Champions Power, Team Penske Share Honorsat Victory Lap Celebration  

From Indycar

  Lundqvist, HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing Saluted for Indy Lights Title
INDIANAPOLIS (Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022) – Will Power and Team Penske stepped into the spotlight again as the 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champions Saturday night during the Victory Lap Celebration at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. Power clinched his second series championship with a third-place finish in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet last Sunday at the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at Weather Tech Raceway Laguna Seca. He won his first title in 2014 with Team Penske.
Australia native Power prevailed by 16 points over teammate Josef Newgarden, delivering Team Penske its record-extending 17th INDYCAR SERIES championship. Team Penske President Tim Cindric accepted the Championship Owner Award.
Newgarden and Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing also were saluted for finishing second and third, respectively, in the standings. Power led the 2022 season with five NTT P1 Awards for pole, earning the NTT P1 Award as the best qualifier of the season. It’s the fifth time in his career he has won this award. Power also made history last weekend by winning his 68th career pole, breaking a tie with fellow legend Mario Andretti for the all-time INDYCAR SERIES record.
Team Penske’s technical team also was honored with two awards. Kyle Moyer won the Team Manager of the Year Award for the fifth time. It’s the sixth time a Team Penske executive has won. Pennzoil presented Trevor Lacasse with the Chief Mechanic of the Year for the first time, the sixth time a Team Penske mechanic has earned this award.
Power’s No. 12 Verizon Team Penske crew also won the Firestone Pit Performance Award for earning the most cumulative Pit Stop Performance Award points during the 2022 season.
Team Penske drivers Power, Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin delivered nine of Chevrolet’s series-leading 11 victories this season, helping Chevy win the Manufacturer Award for the seventh time since it returned to the series in 2012 and the first time since 2017. Jim Danahy, U.S. vice president, Competition Motorsports Engineering for Chevrolet, accepted the award on behalf of his team
.Christian Lundgaard was honored as the 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year. Lundgaard, from Denmark, scored one podium finish, two top-five finishes and seven top-10s in the No. 30 Honda fielded by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. He edged David Malukas of Dale Coyne Racing with HMD by 18 points in the standings for first-year series drivers.
Success in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires also was honored this year at the Victory Lap, as in 2022 INDYCAR took over execution and promotion of the series that provides the last step of preparation for drivers aspiring to race in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Linus Lundqvist was honored as champion after a dominant season for HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing. Lundqvist, from Sweden, won a series-high five races in the No. 26 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing entry and clinched the Lights championship with a race to spare, ending with a 92-point advantage over Sting Ray Robb.
Lundqvist also received a painting representing his 2022 championship season created by noted motorsports artist Jim Swintal, also a longtime INDYCAR SERIES race official. Swintal has painted these works for Lights champions every year since 1991.Andretti Autosport teammates Robb and Matthew Brabham also were honored for finishing second and third, respectively, in the standings.
HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing owners Henry and Daiva Malukas accepted an honor for their championship-winning team this season in Lights.
Hunter McElrea received the Rookie of the Year Award in Indy Lights. McElrea, from New Zealand, drove to two victories, seven podium finishes and three poles in the No. 27 Andretti Autosport entry en route to finishing fourth in the series standings.
Newgarden and Lundqvist also received the AiM Sports Move Award for their respective series, presented to the driver judged to have made the most dramatic pass of the year.  

Grid Penalties for Newgarden and Kellett

From Indycar:

INDYCAR Announces Portland Grid Penalties

INDIANAPOLIS (Friday, Sept. 2, 2022) – INDYCAR officials have announced a six-position starting grid penalty for the entries of No. 2 Team Penske and No. 4 A.J. Foyt Enterprises for unapproved engine changes following the Saturday, Aug. 20 race at World Wide Technology Raceway.

The teams were in violation of:

Rule 16.2.3.2 A fifth (5th) Engine is eligible to earn Engine Manufacturer points if a Full Season Entrant has completed the Full Season Entrant Engine Mileage with its first four (4) Engines. Otherwise, a fifth (5th) or more Engine does not earn Engine Manufacturer points and will be considered an Unapproved Engine change-out.

According to Rule 16.6.1.2, the penalty is a six-position starting grid penalty on road and street course events and nine positions at oval events and will be served at the series’ next event, which is the Grand Prix of Portland Sunday, Sept. 4 at Portland International Raceway.

Ferrucci on Standby for Newgarden

News bulletin from Team Penske:

MOORESVILLE, NC – Team Penske has announced that Santino Ferrucci will be on standby for INDYCAR SERIES Championship contender Josef Newgarden heading into this weekend’s race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Newgarden was released from MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center earlier this morning and returned to his home in Nashville. Per series protocols, Newgarden will be reevaluated by the INDYCAR Medical Team on Thursday to determine his status for the Gallagher Grand Prix. Should Newgarden not be able to race, Ferrucci will take the wheel of the No. 2 PPG Chevrolet.

Ferrucci has 43-career INDYCAR SERIES starts with four of these occurring at the IMS road course where he has two top-10 finishes.  His career best IndyCar finish is fourth, on four occasions, and he has made three starts in 2022, with two top-10 finishes.

Indycar at the Halfway Point- Good Racing, Tight Points Battle

It’s hard to believe the NTT Indycar Series is already at the halfway mark of the season. It has been one of the best first halves I remember. No one is running away with the points lead, the racing has been really good, and one team is in position to play spoiler in the second half. As usual, Team Penske is dominating the stats with five wins in eight races, but Marcus Ericsson from Chip Ganassi Racing leads the standings. Each race has had a different driver, representing five teams, on the pole, something that hasn’t happened since 1961. Here are a few of my thoughts on the season so far.

Team Penske: Strong Return to Form

The team which usually leads the series in wins and poles won just three races in 2021 and had five poles, four by Josef Newgarden. This season the team has won five times, three by Newgarden and one each for Will Power and Scott McLaughlin. The team already has three poles.

Power is second in points, Newgarden third, and McLaughlin has faded to ninth after a strong start.

Josef Newgarden is the only driver with multiple wins in 2022

Newgarden looks to be in a good position to win the championship, just 32 points behind Ericsson and with a lot of momentum following his win last Sunday at Road America. Newgarden is the only driver with more than one win this season.

Eight Interesting Races

In a set of eight races we can normally expect a clunker or two, but I think every race in 2022 has held my interest. There has been more passing than I expected, and plenty of twists and turns with collisions and mistakes to change the complexion of several races.

My two favorite races were the GMR Grand Prix on the IMS road course and the Detroit Grand Prix. The GMR GP was a wild affair in the rain with teams flipping strategies nearly every lap. This is a much better race when it rains.

The Chevrolet Grand Prix of Detroit was a beautiful mix of tire strategies. Each of the first four finishers were on a different path.

Andretti Poised for Second Half Run

Aside from Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport has been mostly invisible the past season and a half. Herta has won four races in the past season and a half, but there has not been much else from the team. The trend is beginning to change. Herta won the GMR Grand prix in May, and Alexander Rossi is beginning to return to his old form. Rossi has five top 10s this year, including top fives in the last three races. He won the pole at Road America last weekend, and he has finished on the podium the last two times out. Rossi entered the Indianapolis 500 18th in points and is now 7th.

Rossi on his way to the pole at Road America

The team finish last week of Rossi third, Romain Grosjean fourth, and Herta fifth was its best overall showing in a while. I look for Andretti drivers to be more of a factor in the second half of 2022.

Notes

Some other things to look for staring at Mid Ohio in two weeks:

Will Arrow McLaren SP develop the consistency they seem to be lacking? Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist each have a pole, and O’Ward won at Barber, but we never know which team will show up at any race.

O;’Ward is fourth in the standings, but it seems like he should second or third. Rosenqvist has improved to eighth place, and is driving well enough to save his job, but when they are off they are way off.

Kyle Kirkwood has raised the bar at A. J. Foyt Racing. He has a top 10 finish and has made the second round of qualifying twice. Some of the teams best tracks are on the second half of the schedule, and I look for a couple of decent results before the end of 2022.

Will Scott Dixon win again? The last win for the active career leader in victories was May 1, 2021, 21 races ago. Since that time his teammates Alex Palou and Ericsson have won six times. It has been 17 years since Dixon went through a year without winning at least one race. Mid Ohio or Toronto may be his best two chances. Dixonb has won three times at Toronto and five times at Mid Ohio.

1972: Donohue Spreads His Wings for Penske’s First 500 Win

The 56th Indianapolis 500 was a transformational year in 500 history. Bolt on front wings and rear wings came into widespread use. It would the 500’s last all American driver field. The Pacer light System to control the position of cars during caution periods debuted. Thankfully, it didn’t last long.

Race Day featured a last minute replacement singer for “(Back Home Again in) Indiana,” a television actor named Jim Nabors. He would return to sing it again a few times.

The front row had Bobby Unser on pole. Unser had destroyed the track record by 17 miles an hour thanks to the addition of the rear wing. Peter Revson, 1971 pole sitter, lined up in the middle of the row, and Mark Donohue started on the outside.

The Front Row Bobby Unser (R), Peter Revson, and Mark Donohue (L)

Donohue was the lead driver of the relatively new Team Penske, which came to IMS for the first time in 1969. Donohue had been competitive in his first three races. He finished seventh in 1969, second in 1970, and started second but dropped out with gear issues in 1971.

Mark Donohue

Unser charged into the lead and built a big lead, but it only lasted 30 laps. Ignition problems put Unser out of the race. Seven laps earlier Revson had dropped out with gearbox issues.

The start of the 56th 500. Unser beats Revson to turn1. Donohue slots into third.

Gary Bettenhausen assumed the lead, leading 138 of the next 145 laps. Ignition failure ended his day on lap 182. Jerry grant took over the lead of the race. A deflating tire forced Grant to pit with 12 laps to go. Grant thought he would settle for second, except that he pitted in teammate Bobby Unser’s pit. Grant was later disqualified and was officially twelfth.

Mark Donohue inherited the lead from Grant and went on to take the checkered flag. Roger Penske had won his first Indianapolis 500. His team has won a few more since then.

I’m surprised that there hasn’t been more fanfare concerning the 50th anniversary of Team Penske’s first win. The team produced a team logo commemorating the occasion today. I thought the Speedway would do more to honor the milestone.

While the 1972 front row wasn’t the most tragic in history, fate was not kind to two of its members. Revson was killed in a fiery crash while practicing for the 1974 South African Grand Prix.

Donohue would lose his life the following year preparing for the Austrian Grand Prix. It was a strange accident. Donohue crashed into a catch fence. he seemed fine when he got out of the car, but developed a headache which became worse. a few days later Donohue lapsed into a coma and died of a cerebral hemorrhage.

Mid Ohio- Finally Team Penske Finds Victory Circle

Photo by Matt Fraver, Indycar

Charlie Brown got to kick the football at last. On his third try to win a race from the pole, Josef Newgarden hung on despite rapidly fading tires to win the Honda Indy 200 at Mid Ohio. Marcus Ericsson made up much of the eight second gap he had with less than 10 laps to go to finish just 0.8 seconds behind.

Newgarden;s win ended a season of frustration for himself and Team Penske as both took their first victory of the year. In Detroit race 2, Newgarden lost to Pato O’Ward as his tires could not maintain pace in the final three laps. At Road America gearbox issue with two laps to go caused Newgarden to fade to 21st from the lead. Will Power had Detroit race 1 in hand until his car would not restart after a red flag.

The race was a decent one for Mid Ohio, with a nice battle for positions third through sixth in the middle of the race.

Some Thoughts

Marcus Ericsson once again stood ready to take advantage of a Team Penske misfortune, but Newgarden was able to hang on this time. Ericsson is becoming a great teammate to points leader Alex Palou and Scott Dixon, who is third in points. He sits 5th in points, 104 points behind Palou.

Palou did what he needed to do in what I thought was a championship drive yesterday. He got the most points he could, and he only lost points to the contending driver farthest away from him. Newgarden still trails Palou by 69 points with six races to go.

Pato O”Ward picked his way through the field from 20th to finish eighth and maintain second place in the standings. He trails Palou by 39 points.

Will Power’s season of frustration continues. Yesterday’s lap 4 crash ended what could have been a very strong day for the 2014 series champion. I’m not sure there is any blame to assess here. he and Dixon had a great duel through turns 4 and 5.

Santino Ferucci has driven in four races in 2021 and has four top ten finishes with a ninth place yesterday. Has Rahal found his third full time car? The sponsor, Hy Vee, has to like what they’re seeing. Ferrucci started 22nd.

Romain Grosjean continues to impress with a great save in the keyhole after being blocked by Sebastien Bourdais. His seventh place finish rom 18th on the grid was one of several great drives yesterday. Grosjean has four top tens in seven races.

Ryan Norman had a respectable outing in his Indycar debut. Although he finished 20th, he had worked his way up to 15th at one point and seemed to be on a good pace.

I find it sad that Simon Pagenaud is not a in the conversation for agood finish anymore.

Are the hot seats getting hotter for Felix Rosenqvist, James Hinchcliffe, and Ryan Hunter-Reay? Sunday’s first lap incident involving all three drivers didn’t help their causes any.

Colton Herta’s race woes continue. Two bad pit stops knocked Herta out of contention yesterday. He qualifies well, but the team needs to work on the race setup.

Jack Harvey’s team needs to rethink their strategy. Once again, they chose an off strategy move which didn’t pay off. The Meyer Shank team seems too eager to try something different instead of seeing how the race will play out. They have been in a funk since winning the Indianapolis 500 with Helio Castroneves.

Side Bars

It was a profitable day for the Ohio State Troopers, who were busy all day, “welcoming” motorists to Ohio on Interstates 71 and 70.

The crowd was near the normal size for Mid Ohio. Indycar races on July 4th have not been well attended in the past. While I would prefer to celebrate the 4th in some other fashion, I was okay with the relatively short drive in the same day.

I liked the early start time. Even if Mid Ohio returns to its traditional date next year, I hope they retain the noon start,.

Mclaughlin in Pennzoil Car for 500

Scott Mclaughlin will drive the number 3 Pennzoil Car in the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500. He will use the paint scheme which Helio Castroneves used in his last race with Team Penske.

The three time Australian Supercars champion revealed the car in this video this morning.

I think.its time to retire the term yellow submarine. Just because the car is yellow and sponsored by Pennzoil doesn’t make it the yellow submarine. That was a special car driven by Johnny Rutherford. The chassis was unique. This is a spec Dallara.

IMS Mass Vaccination Clinics Resume Tomorrow

Thursday is the first day of three April weekends of mass COVID vaccination clinics at IMS. THE first clinic was a resounding success with more than 16,000 shots dispensed. The goal for the April clinics iss 96,000 vaccinations. Ad of today, Indiana residents age 16 and older are eligible for the vaccine.

Newgarden: Focus on 500 Win and Aiming for Another Championship

Photo: Chris Jones, Indycar

Don’t get Josef Newgarden wrong. He is focusing on winning the Indianapolis 500 this year. That doesn’t mean he is putting his desire for a third NTT Indycar series title aside. He would gladly take both in 2021. Since 2017, Newgarden’s titles have come every other year. This is one of those years. About his plans for the upcoming season, Newgarden says,

“Well, it’s definitely the same. It’s a little boring, but it doesn’t change. We want to win an Indy500. For me specifically, that’s a big goal. I’ve not won that race. Obviously as a team, we’ve had a lot of success there. They’d like to add to that.For me, I’d like to get my first. Then the championship as well, yeah, we’re looking for another one. Obviously I was hoping we were going to win our third championship last year and we could be working on the fourth. We’re going to have to go back to square one and try to knock the third off this season.”

Winning the 500 takes a lot of time and effort. Newgarden explains,

“Indy is a really tough track, not only because it’s the most important race but I think because it’s all about very small details, and those little details take a tremendous amount of time and effort to move the needle. It’s all these little things that add up at the end of the day when you show up in the month of May . It takes a tremendous amount of time to make large progress at Indianapolis, whereas at another track you may find a small difference or small change with something that you found that didn’t take nearly as much energy or money or resources.

We didn’t perform like we wanted to at the 500 from a qualifying standpoint and race standpoint. I think that’s why we’ve heavily leaned to get that right in the off-season.We haven’t left anything else behind. We’re still pushing forward on all the other fronts because we need to be strong across the season.”

Newgarden’s Team Penske crew was was not as strong at Indy as they have been in the past.

“Last year our qualifying form was not strong. We were all disappointed with our speed. That was first and foremost. How do we fix the speed of the cars from last season? There’s been a tremendous amount of work that’s been put in. We have the best of the best in my opinion when it comes to talent and personnel. There’s been no shortage of effort and time to make these Penske race cars as fast as possible. That was first and foremost.”

Newgarden shares many other drivers’ optimisim that Roger Penske is the right man to leading Indycar during these difficult times.

“I think this year has strong potential to really go to the next phase of where we’re at in this pandemic, hopefully back to a newer normal and working towards what we love, and that’s having people at the track, putting on great shows,providing great entertainment.I’m really excited. As we get to this next phase, I think the best is still yet to come from Roger Penske and the entire organization. I think, like I said, we’re all very thankful that he’s in charge and that we’ve got a good direction in front of us.”

Newgarden summed up his 2020 season as one where the breaks didn’t fall his way.

“I feel like last year was one of those years. We were just inthe wrong place, wrong time, a little too often. You have that happen just one too many times, basically what happened to us is the result of it. I felt like our momentum was quite consistent throughout the year, at least from a performance standpoint. We could just not seem to catch enough breaks. That’s the nature of the beast.”