After a processional beginning the race came alive on lap 148 after the last caution period. Staring on lap 150 the lead changed hands four times in 15 laps.
A last turn pass for the win always makes a race better. Josef Newgarden said in the post race press conference that he had conceded the win, but saw an opportunity when he got to turn 3 of the final lap.
There was more passing than I expected. Newgarden said the headwind down the front stretch helped and that the special session yesterday did clean up the high line a bit.
Team Penske has come out of the gate strong this season after a lackluster 2021. In the two races this young season, they have two wins and four of the six podium positions.
Scott McLaughlin is setting himself up for a strong championship run. Two front row starts, a win and a second place finish leaves with a 28 point lead over Will Power.
Jimmie Johnson will get the bulk of the praise for his sixth place finish after starting 18th. He steadily and quietly moved up the field.
But my driver of the day is Santino Ferrucci. Ferrucci replaced Jack Harvey this morning when Harvey was not cleared to drive after his crash in practice yesterday afternoon. Indycar allowed him 15 minutes to shake down the car, which was moved to the back of the grid. For Ferrucci to finish ninth under the circumstances is amazing.
Marcus Ericsson finished third from 14th and being in contention near the end. All four Ganassi cars finished in the top 10.
The season is shaping up to be a shootout between Penske and Ganassi drivers.
Andretti Woes Continue
Andretti Autosport had another forgettable day with three cars finishing in the bottom four positions. Alexander Rossi completed just 11 laps before retiring with mechanical issues. Romain Grosjean went out next with a water pressure problem on lap 103.
Devlin DeFrancesco was involved in a three car crash also involving Graham Rahal and Helio Castroneves. It appeared that he had a hand in all three yellows. I’m anxious to see the replay.
Colton Herta came home 12th one lap down.
AMSP Title Hopes Fading Fast
Felix Rosenqvist did not lead a lap despite starting on pole. Her eventually retired and finished 21st after a bad pit stop. Pato O’Ward hit a crewman on a stop and finished 15th. O’ward is 13th in points and he needs a really good result at Long Beach to get in contention. He is also going to need some help.
More Oval Training for Indy Lights?
Two accidents today involved Indy Lights rookies. Kyle Kirkwood spun and hit the wall in turn 4. Devlin DeFrancesco was involved in a three car accident in between turns three and four.
Texas was the first high speed oval for the rookies. The question is, should Indy Lights run more ovals, especially high speed tracks? The absence of the Freedom 100 at IMS took away the one fast oval for the junior series.
I understand that budget concerns about equipment damage is a factor in the schedule structure, but are they really helping the drivers who come to Indycar without any experience on a track like Texas?