IndyCar 2023 Season Preview - Can Power Do It Again?
The 2023 IndyCar Series season is set to begin March 5th with the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Noon Eastern, NBC) along the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. The 17-race 2023 schedule is to encompass four ovals, six road courses and five street courses leading to the September 10 season finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in California.
Will Power enters the season as the reigning series champion, having clinched the 2022 title in the last race of the season by 16 points over Penske teammate and now fellow 2-time champion Josef Newgarden. The question heading into the season is now 'Can Power Go Back To Back?'
The schedule does seem to favor Power as he has won at all tracks except for the Nashville Street Course and Laguna Seca, both recent additions to the IndyCar Series - Nashville in 2021, Laguna Seca in 2019. His average finish at Nashville stands at 12.5 with a best finish of 11th last season.
He has not fared much better at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. In 3 races on the 2 and a quarter mile California road course, the New Zealand driver has an average finish of 10.3 with a best finish of 2nd in 2019.
The advantage at both tracks appears to go to Newgarden. In 3 races at Laguna Seca, Newgarden has averaged a 5th place finish with a best finish of 2nd last season while at Nashville, he has averaged an 8th place finish with a best of 6th last season. If Newgarden can continue to take advantage of the tracks where Power struggles, expect him to be a threat for the title once again.
But it's the early tracks that are key in mounting a title run and that includes the Indy 500. With double points on the line as well as qualifying points, the whole month of May is crucial in deciding a champion.
In addition, the Penske tandem of Power and Newgarden have to be weary of the 3rd member of their squadron - Aussie Scott McLaughlin, the SuperCar transplant poised for a breakout year in IndyCar.
Also looking for a great season is Power's fellow countryman - Scott Dixon. He looks to continue his consecutive season streak of winning at least one race as well as claim his seventh series title and solidify his place as IndyCar's equivalent to the legendary Dale Earnhardt.
But among those looking to stop him is Helio Castroneves of Meyer Shank Racing, still looking for his first series title to go along with a possible fifth Indy 500 triumph.
One more storyline to watch is the rookie class led by Marcus Armstrong of Chip Ganassi Racing, Sting Ray Robb of Arrow McLaren and Denmark's Benjamin Pederson driving for Indy legend AJ Foyt
So many storylines to follow and a whole six months to see how they play out.
Rossi Takes the Checkered Flag at Indy
Rossi Takes the Checkered Flag in Indy
It’s great to be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at the Gallagher Grand Prix, the first of 3 races this weekend. We also have the Pennzoil 150 on the road course at IMS. The beginning of the Grand Prix was not without drama. Conor Daly had issues in the pits after running P6. There was an incident between Will Power and Pato O’Ward and Grosjean had some issues in the pits as well. The back end of the cars were slipping and sliding around but straightened up as the race went on. Marcus Ericksson started at the back of the grid but found himself in P2 for a time. And early on, Jimmy Johnson was taking faster laps than Will Power and found himself in P1 in lap 24.
By lap 49, Herta was out of the race. He said via radio, “I think this is something we can’t fix.”
During the press conference, Will Power was talking about IMS and stated, “It’s always hard starting on the outside of this track…you get freighttrained.”
Will Power ended up P3 which put him 7th all time leader for podium finishes and 92 career podium finishes. With this 3rd place finish, he took the points lead with 4 races to go. When asked how the season would end up, he stated, “It feels like it always goes down to the last race; [and it is] Impossible to predict in this series.” 46 points separate the top 5, so it truly will come down to the final 4 races this season.
Christian Lundgaard came in P2 for his first podium finish of his career. He stated, “It feels amazing, but the best thing is the team really deserves it….I’m just a guy doing my job, really…This is the right path. We are going in the right direction.” Lungaard turned 21last Saturday and showed a tremendous amount of poise for a 21 year old. One of his presents was a trip to Las Vegas immediately after Laguna Seca. Power suggested that the rest of the group be invited. Lungaard refused to let us know where he would be staying.
Alexander Rossi led 44 of 85 laps. This was Rossi's 1st win in approximately 1000 days. This was his 8th career win. Rossi said, “We had a solid test here a month or so ago…As challenging as it is for me, it is for them too [speaking of the rest of the team].” Rossi was asked if a weight had been lifted and stated, “Yes. There’s no other way to explain it. You’re as good as your last race. It doesn’t matter how good you are…It’s a very special thing today.”
It was announced in June that Rossi will be headed to McLaren. Rossi said today during the press conference, “Good thing we don’t have to have the conversation about breaking the losing streak.”
Be sure and catch The Balance every Saturday from 9-11am. You can catch the replays where ever you find your podcasts.
IndyCar IRacing Barber Preview
After a successful debut last Saturday at virtual Watkins Glen International, the NTT IndyCar Series' online circus heads to Barber Motorsports Park for its second of a planned six events as the world awaits clearance on the current Covid-19 pandemic. The first race, which drew a sizable viewing audience on YouTube, moves to mainstream on NBC Sports Network with a scheduled 2:30 p.m. eastern start time.
While several unknown scenarios were on the minds of most entering action in the Empire State, the focus at the Birmingham, Alabama facility will be centered on who can compete with the IRacing Challenge's current rabbit, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Sage Karam. The Pennsylvania-native controlled the proceedings in the opening stanza, winning the pole position and taking the fight to the remainder of the grid from the word go, leading 43 of the event's 45 laps. Only an honest chase from Chip Ganassi Racing's Felix Rosenqvist and a near-miss of a spinning Kyle Kirkwood kept the final outcome in doubt.
The Swedish second-year wheelman however, is not alone in the pursuit of the No. 24 WIX Filters Chevrolet. Third-place finisher at the Glen Will Power and his Team Penske teammate Scott McLaughlin, who placed fourth last Saturday should also influence the action upfront this weekend, while the event could signal redemption for both Andretti Autosport's Scott Speed and Dale Coyne Racing's Santino Ferrucci. Speed, the former Formula One ace with Scuderia Toro Rosso was among the top-five for most of the first 25 laps last weekend, only to drop from contention after a spin into the barriers exiting The Boot. Ferrucci, the reigning IndyCar Rookie of the Year, failed to post a qualifying time and had to fight through traffic and carnage from start to finish, eventually settling for an eighth-place result.
While each of the 24 runners at Watkins Glen are all expected to return at Barber, the apple cart could also be influenced by five newcomers. Meyer-Shank Racing's Jack Harvey and a recuperating Robert Wickens should be ready to go to battle this weekend, after a lack of equipment kept both pilots out of action for round one. Internet connection trouble also prevented Andretti Autosport's James Hinchcliffe from taking the green flag in New York, but the popular veteran will be ready to pounce likewise at Barber. Two late additions to the lineup are five-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon and three-time Indy 500 pole winner Ed Carpenter. Dixon impressed in Thursday testing and could be right upfront with Ganassi teammate Rosenqvist. Carpenter joins ECR teammate Conor Daly in the field, but will need to shake off the rust of not having competed on a road course in seven years.
Although the online debut act in New York was a limited challenge for most, the difficulty is expected to ramp up in Alabama. Despite having several quick sections like Watkins Glen, Barber Motorsports Park also throws several technical sections into play that allow little to zero margin of error. Expect a large chunk of the drama in terms of overtaking to occur at the end of the pit straight and on the run into the Charlotte's Web hairpin. Getting off the final corner flat-out or close to it is key to setting up a chance to gain ground entering turn one. The downhill, banked left-hander provides extra road to bail out those who overcook the entry, but will definitely encourage aggression from the drop of the green flag. As for the hairpin, named for the large spider statue beyond the outer barriers of the complex, a solid exit out of the right turn at number two will allow for a shot to move up in the standings and perhaps offer the last realistic chance to pass over the course of a full lap. The rest of the venue provides the aforementioned technical savvy of the course, where passing may only be possible if the lead driver makes a major mistake.
With passing at a premium in Alabama, earning a high starting position on the grid is essential to creating the path to a good result. However, even the front row starters are not out of the woods in principle. While having a fast car is a plus, being able to handle lapped traffic in a safe and patient manner could ultimately determine the outright winner on Saturday.
My Month of May
Speedway, Indiana - May 27, 2019
Congratulations to Simon Pagenaud for winning the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500. A great race to the end with Alexander Rossi!
I want to talk to you about what it's like to be a fan at the Indianapolis 500. I started the day at around 6am in one of the lots. I met some really great folks from NJ. It was their first race and it was a check off on the bucket list of the man in the pair. They were both really excited about what the day would hold for them.
I saw a fan I have talked to for many years from Victory Lane. He has been coming to the track since 1954. He has only missed 1 Indianapolis 500 and that was because he was in the service. I saw a mom pushing her baby around with a t-shirt that said "My First Indianapolis 500". As the month progressed I saw various events; Will Power kissing a girl with Downs Syndrome, the fan access is incredible.
On May 7th, the Friday before the GP, I talked to a teacher who had brought her students (about 30 in total) who were on a field trip to IMS. This is a group of kids from a low socioeconomic area of the city and it was their first visit to the track. She talked about how excited her students were to be able to experience the track and hear the sound of the engines. As I watched them, I could see their excitement coming off them like waves. They were trying to be cool, because they were high school students, but it was one of the best things I had seen that day and they could not hide their excitement. That is the spirit of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Race day was spent in the infield of the 4th turn. I set my stuff down and then headed to the red carpet. There, I hung out and watched the crowd wait patiently, for about 2.5 hours, for the incredible list of celebrities to make their way down the carpet. Matt Damon and Christian Bale did not talk to media, but made themselves extremely available to the fans. Matt Damon went so far as to take selfies with anyone who handed him a camera. There was a 19 year old girl there from Belgium and when she mentioned to Damon that she was a fan and from Belgium, he took the time to interact with her personally.
Another highlight of the red carpet was seeing Michael Goulian, 2018 winner of the Red Bull Air Race, in Indianapolis. It was great to see past champions of other types of racing at IMS celebrate the Memorial Day Weekend. All the celebrities on the red carpet were incredibly generous with their time with the fans. Jackson Robert Scott and Chevel Shepherd were incredibly open to interacting with their fans.
My race was spent in the infield of turn 4. I had a view of turn 4, and the straightaway toward turn 1. My favorite moment was after the 3rd parade lap and I could hear the engines rev up to running speed. If you haven't heard Indy Cars in full throttle, you haven't lived. It runs straight through your body and lets you know you are alive in no other way. I eagerly watched as we hit lap 100, knowing that if we could not get a full race in due to rain, things were going to get VERY exciting. As it turns out, God really does love Indy car because we were able to get the full race in, even with the threat of rain. There was a wreck at 177 that included Graham Rahal and Sebastian Bourdais that stopped the race. The last few laps were extremely exciting! There were several lead changes between Pagenaud and Rossi. The fact that it came down to the very last minute made it a race that will go down in the history book of Indy. Thanks to Simon Pagenoud and Alexander Rossi for a GREAT race!!
Robin Miller receives award named in his honor
Speedway Indiana- May 24, 2019
In celebration of his 50 years... IMS announces start of the “Robin Miller Award” for those dedicated to the service of racing. R is the first recipient.
He was an Indy Car pit crew member and drove in the USAC series in the 1970s.
Miller is best known for being a writer at The Indianapolis Star from 1968–2001. He has also written for Autoweek, Car and Driver, ESPN and Speed He currently is a correspondent and senior writer for Racer magazine and website, while also reporting on IndyCar broadcasts for the NBC sports Network