Quick Thoughts- REV Group Grand Prix

Update on Marti- she is vastly improved today. Thank you to everyone for all the good wishes. They mean a lot to us.

I have never seen a race at Road America that good. There were battles all through the field, the lead was in contention all day, yellows figured into the strategy, and another crazy dramatic finish. I don’t know what people want from a race or a series, but if Indycar isn’t it, I can’t think of what would be. This season has been outstanding so far.

A Team Penske driver has lost a race in the closing laps in three consecutive races. I can’t recall that ever happening. All tough self inflicted losses too. Hard to believe this team has just two poles and just eight podium spots this season. In a year with so many different winners,it is hard to believe a driver from this team isn’t one of them.

Romain Grosjean has qualified well all year, but his racing has been a bit overlooked. He is aggressive but clean, and not afraid to mix it up with the established drivers. I really like the way he drives. It is a shame that he will not win Rookie of the Year because of the three races he sat out. He deserves it on performance.

Josef Newgarden sits fourth in the standings, but at 88 points behind he will have a difficult time winning the championship.

Once again, Scott Dixon manages a decent finish. He ends up fourth and is third in points, just 53 behind his teammate Alex Palou.

Palou has led seven of the nine races this season. He is back n top of the standings after a one week stay in second.

Kevin Magnussen and Cody Ware had good debuts. Magnussen did a great job maintaining the lead after the restart until his engine issue. Ware drove around quietly and stayed out of trouble all day. I hope we get to see more of him now that he has had a taste of Indycar.

It is hard to believe a Chip Ganassi Racing driver not named Scott Dixon is tied for the most victories this season and is leading the points.

Oliver Askew did a great job subbing for Rinus VeeKay in the 21 Ed Carpenter car. Askew finished 12th in only his second race of the year. He had more time in the car this week than the 10 minutes he had driving for Arrow last week. the extra time seems to have paid off.

Colton Herta looked like a championship, contender early in the year, but he has faded late in races. Today was a nice comeback to finish second, where he started.

Now, about NBC- a 90 minute pre race show is a bit much, but a five minute post race show is shameful, all because you had to rush to a nascar race at a new venue for them? In a city that Indycar will return to in August? The cut away is especially infuriating after a race as great as this one. We needed to see an interview with Josef Newgarden at the very least.

Today’s post race cutaway by NBC was another slap in the face by the network which claims to love Indycar. After missing the beginning of both races last week, the shabby treatment continues. They are likely the leading contender to keep Indycar because no one else is interested. That is another story and is sad. But if NBC wants to keep the Indianapolis 500, they need to step up their game for the entire season.

Thanks for following along this weekend, and again many thanks for all the good wishes. I will have a follow up tomorrow.

Racing Takes a Back Seat

As I mentioned yesterday when I posted qualifying results, I am back in Indy. Friday I night I could not reach Marti, my significant other. I didn’t think much of it because sometimes she retires early. An attempt to call yesterday morning also went unanswered and I became concerned. I received a text from her just as I got to the track. She said she was in the hospital. I turned in my golf cart, went to back to my Airbnb and packed, and headed for home.

It turns out Marti fainted Friday afternoon. She was able to reach her phone and call 911. We are awaiting the results of one test. The other lab work does not indicate anything serious, just perhaps a severe electrolyte imbalance. She is resting comfortably. Tanks to everyone who reached out with good thoughts yesterday afternoon.

I will watch the REV Group Grand Prix from home today and post my thoughts either later this evening or tomorrow. It looks like a really good chance of rain late n the race. Who goes to rain tires first? In 2018 at Barber in the rain postponed race, Josef Newgarden went to rain tires before the track got slippery. The move paid off as he retook the lead when everyone else had to pit for the treaded rubber.

How will the same front row as Detroit’s Race 2 last Sunday play out today? In consecutive races weekends we have had two multiple pole winners and our first multiple race winner. I see our eighth race winner of 2021 happening today.

If you are at Road America, have fun and be prepared for the weather. For those of you driving back to Indy, Chicago traffic was a nightmare yesterday. Be careful coming back. I will keep you updated on things here at home. Thanks for reading.

Road America Day 2-Qualifying, Weather or Not

Today’s Schedule All time are Central Daylight Time

Qualifying will be shown on NBCSN at midnight. Personally, not my idea of how to build a lead in for the race, but Peacock we must.

The weather looks a bit wet.There is a high probability of a thunderstorm in about an hour (8am local) . Another chance of rain is between 11 am and 1 pm Practice could be wet and qualifying might be damp.Right now it is mostly sunny. High temperature will be around 74.

I hope to have brief post session reports all day and a wrap up later tonight.

Grosjean Tops Practice 1

Photo of Romain Grosjean by Walt Kuhn Indycar

Romain Grosjean led this afternoon’s Indycar practice at Road America with a lap of 1:47.681, beating Ryan Hunter-Reay and Josef Newgarden. The 45 minute session featured the Indycar debuts of Kevin Magnussen and Cody Ware. Ware ended the practice 22nd and Magnussen was 23rd. Oliver Askew, subbing for Rinus VeeKay, had the ninth fastest time.

Ryan Hunter-Reay led most of the session until Grosjean put down his quick lap on his next to last circuit. Points leader Pato O’Ward had the 11th quickest time today.

As we have seen all season, the top ten was split evenly between Honda and Chevrolet.

A second practice at 10:10 Central tomorrow morning will set the qualifying groups for Firestone Fast Six qualifying at 1:30 Central. A post qualifying session follows at 4:30 Central.

Ryan Hunter_Reay led most of the session
Points leader Pato O’Ward was 11th fastest

New Look

After a long construction delayed journey, I arrived at Road America around 2:30 Central time. I had a pleasant surprise at Gate 3. The gravel road is now paved, and there is a large, nice looking sign identifying the gate. I later noticed Gate 4 had similar improvements. In the past, the gate sign was inconspicuous and easy to pass by if you didn’t know what you were looking for. Signage all around the track is upgraded. The look is much improved.

The track also received a makeover. Turns 5, 6, and 14 have a new coat of asphalt.

Overall, Road America looks a bit nicer this year. The changes haven’t altered the character of the place at all, but they have enhanced it.

Road America Preview- Halfway Through a Weird, Wonderful Season

Above: Felix Rosenqvist passes Pato O’Ward in the closing laps to win Race 2 at Road America in 2020

Today- Indycar practice at 5 pm Eastern on Peacock

What a memorable season 2021 has been so far. We have seen four first time winners, seven winners in eight races ,a powerhouse team still looking for its first victory, and a new four time winner of the Indianapolis 500.

Road America is arguably the crown jewel of road courses in America, a race track set inside a national park. It is by far my favorite road course, not only because of the layout and the setting, but also because of the lively, spacious infield. Even last year, Road America seemed to be the track running closest to normal..

This weekend’s race could be the turning point of the year. Pato O’Ward, the only driver with more than one win in 2021, could expand his slim one point lead to a more comfortable margin. If he should get his third win of the season, O’Ward will be in good shape. Series champions usually have at least three wins in a season.

Magnussen Subs for Rosenqvist, Askew for VeeKay

Felix Rosenqvist will miss his second consecutive race. He is still not cleared to drive after his frightening accident Saturday in Detroit. Kevin Magnussen, a former F1 driver currently driving for Chip Ganassi in IMSA will fill in this weekend. Oddly, Magnussen’s father Jan had his second Indycar start at Road America subbing for an injured driver.

Kevin Magnussen

Oliver Askew had just ten minutes in the car last Sunday subbing for Rosenqvist, but with two practices before qualifying, he should be better acclimated to the car.

More Progress for Jimmie Johnson?

Jimmie Johnson seems to finally be getting comfortable in Indycar. Race 2 in Detroit was his best of the season, despite a late spin. Johnson passed cars and was on pace with the field. I see a better finish for him and perhaps a slightly improved qualifying spot.

Penske, Andretti Come back?

Team Penske was on the brink of their first win last weekend. Twice. Still Josef Newgarden grabbed the team’s first pole of the year, and the team seemed stronger overall.

Despite not having a win, Team Penske has seven podiums. Newgarden is fourth in the standings, 51 points behind leader Pato O’Ward.

Andretti Autosport is in a funk. The team has qualified well, and they do have a victory and a pole, both by Colton Herta. Yet their races seem to get away from them. Herta, in ninth place and 97 points behind the leader, is the team’s top driver right now.

Both teams need a strong weekend showing.

Cody Ware Debut

In addition to Kevin Magnussen’s Indycar debut,

#52: Cody Ware, Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing Honda, portrait

Cody Ware will premiere with Dale Coyne Racing with RWR. Ware has spent most of his career in stock cars. He has tested Indycars this year. He will be interesting to watch.

The Points Battle

Pato O’Ward leads Alex Palou by one point and Scott Dixon by 36. Dixon has come from farther back than 36 points to win a championship, and this is the time of the year when he begins to hit his stride.

Will Dixon begin to chip away at the lead this weekend. or will O’Ward and Palou continue to top the charts? O’Ward started race two on the pole here last year and came within a couple laps of his first win.

I don’t think any of the top three drivers wins this weekend. The standings will depend on which driver finishes ahead of the other two. In a season where wins are hard to get, every spot in the race matters.

I think Alexander Rossi finally breaks through for his fist win since won at Road America in 2019.

REV Group Grand Prix Presented by AMR-Fast Facts

Race weekend: Friday, June 18 – Sunday, June 20
Track: Road America, a 4.014-mile, 14-turn permanent road course (clockwise), in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
Race distance: 55 laps / 220.77 miles
Media links: Entry List | Driver Video Quotes | Pre-Event Video Conference Transcript (Dixon and Pagenaud)
Push-to-pass parameters: 200 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 20 seconds per activation.
Firestone tire allotment: Seven sets primary, four sets alternate for use during the race weekend. One additional set of primary tires may be used by teams fielding a rookie driver. Teams must use one set of primary and one set of new (sticker) alternate tires for at least two laps in the race.
Twitter: @RoadAmerica @IndyCar, #REVGROUPGP, #IndyCar Event website: www.roadamerica.com INDYCAR website: www.indycar.com
2020 race winners: Scott Dixon (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) and Felix Rosenqvist (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda)
2020 pole winners Josef Newgarden (No. 1 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet), 1 minute, 45.5191 seconds, 136.964 mph and Pato O’Ward (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet), 1:44.8971, 137.758 mph
Qualifying record: Dario Franchitti, 1:39.866, 145.924 mph, Aug. 19, 2000
NBC Sports telecasts: Qualifying: Midnight ET Saturday, NBCSN (taped); Race: Noon ET Sunday, NBCSN (live). Kevin Lee will serve as the lead announcer for NBCSN’s REV Group Grand Prix telecast alongside analyst Townsend Bell. Peacock Premium Live Streaming: All NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice sessions and qualifying will stream live on Peacock Premium, NBC’s direct-to-consumer livestreaming product.
INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analysts Davey Hamilton and Nick Yeoman. Jake Query and Michael Young are the turn announcers with Ryan Myrehn and Joel Sebastianelli in the pit lane. The REV Group Grand Prix will air live on network affiliates, SiriusXM 205, indycar.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app powered by NTT DATA. All NTT INDYCAR SERIES practices and qualifying are available on SiriusXM 205, indycar.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app.
At-track schedule (all times Eastern Time):
Friday, June 18 5 – 5:45 p.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES Practice 1, Peacock Premium
Saturday, June 19 11:10 – 11:55 a.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES Practice 2, Peacock Premium 2:30 – 3:45 p.m. – Qualifying for the NTT P1 Award (Three rounds of knockout qualifying), Peacock Premium/NBCSN (Taped, midnight, June 20) 5:30 – 6 p.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES Final Practice, Peacock Premium Sunday, June 20 12:05 p.m. –  Driver introductions 12:38 p.m. – Command to start engines 12:45 p.m. – REV Group Grand Prix (55 laps/220.77miles), NBCSN (live)
Race notes: · There have been seven different winners in eight NTT INDYCAR SERIES races this season. Alex Palou (Barber Motorsports Park), Colton Herta (Streets of St. Petersburg), Scott Dixon (Texas Motor Speedway-1), Pato O’Ward (Texas Motor Speedway-2, Raceway at Belle Isle Park-2), Rinus VeeKay (Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course-1), Helio Castroneves (Indianapolis 500) and Marcus Ericsson (Raceway at Belle Isle Park-1) have all won in 2021. The modern era record (1946-2021) for most different winners in a season is 11 in 2000, 2001 and 2014. · There have been nine different winners in the last 10 NTT INDYCAR SERIES races (Will Power, Josef Newgarden, Alex Palou, Colton Herta, Scott Dixon, Pato O’Ward, Rinus VeeKay, Helio Castroneves and Marcus Ericsson) The only repeat winner in that stretch is O’Ward (Texas-2, 2021 and Belle Isle-2, 2021). ·
The REV Group Grand Prix will be the 32nd INDYCAR event conducted at Road America since it hosted its first INDYCAR event in 1982. · Sebastien Bourdais, Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden, Will Power and Alexander Rossi are the only entered drivers who have won an INDYCAR race at Road America. Rossi won in 2019, Newgarden won in 2018, Dixon won in 2017 and the first race of 2020’s doubleheader. Power won in the INDYCAR SERIES return in 2016 – the first race at the track since 2007 when Bourdais won at Road America. Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi have the most wins by an INDYCAR driver at the track (three). ·
Twenty drivers entered this weekend have previously raced in INDYCAR SERIES events at Road America. Nine of those drivers have led laps at the track (Sebastien Bourdais 92, Josef Newgarden 91, Will Power 60, Alexander Rossi 54, Pato O’Ward 43, Scott Dixon 42, Graham Rahal 5, Marcus Ericsson 2 and Simon Pagenaud 2).
Eight drivers have won the Road America race from the pole: Mario Andretti (1983, 1984 and 1987), Danny Sullivan (1989), Paul Tracy (1993), Jacques Villeneuve (1995), Bruno Junqueira (2003), Sebastien Bourdais (2007), Will Power (2016) and Josef Newgarden (2018). ·
Drivers who have won at Road America have gone on to win the INDYCAR championship six times in the same season: Mario Andretti (1984), Michael Andretti (1991), Jacques Villeneuve (1995), Alex Zanardi (1997), Cristiano da Matta (2002) and Sebastien Bourdais (2007) and Scott Dixon (2020). ·
Team Penske has won five times at Road America (1989, 1992, 1993, 2016 and 2018) and is one of three current teams with wins at the track. Chip Ganassi Racing has also won five times at Road America (1997, 2001, 2017, 2020-Race 1 and 2020-Race 2), while Andretti Autosport won its first race in 2019. Newman/Haas Racing won a record 10 times at Road America. ·
Rookies Romain Grosjean, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Magnussen, Scott McLaughlin and Cody Ware will race an NTT INDYCAR SERIES car at Road America for the first time this weekend. Magnussen and Ware will make their series debuts.

Cody Ware Makes Indycar Debut at Road America

It’s been talked about for awhile, and finally Cody Ware will get his chance to drive in an Indycar race. The announcement from Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing:

Plainfield, IL (June 15, 2021) – NASCAR driver Cody Ware will be making his NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut this weekend at Road America with Dale Coyne Racing with RWR aboard the team’s No. 52 Nurtec ODT (rimegepant) entry.

Ware, who drives full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series for Rick Ware Racing (RWR), got his first taste of an Indy car earlier this year during a test day with the team at Sebring International Raceway. He also turned his first laps at Road America two weeks ago as part of a rookie test day.

“To be a part of an NTT INDYCAR SERIES race is such an honor, and a surreal experience for me. I never would’ve thought that I would ever go down the open wheel route for a multitude of reasons,” expressed Ware. “But thanks to RWR, Dale Coyne Racing, and Biohaven / Nurtec ODT I am getting an opportunity to compete at the highest level of open wheel motorsport in the US. Road America is an ideal place to make my debut and I am so excited to learn and soak it all in. Having two great teammates such as Romain Grosjean and Ed Jones will help take some of the edge off the learning curve if only a little.”

In addition to his time in the NASCAR Cup and the Xfinity Series this season, Ware finished fourth in the LMP2 Class at the 24 Hours of Daytona earlier this year. The 25-year-old driver has a diverse racing pedigree, taking home rookie of the year honors in the 2014 Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America series and claiming the 2019/2020 LMP2 Asian Le Mans Championship.

“What started as a 3-4 race sponsorship to roll out a marketing program for BioHaven and Nurtec ODT (rimegepant) in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, turned into a full-season sponsorship commitment with the No. 51 Honda,” shared Rick Ware, Owner of Rick Ware Racing and co-entrant, Dale Coyne Racing with RWR. “Thanks to their continued partnership, we’re excited to add a few races for the No. 52 entry, starting with Road America this weekend.”

Cody Ware will take to the track on Friday, June 18 for his first official NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice session. The REV Group Grand Prix goes green at 11:45am local time on Sunday, June 20, 2021.