Quick Thoughts- Portland Grand Prix

A very processional race sets up an intriguing championship fight next week. Scott mclaughlin’s dominant win pulls him within 41 points of Will Power. Scott Dixon and josef Newgarden both trail Power by 20 points, and Marcus Ericsson is just 39 points behind.

This is the closest five drivers have been heading into the final race since 2003. Ericsson and McLaughlin need a lot of help to win the title, but Dixon and Newgarden have a legitimate chance.

Alloowing the race to start at the exit of turn 12 helped avoid a big wreck in turn 1, but as I feared, it made for a rather mundane race.

Someday Christian Lundgaard wiil put a complete race together. Today was not that day. He made a brilliant move in turn 1 to to grab second from Power, but his late error in turn 1 after the caution cost him a top 10.

David Malukas now trails Lundgaard by just five points in the Rookie of the Year standings.

Never count out Scott Dixon. Another bad qualifying turned into a podium finish. He’s been in a couple of championships that went to the finale.

Newgarden may have cost himself a copuple of spots by going with blacks on his final stint.

Rinus VeeKay continues his up and down season. His contact with Jimmie Johnson cost hoim a possible top 10 finish.

I never thought I would see a Portland race with just one caution.

Podium Down Under

For the first time since 2011, all the drivers on the podium were from Australia or New Zealand.

All three drivers wilbe in contention for the win next week. as well. Dixon said tire degradation is extremely high at Weather Tech Raceway. Power repated what he said yesterday about it being a difficult track.

I will have a wrap up of the weekend tomorrow for you to read as I drive to Seattle. Thanks for following along this weekend.

McLaughlin Takes Portland Pole as Penske Sweeps Top Three

The Penske 1-2-3 wasn’t entirely unexpected, but Scott Mclaughlin winning the pole may have been. McLaughlin took a precious point from one of his teammates in earning his third pole of 2022. Josef Newgarden finished secind but will start eighth due to an engine penalty, and points leader Will power was third. Power will move to second on the starting grid tomorrow.

Christuan Lundgaard was the fastest non Penske qualifier in fourth. Alex palou and Pato O’Ward completed the top six.

None of the Andretti cars made the final round. Colton Herta qualified eighth., just ahead of Alexander Rossi.

Scott Dixon, third in points, and Marcus Ericsson, fourth in the standings, finished the session 16th and 18th.

In the post qualifying press conference, the top three dreivers expressed concern about the start of the race tomorrow. Power suggested that the leaders need to start racing coming out of turn 12 to spread the field out before turn 1. Ideally, Power thinks the race should begin on the back stretch.

Indycar may make a decision about the starting point later today.

While today’s results didn’;t alter the points among the main contenders, any point that drivers behind Power don’t get is to Power’s advantage.

I will have a post up aftyer the final practice later this afternoon.


McLaughlin on Music City Pole

A frantic penalty filled qualifying session and a great fight in the Fast Six saw Scott McLaughlin come out on top with his second pole of 2022. He will kead the field to the green flag in tomorrow’s second Big Machine Music City Grand Prix. McLaughlin is the onkly driver to win from pole this season. He won the openeing race at St. Pete from the pole. Romain Grosjean will start second, just nissing his second career pole. The lasy minute of the Fast Six saw Christian Lundgaard jump to the top, then he was qickly replaced by Pato O’Ward. Mclaughlin nabbed the pole on his last lap.

Qualifying started 90 minutes late as thunderstorms and heavy rain moved over the track just before Indy lights qualifying was scheduled to begin. Indy Lights will now line up according to entrant points for tomorrow’s race.

The first group in round one got off to a ragged start. Ddevlin DeFrancesco stopped in turn 4 on the initial out lap. DeFrancesco was not allowed to continue. With a minute left in the session and several drivers about to start their hot kap, Colton Herta slid into the turn 4 tires. Herta lost his fastest two laps, but he cost at least two drivers a chance to advance. Simon Pagenaud and Alexander Rossi did not get to turn a lap on the quicker alternate tires. Pagenaud will start 13th and Rossi 17th.

Will Power led a clean group 2, but in the round of twelve Power had to go through the runoff area and rejoin the track. He lost his best lap and will start eighth.

In the Fast Six Christian Lundgaard just missed his frist career pole. He will start third.

Josef Newgarden starngely chose not to switch to the alternate tires in the Fast Six and will star sixth. Is he saving the alternates for the race?

I will have a pre race story tomorrow morning with an updated weather forecast. I have a feeling we could see a repeat of today.

Quick Thoughts- Honda Indy 200

Scott McLaughlin is 2022’s second multiple race winner. He won the season opener in St. Pete.

Today at Mid Ohio was team day. Teams as a whole either had a great day or an awful one. Mistakes were made. The pace car stayed busy. I don’t think it was the best race of the year, but it was quite entertaining, especially from modpack back.

Very Good Days

Team Penske cars finished first, third, and seventh.

Chip Ganassi Racing finished second, fifth, and sixth.

Meyer Shank finished eightth and tenth.

Ed Carpenter Racing finished fourth and Dale Coyne Racing with HMD finished ninth.

Not So Good Days

A. J. Foyt Racing lost Kyle Kirkwood early and then Tatiana Calderon a few laps later. Kirkwood was firmly in the top 10 at the time of hois spin.

Arrow McLaren SP’s promisinfg day went south when Felix Rosenqvist’s car stopped on trackmjust six laps into the race. Pole sitter Pato O’Ward began having gear troubles about halfway through the race and stalled exiting the pits.

Andretti Drama

Has Alexander Rossi already checked out of the team? He collided with teammates Romain Grosjean,Colton Herta, and Devlin DeFrancesco, pushing eaqch one off the track.

I would love to listen in on the team debrief tonight.

Will Power

He started 21st, spun on the first lap, passed eighteen cars on track and finished third. It was exciting to watch him slice his way to the front. He gained seven points on leader Marcus Ericsson. No question who the Driver of the Day is.

Is a Yellow for Safety or Team Convenience?

Should Indycar wait to throw a yellow so all teams can pit under green? When tatiana Calderon stopped in turn four, some cars had pitted and others were just about to. Pato O’Ward’s stalled car neaqr pit exit forced their hand.

I think if a car is disabled and a yellow is warranted, it needs to wave as soon as possible. Pit windows should not be a consideration. If a yellow comes while you’re in the poits, it’s the breaks of the game.

I will have a follow up story tomorrow. I am heading back to Indy now,Thanks for following along this weekend.

Quick Thoughts- Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

I like this trend. For the second year in a row, the winner of the season opener is a second year driver winning his first race. Scott McLaughlin had to battle Alex Palou for the win. It was not an easy win despite his starting from pole on a street course.

The battle for the lead over the last 15 laps was a great way to start the season.

I don’t recall a St. Pete race with just one yellow. The long green stints may have changed some strategy, which made this race intriguing.

Rinus VeeKay is back. He backed up a strong qualifying effort with a sixth place finish. VeeKay also led 13 laps during an extended stint.

Nice Debuts

In spite of several on track adventures in practice the last two days, Romain Grosjean had a solid debut with Andretti Autosport with a fifth place finish.

Takuma Sato earned a 10th place result after starting 22nd in his first race for Dale Coyne Racing.

Christian Lundgaard was the top finishing rookie in 11th.

Whatever Happened to…

Josef Newgarden was never a factor in the race. He started ninth, but went to an alternate three stop strategy, which had him mired in 16th at the end. newgarden has seemed a step behind his teammates all weekend.

Alexander Rossi dropped to 20th from starting 13th. He led 10 laps during pit cycles. I’m not sure what’s going with the 27 team.

Kyle Kirkwood started strong but ended 18th.

Arrow McLaren drivers Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist each improved four spots from their starting spots, but O’Ward’s 12 the was the best they could muster. Rosenqvist came home in17th.

Fans Came Back

Today was the ninth time I have attended this race. The crowd was the largest I have seen. For many fans this was their first race in nearly three years. I think more local people attended than have come in a while as well.

I will have more on the race tomorrow. Thanks for following all weekend.

McLaughlin on St. Pete Pole as Penske Sweeps Front Row

Scott McLaughlin turned a sizzling final lap as time expired to win the pole for tomorrow’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented by RP Funding. He edged teammate Will Power, who will start on the front row for the 12th time at St. Pete.

Scott McLaughlin on his pole winning lap

Group 1 in Round 1 ended with six different teams advancing, including A. J Foyt Racing with Kyle Kirkwood, Ed Carpenter Racing driver Rinus Veekay. Colton Herta led the round with a time of 59.466 seconds, followed by Graham Rahal, VeeKay, Scott Dixon, Kirkwood, and Josef Newgarden.

Group 2 saw Power lead with a lap of 59,394 seconds, followed by McLaughlin, Romain Grosjean, Simon Pagenaud, Marcus Ericsson, Alex Palou. Palou and Grosjean recovered from heavy damage in the morning practice.

The second round saw a great battle for the lead between Power, Grosjean, McLaughlin, and Herta, with Power taking the round. Power set a track record with his lap of 59.346 seconds.

Will Power

The Firestone Fast Six looked to be comfortably in Power’s grasp as Herta, Grosjean, and Pagenaud all failed to beat his time. McLaughlin’s final lap was 0.12 seconds better than his teammate. The second year driver has earned his first career pole.

Two drivers and teams who had great drives today- Kyle Kirkwood of A. J. Foyt Racing and Rinus VeeKay of Ed Carpenter Racing. Neither team is known for their prowess on road and street courses, nut today may be a sign that the situation could be about to change. Kirkwood finished fifth in Round 1. The rookie has shown in two days how talented he is.

VeeKay appears to be fully recovered from the shoulder injury he suffered mid -season last year. VeeKay was third in Round 1, sixth in Round 2, will start fourth tomorrow.

Qualifying Results:

McLaughlin Fastest in Practice

Scott McLaughlin led a disjointed practice session interrupted by three red flags, which consumed nearly a third of the time allotted. Indycar plans to extend sessions in this instance when possible. A street event, with a packed schedule, does not allow for time extensions.

McLaughlin, in his second Indycar season, posted a time of 0.59.734, the only lap under 60 seconds so far. Colton Herta was second for the second day in a row, 0.351 seconds behind.

Simon Pagenaud, fourth on Friday moved up to third.

Romain Grosjean, yesterday’s leader, was involved in a multicar incident. He ran into the back of a slowing Takuma Sato.

The first red flag flew 20 minutes into the session when Jack Harvey clipped the turn 9 wall. The last red flag with about five minutes left involved 2021 series champion Alex Palou, who had a hard hit at turn 9. The session restarted for one more lap.

Ed Carpenter Racing had a strong practice with Rinus VeeKay sixth and Conor Daly 11th. Rookie Kyle Kirkwood, 12th Friday, improved to eighth this morning.

Rinus VeeKay
Kyle Kirkwood


McLaughlin Tops Practice 2; Palou Leads Title Hopefuls

Indycar photo by Chris Jones

Rookie Scott McLaughlin recorded the fastest time in the final warmup before Indycar qualifying with a time of 1:10.875. For the second day, Colton Herta was second, this time 0.18 seconds behind. Team Penske placed all four cars in the top 10, with Simon Pagenaud fourth, Will Power fifth, and Josef Newgarden 10th.

Points leader Alex Palou was third quickest, the best of the top three title contenders. Newgarden was 10th and Pato O’Ward was 20th. Scott Dixon, still mathematically eligible, finished the session 18th.

Qualifying begins at 5:05

The top 10:

Qualifying Groups:

Group 1 Group 2

Colton Herta Scott McLaughlin

Simon Pagenaud Alex Palou

Felix Rosenqvist Will Power

Ryan Hunter-Reay Alexander Rossi

Josef Newgarden Alexander Rossi

Marcus Ericsson Ed Jones

Graham Rahal Jack Harvey

Romain Grosjean James Hinchcliffe

Scott Dixon Oliver Askew

Pato O’Ward Max Chilton

Sebastien Bourdais Callum Ilott

Jimmie Johnson Helio Castroneves

Takuma Sato Conor Daly

Rinus VeeKay

Dalton Kellett

Portland Finish Makes Monterey Grand Prix Key for Palou

The keys to the kingdom lie just beyond Alex Palou’s grasp. Another good result at Weather Tech Raceway this coming weekend could make Long Beach a little easier for the second year Spanish driver. There are some clinching scenarios for next Sunday, but they all involve Palou getting maximum points. I don’t think that is likely to happen. His main goal is just to finish ahead of his two main competitors.

Scott McLaughlin led the first laps of his Indycar career yesterday. Photo: Joe Skibinski, Indycar

The Rookie of the Year is still up for grabs. Scott McLaughlin finished ninth and lead five laps yesterday to increase his lead over Romain Grosjean to 38 points. Grosjean had closed to within seven points in August. Grosjean sat out the first three ovals of 2021. This race is much closer than it should be, since one of the races Grosjean missed was the double points Indianapolis 500. The French driver has looked forward to Laguna Seca all year, and I suspect he will do well there. The Rookie award will not be settled until after Long Beach.

Entrant Points- The Race for 22nd

Two full time entrants will miss receiving Leaders’ Circle money for 2022. Car 7, Felix Rosenqvist currently sits 23rd with 189 points, Followed by the 59 of Max Chilton at 144 points and the number 4 of Dalton Kellett.

A strong final three races by Felix Rosenqvist will secure the Leaders’ Circle for the 7 car

Car 45. driven by Santino Ferrucci, Christian Lundgaard, and Oliver Askew. in 2021, lost the 22nd spot yesterday with a 24th place finish. The car has 171 points, but my understanding is that it is not eligible for the Leaders’ Circle because it did not run the full season.

Final Thoughts on Portland

For a track with no elevation changes, yesterday’s race had quite a few ups and downs for several drivers. Credit to the top three starters, who fought back to finish where they started.

Alexander Rossi’s first podium of the season may give him the momentum to score well in the final two races. In 2018 and 2019 he dominated at Long Beach, winning the last race there by 20 seconds. I think he breaks his winless drought in the season finale.

Good results at last- Jack Harvey and Felix Rosenqvist ended a season of with top 10 finishes Sunday. Harvey finished fourth, finally having a trouble free race. Rosenqvist crossed the line sixth. He has struggled at times this season, and has been unable to give much help to teammate O’Ward in his battle for the championship.

Callum Ilott had a respectable debut. The 2020 F2 runner up qualified 19th but finished 25th due to a mechanical issue.

Chip Ganassi Racing has won six of the 14 races this year. Scott Dixon is third on the team in number of victories. I can’t believe I had to write that.

Engine count– Palou, O’Ward, and Newgarden have all reached or exceeded their engine allowance for 2021. Scott Dixon has one engine remaining.