Road America Preview: Pivotal Weekend for Rossi and AA

Road America is the crown jewel of road courses in North America. Indycar returned to the 4.048 mile course in 2016 after a nine year absence.  It’s a shame they ever left. This place is designed for Indycars.

The REV Group Grand Prix doubleheader this weekend begins a crucial part of the season for Alexander Rossi and the Andretti Autosport team. Rossi, a preseason title contender, sits 23rd in points after two dismal performances at Texas and Indianapolis. Mechanical woes in bot races left him out of consideration for a good finish. His DNF at Indianapolis last weekend really hurt.  The good news for Rossi is he returns to the track where he dominated the race last year, winning by 28 seconds.  Hew needs to win at least one of the races and have a top five in the other one to begin his steep climb up the points chart.

While Rossi’s struggles stand out, the rest of Andretti Autosport has drivers all over the map. Jack Harvey,whose Meyer Shank team is an associate team of Andretti, sits 17th. Ryan Hunter-Reay also has had some issues in the first two events ranks ninth. Zach Veac looked good at Texas with a career-tying best finish of 4th, but struggled last Saturday. He is currently 6th in points. Colton Herta leads the team, quietly resting in 4th place after two races. Herta won the pole at Road America last year. Rossi beat him to the first turn and no one saw him the rest of the day. If Herta repeats as pole winner, he won’t get beat again. Despite Herta’s standing, he hasn’t been mentioned much. I think that will change Saturday and Sunday.

Another Top 5 for ECR?

One of the nicest surprises in the young 2020 season has been the performance of Ed Carpenter racing drivers. Carpenter was fifth at Texas. Rinus VeeKay placed fifth last Saturday after starting 18th. The rookie moved up 13 places in a race that had just four laps of caution. Conor Daly was in the top 10 most of the day at Indianapolis, but faded to 12th at the finish. Overall ECR has shown a lot of improvement over previous years. Road America will be a big test for their program.

Will Dixon Stay Undefeated?

The odds are against Scott Dixon sweeping the weekend and winning the first four races of the year. However, it is not something that would surprise me. The Ganassi team has looked well prepared upon arrival for the first two races. Should he sweep, Dixon will have amassed 50 career victories. We don’t see that very often. Only twice, actually.  Winning  just one of the two races would give the five time series champion a huge advantage for the rest of the year.

Conditioning and Water

After the GMR Grand Prix driver concerns about stagnant air in the cockpit caused by the aeroscreen and their drink  bottle placement heating their drinks has brought about some changes. The water bottle has been moved away from the heat source and he tube has been shortened. On pit stops, the additional crew member assigned to remove aeoscreen tearoffs will also hand the driver a water bottle during the stop. This will allow the drivers to have more water available while they are on track. Some drivers ran out of fluids early last weekend.

I don’t expect conditioning to be a problem at Road America. the track is not as physical as the IMS road course. Who will win? I think Rossi wins one of the races and Will Power bounces back from his pit issues to win the other one.