Palou, Rosenqvist Stay Put

In the end, it was much ado about nothing. Alex Palou and Felix Rosenqvist will stay with the teams they raced for in 2022 next year. In nearly simultaneous announcements, both drivers and teams declared that 2023 will be status quo.

Palou in Victory Circle Sunday

Palou had indicated mid- season that he had signed with McLaren on the heels of a Ganassi announcement that his contract with the team has been extended. Palou ended the season with a win in the final race of the year at Laguna Seca last Sunday. He was fifth in the final standings. From Palou’s Twitter account:

“I’m also grateful that @CGRTeams will allow me to pursue F1 testing with @McLarenF1 outside of my INDYCAR commitment.

·Thank you Chip, Mike and the entire team for your willingness to work together and help support both the team and my personal goals throughout this process. “

Rosenqvist’s ride with Arrow McLaren SP was on the line this past season. He finished eighth in the standings, one spot behind teammate Pato O’Ward. Rosenqvist had one pole this season, at Texas. He had signed an extension with the team, but it was not specific as to which series Rosenqvist would be assigned to.

In the team’s news release, Rosenqvist said,

“There’s no better way to enter the off-season than with this news! I love this team, and I’m so happy to continue working with all the incredible people I’ve gotten to know over the past two seasons. With everything the team has in the pipeline, the continuing relationship with Pato and the addition of Alex Rossi, we are going to bring our A-game for 2023. It will be the most exciting season for me so far. Let it be March already!”

Laguna Seca Wrap Up

Post season depression is beginning to settle in, so I will attempt to combat it with a few final thoughts on the season finale.

Weather Tech Raceway is a nice track. i love the way it flows and its elevation changes. One the track sorely lacks are video boards. The only video screens are high atop the scoring pylon, too high and far away for most fans to see. I hope the management will consider installing some fan friendly screens.

I enjoyed watching Sunday’s morning warmup from turn 4. It is a sweeping righthander where you hear the change in engine pitch and hear the tire over the rumble strips as the cars head for the climb up to the corkscrew.

Will Power on his way to his second Indycar title

I watched the race from the front stretch just past the starting line. There was some fun drag racing going on at that spot throughout the field. I could see if a pass was successful when the cars got turn 4. My vantage point allowed me to see turn 4 and 5 to the right, and turns 9 and 10 to the left.

Yellow Nonsense

It was not the first time this season race control did this, but I hope it’s the last. Waiting to throw a yellow so that everyone can pit while a car is stopped in a dangerous position is foolish and detracts from the spirit of the game. They say they don’t want to ruin anyone’s race, but whether a race gets ruined is really the team’s choice when they choose when to pit or what tires to use. Let the teams ruin their own races. If a yellow is required, throw it, regardless of the lap or pit window. Indycar might as well go to competition cautions if they continue this policy.

The Sad Saga of the Final Race Winner

Whoever wins the final race of the season, if he’s not the series champion, gets a laurel and hearty handshake and then moves along. I know everyone is eager to crown the champion, and there is a television window to consider, but Alex Palou’s win was significant in many ways.

The win came amid the controversy surrounding his uncertain situation with Ganassi/McLaren for 2023, and ongoing legal battles. I admire the way Palou has kept his focus while all this is happening.

The Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey was also the final chance Palou had to win a race as defending series champion. 2004 was the last year in which the previous year’s champ did not win a race.

It’s a difficult situation. I hope Indycar can find a way to give the final race winner more recognition.

A Final Note to Start the Offseason

I am already sick of the Kyle Busch in the Indianapolis 500 next year talk. If he does come, at least there will be no suspense about Rookie of the Year.

Quick Thoughts- Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey

Congratulations to Will Power on his second Indycar championship. Power had a consistent season. His lowest finish was 19th at Road America, and he only finished outside of the top ten four times.

Race winner Alex Palou avoided the distinction of being the first defending championsince 2004 to not win a race the following year. Scott Dixon was the last champion to not have a win the nfoloowing year. It was a brilliant drive in what may be Palou’s final ride for Ganassi.

Congratulations to Christian Lungaard on winning the Rookie of the Year.

Palou overcame a six place grid penalty after an engine change. He backed up his fastest time in Saturday’s practice by leading this morning’s warmup.

What a great drive by Josef Newgarden coming from 25th to second.

I admire Palou’s ability to focus on the job at hand and push all the off track drama to the side. To win a race in the atmosphere he endured the second half of the season is amazing.

What a tough way for Callum Ilott to end the season after a great qualifying yesterday. With Juncos Hollinger Racing expanding to two cars form 2023, Ilott should have a more consistent year.

Newgarden won five races this season yet came up short in the championship. Two finbishes of 24th and 25th probably cost him the title.

Results

Thanks for following along this weekend. Tomorrow is a long btravel day. I willm have a season wrap up on Tuesday.

Palou Leads Morning Warmup

Alex Palou ran the quickest lap in the warmup for this afternoon’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey. Palou qualified fifth but will start 11th follow2ing an engine change last night.

Scott mcLaughlin had the second best lap, Alexander vRossi was third, and David Malukas was fourth. Polesitter Will Power finished the session 18th.

I spent part of the practice watching from turn 4. It is a great place to watch. The cars slow down and flow smoothly through the turn, and you can hear them run over the rumble strip. There could be a perpetual dust cloud here during the race.

Results

Grid Penalty for Palou

From Indycar

INDYCAR Announces WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca Grid Penalty 
 INDIANAPOLIS (Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022) – INDYCAR officials have announced a six-position starting grid penalty for the No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing entry for an unapproved engine change following Saturday’s qualifications at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.The team was in violation of:Rule 16.2.3.2 A fifth (5th) Engine is eligible to earn Engine Manufacturer points if a Full Season Entrant has completed the Full Season Entrant Engine Mileage with its first four (4) Engines. Otherwise, a fifth (5th) or more Engine does not earn Engine Manufacturer points and will be considered an Unapproved Engine change-out.According to Rule 16.6.1.2, the penalty is a six-position starting grid penalty on road and street course events and nine positions at oval events and will be served at the series’ next event, which is the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, today, at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. 

Race Day at Laguna- The Season Ends

Today’s schedule. All Timnes Pacific

8:00 – 8:15 T&S On Track
8:30 – 8:45 Warmup US Touring Car Championship
9:00 – 9:30 Warmup NTT INDYCAR Series Peacock
10:00 – 10:55 RACE 2 Indy Lights
11:40 Driver Introductions
12:10 Pre-Race
12:30 RACE NTT INDYCAR Series NBC Peacock
3:30 – 4:20 RACE 2 US Touring Car Championshi

Please take a moiment to remember the events of 9/11/2001 today.

Only 95 laps remain un the 2022 NTT Indycar Series season. Will Power looks to cob=nvert his record breaking pole into his second championship today. A victory would pull him even with Micgael Andretti with 42 career wins,

If Scott Dixon can move up from 13th, he could also contenfd for the title, buit he has to get ahead of Power by several placeas.

The forecast calls for cooler temperatures, with 70 degrees predicted at race time.

I’m hearing Alex Palou may have a six spot grid poenalty for an un approved engine change. Confirmation may come by mornung warmup.

History

The quest is over at last. Will Power not only took a huge step toward his second Indycar championship, he made history today by winning the pole fo the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey. Oower is now the all time career leader in earned poles with 68. Mario Andretti had held the record for 29 years, Andretti greeted Power in the pits to congratulate him.

Indycar photo by Joe Skibinski

Reflecting on his achievement, Power said, “Tremendous milestone. To be out there with an iconic guy like Mario is amazong. When I think about the era he raced i, how dangerous it was and how much more of a risk it was, it just blows my mind I’m there with Mario.”

Power’s title hopes recieved a boost in Round 1 when second place Josef Newgarden spun in turn 8 and stalled the car,ending his day. Newgarden will start last. Scott Dixon, who also trails Power by 20 points, just missed advancing to the next round. He was 0.087 seconds slower than teammate Marcus Ericsson.

Rookie David Malukas led Group 1 and Felix Rosenqvist led Group 2. neither advanced to the Fast Six. Alexander Rossi led the second round, while Power finished third.

In the Fast Six Power took the lead early and held on. Rookie Callum Ilott will start second, 0.02 seconds behind Power.

Ilott starts a career best second tomorrow

Notes

Two time Laguna Seca pole sitter Colton Herta did not get out of round 1 and will start 18th tomorrow. Herta had won the last two races here.

David Malukas will start seventh after leading group 1. Christian Lundgaard starts 16th. Lundgaard has five point lead over Malukas for Rookie of the Year.

If Power wins tomorrow, he will tie Michael Andretti for third place in career victories with 42.

Winning a race from pole has been difficult this season.Only Scott McLaughlin has done it. Mclaughlin won at Long Beach and Portland after qualifying first.

I remeber at the end of the 1977 Indianapolis 500, when A.J. Foyt won his fourth 500, thinking I would never see anything inracing more historic. Shows how much I know.