Points Battle- Spoilers, Helpers, Bonus Points

Will Power has a very tenuous lead heading into the final two races

The Indycar title fight is down to four drivers who are separated by just 17 points. Three of the four have nine Indycar championships between them. 2022 is one of the closest four driver battles with two races left that I remember. It is also a team battle, Team Penske vs. Chip Ganassi Racing.

The standings:

I have shown the top six because Alex Palou drives for Ganassi and Scott McLaughlin drives for Penske. They are both a bit too far out to have a realistic chance at the title unless all four ahead of them have some extremely bad luck the next two weekends. but they have a role to play. Palou and Mclaughlin need to help their teammates by taking points away from the competitors on the other team.

If either Palou or McLaughlin should win of the last two races- Palou won at Portland last year- it doesn’t necessarily hurt their team members.

Bonus Points

The three point difference between Power and Newgarden can be contributed to the bonus points Power earned at Gateway last weekend. The championship could come down to who scores the most bonus points at Portland and Laguna Seca. The season long bonus point standings”

Dixon 21 (5 races)

Power 18 (10 races)

Newgarden 18 (9 races)

Ericsson 12 (5 races)

Dixon’s total is skewed by the 12 points he earned for winning the pole at the Indianapolis 500. He would have just 10 bonus points if Indianapolis awarded the normal ingle point for pole.

Power and Dixon are the only two of this group who have earned maximum bonus points for a race.

Testing as Strategy

Most Indycar teams have one test day left, and the top two teams have each chosen a different track to map the final push.

Today, Team Penske tests at Portland. Ganassi tests Monday at L:aguna Seca. Ganassi tested at Portland last year and took the pole and the race win.

Ericsson Walking Fine Line Toward Title

Marcus Ericsson knows what he needs to do to secure his first NTT Indycar Series championship. His mplan is to maximize his position each weekend and not be so aggressive that he loses psotions.

“.I don’t have to be about the gamble. Like we don’t have to try to manage to do everything to win the race, we can do whatever and beaggressive in races, we don’t have any gambling. That’s sort of my my mindset, we need to go out there maximize that we don’t have to, we don’t have to throw away a P5 to have to win.”

Ericsson has scored more points than any other dribver in the series since Nashville last year. He doesn’t plan t change the way the team does things because they are fighting for the title.

” …a fine line because if you start to think too much about it and be clever about it, you’re gonna put yourself in a hole so like I said, we’ve had a good run for the last year and a half. I don’t want to change that the way we do things. I think it’s more like, like I said to my guys, we don’t have to, like, we don’t have to gamble for a bigger goal, right? Like if we were 80 points on the lead, and then you need to win races, you would say okay, like we need to win a race or to finish a championship. But we’re not the ones that has to take a big as to get there physically. So we need to have solid weekend and all the weekends that are leftbe running solidly up front and if we do that, we’re gonna be fine.”

It has been a while since Ericsson has contended for a championship. He is confident in his team and his strategists to help him.

“I haven’t been writing for a championship for quite a while, you know, I’ve got a bit of it last year, but we’re showing the hunter at the end of the season. But before then, you know, it was in my junior career. So it’s a bit a bit new for me, but I want to do things the same way I’ve done the last year I’m gonna keep doing and I I have extremely talented and good pit wall with you know, Brad and Michael Gary. They are so clever and like, you know, so good on strategy and all that. So I promised them and I do it together. And we’re going to try and maximize every weekend.”

On racing at Iowa Speedway:

“I’ve never raced in such a short track I was in my life. And so the track is, well, it’s pretty extreme unique. The first time so pretty shocked driving cars out there and the test in 2019. Like we actually raised on this place ever since I’ve just really enjoyed it. I’ve been racing it awesome. It’s one of the best tracks of the year that we can race on. So I’m really looking forward to it. I really enjoyed being a doubleheader. I think that’s gonna be super interesting. And also display there’s always so many things happening. So he’s like, you know, sSimon last time, he won last. I think that’s everything, you could have a good race car and you know, you hit it right with strategy, you can win from anywhere in this field. So it’s gonna be a really interesting race.”

Ericswson believes he still needs to win at least oine more race to win nthe championship. The series goes to Nashville, where whe won last season, in a couple of weeks. That race may be his best chance to win.

500 Wrap Up- Feels Like Old Times

Marcus Ericsson celebrates with car owner Chip Ganassi. Indycar photo by Joe Skibinski

Everything about yesterday’s 106th running of the Indianapolis 500 felt like a race day in the 1980s- the huge crowd, the electric tingling buzz in the atmosphere, even the way the race played out- had an 80s feel to it. Roger Penske and Doug Boles have worked hard to restore the glory of the 500 after two devastating years of the pandemic. The real proof of their success will be in seeing the momentum of 2022 continuing for the next several years.

The Speedway expected 300,000 fans. i think they had more than that. It was great to see the stands packed again. G stand, where I sit, was fuller than I’ve ever seen it, including in 2016. The infield crowd across the way was definitely larger than I ever recall.

The Race- Classic Style

This was not the best 500 I’ve ever seen, but it was far from the worst. It was darn good race, though. Most of the drama came in the pits where strong pre race favorites Alex Palou and Scott Dixon lost their chances at winning.

The race had a feel of a race in the 1980s, where a strong favorite would dominate only to drop out out of contention due to some misfortune. Yellows occurred at untimely moments, jumbling the field. One driver, usually a darkhorse like Marcus Ericsson, would emerge victorious.

The Lost Boys of Indy

Two teams that used to dominate Indy, Team Penske and Andretti Autosport, have been MIA the last two years. Yesterday Josef Newgardens’s 13th place finish was the best for the team. Both Newgarden and Will Power had issues in the pits. neither was a serious threat to win.

Alexander Rossi’s fifth place finish salvaged a miserable day for Andretti. Rookie Devlin DeFrancesco was the next best on the team with a 20th place result.


The four rookies with long term futures finished in a tight pack from 16th to 20th, with veteran Ed Carpenter in 19th. David Malukas ran a steady pace all day and ended 16th after starting 13th. Kyle Kirkwood arguably had the best drive of the day among the rookies, coming from 28th on the grid to come home 17th.

Christian Lungaard finished 18th. Crashes took out Jimmie Johnson, Callum Ilott, and Romain Grosjean.

Red Flag

I still maintain that the red flag was a horrible call and did nothing to enhance the finish. I will die on this hill. Fans are not entitled to a green flag finish. Some races just don’t have exciting finishes. This is not a video game.

The race ended under yellow anyway, so stopping the race was a moot point. If track safety structures weren’t compromised, there is no need for a red flag in that situation.

21st Century Mario?

Scott Dixon at driver introductions yesterday. Indycar photo by Joe Skibinski

Scott Dixon is becoming the new Mario Andretti. He has one Indianapolis 500 victory, which is a great accomplishment. He also has six Indycar titles and needs just one more win to tie Andretti for second place on the career win list.

Yesterday Dixon passed Al Unser for the most laps led in 500 history.

Like Mario, Dixon has had multiple chances to win a second 500 and has come up short. Similarly, he does not need to win a second 500 to seal his legacy. Dixon is one of the all time greats in Indycar racing no matter how many 500s he has won.

His role, however, is becoming clear as his window of opportunity narrows. Dixon will be an excellent ambassador for the sport when he retires as the mantle passes from Mario.

Quick Thoughts on a Quirky 500

What started as a tag team fuel saving race quickly turned into a race from the 1980s with strong cars dropping out of contention due to strange circumstances and a winner who was considered to have an outside shot taking the checkered flag. What looked like a Ganassi 1-2 blowout turned into a free for all.

The timing of the yellows left the outcome sufficiently in doubt.

In the end, a Ganassi car won. Congratulations to Marcus Ericsson. He drove a calculated race and he had the strongest car at the end.

Since Marcus Ericsson joined Ganassi, I have felt he was a bit underrated. he wasn’t one of my top choices to win today, but I felt he was someone to watch out for.

Losing at the Pit Line

Alex Palou was the victim of timing. he entered pit lane just as the caution came out. The penalty gave him no shot at the win, but he did claw back to ninth.

I can’t remember Scott Dixon making an unforced error on a pit stop. It happened so late in the race that he didn’t have time to recover. I’m beginning to wonder if he will ever win another race. Today seemed like a lock.

Team Finishes

Despite the two Ganassi favorites Dixon and Palou losing their chance to win, Ganassi cars finished first, third, and ninth.

Arrow McLaren SP had finishes of second and fourth. Both Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist had cars capable of winning. Their split strategy late when Rosenqvist pitted early nearly got them to Victory Lane. I didn’t think their cars had quite the pace of the Ganassi cars, but their tactics nearly worked.

TK’s Last Dance?

If this was Tony Kanaan’s final 500, he went out strong. He finished third and led six laps. Kanaan was in the mix all day. I hope he comes back.


Four drivers who started 16th or worse finished in a group in the top ten. Alexander Rossi finished fifth from 20th; Conor Daly was sixth after lining up in 18th; Helio Castroneves went from 27th to seventh; and Simon Pagenaud finished eighth from 16th on the grid.

The biggest mover of the race was Juan Pablo Montoya, who started 30th and finished 11th.

Five of the drivers involved in crashes today had three years or less Indycar experience. Three were Indy 500 rookies.

After the race it looked like Ericsson was going to stop on track and celebrate in a similar manner to Castroneves and Pagenaud did. Instead he pulled into pit lane at the last possible moment. Did Indycar order him to go directly to the Victory Podium? If so, why?

I will have a more extensive race wrap up tomorrow. Thanks for following along for the last three weeks. I have had a lot of fun this month.

Ericsson Thrives in Chaos

Marcus Ericsson doesn’t give up. He has a knack for getting back into contention after misfortune strikes during a race. Last year he won the Music City Grand Prix in Nashville despite an early incident which saw his car become airborne. In last Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix at IMS the Chip Ganassi racing driver came back to finish fourth after an off road adventure.

Ericsson talked about his knack for overcoming adversity.

“I’d like to be you know, running up front all day and having a steady race, leading the race and winning the race but yeah, it seems to be when there’s chaos we thrive so it’s just I don’t know, I think I have a you know, really good fit well, they’re, you know, good guys that are very smart and make good decisions and that helps us put us in good positions. And also for me, I you know, a driver can make a difference as well when it’s you know, harsh conditions and a lot of things happening and then it seemed to work in my favor.”

Passing was tricky on Tuesday, Ericsson said.

“It was pretty busy at times. There were some b ig packs running. And it’s always hard in practice because people are trying to blend out and drop back into field and it sort of gets- a few times where it gets tricky because of it but I thought our car especially towards the end of the day was really, really good, really happy in traffic. So that was promising. So looking forward to building on that again today and see if we can learn more.”

Marcus Ericsson talks to the media this morning

Today the Ganassi team may try some running as a group to get a sense of the draft and how difficult passing may be

“Yeah, I think since we are five cars, we’re gonna try and get out and do some, you know, some profit group brands. So that that is a plan, but as always, you know, we have to see how the day goes. But yeah, I think it’s one of our advantages for us being five cars that we can go out at a specific time together.”

Looking ahead to the weekend, Ericsson is wary of the weather changes and its effect on qualifying.

“It’s tough for me I find because especially around here that the weather and the temperatures really can make a car really good or really bad very quickly. So I think that’s something looking at the forecast for this week. Now. It was raining all day yesterday. I think the track is going to be pretty green to today, but it’s gonna warm up in the afternoon. So let’s see how that is. And even tomorrow is supposed to be really hot and windy. And then you look at Saturday and Sunday and it seems like it’s a cold front coming there. So I think it’s going to be quite tricky for all the teams and drivers to sort of try and get the get the car in the sort of sweet spots because around this place, you know, small changes makes a big difference. So yeah, it’s definitely a challenge and I think the experienced guys probably have a bit of upper hand there on starting you know, it’s my fourth year so I’m getting there but compared to hell, you and these guys I have a few years ago.”

I think Ericsson is a driver to watch in qualifying and the race. I have him as a dark horse to win.

Ericsson Fastest in Morning Warm Up

Marcus Ericsson turned the quickest lap in the final warm-up session for the GMR Grand Prix. Ericsson edged Callum Ilott by 0.113 seconds. Pole sitter Will Power was ninth and Alex Palou, who starts second, was eighth.

Six Honda cars were in the top 10 in the thirty -minute practice, which ran green the entire way.

Reminder- the green flag time has been moved up to 3:07 pm Eastern to avoid as much of the thunderstorms as possible. The documentary The Club will still air at 2 pm on NBC.

The chance of rain may cause some teams to rethink their starting tire choices.

Some photos from the warmup.

Sato pit stop.

Will Power


Caesar’s Sportsbook has taken over the spot where the memorabilia show used to be. It is a betting parlor. I’m not sure if I like this idea.

The race will go on if there is only rain. Lightning will cause a red flag. I believe a halt for lightning will be at least thirty minutes. 44 laps will be an official race.


Nashville Wrap-Up: A Couple More Race Thoughts and The Event

Indycar photo by Chris Owens

Marti Update: She is doing very well and is awaiting for a space to open up at a rehab facility in Indianapolis. I think we will see a full recovery. Thanks again to everyone for their concern and the many people who asked about her this weekend.

Per my post earlier this afternoon, my condolences to the family of Bob Jenkins, who lost his battle with brain cancer today. He was my favorite broadcaster of this era, and Imissed his voice at IMS this May.

Final Race Musings

James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay picked up the gauntlet for Andretti Autosport yesterday with their best finishes of the season. Hinchcliffe’s podium is probably too late to save his seat in the 29, but might help him land somewhere else for 2022.

I don’t think enough has been said about how well Marcus Ericsson drove once he got to the lead on lap 56. He easily kept Colton Herta at arm’s length and pulled away from Scott Dixon on the final restart. In spite of his crazy day, Ericsson deserved the win.

Bad races happen, and it is unfortunate that the first Music City Grand Prix turned out to be one. Running 42% of the laps under caution is not great for attracting new fans.

What Needs to Improve

Five things that will improve the fan experience:

  • Signage- as the weekend went on, more directional signs appeared, but not all of the grandstands had exterior signs indicating which sections were at which entrance. More track maps would have helped as well, especially having them near the directional signs.
  • *Water filling stations. The Know Before You Go section said fans could bring an empty water bottle and that there would be places to fill them. Outside of the fountains in the stadium concourse, I only saw one place to fill bottles, and it didn’t appear until Sunday morning. There need to be several of these in different locations, and they need to be there on Friday.
  • Tickets- I hated the electronic tickets. They were difficult to access. Sending tickets via email link that can be screenshot on your phone would be much more convenient, especially when for the first time all weekend, they started checking tickets at the grandstand entrance. It created a backup with everyone having to get out their phone and find their tickets again.
  • Grandstand Access- A reserved seat had to be purchased as a three day package. On Friday and Saturday fans could go into any grandstand they wanted to and no one checked their tickets. On Sunday for the Indycar race, security guards began checking tickets. People who had been sitting in the stands all day had to have their tickets checked. Other street races make Friday a free day to attract more local fans, which leads me to my final point.
  • Pricing- I thought this was the most expensive three day seat I have purchased at a street race. Because of the ticket price, I did not buy a paddock pass. I thought the paddock should have been included at the price point of the seats. It would have made the tickets more reasonable.

Ending With Some Positives

The promoters got what they wanted- a well attended, well promoted event. I saw signs at several major intersections in Nashville during the two weeks I was in town.

There was local buzz. The television ratings in Nashville were exceptionally good. This morning I stooped for breakfast at a Starbuck’s. I was wearing on of my The pit Window shirts. The woman taking my order noticed and asked me if I enjoyed the race. She then asked how I though the event could improve next year. I shared a few suggestions. She said,”Well I hope you come back for it next year.” This is exactly how street races grow.

When I got to the hospital this morning, Marti told me her nurse Sunday afternoon said that everyone at the hospital was talking about the race.

Now that it appears we have another solid street race in the making, let’s find a couple more ovals.

Thanks for following along this past weekend. There is another race this coming weekend, I hear.

Quick Thoughts- Music City Grand Prix

I will have more tomorrow night after i return to Indianapolis. Marti is awaiting the okay to transfer back to a rehab facility in Indianapolis.

I have seen worse races. I just don’t remember when. I don’t mean bad races, such as Texas 1 this year where there is no passing. I mean races where caution follows caution continuously. There were nine cautions today. The frequent yellows threw all pit strategies out the window, and the red flag with five laps to go did bit help things for a race that just needed to be put out of its misery as soon as possible.

It wasn’t all bad, though. Laps 50 -75 were really good, as we watched Colton Herta pick off one driver after another and stalk leader Marcus Ericsson. When Herta locked up his tires in an attempt to pass Ericsson, he needed to settle for second place. His crash brought an effective anticlimactic end to the race.

A very good day for Andretti Autosport turned into just a good day, with James Hinchcliffe earning a podium and Ryan Hunter-Reay finishing fourth. Besides Herta’s crash, Alexander Rossi was running in the top three when came together with Pato O’Ward, ruining both drivers’ chances for a good result.

Winner Marcus Ericsson had an up and down day-literally. On the first restart he plowed into the back of Sebastien Bourdais’ car, lifting the nose of Ericsson’s car in the air, served two penalties, made six pit stops, yet somehow through the chaotic pit stop schedules ended up leading the race.

Alex Palou didn’t have a great day as he got stuck in traffic after his first stop and couldn’t seem to pass anyone after that. Still, he ended up seventh and actually increased his points lead over second place. Palou continues to take what the race gives him to get the most points he can. This is why I thnk he will win the championship.

Dalton Kellett completed just 37 laps but seemed to be involved in several incidents.

Marcus Ericsson is fifth in the points with a second and a first in his last two races.

The race took just 18 and a half minutes less to complete than this year’s Indianapolis 500.

I will have more on the race tomorrow night and a weekend wrapup on Tuesday. there is lots to discuss about how this event needs to move forward.

Power Sees Red -Thoughts on Detroit Race 1

Photo of Marcus Ericsson by Chris Owens, Indycar

Let’s begin at the end. The red flag with six laps go was uncalled for. A yellow would have worked. The race may or may not have restarted. I don’t believe in throwing a red flag just so a race can finish under green. Fans are not entitled to a green finish, and drivers accept that sometimes a race finishes under caution.

Congratulations to Marcus Ericsson on his first Indycar victory. He joins Kenny Brack and Felix Rosenqvist as drivers from Sweden who have won at least one Indycar race. Ericsson is the fourth first time winner this season as Indycar continues its streak of a different winner every race. Will the string be broken tomorrow?

Photo by Chris Owens, Indycar

Will Power was furious after the race, as well he should have been. His best drive of the year was wasted. I thought he would come out strong today to make up for his showing in the Indianapolis 500. I thought he was motivated today. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him win the pole and lead every lap tomorrow. Look up his interview with Kevin Lee on NBC Sports. I haven’t seen him this angry since Loudon.

Alex Palou retains the points lead by 15 points over Pato O’Ward. Scott Dixon is 26 points behind. Palou started last and finished 15th.

All three of Chip Ganassi Racing’s full time drivers have won a race this year, while Team Penske is still looking for its first victory in 2021. Penske drivers were having one of their better days of the year today until the red flags quashed their strategy.

Today’s race was probably the best one I have seen at Belle Isle. There was lots of passing, different pit strategies, and end of race drama.

Late news from on Felix Rosenqvist from Dr. Billows:

“Evaluation revealed no life or limb threatening injuries, he remains awake and alert, he will be observed overnight prior to discharge from the hospital”

Rosenqvist’s crash was one of the scariest I have seen. The statement implies that he has not been cleared to drive tomorrow. I’m not sure if the car will be ready.

Takuma Sato ,Graham Rahal, and Santino Ferrucci of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing had outstanding drives today, finishing 4th, 5th, and 6th, respectively. Sato started 16th, Rahal 20th, and Ferrucci 21st. It was the team’s best day of the season.

Today was the first race of 2021 where Team Penske cars looked to have a winning race pace. Simon Pagenaud looked to be on a winning path until the red flag, and Josef Newgarden looked to be in line for a top five finish as well. It seems strange that this team has not won a race yet this year. Today was just the second time in 2021 a Penske driver was not on the podium.