Laguna Seca Wrap Up

Post season depression is beginning to settle in, so I will attempt to combat it with a few final thoughts on the season finale.

Weather Tech Raceway is a nice track. i love the way it flows and its elevation changes. One the track sorely lacks are video boards. The only video screens are high atop the scoring pylon, too high and far away for most fans to see. I hope the management will consider installing some fan friendly screens.

I enjoyed watching Sunday’s morning warmup from turn 4. It is a sweeping righthander where you hear the change in engine pitch and hear the tire over the rumble strips as the cars head for the climb up to the corkscrew.

Will Power on his way to his second Indycar title

I watched the race from the front stretch just past the starting line. There was some fun drag racing going on at that spot throughout the field. I could see if a pass was successful when the cars got turn 4. My vantage point allowed me to see turn 4 and 5 to the right, and turns 9 and 10 to the left.

Yellow Nonsense

It was not the first time this season race control did this, but I hope it’s the last. Waiting to throw a yellow so that everyone can pit while a car is stopped in a dangerous position is foolish and detracts from the spirit of the game. They say they don’t want to ruin anyone’s race, but whether a race gets ruined is really the team’s choice when they choose when to pit or what tires to use. Let the teams ruin their own races. If a yellow is required, throw it, regardless of the lap or pit window. Indycar might as well go to competition cautions if they continue this policy.

The Sad Saga of the Final Race Winner

Whoever wins the final race of the season, if he’s not the series champion, gets a laurel and hearty handshake and then moves along. I know everyone is eager to crown the champion, and there is a television window to consider, but Alex Palou’s win was significant in many ways.

The win came amid the controversy surrounding his uncertain situation with Ganassi/McLaren for 2023, and ongoing legal battles. I admire the way Palou has kept his focus while all this is happening.

The Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey was also the final chance Palou had to win a race as defending series champion. 2004 was the last year in which the previous year’s champ did not win a race.

It’s a difficult situation. I hope Indycar can find a way to give the final race winner more recognition.

A Final Note to Start the Offseason

I am already sick of the Kyle Busch in the Indianapolis 500 next year talk. If he does come, at least there will be no suspense about Rookie of the Year.

Quick Thoughts- Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey

Congratulations to Will Power on his second Indycar championship. Power had a consistent season. His lowest finish was 19th at Road America, and he only finished outside of the top ten four times.

Race winner Alex Palou avoided the distinction of being the first defending championsince 2004 to not win a race the following year. Scott Dixon was the last champion to not have a win the nfoloowing year. It was a brilliant drive in what may be Palou’s final ride for Ganassi.

Congratulations to Christian Lungaard on winning the Rookie of the Year.

Palou overcame a six place grid penalty after an engine change. He backed up his fastest time in Saturday’s practice by leading this morning’s warmup.

What a great drive by Josef Newgarden coming from 25th to second.

I admire Palou’s ability to focus on the job at hand and push all the off track drama to the side. To win a race in the atmosphere he endured the second half of the season is amazing.

What a tough way for Callum Ilott to end the season after a great qualifying yesterday. With Juncos Hollinger Racing expanding to two cars form 2023, Ilott should have a more consistent year.

Newgarden won five races this season yet came up short in the championship. Two finbishes of 24th and 25th probably cost him the title.

Results

Thanks for following along this weekend. Tomorrow is a long btravel day. I willm have a season wrap up on Tuesday.

Palou Leads Morning Warmup

Alex Palou ran the quickest lap in the warmup for this afternoon’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey. Palou qualified fifth but will start 11th follow2ing an engine change last night.

Scott mcLaughlin had the second best lap, Alexander vRossi was third, and David Malukas was fourth. Polesitter Will Power finished the session 18th.

I spent part of the practice watching from turn 4. It is a great place to watch. The cars slow down and flow smoothly through the turn, and you can hear them run over the rumble strip. There could be a perpetual dust cloud here during the race.

Results

Grid Penalty for Palou

From Indycar

INDYCAR Announces WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca Grid Penalty 
 INDIANAPOLIS (Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022) – INDYCAR officials have announced a six-position starting grid penalty for the No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing entry for an unapproved engine change following Saturday’s qualifications at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.The team was 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 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, today, at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. 

Race Day at Laguna- The Season Ends

Today’s schedule. All Timnes Pacific

8:00 – 8:15 T&S On Track
8:30 – 8:45 Warmup US Touring Car Championship
9:00 – 9:30 Warmup NTT INDYCAR Series Peacock
10:00 – 10:55 RACE 2 Indy Lights
11:40 Driver Introductions
12:10 Pre-Race
12:30 RACE NTT INDYCAR Series NBC Peacock
3:30 – 4:20 RACE 2 US Touring Car Championshi

Please take a moiment to remember the events of 9/11/2001 today.

Only 95 laps remain un the 2022 NTT Indycar Series season. Will Power looks to cob=nvert his record breaking pole into his second championship today. A victory would pull him even with Micgael Andretti with 42 career wins,

If Scott Dixon can move up from 13th, he could also contenfd for the title, buit he has to get ahead of Power by several placeas.

The forecast calls for cooler temperatures, with 70 degrees predicted at race time.

I’m hearing Alex Palou may have a six spot grid poenalty for an un approved engine change. Confirmation may come by mornung warmup.

History

The quest is over at last. Will Power not only took a huge step toward his second Indycar championship, he made history today by winning the pole fo the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey. Oower is now the all time career leader in earned poles with 68. Mario Andretti had held the record for 29 years, Andretti greeted Power in the pits to congratulate him.

Indycar photo by Joe Skibinski

Reflecting on his achievement, Power said, “Tremendous milestone. To be out there with an iconic guy like Mario is amazong. When I think about the era he raced i, how dangerous it was and how much more of a risk it was, it just blows my mind I’m there with Mario.”

Power’s title hopes recieved a boost in Round 1 when second place Josef Newgarden spun in turn 8 and stalled the car,ending his day. Newgarden will start last. Scott Dixon, who also trails Power by 20 points, just missed advancing to the next round. He was 0.087 seconds slower than teammate Marcus Ericsson.

Rookie David Malukas led Group 1 and Felix Rosenqvist led Group 2. neither advanced to the Fast Six. Alexander Rossi led the second round, while Power finished third.

In the Fast Six Power took the lead early and held on. Rookie Callum Ilott will start second, 0.02 seconds behind Power.

Ilott starts a career best second tomorrow

Notes

Two time Laguna Seca pole sitter Colton Herta did not get out of round 1 and will start 18th tomorrow. Herta had won the last two races here.

David Malukas will start seventh after leading group 1. Christian Lundgaard starts 16th. Lundgaard has five point lead over Malukas for Rookie of the Year.

If Power wins tomorrow, he will tie Michael Andretti for third place in career victories with 42.

Winning a race from pole has been difficult this season.Only Scott McLaughlin has done it. Mclaughlin won at Long Beach and Portland after qualifying first.

I remeber at the end of the 1977 Indianapolis 500, when A.J. Foyt won his fourth 500, thinking I would never see anything inracing more historic. Shows how much I know.

Palou Sets Pace in Practice 2

Alex Palou led the pre qualifying practice session for the Firestoine Grand Prix of Monterey this morning with a fast time of 1:11.3847. Alxander Rossi was second fastest at 1;11.6920.

Points leader Will Power was third, 0.33 seconds behind. Josef Newgarden, second in points was fourth, and Scott Dixon, third in points, was sixth.

There was one red flag for Pato O’Ward about halfway throught the session.

Early in the session, thre rrokies were up front. Callum Ilott led, followed by David Malukas and Christian Lundgaard. It was a fun glimpse at the future of Indycar.

Callum Ilott

Lundgaard finished the session in seventh, Ilott was ninth, and Malukas tenth.

Results

Qualifying May Determine Title Chances

Colton Herta looks to dominate at his home track again

Today’s Schedule All Times Pacific

:45 – 8:00 T&S On Track
8:15 – 8:45 Qualifying Spec Racer Ford
9:00 – 9:15 Warmup US Touring Car Championship
9:30 – 10:00 Qualifying 1 and Qualifying 2 Indy Lights
10:15 – 11:15 Practice 2 NTT INDYCAR Series Peacock
11:30 – 12:00 Race 1 Spec Racer Ford
12:25 – 1:20 Race 1 Indy Lights Peacock
2:05 – 3:20 Qualifying NTT INDYCAR Series Peacock
3:30 – 4:00 Autograph Session Indy Lights
3:35 – 4:25 Race 1 US Touring Car Championship
4:40 – 5:10 Race 2 Spec Racer Ford
5:25 – 6:35 Two Seater Rides

Good morning from cloudy California. A brief rain shower may occur in about an hour, but it should have no impact on today;s action. Qualifying today could give us a better idea of who may take possession of the Astor Cup tomorrow.

:45 – 8:00 T&S On Track
8:15 – 8:45 Qualifying Spec Racer Ford
9:00 – 9:15 Warmup US Touring Car Championship
9:30 – 10:00 Qualifying 1 and Qualifying 2 Indy Lights
10:15 – 11:15 Practice 2 NTT INDYCAR Series Peacock
11:30 – 12:00 Race 1 Spec Racer Ford
12:25 – 1:20 Race 1 Indy Lights
2:05 – 3:20 Qualifying NTT INDYCAR Series Peacock
3:30 – 4:00 Autograph Session Indy Lights
3:35 – 4:25 Race 1 US Touring Car Championship
4:40 – 5:10 Race 2 Spec Racer Ford
5:25 – 6:35 Two Seater Rides

Will Power can help hgis title hopes with another pole

Drivers described the track as slippery with high tire degradation yesterday. We could see qualifying rounds with minimal laps run.

Team Penske looks to be the favorite for the pole as of yesterday, with all three cars in the top 11 in practice. Colton Herta can never be counted out at this track either.

The Ganassi team, who =tested here last Monday, ended practice 10th (Ericsson), 14th (Palou), and 17th (Dixon), In a post practice statement, Dixon said they decided to try something new in practice. Seems a bit late wigth a championship on the line. I hope they find their way back,

I’ll be back after the morniung practice with a summary ab=nd to set up the qualifying rounds.

Some action from practice yesterday

Newgarden Leads Finale’s Opening Practice

Josef Newgarden fired the first shot as the battle for the series title began this afternoon at Weather Tech Raceway Laguna Seca. Newgarden’s lap of 1:11.410 beat Colton Herta by 0.41 seconds.

Andretti Autosport finished second, third, and forth. Herta was followed by Romain Grosjean and Alexander Rossi.

Callum Ilott was fifth fastest.

Points leader Will Power was seventh. The other title contenderrs, Marcus Ericsson and Scott Dixon, were 10th and 17th. The Ganassi team tested here Monday.

Dixon explained, “We came with a pretty different setup than what we did at the test. WE just wanted to try a few different things. We could see that the 8 car already backed up some of those, so mit looked like he moved in a positive direction. Still, all of us outside the top 10 is not ideal. We’ll work out of here and see, make what we can out of it. It’s going to be a pretty high (degradation) race.”

David Malukas, second nin the rookie of the year battle, was ninth, and rookie leader Christian Lundgaard had the 15th fastest lap.

Asked if his quick time is representative of his advantage over the field,, Newgarden said,

“It’s hard to say. I didn’t even really put together my best lap, and I’m sure that was the case for the majority of the field. It’s always hard to read off the first session. I think we’ll tighten up tomorrow.
But just the early read is good. I felt like we made really
good use of our short time that we had today and short set
of tires that we had. We didn’t have a lot to work off of. So
I feel good early, but I feel like it’s early days.”

Results