Deja Vu left the track with 65 laps to go, destroying any chance of a podium repeat from Saturday and smashing Josef Newgarden’s iron grip on Iowa Speedway. Pato O’Ward, who couldn’t figure out how get around newgarden Saturday, jumped to the lead and held on to win the Salue to Farmers 300.
Some Quick Thoughts
Another huge crowd saw another entertaining race. Not quites as god as Saturday’s race, but still an entertaining event.
Today’s win is the third time Pato O’Ward has won the second half of a double header. His fourth career victory came in his 50th Indycar start.
O’Ward’s last three oval finishes- 2nd, 2nd, 1st.
Has Andretti been replaced by Arrow McLaren SP in the Big Three? This weekend’s results-six of Saturday’s top 10 were from Penske, Ganassi, and AMSP. Today’s top 10 had seven finishers from those three.
Romain Grosjean was the star of the wekend for Andretti with two top 10s- 7th and 9th.
Jimmie Johnson finishedfifth today. yesterday he led 19 laps before fading to 11th.
David Malukas ended the day eighth and cut Christian Lundgard’s Rookie of the Year lead to four points.
Marcus Ericsson barely hung on to the points lead. He leads Power by eight points and Newgarden by 34. O’Ward is just 36 points behind.
I talked to several fans today who were at Iowa Speedway for the first time.One, a veteran race fan, was amazed at the racing. A couple was attending their first race ever, and they loved it.
I will have more later tonight and a full wrapup tomorrow afternoon. I Need to hit the roiad back home. This was a fantastic weekend, which I will talk about tomorrow.
Some quick thought on today’s qualifying. A more detailed story will comer later tonight.
Pato O’Ward is the ninth different pole winner in the nine Indycar races in 2022. The last time nine different drivers won poles for the first nine races was 1961.
O’Ward thinks that Will Power would have been a threat for the pole had he not received a penaltty in Round 1 for interference.
The top three in points were eliminated in Round 1. Points leader Marcus Ericsson will start 13th, Will Power lines up21st, and Josef Newgarden will stat 14th. O’Ward sits fourth in point, 45 points behind Ericsson. Tomorrow is a hiuge opportunity for the Arrow McLaren SP driver.
Three rookies made the second round and two just missed advancing to the final round.
Kyle Kirkwood earned his best starting spot of the season. He starts ninth, justmissing the Fast Six.
David Malukas continues to improve and will be eighth on the grid Sunday.
Callum Ilott starts 10th.
Scott Dixon has his bestb road course starting position in fifth.
Nice to see Simon Pagenaud make the Fast Six. The Meyer Shank team has struggled in qualifying this year.
Back later with more about today’s very interesting qualifying.
The kids took over in GMR Grand Prix practice in the second session. The top five drivers are all 25 years old or younger.
Pato O’Ward grabbed the fastest time late in the session from Alex Palou. The top four drivers recorded laps in the 1:09 bracket. The top 23 cars are within one second of O’Ward’s time. Practice had two red flag interruptions, both within the first seven minutes of the session.
Alex Palou was first in the morning practice and second in the afternoon.
Dalton Kellett spun off track into the sand trap and could move. David Malukas went off track to avoid Kellet’s car. Malukas was able to continue back to the pits.
Jimmie Johnson went off track min the same area a few minutes later. The rest of the practice was green.
As I expected, some drivers who were down nthe chart in the morning practice improved their times. Rinus VeeKay was fourth this afternoon after ending the morning session 21st. Veekay was the first driver to turn a lap under 1:10.
Callum Ilott dropped to 19th from second in the just completed round. Christian Lundgaard, fifth in the just completed practice, improved from14th this morning.
I noticed a few more new things around the speedway.
BMW has a new building in turn three. I am not sure what the building will be used for.
Recycling cans are prevalent throughout the grounds next to trash cans. It’s nice to see some tangible environmental commitment by IMS.
Youth ruled the weekend. 21 year old Rinus VeeKay won the pole and dominated the first part of the race. 22 year old Pato O’Ward won the race, passing VeeKay in turn following the final pit stop. The average of the podium-22.7 years. The Fast Six yesterday had an average age of 26.6, thanks to old guys who are 30 years old.
Alex Palou earned his 12th podium and has taken the p[oints lead by three over Scott McLaughlin.
There was no better driver on track today than Will Power. He started 19th and finished fourth. Power has finished in the top four in all four races.
Andretti Autosport had another good day spoiled. Alexander Rossi had a solid fourth place pretty much locked up until a slow second pit stop. Colton Herta charged to the top ten but spun attempting to make a pass.
The drivers trying a three stop strategy were thwarted by Callum Ilott’s untimely spin and the caution it brought. Josef Newgarden was hurt the most by the yellow flag.
Will the Chevy dominance continue through the end of May? The engine has won every race in 2022. Honda is close, but just enough behind to not get a win.
Not only did Team Penske not win a race for the first time this season, but the team missed the podium for the first time.
The rookies suffered their worst race of the season. Christian Lundgaard was the highest first year finisher in 15th.
Is Rossi returning to his villain role? There was a minor incident with Graham Rahal late in the race.
While the front of the field was basically static, there were some good battles deeper in the field. Herta did not pass cars easily. It was fun watching Power move forward.
Scott Dixon missed the podium at Barber for the first time in 12 races.
Felix Rosenqvist once again didn’t take advantage of a good qualifying, finishing 16th.
I will have more on the Barber weekend tomorrow. Thanks for following along this weekend.
Before the first wheel turned at St. Pete 17 days, it was widely assumed that Alexander Rossi would leave Andretti Autosport at the end of this season. Rumors have him going to either Ganassi in the fourth car currently driven by Jimmie Johnson, or Will Power’s seat in car 12 at Penske. I am okay with this. The speculation has simmered since late 2021.
Yesterday, Racer magazine’s Marshall Pruett posted a piece about Pato O’Ward in which the AMSP driver says it is possible he will be in a different situation in 2023. he wasn’t clear whether that ride would be in Indycar with another team or in another slot within the McLaren organization.
Meanwhile, Michael Andretti continues to pursue his goal of F1 team ownership. His quest looks to widened. He still hopes that the current Formula 1 owners will accept his new team. There is also talk that he is speaking to Red Bull about buying the Alpha Tauri team. Should Andretti acquire an F1 component to his racing empire, Colton Herta will move to the European based circuit.
Last week Herta signed a development driver contract with McLaren, which gives him an opportunity to get more super license points to qualify to drive in F1.
The good news is that Andretti is not likely to have a Formula 1 team until 2024, and it is unlikely that McLaren will have an open F1 seat before then for O’Ward. Rossi apparently will stay in Indycar for the forseeable future.
We need to enjoy watching Herta and O’Ward this year and next. After that, who knows? It isn’t as if the cupboard of young talent is bare should the two young guns leave. Kyle Kirkwood, Christian Lundgaard, and Callum Ilott will easily take over the spotlight.
We are just one race into the 2022 season. Can’t we just enjoy the racing at this point and save all the musical chairs stuff until late July? Silly Season seems to arrive earlier every year, but three weeks after the first race is way too early.
My Texas coverage starts later today. I will be on site this weekend. Please follow along.
Saturdays don’t usually start with driver news, so to see a story about Colton Herta signing an F1 development deal with McLaren was a shock to wake up to.
First, let’s look at what the deal is NOT:
It will not affect his Indycar schedule.
Herta will not participate in the first free practice on Friday of a Grand Prix weekend as of now, but there are two opportunities in the United States- Miami in May and Austin in October- which might change that. It is unlikely.
The deal does not affect Pato O’Ward’s status with McLaren. O’Ward is still a long way from F1.
Herta is not in line for a McLaren Formula 1 ride. Lando Norris is locked for several years, Daniel Riccardo is believed to have a contract through 2023.
The deals allows Herta to test in a Formula 1 car. The program allows testing in a 2021 or older car. This program is to develop drivers, not equipment.
From what I have seen, McLaren CEO Zak Brown is helping Michael Andretti should Andretti’s bid to gain entry into Formula 1 for 2024 is successful. He will have a young American driver with some familiarity with F1 machinery.
I think this allows Herta fans the best of both worlds. He will be in Indycar for at least two more seasons, while getting time in an F1 car. After that we will see what happens. Herta will be a great story to follow in F1.
Perhaps we could look ahead to 2026. After a fierce battle between O’Ward and Herta for the Indycar championship, both end up in F1 on teams that are equal. They fight each other all year for points.
The bottom line is I would hate for either of them to leave Indycar, but to get to F1, they just have a couple years if they want to make the move.
Two of the top contenders for the 2022 NTT Indycar Series championship this year say they are focused on Indycar this season while hoping for a future opportunity to drive in Formula 1 someday.
Pato O’Ward finished third in the standings in 2021. The Arrow McLaren SP driver looks to improve that position this season. He did get to test a McLaren F1 car in Abu Dabi in December and still hopes one day to drive in that series. But not this year.
“I mean, right now I have one focus, and that one focus is in INDYCAR. I want to give these guys their first championship. I’d love to give them their first 500. This is what my focus is right now,” O’Ward said during Indycar Content Day yesterday.
“Who knows if F1 will be an option or won’t be an option. Obviously if it comes about, I will 100 percent take it and every single driver in my position would do it because it’s Formula 1. That’s what I grew up watching and that’s what I grew up dreaming of. That same dream that you have as a kid will never go away.
Right now, like I said, I have a challenge here, and I want people to enjoy. I want people to enjoy me in INDYCAR. I want them to know what INDYCAR has to offer, I want them to enjoy me in INDYCAR, the racing.”
O’Ward said to move up in the standings, the team needs to find consistency.
” I mean, in short, I just don’t think we’ve had a very consistent car. Where we’ve been strong, we’ve been very strong, but where we haven’t been strong, we’ve been very weak, and that’s where we’ve lost a lot of points. I feel like there’s no sugar coating it. It’s just not good enough. I have to try and maximize what I can control, and I know the engineers are going to do their part. We’re not up to where Penske, Andretti and Ganassi are. We sure as hell are trying to and working hard for that, but they are Penske, Ganassi and Andretti for a reason. Yeah, I think we’re definitely on the way.”
Unlike O’Ward, Colton Herta sees F1 as another racing series he wants to try. He realizes he has a limited time frame to get an F1 ride, but thinks his age is in his favor.
“The time is right for me if I got the opportunity. I’d have to have a good think about it, but I most likely would do it because I want to run in Formula 1 at some point. That’s not to say I think people forget that I’m 21 years old and I can’t come back in five years and still run 15 years in INDYCAR and be 40. Yeah, I definitely want to give it a crack if I get the opportunity. But definitely not disappointed at all in INDYCAR. I like this series more than any series in the world, and I enjoy racing in a it a lot. But yeah, there’s just a lot of stuff that I’d like to try in my racing career outside of INDYCAR, also.”
As far as pressure to win the championship this season, Herta isn’t feeling any. He has confidence in his Andretti Autosport team.
“No, because I’m 21, so I think I have plenty of time. But I do want to win it earlier rather than later. I don’t feel the pressure from that aspect. I don’t feel like I need to get it done this year. But that’s not to say I don’t want to get it done this year. That’s kind of like my goal.”
Herta said he learned a valuable lesson about collecting points after crashing out of the Nashville race while running second.
“… it was a good learning experience, and it’s probably in the grand scheme of things, it’s probably good that it happened, because you just kind of learn from repetition. That’s probably the best way to learn I feel. That’s something I’ll keep in the back of my head, and I think it’s something that next time it won’t be a problem.”
Right now I have Herta and O’Ward as the top two to win the title. At this point, I give a slight edge to Herta. Both drivers need to be more consistent than last year. With the uncertainty of how long they remain in Indycar, now is the time to enjoy these two young drivers.
As we begin the most festive week of the year, I have some holiday wishes for Indycar. The first practice at St. Pete is just two months from Christmas day. Knowing that should make the holiday better. Here are six things I wish for in 2022.
A Full 17 Race Schedule
Indycar has not run its complete, originally announced schedule in two years. 2021 looked promising, but Toronto again was cancelled due to COVID-19. The border has reopened, but will the Omicron variant close it again? If it does, for how long?
I hope by July that things will have settled down enough to allow the race to go on.
I am not concerned about St. Pete or Texas yet, but the situation warrants wartching.
I wish for the elusive third OEM to be announced. An announcement in 2022 means the new engine will appear in 2024. With the growth in entries anticipated for next season and a number of other teams looking to join Indycar, a third engine is a necessity. Honda is maxed out for the season and the Indianapolis 500. Chevrolet is close to capacity as well.
A third engine opens the possibility for 30 cars at some tracks and 39 or more entries at the 500. I think one of the bigger teams will align with the new manufacturer.
A Sold Out Indianapolis 500
Conditions permitting, it would be great if the 106th running of the 500 would be a sell out. Local television might show the race live again if all tickets are sold. Many fans who skipped the 2021 race plan to return. The 135,00 or so at the 2021 race seemed larger than that to those who were there, but the partially empty grandstands did not look good on television.
I spoke briefly with Doug Boles at the PRI show. He said that ticket sales are looking good.
A Title Fight Between O’Ward and Herta
Just like 2021, 2022 will bring more of the younger kids contending for the championship. This coming season I would love to see a battle for Astor Cup between Pato O’Ward and Colton Herta. The youngsters had two the fastest cars last season. Herta was never really in title contention because of some early DNFs. He still tied for the most wins in the series with three, and he had four poles.
O’Ward had some early issues with team strategies and setup problems. He finished third in the standings after being taken out of the finale early. His two wins in 2021 kept him in the hunt. I think he is ready for an even bigger season.
Some Top 5s for Kirkwood
First of all, I am happy that Kyle Kirkwood has a full time ride. Of course, I wish he were on a more competitive team. But I hope he can raise the bar at A. J. Foyt Racing and maybe squeeze a top 5 or two out of the car. It will be a challenge. His best chance for a good finish will be at World Wide Technology Raceway, where Foyt cars have a third and two fifth place finishes.
Kirkwood might sneak in a good finish at a road course somewhere as well. Realistically, I can see him getting some top 10s in 2022.
The Biggest Wish of All
Well, maybe the second biggest after the third OEM, but an announcement of a 2023 IMSA race at IMS would make me very happy. The odds are long as IMSA has established a May race at Mid Ohio. The sports car series seems happy with their schedule. I don’t think they are looking for new venues or to switch any dates around.
I have also heard IMSA is not happy with Indycar putting Texas on the schedule on March 20, the day after the Sebring 12 Hour race. Many Indycar drivers participate in the 12 hour as an extra driver. Some plan to do double duty that weekend.
All, or possibly none of my wishes may come true, but I hope that all of your holiday wishes do. I will have a post next week before moving to winter headquarters. Happy holidays, everyone.
“Going into qualifying I think it’s important to find a good package because this place is, from my experience, I’ve only done one race here, if I remember it was a lot of fuel save, not a lot of passing. Just in the pit stop sequences. I feel like you need to focus on that. Qualifying up front will probably pay off a lot more than if you qualify in the back, unless it’s Portland .”
Pato O’Ward stated the importance of qualifying near the front today for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. The track for the final race of the NTT Indycar Series season is difficult to pass on, and pit strategy is crucial. Oddly, the race has only been won 10 times from the pole by just five different drivers.
Qualifying order could have an effect on who wins the championship Sunday. Points leader Alex Palou needs to finish 11thg or better Sunday to win the title. O’Ward needs to earn the maximum points available (54) to have a chance to take the Astor Cup. If O’Ward does not win the pole, Palou will just need a 12th place or better finish. Don’t look for Palou to aim for a result that low.
Olivier Boisson, will be going with Romain Grosjean to Andretti Autosport in 2022. Boisson has been Grosjean’s crew chief this season, and the pairing has clicked.
Palou said he has spent about 15 hours on the simulator preparing for Long Beach. This is his first time driving the track. Palou had not driven any of the three final tracks, Portland, Laguna Seca, or Long Beach. he has done okay at the first two.
I’ll be back after the noon practice to set up qualifying, and then have a qualifyinq wrap up tonight.