Gateway Wrap Up

There is nothing like an impending rain storm to liven up what began as a pretty dull race. The processional fuel saving start began to get intriguing when some cars began pitting around lap 51. The Coyne cars of Takuma Sato and David Malukas were among the early stoppers. Both had time leading. the race. As it turned out, Malukas was the eventual beneficiary of track position when the race resumed.

Forty laps of racing under the lights is nice for a sprint or midget feature. Indycar needs to seriously consider returning the non Indy ovals to night races. I don’t care if they can only be on Peacock. As I watched the Silver Crown cars Friday night under the lights, the feeling was bittersweet that Indycar would run in daylight the following day.

As Scott Mclaughlin mentioned after the race, the handling of the cars changes as the sun goes down and the track cools. This phenomenon is what makes night races more intriguing.

Outshining the Winner

The 2005 Indianapolis 500 saw Danica Patrick beco9me the first woman to lead the 500 . She eventually finished fourth. After the race race, and in the weeks following, if you weren’t paying attention, you wouldn’t knwo Dan wheldon actually won the race.

Saturday night was a bit like that. Second place David Malukas seemed to be the center of attention, while winner Josef Newgarden was the second biggest story. I am okay with this. Malukas has matured steadily throughout the season. he has been quick on ovals, and his road course game has improved tremendously.

It will be a while before the grin leaves David Malukas’ face.

To see him hunt down and pass Mclaughlin and nearly catch Newgarden was one of the highlights of the season.

Speculation has begun about where Malukas will race next year. Some say he will replace Alex Palou at Ganassi. I’m sure he got a call from Mclaren after the race.

Points Race Gets Even Tighter

I thought this race would shake up the points race, but only a couple positions switched and there are four drivers still with a realistic shot at the title.

Will Power holds a three point lead over Newgarden. His lead is basically the bonus points he earned for Saturday’s race. Scott Dixon is only 14 points behind. He has come back from farther than that to win with two races left.

Notes

I watched the first few laps of the race last night and I was surprised at the sparse grandstand crowd. Weather may have made some decide to stay home, but I wonder if the NASCAR race in June may have affected attendance as well. When tracks force people to decide which major event to attend, Indycar seems to take the hit. The promoters need to do a better job promoting all their bug events equally.

I have said this before, but I think it is time for Ed Carpenter to become an Indy only only driver for a couple more years. Carpenter has had a dismal season. His average finish in five races this season was 19.2 with a best of 13th. His third car could be the avenue for Paretta Autosport to have a full time entry in 2023.

The pits at night take on a kind of state fair atmosphere. It definitely has a different vibe after dark.

I watched the restart from a spot in the infield. I have never been as close to cars during a race as I was when the race resumed. The sound and the vibrations were overwhelming. Cars zipped by like I was using fast forward on my remote. I may have to be at this spot for the start next year.

Thanks for following my coverage this past weekend. Later this week, i will examine the points chase in more depth.

Gateway Update: New Start Time; Current Weather

From Indycar:

INDYCAR Moves Up Start Time
of Bommarito Automotive Group 500
 
 INDIANAPOLIS (Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022) – During careful monitoring of likely weather conditions in the St. Louis area, INDYCAR officials have decided to move up the start time of today’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta and Valvoline at World Wide Technology Raceway to 6:01 p.m. ET, ensuring fans see the most NTT INDYCAR SERIES action.
Fans are encouraged to follow INDYCAR social media (@INDYCAR on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) for further updates.
The start time for the Indy Lights at World Wide Technology Raceway 75-lap race will remain unchanged as the green flag for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES’ developmental series will fly at 4:15 p.m. ET.
Live coverage of the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 will begin at 6 p.m. ET on USA, Peacock Premium and the INDYCAR Radio Network. Coverage of the Indy Lights at World Wide Technology Raceway also will be available via Peacock Premium and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

A brief rain shower has ended and the sun is back out, but there are more rain clouds to the east.

Race Day! Rain Day?

Good morning from the Olivette media center annex. Here is the latest from @Indycar_Wxman

It looks like we will get the race in, althiough maybe later than scheduled. I wil We just might get the night race we want. l up date the weather situation during the on Facebook on The Pit Window and on Twitter @tutorindie.

Today’s Schedule: All times Central

The Indy Lights race ius on Peacock. The Indycar race is on USA Network and Peacock.

Thew starting lineup, which includes Romain grosjean’s penalty:

Rahal Leads Final Practice

Graham Rrahal had the fastest time in last night’s warm up for today’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500. He went to the top of the chart late in the session. Scott Dixon led a good portion the practice.

Jimmie Johnson spun entering pit lane with about two mi nutes remaining to end the practice early.

Silver Crown- Lots of Action

I watched the first half of the USAC Silver Crown race. I need to get to more of their races. The cars are loud and the action us furious. There was constant passing and several lead changes.

Kody Swanson leads

It was nice to watch a race at night (Ahem-Indycar).

I very much enjoyed this race. I hope they will accompany INdycar to more short ovals next year.

The Race

Will Power is the prohibitive favorite, but just one race has been won from the pole this year. I am looking at Josef newgarden, Scott Dixon, or Pato O’Ward to win.

I don’t think Arrow McLaren SP had gotten enough credit for the job they havedone on ovals this season. O’Ward has a win and two second place finishes. Felix Rosenqvist has a pole, a topo 5 and two top 10 finishes.

If you are looking for a dark horse, keep an eye on Takuma Sato.

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

Opening Day at Gateway

Today’s Schedule. Times are Eastern

11am: Silver Crown Prac

1145am: Pro2000 Prac

1pm: INDYCAR Prac

215pm: Silver Crown Prac

310pm: Lights Prac

415pm: INDYCAR Quals

530pm: Silver Crown Quals

615pm: Lights Quals

7pm: INDYCAR Lane 2 Prac

745pm: IndyCar Final Prac

930pm: Silver Crown Race

Today should be dry, but tomorrow there may be some precipitation causing issues with the schedule.

Indyar aqctivity is on Peacock today.

Reminder: Tomorrow’s race is on USA Network. Coverage begins at 6 pm Eastern with the green flag at 6:30.

I will be heading to the rack in a coupple of hours and I will have a brief report after each Indycar session.

Bommarito 500 Preview

Photo: Will Power has a shaky six point lead heading into the final oval race of 2022. Indycar photo by James Black

World Wide Technology Raceway has a tough act to follow. After the smash hit at Iowa, the final oval of the year, which usually puts on a great event, may seem a bit less so this year. Hy Vee is assisting in the production, but I don’t know if they can match Iowa’s energy.

Saturday’s race begins the final stretch of the 2022 Indycar season with three races in 22 days. I always feel sorry for the winners of these last races if they are not one of the title contenders. The focus is on the drivers going for the title. And we have quite a title fight going. Seven drivers have a mathematical chance of winning, but only five have a realistic shot at the Astor Cup.

The top five are within 33 points of leader Will Power, and just 12 points separate the top three. This race could stabilize the title picture or it could jumble it even more.

Penske Strength

Team Penske has been strong at Gateway the past few years. Josef Newgarden has been especially dominant here. In the last three races at WWTR, Josef Newgarden has won twice. Will Power has two poles and two third place finishes. Scott McLaughlin finished fourth in 2021 in his debut. The team has been strong at Texas and Iowa as well, with Newgarden winning at each track and Power and McLaughlin sweeping the poles.

I don’t see Team Penske having any fall off this weekend. The finishing order of this trio will determine who remains in the championship hunt.

What Does Ganassi Have?

Scott Dixon is right where he wants to be- second in points, jus six behind power, with just three races left. If Dixon can’t win here, which he did in 2020 race 1, he has two chances on road courses to get by Power. I would not count him out.

Scott Dixon is used to winning championships late in the season

Will Weather Give Us a Night Race?

Storms are forecast around race time Saturday, and a delay could push the event to the night race everyone wants. I detest rain delys, but I wouldn’t mind this one.

Kirkwood’s Best Opportunity

Rookie Kyle Kirkwood has a chance for a bit of redemption Saturday. Kirkwood thew away a career best finish at Nashville with his late crash. Gateway has been the best track for A. J. Foyt Racing. the team has a podium and to top fives in this event. Can Kirkwood bring the car to the finish?

Kyle Kirkwood carries the event sponsor’s name on his car this weekend.

A Second Groove

The first half hour of the post qualifying practice Friday will feature nine cars- one from each team except Foyt, running in the high groove to laydown some rubber to improve the racing line. Some drivers believe the high line will be good for the start and restarts, but that everyone will settle in to the low groove after a few laps.

Indycar did this at Texas, and it did help the race a bit.

Power putting rubber in the high line at Texas

Andretti Spoilers?

Colton Herta and Alexander Rossi have no realistic hopes of winning the championship. Both Andretti drivers were running well last year before encountering issues. Herta and Rossi overcame qualifying and early race problems at Nashville to finish the top five. The duo could have a say about who wins the title by having good results and taking points away from one or more of the contenders.

In fact, I think that is what will happen. Herta will win the race, and Rossi will grab a top five spot. Obe of the top four chasers will have a big issue and see his hopes dashed, and this tight title fight will become even titghter.