Double Pole for Power; Double Penske Front Row Lockout

And then there was one. Will Power moved moved within one career pole of Mario Andretti by grabbing poles for both races at Iowa Speedway. Josef Newgarden, Power’s team Penske teammmate, will start second in both races. Chevy powered cars will start each race in five of the first six positions. Power now has won five poles at Iowa.

The last pole sweep by a driver was by Simon Pagenaud in Detroit in 2016.

Conor Daly had held both provisional poles through 10 qualifiers until Newgarden firmly beat his times. Power then took to then track and turned the only laps int the 178 mph range to grab his 65th and 66th career poles. Power now has three poles for the season.

Colton Herta picked up nearly three miles an hour on his second lap to slot third for race 2. However, his team will change his engine after today’s race and he will be moved to 12th for Sunday’s race.

Rinus VeeKay had the most consistent run. His first lap was 176.626 mph and his second lap was 176.625 mph.

Will Power

Power talks about his double pole.

“Yeah, it was It was messy. It was skipping up the track and I was surprised those the quickest like but always wheeling it as much as I could. I thought it was leaving nothing on the table. So again, it was not there was a 17 (second lap) to encounter .”

Starting position is key.

” lt felt like you had to start in the top 10 To have a good race because it was seemed a little difficult to pass .. cars can follow along so you can make sense. Positions are in basic decision up with our strategy, but leading is obviously easier. You can queue up people when they need to get a bit of a lead up early they’ll come down to laps you know that was so yeah, good spot to be in.”

On catching points leader Marcus Ericsson:

“I’m hoping that this is a good weekend for us to catch Marcus. Because he’s very tough. He’s, he’s, you know, he’s not the best qualified but he’s probably the best racer in series in my opinion. I might have just over the years watching him race. He’s one of the toughest guys like he’s very, very good at starting back there and making his way all the way to the front. So yeah, he’s going to try and get some points on it.”

Power’s Late Lap Nips Daly in Iowa Practice

Will Power set the fastest lap in the only practice sessioin the Iowa double header. Conor Daly laid down a lop of 173.239 mph in the first 10 minutes of practice.Power edged Daly turning a 173.285 lap with less than 40 minutes to go in the 90 minute practice.

Qualifying for the two races begins at 9:30 Central time tomorrow. The HyVee Deals.com250 presented by DoorDash begins at 3 pm Central time tomorrow.

There were two stoppages, one for a track inspection and one for a fox running across the track. The fox jumped over the safer barrier.

“It’s my favorite oval,” Power said. “I think we’re in the mix.”

On running the high line, Power said, ” You gotta be wherever the car in front of you is not. It’s where can I get clean air?”

Notes

I went intoi one of the HyVee mobile stores this afternoon. It bis a camp store on steroids. If they don’t stock the product there, it can be ordered and elivered to you at the track.

HyVee has already hit a home run with this event. I am excited to see whatb the next two days bring. Indycar needs two or three more sponsors who will activate like they have

Results

Quick Thoughts- Detroit Grand Prix

Indycar photo by James Black

Will Power’s strategy worked, Alexander Rossi’s plan almost worked. Power had enough of a lead that his red tires lasted 20 laps. He was helped by the race going caution free. If you like strategy races. this one was about as good as it gets. Both teams executed their plans well, and the race was decided on the track. The two best cars finished 1-2.

The win was redemption for Power, who had Race 1 last year pretty much in hand until the race was red flagged. His engine wouldn’t restart and the race resumed with Power in 20th.

I’m sad to see the race leave Belle Isle. The racing there has been really good the last few years.

Kyle Kirkwood had his best run of the season spoiled by a mistake leaving the pits. He was pretty much guaranteed a top 5. He has done fantastic work this year on a small team. I can’t wait to see how he does with Andretti next year.

The start of the race was probably the worst of the year with half the field not lined up or even close to the front of the grid. It didn’t matter in the long run, but it was not a good look.

Right Strategy, Wrong Year

Josef Newgarden’s strategy in 2021 was to end on reds with as short a stint as possible. His plan didn’t work last year as a yellow flag force him to pit and change to the alternate tire sooner than planned. Power used that strategy this year and it turned out to be the winning play.

NBC- Nothing But Commercials

I thought the broadcast was rather disjointed. The booth did a great job, but it seemed commercials breaks happened every four laps. Even with side by side it was interrupting of the flow. There were too many flashback episodes, and they were always on the larger screen when they should be on the smaller one. I’m more interested in the current action. We didn’t need to rehash what happened to Will Power last ear 10 laps from this year’s finish.

Numbers

Power is the sixth different winner after seven races.

There has been a different pole winner for each race.

The points lead has changed hands six times among five drivers. Only Scott McLaughlin has led for consecutive races. Power has regained the lead that Marcus Ericsson took last week. Power’s lead is three points over Ericsson. Josef Newgarden, in fifth place, is just 47 points behind Power.

Thanks for following along this weekend. I had another good day of improvement, but my trip to Road America is in serious jeopardy.

I’ll have some more thoughts on the weekend tomorrow.

Power Still Indy’s King of The Road

If it’s early May in Indianapolis, you will find Will Power on the pole. Power won his fourth GMR Grand Prix pole and fifth on the IMS road course. Power snatched the pole from Alex Palou on the final timed lap of the Firestone Fast Six. His time of1:09.766 beat Palou by 0.043 seconds.

The pole was Power’s 64th of his career. He is just three behind Mario Andretti’s record of 67.

Will Power talks about his 64th career pole

The entire qualifying ran without issues. Only one Honda, the car of Alex Palou, made it to the final round. The rest of the Fast Six, in order, are Josef Newgarden, Conor Daly, Pato O’Ward, and Felix Rosenqvist.

Conor Daly earned his best starting spot of the season

Some pole contenders struggled during qualifying. Colton Herta and Rinus VeeKay did not make it out of the first round. Herta will start tomorrow’s race in row 7 and VeeKay in row 8. Jack Harvey, who usually qualifies well at this track, will start 9th Saturday.

The 2021 polesitter, Romain Grosjean, starts 10th.

Unfamiliar Territory

Simon Pagenaud starts 20th and Scott Dixon starts 21st. Pagenaud won the pole at the GMR Grand Prix in 2016 and has won the race three times. Dixon has won once and is usually a top finisher. Watch for this pair to move forward tomorrow.

Notes

The scoring pylon showed the time remaining in each round. This is something that wasn’t always done in the past. I’m glad they had it up there.

I found a lot of nice shirts while making a brief pass through of the merchandise shop behind the pits. If anyone has a dresser I can have, I will add to my T-shirt collection.

The speed difference for the starting grid from first to 27th is 1.68 seconds.

Palou had the fastest lap in qualifying, 1:09.411 in round 2.

Thanks for following along today. I will have some follow up on today tomorrow morning.

8

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:

Some Teams Still Looking for Speed

Today’s schedule:

Gates Open 7:45 AM-1:30 PM

8:00AM – 8:45AM Indy Pro 2000 Race 2
9:00AM – 9:45AM NTT INDYCAR SERIES Practice 2 Peacock
10:00AM – 10:45AM Mazda MX-5 Cup Race 2
11:00AM – 12:00PM SRO GT America Race 2
12:30PM – 1:45PM NTT INDYCAR SERIES Qualifying Peacock

2:00 PM-2:30 PM Indy Lights Autograph Session Fan Village

3:00 PM- 4:00 PM Indycar Autograph Session Fan Village

4:00 PM-6:00 PM Party in the Park North Straub Park

8:00 PM Fireworks

On track activity is packed into just five hours today. The Indycar field has just 45 minutes to prepare for qualifying. Andretti Autosport had three drivers in the top 10 Friday while Team Penske and Rahal letterman Lanigan Racing each had two drivers near the top. The team that puzzled me the most was Arrow McLaren SP, who had Felix Rosenqvist 16th and Pato O’Ward 20th.

Chip Ganassi Racing didn’t have any driver higher than 15th place Marcus Ericsson.

The practice round today will be run in cooler conditions than Fridy’s late day session. The temperature at 12:30 when qualifying starts is expected to be 76 degrees and sunny, rising to 78 by the time the Fast Six begins.

Indycsr decided not to alter it’s qualifying format in spite of a larger full time grid and even more cars at some events. We saw a few cars backed up in turn 10 yesterday trying to make a gap, but not a huge line. A qualifying round may look different.

Yesterday’s fastest driver, Romain Grosjean, said about his session,

“I think we’ve got a very, very strong baseline, but I think there’s a little bit more to come if we put it all together. Hopefully we can
find that and have fun for the rest of the weekend.”

Will Power said about qualifying this season,

“It will be very tight qualifying sessions, and it’ll come down to whether you get a clean lap and don’t get held up, if someone doesn’t back
up or you don’t go through a yellow. Yeah, it’s going to be
that sort of year, which is great. I think it’s very good, very fun.”

Today will be a fun day. Practice and qualifying can be seen on Peacock.

Dixon, Power Look to Equal or Tie Andretti Marks in 2022

Scott Dixon and Will Power have an opportunity this upcoming Indycar season to tie or pass Mario Andretti in different career categories. Dixon, who has won at least one race every year since 2003, needs one victory to tie Andretti’s career mark of 52 wins, second only to A. J. Foyt. It was a shock that he only won one race last season.

Power is four poles shy of tying Andretti’s career mark of 67 poles, first among Indycar drivers. Power won only one pole last season, at the second IMS road race. His single pole was more of a shock than Dixon’s single first place.

Other Storylines for 2022

How will Romain Grosjean fare with his new team? Can Grosjean have the same success as part of a larger team, Andretti Autosport, as he had with Dale Coyne? Can he keep pace with Colton Herta and Alexander Rossi?

Romain Grosjean

Will we have a third OEM announcement by the time of the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500? If we don’t, it will be at least 2025 until Honda and Chevrolet have another competitor.

Will having 14 races on NBC significantly increase viewership? The deal with NBC is probably the best package Indycar has ever had. I hope it pays huge dividends. If not, there may never be another deal this good.

Can Beth Paretta finalize a deal for the Indianapolis 500? It would be a shame if 2021 was a one time effort. The credibility of the Race for Diversity and Change would suffer if her team is not at IMS in May.

Keep an eye on Ernie Francis, Jr. in Indy Lights as well. I hope he does well enough to get a shot the 500 in 2023. It is just as important to have African American representation in Indycar as it is to have a female presence.

Some predictions:

Season champion- I give a narrow edge to Colton Herta over Pato O’Ward in a tight yearlong battle.

Winners- Eight drivers will win races this season, with Herta and O’Ward winning at least three each. Scott McLaughlin may be the only first time winner in 2022.

David Malukas

Rookie of the Year- This is a tough contest to decide. Christian Lundgaard has better equipment, but David Malukas is more familiar with most of the tracks Indycar will run. I think Malukas will win, but it will come down to the final race.

On September 12 we can all look at this post again and have a good laugh. Thanks for reading my preview series. Now let’s go racing!

The King Reclaims His Throne

Photo by Kyle McInnes

Will Power in victory lane at the IMS road course. It’s a step back toward normalcy. Power won the Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix today, his first win in ten months. Gis 40th career win puts him two wins behind Michael Andretti on the all time career list. Power won for the fifth time at the IMS road course.

Tire strategy was key today. Power took the lead after the first round of opit stops. Pole sitter Pato O’Ward started on reds while most everyone else began the race on the primary tires. O’Ward switched to blacks on the first stop and power took on the faster red tires. He passed O’Ward and ran away from the field, building a lead of more than eight seconds over O’Ward and then Colton Herta.

The race was a mostly processional affair, with a couple of interesting battles in the field. Passing seemed difficult. After a caution filled race last Sunday, today saw the yellow flag come out just twice, the first time on lap 67. Alex Palou brought ourt the first caution when his engine let go. The DNF tightened the points race significantly. he now leads O’Ward by just 21 points. Rinus Veekay spun with assistance a few laps later and stalled, forcing another yellow.

Power is the ninth different winner in 2021. The series is just two different winners shy of the record 11 different winners with four races left.

Notes

Alex Palou had everything going his way. He was ahead of his three closest pursuers in the championship and he was less than twenty laps away from padding his lead. Then it was all gone in a puff of smoke.

Christian Lundgaard impressed this weekend. The 20 year old drove a good race, even getting the lead during a pit stop cycle. he finished 12th. I hope we see him again before the season ends.

Indycar photo by Chris Jones

Top Gun Racing and R C Enerson completed just 16 laps today, but the team did get to race for the first time. They have obtained some sponsorship, and plan to be at Gateway next weekend. I thought it was quite an accomplishment for them to get to do a qualifying run for the 500. they have come a long way.

Scott Dixon matched his worst finish of the year, 17th. Ironically both have been at IMS.

Palou’s poor finish hurt some, but with the days his closest competitors had, it didn’t hurt as much as it could have. His advantage is that O’Ward and Dixon keep swapping second and third, while Newgarden makes only minimal gains and has three drivers to overtake.

The crowd was decent today, although the place didn’t have a true race day vibe.

IMS had a beautiful tribute to Bob Jenkins on the video boards before the race.

I will be back tomorrow with some more thoughts on this weekend’s format tomorrow. Thanks for following along these past two days.

Pole Fight and Last Chance Battle Involve Former Winners

Today’s Schedule; All Times eastern

Gates Open 9:00am 7:00pm

Last Chance Practice 11:00am 11:30am

Firestone Fast Nine Practice 11:30am 12:00pm

Last Chance Qualifying 1:15pm 2:30pm


1:00 PM – 2:30 PM ET

Firestone Fast Nine 3:00pm 3:45pm


2:30 PM – 4:30 PM ET

NTT IndyCar Series Practice 5:00pm 7:00pm


4:30 PM – 7:00 PM ET

Grandstands open:

Paddock, Paddock Penthouse, A Penthouse, B Penthouse , E, E Penthouse, Tower Terrace, Northwest Vista and Deck, Southeast Vista and deck.

Note: only limited sections open in all stands.

Parking:

North 40 is free. All other lots are paid. $10

Four former winners have a shot at the pole this afternoon in the Fast Nine shootout. That is a routine occurrence. Onf ormer winner will fight to make the field. That doesn’t happen often.

Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Helio Castroneves, and Ryan Hunter-Reay earned a chance to run for the pole this afternoon. Dixon had the fastest time yesterday, Kanaan was third, Castroneves sixth, and Hunter-Reay eighth.

I think the pole battle is between Dixon, Kanaan, and Colton Herta. Dixon is favored, but don’t dismiss Herta’s chances.

On the other end of the field, five drivers, including 2018 winner Will Power, need to qualify for the final three spots in the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500. Power had the 31st fastest time yesterday, but the if three of the other four can outrun him, the 2014 series champion will sit out next Sunday. Power, one of the greatest qualifiers in Indycar history, will get one of the spots, but it may be tight. The cars are competing just against each other today, and not against the rest of the field.

Also looking for a spot on next Sunday’s grid are Simona DeSilvestro, Sage Karam, Charlie Kimball, and R C Enerson.

Stay tuned. this will be a fascinating day at both ends of the field.

Some photos from yesterday:

Can Helio Castroneves win another pole?
Always nice to see Robert Wickens at the track
Simona DeSilvestro after her first qualifying run.