It’s time to return to the magic kingdom of Indycar, Road America. I am curious to see if the second year has the same excitement and sense of wonder as last year. I really hope familiarity doesn’t dull the event, but enhances it. This time, I can take it in without the sense of awe and amazement. I can begin to appreciate its awesome beauty now that I know what I’m experiencing. This is the closest thing to a European track in the United States.
Oh yeah. there’s a race here too. Last year Chevy dominated the event. The track has elements that favor Chevy and elements that favor Honda. Will Honda’s extra power help them this year? Scott Dixon had a very strong car last year, but mechanical woes on lap 4 took him out of the race. Will Power won the pole and the race, leading most of the way.
In this most unpredictable season, I think Chevy still has the edge here. By Chevy, I mean Penske, and by Penske, I mean Will, Power. He could be starting a title run here. There could be strong showings by Ganassi drivers Dixon and Tony Kanaan and from Graham Rahal. Kanaan finished second to Power last year.
Indycar has added five more laps to the race. It could take four stops to get to the end. Will someone try a fuel saving race to try to get through on just three stops? Will there be enough full course yellow laps to help a three stop strategy? I don’t think drivers can count on much caution time. Last year there was just one full course yellow near the end of the race, which was prolong when the tow truck dropped the car. The longer the green run, the more likely the extra stop will be needed. If everyone tries to do just three stops, it will not be much of a race. I look for a mix of strategies as some teams go of sequence to try to gain positions.
The winner? Finally, a Ganassi car will see Victory Circle. Tony Kanaan will improve his finish from last year. His teammate Dixon will extend his points lead some more, but not a lot. Despite Chevy’s advantage, pit strategy will win this one.
Gateway Motorsports Park announced Wednesday the track will be repaved before the Indycar race August 26. The track broke up during testing resulting in several cut tires. While the track is not configured the same as Texas, my hope is there isn’t too much grip in the new surface. Indycar needs to test on the new surface prior to the event and work with Firestone so we don’t have the issues that occurred at Texas.
Esteban Gutierrez will return to the #18 car for Dale Coyne this weekend.