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.  

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.

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.

Race Preview- Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey

It is Power’s title to lose

Today’s Schedule: All Times Pacific

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

I hate writing the preview for this particular race because it means the season ends in two days. 2022 has been a year of great racing and a tight championship points battle. But, the year end review has to wait ntil we see how the final chapter plays out.

While the main focus is on who wins the championship, there are a couple other stories to watch this weekend.

The Astor Cup Goes To…

With just 20 points separating the top three drivers and Marcus Ericsson just 39 points behind, any of the four has a shot. Realistically, I think it is Will Power’s title to lose.

The chart Indycar posted yesterday shows ahy Power is in good shape.

YEARLEADERSECOND LEADCHAMPION
2008Scott DixonHelio Castroneves30Scott Dixon
2009Scott DixonDario Franchitti5Dario Franchitti
2010Will PowerDario Franchitti12Dario Franchitti
2011Will PowerDario Franchitti11Dario Franchitti
2012Will PowerRyan Hunter-Reay17Ryan Hunter-Reay
2013Scott DixonHelio Castroneves25Scott Dixon
2014Will PowerHelio Castroneves51Will Power
2015Juan Pablo MontoyaGraham Rahal34Scott Dixon (-47)
2016Simon PagenaudWill Power43Simon Pagenaud
2017Josef NewgardenScott Dixon3Josef Newgarden
2018Scott DixonAlexander Rossi29Scott Dixon
2019Josef NewgardenAlexander Rossi41Josef Newgarden
2020Scott DixonJosef Newgarden32Scott Dixon
2021Alex PalouPato O’Ward35Alex Palou
2022Will PowerJosef Newgarden20?

Not since 2015, the first year the final race went to a road course, has a driver come from behind to snatch a title in the final race of the season. Scott Dixon, tied for second with Josef Newgarden this year, accomplished the feat. Dixon won the title on a tiebreaker. Newgarden holds the tiebreaker, most wins over all contenders. Dixon holds the tiebreaker over Power.

Power simply needs to finish third to win the title, or stay ahead of the other contenders.

Qualifying

Saturday’s qualifying results will have a huge impact on who finishes where during the race.It should be the most intense qulaifying session of the season. Power has four poles this season, and a fifth would go a long way toward his championship.

The Other Title

David Malukas

The race for Rookie of the Year has also come down to the last race of the yhear. Christian Lundgaard’s once healthy lead over David Malukas is down to five points. Both drivers have had a podium, both Lundgaard and Malukas have had strong second halves of the season. I think Malukas has a bit more momentum right now, and I think he will end up with the rookie honor.

Last Rides

Alexander Rossi and the NAPA livery have been a fixyture on the circuit for seven years.

At least four drivers will be driving one final time for their current team. The saddest parting of all is Alexander Rossi, who will leave Andretti and the 27 car for Arrow McLaren SP. Rossi burst on the Indycar scene wit his shocking win at the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie. It will be strange not seeing him in the 27 in 2023. Next year will be the second year in a row we need to get used to a different driver in a famliar Andretti livery.

Kyle Kirkwood will move from A. J. Foyt Racing to Rossi’s 27 at Andretti. This kove was virtually predetermined before this year began. I hope Kirkwood will have a better year next season with Andretti.

Alex Palou will most likely not be oin the 10 for Chip Ganassi next season. here he drives in the McLaren stable is still unclear. IT may be a while before we see Palou in an Indycar again.

Felix Rosenqvist may or may not be having his final Indycar ride for AMSP Sunday. His situation is unclea. He could even be with a different team in 2023. What I finsd sad is that Rosenqvist and Pato O’Ward have been arguably the best teammates at working together on the grid. Their cars are consistently equal each weekend. This pair of drivers are the fiercest competitors on track and they support each other.

Herta off to F1?

Is Sunday Colton Herta’s last Indycar drive for a while? A decision about his F1 super license will come early next week. If it is, we could se him leave with another dominating performance on a track his family owns, racing wise.ert

Will David Malukas return to Coyne? I would love to see what he could do in a second season there, but openeings at bigger teams will be beckoning. Malukas has shown steady growth throughout the year, and he could shine in 2023.,

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.

Power Leads Penske Sweep of Practice 2

Last week’s test is paying off for Team Penske so far this weekend, as Josef Newgarden led yesterday’s practice and this morning Will Power led the practice, followed by teammates Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin. The three drivers were separated by less than a tenth of a second.

Colton Herta was fourth fastest, followed by Christian Lundgaard, Graham Rahal, Scott Dixon, and Alexander Rossi.

David Malukas led the middle part of the session, but faded to 11th by the end.

It was a clean session, unlike the may interruptions yesterday..

Practice ran under cloudy skies, and the weather at qualifying time is expected to be 69 degrees and cloudy. Some sun may appear by the Fast Six.

Results

Points Battle- Spoilers, Helpers, Bonus Points

Will Power has a very tenuous lead heading into the final two races

The Indycar title fight is down to four drivers who are separated by just 17 points. Three of the four have nine Indycar championships between them. 2022 is one of the closest four driver battles with two races left that I remember. It is also a team battle, Team Penske vs. Chip Ganassi Racing.

The standings:

I have shown the top six because Alex Palou drives for Ganassi and Scott McLaughlin drives for Penske. They are both a bit too far out to have a realistic chance at the title unless all four ahead of them have some extremely bad luck the next two weekends. but they have a role to play. Palou and Mclaughlin need to help their teammates by taking points away from the competitors on the other team.

If either Palou or McLaughlin should win of the last two races- Palou won at Portland last year- it doesn’t necessarily hurt their team members.

Bonus Points

The three point difference between Power and Newgarden can be contributed to the bonus points Power earned at Gateway last weekend. The championship could come down to who scores the most bonus points at Portland and Laguna Seca. The season long bonus point standings”

Dixon 21 (5 races)

Power 18 (10 races)

Newgarden 18 (9 races)

Ericsson 12 (5 races)

Dixon’s total is skewed by the 12 points he earned for winning the pole at the Indianapolis 500. He would have just 10 bonus points if Indianapolis awarded the normal ingle point for pole.

Power and Dixon are the only two of this group who have earned maximum bonus points for a race.

Testing as Strategy

Most Indycar teams have one test day left, and the top two teams have each chosen a different track to map the final push.

Today, Team Penske tests at Portland. Ganassi tests Monday at L:aguna Seca. Ganassi tested at Portland last year and took the pole and the race win.

Power’s Record Tying Pole Caps Dramatic Qualifying

Will Power finally caught Mario Andretti’s pole record. But first he had to catch Marcus Ericsson. Poiwer. the final car to qualify, topped Ericsson’s 182.070 mph average speed with a two lap average of 182.727 mph.

The qualifying session was arguably the most dramatic oval qualifying of the season. Takuma Sato was the eighth driver to make a qualifying run. He took the top spot and held it until Pato O’Ward beat his time 12 drivers later. Scott McLaughlin grabbed the pole until teammate Josef Newgarden made his run.

One of the possible pole contenders, Felix Rosenqvist, spun on his first qualifying lap in turn 2. He hit the inside wall. Rosenqvist will start last.

Marcus Ericsson

Ericsson’s qualifying time shot him to the lead. Scott Dixon was next, but he could only manage the fifth best time. Then Power came on track to end the qualifying round.

Power’s first lap was good enough to put him on the pole and his second lap reinforced his spot.

Power has tied Andretti for the most career poles with 67. His next win will tie him for third place all time with Michael Andretti. At the last race in Nashville, Scott Dixon moved ahead of Mario in career wins with his 53rd win, second to A. J. Foyt’s 67 victories.

Imagine being the top performer in your field and living to see your records equalled or broken. Andretti probably knew it would happen someday. I wonder if he thought he would be alive to see it happen.

Andretti’s last pole was in 1993.

In Dixon and Power we are witnessing two of the legendary drivers of open wheel racing.

Notes

Andretti Autosport cars showed to be relatively equal as they qualified 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th. Romain Grosjean, the fastest qualifier on the team, will serve a nine spot grid penalty and will start the race in 18th.

PThe top five contenders in the points chase-Will Power, Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson, Josef Newgarden, and Alex Palou- all start in the frirst three rows.

“It just shows no one’s letting up, no
one will until the end.Yep, pretty tight battle to the end. It will be very interestingto see how it unfolds. All you can do is just do your best.
Do your best. Can’t control some things, so see what
happens,” Power said.

“I think it shows howcompetitive this series is. It’s going to be tough. It’s going tobe tough to battle it out, try and beat the guy next to me
here. It’s going to be very tough.” Ericsson added.

A, J, Foyt Racing teammates Kyle Kirkwood and Dalton Kellett start 20th and 24th respectively. This usually one of the best tracks for Foyt’s cars.

Results