Ethan Miller is 17 years old and resides in Pennsylvania. He aspires to become a sports writer following high school, and views writing for Speedway Digest as the next step towards a career in journalism. Ethan currently hosts the QuickPitPodcast with a few fellow NASCAR fans, which can be found on all major podcast platforms.
Standing in a rain of confetti, Power recaptured the championship trophy for the first time in 8 years. Power, then 33, won his first championship in 2014 with 3 wins, dominating a season in which he never fell below second in the points standings. This year, he faced a tougher road. While he did lead the points standings early in the year, he didn’t regain the points lead until race 13/17 at Indy. Power now joins an illustrious list of multi-time IndyCar Champions with his second title on Sunday in 2022.
Power entered Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at Laguna Seca with a 20-point lead over teammate Josef Newgarden and 6-time champion Scott Dixon. If he placed on the podium, he was guaranteed the title, and his chances of doing so looked good on Saturday. Power qualified on the pole and led the field to green. Said Power of his pole, which was the fifth of the season for him,
“I couldn't really enjoy the pole yesterday because I was so focused on the race.”
Rookie Callum Ilott put in a stellar run to start second in Sunday’s race, and had an immensely impressive race until lap 39, when his engine failed. He ended up bringing out the only caution of the race, as the remainder of the event was incident-free. Power led the first 14 laps before giving it up during a pit cycle, in which the lead changed hands multiple times. Alex Palou emerged as the leader as the race approached halfway, and he settled in as the sole frontrunner for the win. While he was eliminated from championship contention at Portland last week, Palou was winless on the season, which made the win at Laguna Seca all the more enticing. The driver of the no. 10 NTT Data Honda ran away with the lead and the win while Power fought to clinch the championship.
Josef Newgarden, still with a chance at the title, drove up to second after starting in 25th place due to a qualifying spin. He did all that he could, but was unable to catch Palou for the lead or a break that would allow him to gain more points on Power. Palou resulted in leading 67 out of 95 laps en route to a dominating win in what may have been his last race for Chip Ganassi Racing, winning by over 30 seconds. Newgarden placed second, and Power clinched his second title by taking the final podium spot.
Felix Rosenqvist, with an uncertain future in IndyCar, closed out an up-and-down season of his own to place fourth, and Christian Lundgaard wrapped up an impressive rookie season in fifth, capturing the Rookie of the Year crown.
Scott McLaughlin capped off a strong sophomore season in sixth, and Romain Grosjean finished seventh. Pato O’Ward, Marcus Ericsson, and Alexander Rossi concluded the top 10.
Power’s championship comes a year after his worst points finish in 13 years in 2021, when he finished ninth with only one win. This year, he also only had one win, at Belle Isle, but he was remarkably consistent. He had an average finish of 5.9, and only had one finish worse than 15th (19th at Road America). The championship drive was smooth and calm down the stretch as he slowly reeled in Marcus Ericsson, tallying 5 podiums in the last 7 races. Power led the series in podiums with 9, and he finished every race on the lead lap. His consistency is ultimately what won him the championship.
“You can't leave anything on the table,” Power explained. “That's what makes this series so tough and unique is that you've got all these disciplines. Even the difference between a road course and a street course is quite significant in our series because the street course is extremely rough and bumpy and tight. There's not a series like it. I'm going to say it's the toughest series in the world because of what you've got to master to win it and the competition level. You don't even have to take my word for it; just do the math on lap times, and you'll see that we're the toughest, the most competitive series in the world.”
Power was glad that it came down to the wire and wasn’t a runaway for the championship this year.
“Yeah, it was a hard fight to the end,” he said. “You're fighting Dixon and Newgarden, like two of the best guys in the series. It's very satisfying. Very satisfying. That matters. It's not fun -- it's fun at the time when you win with ease, but it's way better when it was a difficult fight to the end, which it was. It adds to the satisfaction. “
Newgarden, with his podium finish, came up second in the season points standings to Power. For the 2-time champion, now runner-up for the championship in three straight seasons, there may have been a scenario where things worked out differently; Newgarden was dominating late at Iowa when something broke in the car, knocking him out of the race and costing him dozens of points. When he fell short by only 16 points to Power in the end, the season was surely bittersweet.
Scott Dixon placed third in the standings, his sixth straight season of being top-5 in points. Scott McLaughlin finished in fourth, and 2021 champ Alex Palou climbed up to fifth with his win. 2022 Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson, who led the points for multiple weeks this summer, resulted in sixth in points, meaning the top 6 spots in the standings belonged to drivers from either Team Penske or Chip Ganassi Racing.
With the checkered flag flying at Laguna Seca on Sunday, the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series season is in the books. Not without its own intrigue and excitement, the ultra-competitive field put on a stellar show once again. Now, as 2022 concludes, all teams and drivers turn their eyes to the offseason, contract negotiations, and preparing for the beginning of the 2023 season next spring.
In fall 2020, Scott McLaughlin made his first career IndyCar start at St. Petersburg in the 2020 season finale. He crashed on lap 46. Less than 2 years later, the 29-year-old Australian SuperCars legend is poised to become the next big star in the NTT IndyCar series. McLaughlin dominated Sunday’s race at Portland International Raceway for his third win of the season.
The driver for Team Penske never gave up the lead under normal race circumstances, only ceding the lead during green flag pit stops. McLaughlin led 104 out of 110 laps after starting on the pole, and finished 1.18 seconds ahead of teammate Will Power in second. It was a total beatdown of the field by McLaughlin, and he also pulled closer in the championship fight with the final race of the season coming up. He added to his wins at St. Petersburg and Mid-Ohio earlier this year for his third career win.
Will Power, the championship leader, finished second, with 6-time champion Scott Dixon finishing third. Pato O’Ward placed fourth, and Graham Rahal continued his late summer surge with a fifth place finish, his fifth top 10 of the last seven races. Colton Herta, in the midst of F1 rumors, finished in sixth, with teammate Alexander Rossi grabbing the seventh place finishing spot. Josef Newgarden, Callum Illot, and Felix Rosenqvist rounded out the top 10 in eight, ninth, and tenth.
With one race to go in the 2022 IndyCar season, Will Power leads Scott Dixon and Josef Newgarden by 20 points. Marcus Ericsson, 39 points behind, and Scott McLaughlin, 41 points behind, are both still mathematically eligible but are longshots. It’s Will Power’s title to lose, and as long as he has a solid run at Laguna Seca, he’ll clinch the title.
IndyCar closes out its 2022 season next weekend at Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. The race is on Sunday, September 11th at 3 PM EST on NBC, where a champion will be crowned.
It’s rare for a new team to announce a Cup Series entry and stick without major backing. Trackhouse Racing is perhaps the biggest success story; 23XI doesn’t necessarily count due to the star power behind the ownership group. Team Hezeberg announced an entry last fall and, while they have proven to be legitimate, they haven’t shown much speed in their part time entries (the Netherlands-based team does, however, get bonus points for being the only foreign-owned team in the NASCAR Cup Series).
Team Stange, despite their lofty aspirations in their March 2022 announcement, is yet to compete in a race this season and hasn’t updated their social media in 2 months. And the list goes on; more often than not, new NASCAR teams don’t make it past the introductory press conference. However, a new team has popped up on social media that plans on their own foray into NASCAR racing.
As previously stated, every new NASCAR team should be taken with a grain of salt. Announcing a brand is one task; acquiring parts, signing drivers, bringing in sponsorship, and showing up at the track is far more extensive and expensive. But based on an email obtained from team owner Dennis Hirtz, 3F Racing just might be on track to actually reach raceday this fall.
3F Racing aims to be the first German-owned NASCAR Cup Series team. Based on their website, they plan on running the no. 30 NextGen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. According to Hirtz, the team will have an alliance with Richard Childress Racing and their engines will be built in Welcome, NC.
Hirtz said of the RCR alliance,
“You need to have a strong alliance entering the sport to not run in the back.”
3F Racing plans on competing in the final 5 races in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season, beginning with the Round of 12 finale at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval. There, they plan on having a prestigious driver in the car for their debut race.
“The driver lineup will be released at a later point, as we are still in the last stages of the funding with our partners and sponsors,” Hirtz said via email. “Our driver for the Roval will be a two time 24h of Le Mans winner with a strong European background, and for the remaining races we will field a very experienced and well known US American NASCAR driver.”
While pure speculation, many fans believe Justin Allgaier to be the driver for the non-oval races this year, due to Allgaier being the only big NASCAR driver to follow them on social media. Earl Bamber is also suspected to be a possibility for the Roval ride, due to the fact that he has extensive sports car racing experience in Europe and IMSA, and has 2 LeMans victories. He does not follow the team on social media at the last check, and neither driver nor the team itself have announced anything official.
Hirtz says the team plans on running 10-12 races in 2023, followed by a full-time entry in 2024. Once the team is ready, they will announce drivers and officially enter the sport with a team presentation.
Their website is https://3f-racing.com/ , and they can be found on Twitter and Instagram.
It had been over 1,000 days since Alexander Rossi had last won an NTT IndyCar Series race, at Road America in 2019. 49 races had passed, the longest winless drought of his career for the 30-year-old American driver for Andretti Autosport. On Saturday, in the midst of a jam-packed doubleheader weekend featuring NASCAR and IndyCar both running races at the IMS infield circuit, the 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner snapped his winless streak in commanding fashion.
Felix Rosenqvist won the pole and led the first 7 laps before being passed by Colton Herta on lap 8, who in turn would cede the lead to Scott McLaughlin on lap 14. McLaughlin would lead 10 laps, then teammate Will Power took a turn out front on lap 24. Herta regained the lead as the race settled in on lap 31. Simon Pagenaud ran out of fuel, ending his day early and bringing out the second of two cautions on lap 36.
On the restart, Herta and Andretti teammate Alexander Rossi pulled away from the rest of the field, setting up a possible duel between the two young American stars. Herta, however, ran over a curb hard and broke a component in the car, forcing him to retire from the race on lap 41 and giving the lead over to Rossi.
Rossi led the remaining 44 laps to win the Gallagher Grand Prix, his first win in 3 seasons. It’s Rossi’s third podium of the 2022 season, after he placed second at Belle Isle and third at Road America. The American driver is set to leave Andretti Autosport for Arrow Mclaren SP at the conclusion of this season, making this win the potential final act for the Rossi/Andretti combination.
Said Rossi post race about finally snapping the streak and returning to victory lane,
“Yeah, it's a lot of relief I think is the main word. We've had some race wins that we've thrown away for sure, and we've had some weekends where we've just kind of not had the pace, and for whatever reason. I think that we knew things were trending in a good direction this year, and we had a solid test here a month or so ago. I think the one constant has been just the mental strength of the whole team. As challenging as it is for me, it's also hard for them. They go in every day and work their butts off, and when they don't get results, it's hard for them, as well. I think as a unit, that's one of our strengths is being able to continue to just push forward. It's a big team win and a big thank you to the whole organization.”
Rookie Christian Lundgaard garnered a career-best second place finish in the race, his first career podium. The driver for Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan Racing credited his team during his post race press conference.
“It feels amazing,” said Lundgaard. “I think the best feeling right now is that the team really deserves it. They've worked super hard, and we've had such a struggling beginning to the season, and I think coming to Toronto was when things started to change. We saw sort of a streak where we started to perform better. Even Road America, Mid-Ohio was there. We were on the edge of the top 10. To come here and finish second, I think the team deserves every bit of it. I'm just a guy doing my job really. I want to win, so I try as best I can every event.”
Lundgaard leads the rookie standings following his strong result, leading David Malukas by 27 points with 4 races to go.
Will Power finished third, his seventh podium of the year. More important was the points gain he made in the championship race, as he leapfrogged Marcus Ericsson to regain the points lead on Saturday.
“It's amazing some of the runs we've had this year,” Power said. “But yep, just kept my head and did what I could in the situation. I had to get a big fuel number and go as fast as I can. Very good day. Good day for the team all around.”
Power also acknowledged the change in mindset that comes with racing for a championship as the races wind down.
“It's not necessarily the long game, it's just that sort of attitude switch where you know these races are long, the season is long, and you've got to make the most of every situation, even if you're fighting for like 12th. If that's your day to finish 12th, well, finish 12th, not 24th.”
Power leads Ericsson by 9 points, with teammate Josef Newgarden in third place, 32 points back. Newgarden competed in Saturday’s race after doctors cleared him to race on Friday, as his recovery was in doubt following a hard crash last week at Iowa.
After Power in third, his Penske teammates Scott McLaughlin and Newgarden finished fourth and fifth. Closing out the second half of the top 10 were Rinus VeeKay, Graham Rahal, Scott Dixon, Felix Rosenqvist, and Alex Palou.
The NTT IndyCar Series will travel to Nashville this upcoming weekend for the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix. The event is the second race on the streets of Nashville, and will be on Sunday, August 7th at 3:00 EST on NBC
Josef Newgarden and Patricio O’Ward claimed victories at Iowa Speedway this past weekend, in a jam-packed doubleheader event presented by HyVee Grocery Stores. Featuring concerts from the likes of Blake Shelton and Gwen Stafani, fantastic on-track racing, and innovative attractions from HyVee themselves, there weren’t just 2 action packed races on Saturday and Sunday- it was a legitimate event. So often it feels, in NASCAR and IndyCar, that the races that aren’t in big markets or are key for the season itself are bland and boring, with no appeal for a casual fan to watch or attend. This weekend, however, was a huge event and a massive success for HyVee and IndyCar.
Josef Newgarden dominated the first race on Saturday en route to victory lane, leading 208 of 250 total laps in the race. It was his fourth win of the season, the most in the series as nobody else has more than two. Pato O’Ward finished second, with Will Power in third and Rinus VeeKay and Scott Dixon rounding out the top five, respectively. The win is Newgarden’s 24th of his stellar career, and the seventh of the season for Team Penske.
Arrow McLaren driver Pato O’Ward won the second of two races on the weekend at Iowa Speedway on Sunday after race leader Josef Newgarden crashed out on lap 235 of the 300 lap contest. Newgarden, after being cleared by the medical team at the track post wreck, fainted in the paddock and suffered a head injury, leading him to be airlifted from the track to the nearest hospital. He was later revealed to be fine, staying at the hospital overnight as a precaution. Should he not be healthy enough to race in Saturday’s race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Santino Ferrucci has been tabbed by Team Penske to fill in for Newgarden.
O’Ward led the last 66 laps to win Sunday’s race, his second victory of the year, with Will Power taking second and Scott McLaughlin finishing third. Scott Dixon placed fourth, and Jimmie Johnson captured his first top five in IndyCar with a fifth place finish.
Following the weekend’s racing, Marcus Ericsson still leads the points standings. However, the gap has closed, and with 403 points he’s only 8 points ahead of second place driver Will Power. Josef Newgarden and Scott Dixon are tied for third, 34 points out of the lead. With his win, O’Ward sits in fifth place in the IndyCar championship, only 2 points behind third and 36 points behind Ericsson in the lead.
Only 5 races remain in the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series championship, and with a tight points battle for the lead, every race matters. The next event is this Saturday, July 30th, at 12 PM EST on NBC in the Gallagher Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a doubleheader event with the NASCAR Xfinity Series (3:30 EST, NBC).
Scott McLaughlin, the 2021 IndyCar Rookie of the Year, won Sunday’s NTT IndyCar Series race at Mid-Ohio, becoming the second driver to win multiple races this season. The winner of the season opener at St. Petersburg led 45 of 80 laps to cruise to his second win in his fledgling IndyCar career.
Team Penske has a penchant for finding success at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, a road racing crown jewel tucked away in midwestern farmland. With McLaughlin’s win on Sunday, owner Roger Penske now has 12 wins at the historic racecourse.
McLaughlin started second in the race, and ran top 5 for much of the early stages of the race. McLaren driver Pato O’Ward won the pole and led from the start. His teammate, Felix Rosenqvist, started fourth and ran as high as third before a surprise engine failure ended his day early on lap 8. O’Ward would eventually suffer the same fate as his Swedish ally, as he steadily lost power (and the lead) following a pit stop on lap 28. Kyle Kirkwood had a hard crash that brought out the caution, giving McLaughlin the lead as the race neared halfway. McLaughlin led the next 24 laps. Colton Herta grabbed the lead for 7 laps as the race neared the end, but the Andretti Autosport driver couldn’t stay out front forever due to his pit strategy, and McLaughlin reclaimed the lead when Herta pitted. In the final stint, he held off a hard-charging Alex Palou, giving him the win in the ninth race of the 2022 season.
Defending champion Palou finished in second, with Will Power taking the last podium spot in third despite a spin at the start of the race. Rinus VeeKay finished in fourth, and 6-time champion Scott Dixon rounded out the top five with his fifth place finish. Points leader Marcus Ericsson finished sixth, with Josef Newgarden placing seventh and Helio Castroneves finishing eighth. Rookie David Malukas and veteran Simon Pagenaud closed the top ten by finishing ninth and tenth, respectively.
The race was far from a snoozer- 6 cautions for 17 total laps meant that the longest green flag run was only 19 laps. Multiple championship contenders had issues- O’Ward and Rosenqvist contributed to a double retirement for the Arrow McLaren team. More riveting still was the fireworks provided by teammates Romain Grosjean, Alexander Rossi, and Colton Herta. Racing hard for position in the second half of the race, Rossi forced Grosjean off the track and into the wall, sabotaging his own line in the process. Mere laps later, Grosjean made contact with Herta, sending the young star into the gravel. Owner Michael Andretti called a team meeting postrace, which Grosjean commented on while speaking to NBC Sports.
“It wasn’t pleasant, but it was good that he did it,” Grosjean remarked. “I understand he’s frustrated and not happy with us.”
In the same interview, Grosjean called Rossi “an absolute idiot”, while also admitting responsibility for the accidental contact with Herta in an apology to his teammate.
Rossi also got penalized for making contact with Andretti’s fourth and newest driver, rookie Devlin DeFrancesco.
McLaughlin debuted in 2020 for Team Penske, making one start at St. Petersburg to get his feet wet in IndyCar. The Australian Supercars legend, winner of 3 straight championships and 56 total races across 8 full-time seasons, made the full-time jump to IndyCar last season. He won his first race at this year’s season opener in St. Petersburg; with his Mid-Ohio win, he joins teammate Josef Newgarden as the only drivers with multiple victories in 2022. Despite being in only his sophomore IndyCar season, McLaughlin feels like he’s rapidly getting used to the car.
“...my experience in terms of what I want from the car, what I'm asking from the team, what I want from the car in a pit stop, wing changes, whatever,” he said. “I'm a lot more assertive now with what I want.”
As he looks ahead to the next race in Toronto, he’s optimistic of their chances to get back in the championship fight.
“I'm excited for what's ahead,” McLaughlin said. “A win is a big thing for us, moved us forward a little bit. I don't know where it's put us in the standings, but if we keep building, I feel like Toronto is going to be a track that's going to suit me.”
The win moved McLaughlin from ninth to seventh in the points standings, past Alexander Rossi and Simon Pagenaud. Marcus Ericsson still leads the series with a 20 point lead over second place Will Power, as the 2022 season enters the stretch run. Josef Newgarden is in third, and Alex Palou and Pato O’Ward round out the top 5 with 8 races to go.
Scott McLaughlin is only 29 years old, despite his years of success in Australian Supercars and budding IndyCar performance. However, his win on Sunday shows that he’s here to stay- and he’ll grow to stardom in the process.
B.J. McLeod, age 38, has a total of 300 career starts across NASCAR’s Cup, Xfinity, and Truck Series’, with only one top 10 in that span. Many fans consider him a backmarker, or ignore him completely since he runs in the back most of the time. Despite that, he runs multiple teams, including LiveFast Motorsports, which fields the no. 78 Ford Mustang in the NASCAR Cup Series. McLeod co-owns that team with Joe Falk and former driver Matt Tifft, and he drives the no. 78 in a majority of the races on the Cup Series schedule.
LiveFast began in 2020, and the team turned their first laps in Daytona in 2021. While they may not be competing for wins yet, LiveFast and owner McLeod are optimistic that they have a long-term place in the sport- thanks in large part to the new NextGen car.
NASCAR’s Generation 7 “NextGen” car was heralded for being a cost-saving opportunity during its development and lead up to its release. Designed to feature a nearly spec chassis and body- teams would buy the parts directly from their choice manufacturer (Chevrolet, Ford, or Toyota)- the car was purpose-built to cut down on manufacturing costs for race teams, as well as scale back the amount of parts needed to repair. The car was also designed to produce better racing on track. McLeod confirmed that the plans for high quality racing have been realized.
“It's done more than live up to its expectations. NASCAR took a big chance. All the people in NASCAR and the team owners and the drivers and everybody took a big chance with this Next Gen car and it has done nothing but exceed 10 times over with some of the best racing we've ever seen.”
Despite these promises by NASCAR, there hasn’t been much evidence or confirmation that the plans for the NextGen’s financial impact holds true. McLeod says it has done what it was intended to, despite the obviously high upfront costs that come with a complete overhaul of race car design.
“It's a ton of upfront costs, but part of that is to just be said because we are at the highest level of stock car racing in the world, so we have to be ready to take that on as owners and and look towards the future and betterment of the sport and the budget for the car is absolutely better than Gen 6 or anything we've seen with before.”
McLeod thinks that the other main point of the car, to level the playing field, has also been achieved.
“You've already seen teams be able to win this year that didn't have a chance last year,” B.J. McLeod said. “You've already seen people run in the top 10 this year that couldn't run in the top 20 last year, even for a team as small as Live Fast, it's helped us be closer to where we want to be. Like last year, you look at California- we didn't run it in 2020, but I've ran there before. I think 2019 was my last time there and I was eight or nine laps down and this year we finished on the lead lap. Vegas, I think we were two laps down and that's 'cause I was a little bit, you know, extra courteous with the leaders, didn't want to mess up the race and lost an extra lap just getting out of the way. Gateway we were one lap down. You go back to 2020, we had very few races that we were just one lap down so it has done more than exceed expectations across the board.”
As an owner, McLeod sees into the day-to-day operations of his Cup Series team, including the parts and inventory. Early in the 2022 season, concerns were common that there weren’t enough parts for the NextGen car to go around- concerns that have since quieted down, but were never completely resolved. The owner of the no. 78 Ford Mustang confirmed that parts are much easier to come by now.
“It's part of being smart and proactive, and making sure that everything is covered and we've definitely been able to get what we need to be there and be secure,” he said. “And I think for taking on, post COVID, this kind of major switchover for a sport they couldn't have done any better.”
McLeod has big plans for the team even though they’re not a well-known powerhouse like Joe Gibbs Racing or Team Penske.
“The long term plan is to win a race without a doubt, right?” he said. “Like, the most important part is to be competitive week in and week out. And it's going to take a lot of time for us to build our team up to that.”
Despite entering the sport recently, McLeod sees a strong potential for his Cup Series team to become a competitive organization.
“Right now we're already happy with some of the results we've had this year,” B.J. McLeod said. “We’re very, very pleased with, like I said, more competitive finishes and having a little bit more speed on track than before. We have a lot of stuff that we want to clean up and make better and that just happens with prep every single week and also taking care of our partners and building that and getting that better year after year and just building up funding to be able to compete. So, it's a long road, but we're hunkered down and ready to go and just looking forward to working towards making that.”
B.J. McLeod, and LiveFast Motorsports also have a technical alliance with Motorsport Games, the developer that produces the current NASCAR Cup Series video game, NASCAR 21: Ignition. LiveFast provides information that Motorsport Games need to make their product more immersive and realistic.
The NextGen car has helped cut costs and level the playing field. For B.J. McLeod and LiveFast Motorsports, it’s been a boon for their small team’s growth. Though relatively new to NASCAR, they are continually improving with each race they run, and have a bright future ahead.
**Quotes edited for clarity**
Josef Newgarden already won a race at an oval and a street circuit this season. Entering Sunday’s race at Road America, he hadn’t completed the third requirement of the PeopleReady Force for Good Challenge. The bonus, $1 million to the first driver to win a race at all 3 types of tracks that the IndyCar series races at (oval, street course, road course), is set to pay half to the team and half to the driver’s charity of choice. Newgarden won at Texas in March and Long Beach in April and now, with his win on Sunday at Road America, has completed the challenge. Team Penske receives $500,000, and 2 charities will split the remaining $500,000, SeriousFun Children’s Network and Wags and Walks Nashville. The win is Newgarden’s 23rd of his already stellar career, and moves the two-time champion to third in the points standings.
Alexander Rossi started on the pole, with Newgarden in second and Alex Palou in third. Rossi led the first 14 laps before ceding the lead at the first pit stop cycle. A flurry of cautions at the start of the race kept the field from getting into a rhythm early. Jimmie Johnson went off track in turn 3, triggering a lap 1 yellow when he couldn’t get his car running again. On the restart, Palou and teammate Marcus Ericsson made contact that sent Palou into the gravel trap. The wheels on Palou’s car were knocked out of alignment and, while he did eventually return to the racing surface, he finished in last place, 19 laps down. Palou was visibly frustrated when interviewed on TV after the wreck, with some strong words for his teammate, but Ericsson had a different view post race.
“I don't see I did anything wrong,” Ericsson said. “It was a fully race move. Might have been early in the race, but this race is a track-position race. If you get an opportunity, you need to go for it. As I said, there was nothing wrong with that move. That was clear on the TV pictures.”
Rookie Devlin DeFrancesco spun Will Power, the points leader coming into the weekend, into the wall, damaging Power’s front wing. The team for the no. 12 Verizon Chevrolet was able to put a new wing on the car after he limped it back to pit road, but he was unable to make much of a recovery and finished in 19th place.
As the field approached the first pit stop, Newgarden closed in on Rossi, the leader of the race.
Both drivers pitted on the same lap and Rossi, partially impeded by another car pitting in front of him, was unable to beat Newgarden out of the pits, a move which ended up deciding the race.
Felix Rosenqvist, Graham Rahal, and Rinus VeeKay all employed an alternate strategy, which was successful for Rosenqvist and Rahal as they saved enough fuel throughout the race to grab a top 10 finish.
Alexander Rossi continued to try to chase down Newgarden over the course of the afternoon, but was unable to make up a significant amount of time. He stayed out longer during the next pit cycle without much success. After the final pit stop of the race, Rossi did start to close in on Newgarden, cutting the lead down to under 3 seconds with 9 to go, and may have caught Newgarden if not for a late caution.
Pato O’Ward’s engine expired with 8 laps to go, bunching up the field. When they restarted with 5 to go in the race, Helio Castroneves spun onto the front stretch, forcing yet another caution flag out, setting up a 2 lap shootout to decide the race. Newgarden got a huge jump on Rossi on the restart and set sail, leaving the rest of the pack to fight amongst themselves for the remaining two spots on the podium.
Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson got around Rossi to finish second, with Rossi getting his second podium in a row with a third place finish. Romain Grosjean finished fourth, and teammate Colton Herta finished in the fifth position. Felix Rosenqvist, Scott McLaughlin, Graham Rahal, Scott Dixon, and rookie Christian Lundgaard rounded out the top 10.
Newgarden is the only driver with multiple wins on the season, which he says is an accomplishment given how tight the series is this year.
“Yeah, it is very difficult to win these races consistently. To be able to put multiple on the board, it's a job well done to everybody in the 2 group.”
Second place finisher Marcus Ericsson echoed Newgarden’s opinion on the competitiveness of the series.
“It's the most competitive series in the world. We have 27 cars this weekend. I think that's incredible. Out of those 27 cars, it feels like at least 15 of them can win the race if they have their day. It's really fun to be part of that. Yeah, I think it's going to be tough all year. Miss a little bit one weekend, you're P10 or P15. It means you need to be on top of things all the time. Last weekend was a good example. A bit off on strategy, didn't work our way. We managed to finish seventh. That's the results we need if we want to win the championship.”
Due to Power and Palou’s misfortunes during the race, Marcus Ericsson jumped back into the NTT IndyCar Series points lead by a commanding 27 points following Road America. Power drops down to second, with teammate and winner Josef Newgarden in third place. Pato O’Ward and Alex Palou complete the top 5. Alexander Rossi appears to have found a new gear, with 3 straight top 5s and 2 podiums in a row. He now sits in seventh in the points standings.
Newgarden admitted that he forgot about the bonus in his post race interview. But, with his third win and $1 million for his team and charities in his pocket, he definitely is aware of it now.
Will Power, one year after a crushing defeat at the same track, won the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix in the final race at the famed Belle Isle circuit on Sunday. Last year, Power led the most laps and was in control of the race, but following a late red flag, his car failed to refire and he finished 20th. Sunday’s race was thrilling; Alexander Rossi chased him down in the closing laps on an alternate strategy, but Power held on with worn tires to beat the American star. The win is the 41-year-old Kiwi’s first victory of the season and 41st in his career.
2-time champion Josef Newgarden took the pole for the final race at the Belle Isle racetrack, situated on an island in the Detroit River. Next year, IndyCar will race instead on a street course in downtown Detroit that closely mimics the layout that Formula 1 used for 7 years from 1982-1988. Belle Isle, following this year’s race, has hosted 30 US open wheel events between CART and the NTT IndyCar Series. Newgarden led the first 13 laps of the race before teammate Will Power passed him for the top spot. Power led the next 11 before pitting, but resumed the lead following the conclusion of the pit stop cycle. Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi both opted for an alternate strategy, while Power chose to finish his last stint on the softer Firestone red alternates, which had more speed but expired faster. The race stayed green for all 70 laps, making it a straight strategy battle between the top teams.
Rossi bested Dixon towards the end of the race and set his sights on Power, who’s tires were beginning to fade. With 10 laps to go, Rossi had cut the lead down to 11 seconds; at 4 to go, Power’s advantage was at 8 seconds. Rossi made a hard charge in the last 2 laps, but was only able to get the lead down to 1 second at the checkered flag, forcing him to settle for second. Power led 55 laps en route to his victory.
Scott Dixon took the final podium spot in third, with polesitter Josef Newgarden finishing fourth and Indy 500 runner-up Pato O’Ward rounding out the top five. Defending champion Alex Palou placed sixth, last week’s Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson finished seventh, Colton Herta eighth and Simon Pagenaud finished ninth. In a tremendous drive from last on the grid, Swedish McLaren driver Felix Rosenqvist grabbed the last spot in the top 10.
Following his win at Belle Isle, Will Power reclaims the points lead in the NTT IndyCar Series standings over Marcus Ericsson. Power sits at 255 points, only 3 points ahead of Ericsson and only 12 over third place Pato O’Ward. 2021 champ Alex Palou is still only 15 points back, so the top 4 are under a blanket in points as the season approaches the halfway mark.
Power is confident that he can continue his strong season next week, at Road America, and beyond.
“It's different every weekend. But we have been really strong at pretty much everywhere except Indy this year. Yeah, yep, I think the team, the engine is really good. I think the team is good. It has been. Everything is just flying nicely for us now. “
Power, 41, isn’t the young prodigy anymore; rather, he’s one of the seemingly few in the paddock who hold veteran status as a result of IndyCar’s youth movement. But in winning the final race at Bell Isle, he’s shown that he’s still very much a championship threat.
From 2014 to 2018, Swedish driver Marcus Ericsson made 97 starts in Formula 1 for Caterham F1 and later Sauber F1. The 32 year old only scored 18 points across nearly 5 complete seasons on open wheel racing’s international stage, with a best finish of 8th place. Following 2018, Ericsson was released from his F1 job and now, almost 4 years later, he’s an Indianapolis 500 champion.
Ericsson started 5th in Sunday’s race, the 106th running of the greatest spectacle in racing, 3rd out of 5 Chip Ganassi Racing Hondas that made the Fast 12 in last weekend’s qualifying session. Once the race started, Ericsson faded into the background- always there, running well, but rarely mentioned. Teammates Scott Dixon and Alex Palou, both of whom have won IndyCar championships, paced the field in the early going of the 500. Ericsson remained consistently in the top 10 while Dixon and Palou battled Rinus VeeKay for the early lead. VeeKay brought out the first caution when he got loose and crashed coming out of turn 2 following the first cycle of pit stops on lap 39.
The race continued through the afternoon, and Palou and Dixon continued to dominate up front. Palou received a stroke of bad luck when the caution came out while he was coming to pit road. Forced to pit while it was closed due to fuel concerns, he was sent to the rear of the field when the race restarted and only managed to recover to a 9th place finish. Romain Grosjean crashed on lap 106 when he spun off of turn 2, a trouble spot for the drivers throughout the race, which ended his first Indy 500 start.
Dixon continued to lead, though local driver Conor Daly ran up front as well, swapping the lead with Dixon multiple times during the course of the race. After a caution for Scott McLaughlin on lap 151, the field was set for the final run to the checkers for the Borg-Warner trophy. One pit stop lay between Dixon and his second Indy 500 win; if he nailed that, he’d be the favorite to win the race.
Unfortunately for the driver of the no. 9 PNC Bank CGR Honda, he did not nail the final stop. Dixon sped on pit road, necessitating a pass through penalty on the ensuing lap that effectively ended his chances at Indianapolis glory. With Dixon out of the picture, the door was wide open for other competitors and Ericsson, following the completion of the final green-flag pit cycle, found himself leading. Arrow McLaren drivers Pato O’Ward and fellow Swede Felix Rosenqvist followed closely behind, as did fan-favorite Tony Kanaan. As the laps wound down, O’Ward began to slightly reel Ericsson in, but it was not going to be enough to catch him barring a miracle. With 6 laps to go, Jimmie Johnson went head-on into the fence to bring out the caution once again, and IndyCar made the decision to red flag the race. They could have allowed the race to finish under yellow, but instead decided to give the fans a green-flag dash to the finish. O’Ward, it seemed, had his miracle.
The race restarted with 2 laps to go- an almost NASCAR-style finish to decide the winner. Ericsson led the field to green, with O’Ward and Rosenqvist in hot pursuit. Down the backstretch, Ericsson weaved and snaked his way towards turn 3 in an attempt to break the draft that would allow O’Ward to slingshot past- and out of turn 4, coming to the white flag, O’Ward had a run on Ericsson.
O’Ward shot his nose in front of Ericsson and briefly held the lead but was on the outside, and he had to lift entering turn 1. He regrouped and prepared for a last-ditch effort to pass Ericsson later in the lap, but Sage Karam crashed and the race ended under yellow. O’Ward had his miracle, but he couldn’t capitalize on it. Ericsson is now the second Swedish driver to win the Indianapolis 500 (Kenny Bräck, 1999), and the win is the first for owner Chip Ganassi since 2012 with Dario Franchitti.
O’Ward finished second, with 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan grabbing the last spot on the podium. Felix Rosnqvist and 2016 500 winner Alexander Rossi, the highest finishing American, rounded out the top 5.
Ericsson, following his Formula 1 exit, signed with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports full time in 2019 before moving to Chip Ganassi Racing prior to the 2020 season. Last year, in 2021, he won his first IndyCar race at Belle Isle, then backed it up with another win later in the summer at the inaugural Nashville GP. Since the Indy 500 is double points, his win puts him atop the standings, ahead of O’Ward and Palou.
Said Ericsson in his post-race press conference,
“I came over here, and people probably didn't think much of that. I had to work my way here as well, learning American racing. Moved here, put my whole life into trying to become an INDYCAR and mainly Indianapolis 500 champion.”
Ericsson may not have been able to showcase his talent to the fullest extent in F1. Some may fault him for that. But now that’s irrelevant, because he’s a winner of the biggest race in the world.