Herta, Rossi Lead IMS Road Test Day

Simona De Silvestro on track at Thursday’s test

Colton Herta and Alexander Rossi were the tow fastest drivers in Thursday’s test on the IMS road course. Eight drivers from four teams turned laps on a day that might closely reflect the conditions for the Gallagher Grand Prix July 30.

Herta was happy to drive the track on which he won the GMR Grand Prix in May in dry conditions.

“It’s good to get an understanding of what its going to be like that day,” Herta said.

Colton Herta

Grosjean Talks about May

Romain Grosjean had an issue with his car in the morning and only ran two laps. he talked about his experience in his first Indianapolis 500.

“I was annoyed with the car. I hope I never have that car again,” he told the media. Asked his impression of the opening ceremonies, Grosjean said “That was really cool.”

Romain Grosjean

Kirkwood Excited for Mid Ohio

Kyle Kirkwood is looking forward to next weekend’s race at Mid Ohio. The rookie for A. J. Foyt Racing has had a lot of success there when he was driving in The Road to Indy.

“Mid Ohio is my number one track. I can’t wait to go to that one,” Kirkwood said. he also noted that the Lexington track is probably the best road course for the team.

“I just love driving that track” he said.

Kirkwood said Iowa was “a lot of fun to drive.”

Kirkwood thought the 500 pre race was “Amazing. I don’t think anything really compares to that. You sit on the grid, and I’ve never had that sensation of the crowd and the prerace ceremonies. I thought it was pretty big at St. Pete. Pretty much every other grid I go to will be less nerve wracking because of the experience I had at the 500.”

Kyle Kirkwood

Photo Gallery

Simona De Silvestro prepares to go on track
Pato O’Ward
Alexander Rossi
Devlin Defrancesco
Much of test days is sitting in the car

Rosenqvist Stays with McLaren Team

Image from McLaren

The announcement doesn’t say whether he will remain in Indycar or move to Formula E, but it does confirm that Felix Rosenqvist has a job in the Mclaren family for 2023 and beyond.

The official news release from McLaren:

McLaren Racing has signed a multi-year deal with Felix Rosenqvist to remain on the team’s driver roster from 2023 and beyond.

McLaren Racing is currently in the process of evaluating its driver line-ups for 2023 with the newly formed McLaren Formula E Team set to embark on its debut season in the all-electric racing series and plans to expand Arrow McLaren SP into a three-car team with Felix set to be driving in one of the two series.

McLaren Racing is currently in the process of evaluating its driver line-ups for 2023 with the newly formed McLaren Formula E Team set to embark on its debut season in the all-electric racing series and plans to expand Arrow McLaren SP into a three-car team with Felix set to be driving in one of the two series.

Felix, from Värnamo, Sweden, joined Arrow McLaren SP in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in 2021. Since joining the series in 2019, when he was named Rookie of the Year, Felix has secured three podiums and two pole positions. Felix recently finished the 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500 in an impressive fourth place, and currently occupies a spot in the top-10 among a competitive drivers’ championship.

Rosenqvist’s racing career also includes a stint in Formula E, having raced in the series for three seasons from 2016 to 2019, winning three races, securing six pole positions and seven podiums.

The full Arrow McLaren SP and McLaren Formula E 2023 driver line-ups will be confirmed in due course.

Felix Rosenqvist, said:

“I’m delighted to be remaining with McLaren for 2023 and beyond. With the team expanding into Formula E next season, it provides additional opportunities for me both in the USA and Europe and I look forward to being in a position to announce my plans in the coming weeks. I’ve loved my time with the Arrow McLaren SP Team in IndyCar driving the No. 7 car and we’ve had some great moments together, including securing pole earlier this year in Texas and coming home P4 in the Indy 500. I’m excited and grateful to be given this opportunity to explore the new options available to utilise my experience to help McLaren start 2023 on the strongest possible footing.”


Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing, said:

“I’m delighted to be continuing our relationship with Felix. He’s a fantastic racer, with a lot of experience in many different types of racing cars. As a proven race winner in both categories, it was important for us to secure his talent withing the McLaren Racing family as we work to finalise our plans for 2023. His experience in Formula E would be invaluable as we head into this exciting new era of racing for McLaren Racing but he has also made a fantastic contribution to our IndyCar team. I look forward to working together with him to finalise the best opportunity for him next season.”

Indy Lights Switches to Firestone

This is big. Firestone Tires will be the new tire supplier for Indy Lights beginning in 2023. Cooper Tires had been the official tire of the Road to Indy for many years. Last year Indycar purchased the Indy Lights Series. From that perspective, the move makes sense. Running on the same tire as Indycar should also help drivers when they move to Indycar.

The official release from Indycar:

Firestone Announces Plan to Return
as Exclusive Tire Supplier for Indy Lights
 
 INDIANAPOLIS (Wednesday, June 22, 2022) – As part of the grand opening of Firestone’s Advanced Tire Production Center (ATPC) in Akron, Ohio, INDYCAR and Firestone officials announced plans for Firestone to become the sole tire supplier for Indy Lights beginning in 2023.The announcement highlights Firestone’s plans to expand its partnership with INDYCAR as the company is also the exclusive tire supplier for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, North America’s premier open-wheel series.
“Firestone continues to be a phenomenal partner,” said INDYCAR President Jay Frye. “We are proud to see that our relationship is expanding into supplying tires for both of our series. Their attention to detail, safety and performance is unmatched. Supplying their world-class product to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and Indy Lights reflects Firestone’s commitment to INDYCAR’s present and future.”
The move will mark a return for Firestone to INDYCAR’s developmental series as the Bridgestone brands Firestone and Dayton supplied tires for Indy Lights from 1991 to 2013.
“We look forward to expanding our partnership with INDYCAR to supply tires for Indy Lights starting in 2023,” said Lisa Boggs, director of motorsports, Bridgestone Americas. “We know the importance this series has for technology advancement and driver development and are proud to be a part of the journey.”
In the fall of 2021, INDYCAR assumed total control of Indy Lights operations. The 2022 season began a more inclusive atmosphere with the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, with integration in marketing, digital assets and race officiating.“
We want to thank Cooper Tires, who has been a partner with Indy Lights since 2014,” said Indy Lights Director Levi Jones. “Their assistance while INDYCAR assumed operational control was crucial to our success. With Firestone, we cannot wait to begin this new era, which will align the entire INDYCAR paddock and help our rising stars reach their goal of competing in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.”
The 2022 Indy Lights championship continues Sunday, July 3 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Coverage begins at 10:35 a.m. (ET) on Peacock Premium. Coverage is also available from the INDYCAR Radio Network with audio available via the INDYCAR App powered by NTT DATA.

Eight Drivers Testing on IMS Road Corse Thursday

Eight drivers from four teams will participate in a test on the IMS Road Course Thursday. The test is a makeup from a scheduled session that was rained out in April.

Drivers taking part:

Kyle Kirkwood (A.J. Foyt Racing)

Pato O’Ward, Felix Rosenqvist (Arrow McLaren SP)

Devlin DeFrancesco, Romain Grosjean, Colton Herta, Alexander Rossi (Andretti Autosport)

Simona De Silvestro (Paretta Autosport)

Fans may watch from the turn 2 mounds east of the museum. No time frame has been posted, but generally tests at IMS run from 9-5 approximately. There will be a one hour break at noon. The test will not be streamed since it is considered a private test.

Notes

Indy Lights driver Benjamin Pederson will test for Juncos Hollinger Racing next Monday at Sebring. Pederson is looking to move up to Indycar in 2023.

Team Penske swept the top three spots at the 19 car test at Iowa Speedway yesterday. Indycar races at Iowa July 23 and 24.

Indycar at the Halfway Point- Good Racing, Tight Points Battle

It’s hard to believe the NTT Indycar Series is already at the halfway mark of the season. It has been one of the best first halves I remember. No one is running away with the points lead, the racing has been really good, and one team is in position to play spoiler in the second half. As usual, Team Penske is dominating the stats with five wins in eight races, but Marcus Ericsson from Chip Ganassi Racing leads the standings. Each race has had a different driver, representing five teams, on the pole, something that hasn’t happened since 1961. Here are a few of my thoughts on the season so far.

Team Penske: Strong Return to Form

The team which usually leads the series in wins and poles won just three races in 2021 and had five poles, four by Josef Newgarden. This season the team has won five times, three by Newgarden and one each for Will Power and Scott McLaughlin. The team already has three poles.

Power is second in points, Newgarden third, and McLaughlin has faded to ninth after a strong start.

Josef Newgarden is the only driver with multiple wins in 2022

Newgarden looks to be in a good position to win the championship, just 32 points behind Ericsson and with a lot of momentum following his win last Sunday at Road America. Newgarden is the only driver with more than one win this season.

Eight Interesting Races

In a set of eight races we can normally expect a clunker or two, but I think every race in 2022 has held my interest. There has been more passing than I expected, and plenty of twists and turns with collisions and mistakes to change the complexion of several races.

My two favorite races were the GMR Grand Prix on the IMS road course and the Detroit Grand Prix. The GMR GP was a wild affair in the rain with teams flipping strategies nearly every lap. This is a much better race when it rains.

The Chevrolet Grand Prix of Detroit was a beautiful mix of tire strategies. Each of the first four finishers were on a different path.

Andretti Poised for Second Half Run

Aside from Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport has been mostly invisible the past season and a half. Herta has won four races in the past season and a half, but there has not been much else from the team. The trend is beginning to change. Herta won the GMR Grand prix in May, and Alexander Rossi is beginning to return to his old form. Rossi has five top 10s this year, including top fives in the last three races. He won the pole at Road America last weekend, and he has finished on the podium the last two times out. Rossi entered the Indianapolis 500 18th in points and is now 7th.

Rossi on his way to the pole at Road America

The team finish last week of Rossi third, Romain Grosjean fourth, and Herta fifth was its best overall showing in a while. I look for Andretti drivers to be more of a factor in the second half of 2022.

Notes

Some other things to look for staring at Mid Ohio in two weeks:

Will Arrow McLaren SP develop the consistency they seem to be lacking? Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist each have a pole, and O’Ward won at Barber, but we never know which team will show up at any race.

O;’Ward is fourth in the standings, but it seems like he should second or third. Rosenqvist has improved to eighth place, and is driving well enough to save his job, but when they are off they are way off.

Kyle Kirkwood has raised the bar at A. J. Foyt Racing. He has a top 10 finish and has made the second round of qualifying twice. Some of the teams best tracks are on the second half of the schedule, and I look for a couple of decent results before the end of 2022.

Will Scott Dixon win again? The last win for the active career leader in victories was May 1, 2021, 21 races ago. Since that time his teammates Alex Palou and Ericsson have won six times. It has been 17 years since Dixon went through a year without winning at least one race. Mid Ohio or Toronto may be his best two chances. Dixonb has won three times at Toronto and five times at Mid Ohio.

Road America Wrap Up

Indycar photo by Joe Skibinski

A couple of days late with this, but sometimes life gets in the way. Road America never disappoints for atmosphere, beauty, or racing. The trip there always seems like going to another Indianapolis 500 just a few weeks later. One visit a year doesn’t seem like enough. One day I will have to work the Road America IMSA race into my schedule.

A few more thoughts on the 2022 Sonsio Grand Prix:

Veekay’s Summer Fade 2.0?

In 2021, Rinus Veekay was involved in a bicycle accident which kept him out of the Road America event. When he returned, he didn’t seem to have quite the form he showed earlier in the season. This year, he is again on a downward trend which started with the GMR Grand Prix.

The first four races this season- finishes of 6th, 10th, 13th, and 3rd with one pole. Average finish 8th. 7th in points after Barber.

Races 5-8- finishes of 23rd, 33rd, 16th, and 17th. Average finish 22.2. Currently 14th in points.

I hope VeeKay can turn it around in the second half of the season.

AMSP’s RA Power Shortage

When Pato O’Ward’s car lost power on lap 46 Sunday, it was the second time in two years at Road America that the team had a power failure. In 2021 Kevin Magnussen’s car stopped on lap 33. Their second car finished ninth last year and sixth this year. I’m just pointing out an odd coincidence here.

Indycar Feuds?

Will Power was extremely angry with Devlin DeFrancesco after Sunday’s race. DeFrancesco bumped Power going into turn 5, spinning the then points leader and ruining his chance to extend his lead. Power retaliated after the race by running into DeFrancesco on the cool down lap.

I hope this disagreement is settled off track. Indycar is heading to some tracks where retaliation is dangerous/

Conor Daly also mentioned being angry with certain unnamed drivers. His anger is usually directed toward Santino Ferrucci, who wasn’t driving Sunday.

Indycar feuds don’t usually last too long. The long break between race may cool things off on its own.

Indycar racing has been really good this season. At Mid ohio the series has a chance to tie a 190 mark with nine different pole winners to begin a season. Marcus Ericsson and Alex Palou are still looking for their first pole this year. Just saying.

Stay cool and hydrated during this very hot weather.

Quick Thoughts-Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America

Andretti Autosport is back. With finishes of third, fourth, and fifth today, the team is beginning to regain its form at the front. Alexander Rossi now has two straight podiums and a pole.

Josef Newgarden got rid of a lot of frustrastion today. Newgarden wasn’t happy at Detroit not winning the race after winning the pole. His frustration mounted when rossi edged him yesterday for the pole.

Is Rossi making a lateral move for 2023? Once again today, slow fueling cost him the lead on the first pit stop. He never regained the lead. His new team, Arrow McLaren SP continued their pit stop issues today with some slow fueling.

Rhahal Letterman Lanigan racing had their best day in quite some time. Graham Rahal finished eighth, Christian Lundgaard was 10th, and Jack Harvey was 13th.

Newgarden is the only driver with multiple wins in 2022.

Simona DeSilvestro finished 21st in her season debut, and on the lead lap. It was a fine start for Paretta Autosport.

Marcus Ericsson is beginning to do championship things. He had a third secured, bit got to second and now leads the title fight by 27 points. It is at least the sixth time the leader has changed after a race this year.

Callum Ilott finally had a decent race and fiished 11th. It was nice to see him run without issues today.

The hill in turn 5
Bottom of turn 5

Today’s crowd had to be one of the biggest I’ve seen since Indycar returned in 2016.

Turn 5 saw lots of passing action and a couple of mishaps today, including Alex Palou going off track and Will Power’s spin.

Palou gets out of his car

I will have a full wrap up tomorrow. Thanks for following along this weekend. The next race isn’t for three weeks. Enjoy the break.

Race Day at Road America

Today’s schedule: All Times Central

June 12, 2022
7:00 a.m. Gates Open
8:25 a.m. Indy Pro 2000 R#2
9:40 a.m. GF INDY LIGHTS Race Peacock
10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Family Fun Zone Hours
11:45 a.m. NTT INDYCAR SERIES RACE NBC; Peacock
2:15 p.m. RADICAL CUP R#3
3:20 p.m. Vintage Indy Registry

Tire choices:

Colton Herta will serve a six place grid penalty for an unapproved engine change.

It appears Will Power wil try to use the same strategy he used in Detroit last week. I’m not sure that will work on a longer track without a yellow period.

Race time temperature is expected to be 64 degrees and only moving up to 65 by race end.

Alex Palou was fastest in the final warmup yesterday afternoon.

We could see the points leader change again today. Power has a lkead of just three over Marcus Ericsson and just 14 over Alex Palou in fourth.

Alexander Rossi hopes to convert his pole spot into his first win in three years today. His last win came at Road America in 2019.

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Rossi’s Black Strategy Pays off with Road America Pole

It worked for Josef Newgarden last year at Road America, and it worked again for Alexander Rossi in 2022. Rossi ran the entire eight minbutes of the The Fast Six on sticker primary tires, and he becomes the eighth pole sitter in eight races this season.

Rossi’s pole winning lap of 1:44.8656 edged Newgarden by0.0715 seconds.

Rossi explained the tire choice in the post qualifying press conference.

“I think the Firestone blacks, the
primaries, were a pretty easy decision based on what Josef
did last year. I think you saw quite a few guys besides
myself on them as well.
It’s just with the nature of the track, it being so long, a new
black is usually a little bit better than a used red. That
being said it was still a lot of work to get it done. Happy we
were able to achieve it.”

Rossi backed up his second place finish at Detroit last weekend with two strong days in practice and qualifying. The last time Rossi started on the front row at road America, in 2019, he led flag to flag and won by 28 seconds. I’m not expecting that kind of blowout tomorrow, but Rossi does know how to control a race.

Josef Newgarden

Josef Newgarden looked to have the strongest car going into qualifying, but he chose to run used red s. It was an odd choice considering he used the black tires to win the pole last year.

Will Power, who won Detroit from 16th on the grid, will have to nearly duplicate that feat Sunday as he starts 15th.

The only incident came at the start of Round 2 when Callum Ilott locked up the reartires in turn 14 and slid off track. Ilott made the second round after sitting out last week with a hand injury.

Notes

The Fast Six had cars from what we can now call the Big Four- Team Penske, Arrow McLaren SP, and two cars each from Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti Autosport.

The last time eight different pole winners began the season? 1961. That year the first nine races had a different pole winner. No, I cannot name them.

Colton Herta had the fastest lap of the entire session, 1:44.4038 in Round 2.

A final 30 minute practice is scheduled for 4:20 pm. Rain is expected around 4:15.