a bit, to 15.7 from last season’s 15.2 at this point. He is 19th in points this year. At this point last year, Veach sat 15th.

Since he did better in 2018 at tracks where he had tested, I thought Veach would have a better year since he had seen every track after 2018.  I hope he has a strong second half of the season.

The Disappearance of Pato O’Ward

Pato O’Ward was one of the rookies I was most looking forward to watching drive this season. Before the first race, the 2018 Indy Lights champion losthis full season ride with Harding Steinbrenner Racing. After missing St. Pete, O’Ward and Carlin racing announced a 12 race package, including the Indianapolis 500 and essentially covering the races Charlie Kimball wasn’t running.

O’Ward participated in every race beginning at COTA. He did not qualify for the 500 after a crash early in the week. Indianapolis took the remainder of O’Ward’s Indycar budget. . During May Red Bull signed O’Ward to their junior program, giving him a chance to be a Formula 1 test driver for Toro Rosso. Carlin later announced he would not drive at Gateway or Iowa.

We likely won’t see O’Ward the rest of the season and he probably will drive in Europe next year. It’s a shame that Indycar will miss out on seeing him race. O’Ward would have added even more excitement to an already stellar rookie class.

A. J. Foyt Racing

Like Charlie Brown attempting to kick the football, I keep thinking this team will show improvement when the new season begins. Like Charlie Brown, my hopes fade quickly. Outside of Matheus Leist’s 4th at the Indycar Grand Prix and Tony Kanaan’s 9th at the Indianapolis 500, the results aren’t there again. Kqanaan is 17th in points and Leist is 20th.

The drivers are in their second season with the team which should have resulted in some progress from 2018. In an interview before last Saturday night’s ace at Texas, A. J. said he was not happy with how things were going and said some changes will be coming.

It is painful to see one of the greatest names in racing struggle annually. I hope they can get back to at least being competitive.

The Pits

It seems as if there is more going on in the pits than on the track this year.  Through nine races, there have been 37 penalties assessed for pit infractions. There were twelve in the 500 alone. In 2018 35 pit infractions had been called by this point. In 2019, however, we have seen several cars spin in the pits. Takuma Sato’s violent pit incident Saturday was the worst of the year to date.

I’m not sure what can be done to lower the number of pit incidents.  The cars can’t reasonably enter the pits any slower than they do now and still have a chance in the race. I’d rather see action on the track than in pit lane.

Overall, it’s been a good season. I’m excited to see how the second half plays out.


Programming note: Motor Trend TV will show the entire LeMans 24 hour race this weekend.  They are also showing qualifying on the Motor trend app. Tv coverage begins at 8 am EDT Saturday.

Scott Dixon and Sebastien Bourdais will drive for Chip Ganassi’s Ford GTE-Pro team. This, sadly, is the last LeMan races for these beautiful cars. Ford ends its GT program at the end of the season.