For round two of the IndyCar season, the series is heading to Austin, Texas for their only completely new track of the year. This new addition is F1 and MotoGP venue the Circuit of the Americas (COTA), a track on which only a handful drivers on the current IndyCar grid have raced at.
Josef Newgarden leads the championship going into the second round of the season by virtue of winning the first race at St Petersburg. The 2017 champion’s win was a relatively straight-forward one, with Newgarden dominating the race after the second round of pit stops. Reigning champion Scott Dixon could only manage second place, as he embarks on a challenge to defend his title for the first time in his IndyCar career.
Ed Jones has been cleared to race at COTA despite breaking his finger in a crash with Matheus Leist at St Pete, with the latter uninjured and also racing in Austin.
Since St Pete, Dixon, Alexander Rossi, Simon Pagenaud, Sebastien Bourdais and Colton Herta have all been out to Sebring, racing in the IMSA 12-hour race at the famous venue, though only Bourdais managed to bring home a trophy.
The first IndyCar race at COTA is an exciting event for all involved, and it has been highly anticipated for a number of years, even before it was officially confirmed to be on the 2019 calendar. Road course rules apply to COTA so qualifying will be the same as it was in St Pete with the grid split into two groups of twelve, based on practice times, and the fastest six from each then fighting for places in the Fast Six.
The driver with the most experience around COTA is by far and away Marcus Ericsson who, despite being one of the newest drivers to IndyCar, has competed at the track for the last five years in F1. Rossi also raced at COTA back in 2015 during his very brief spell in F1 and a selection of the other drivers have competed in an IMSA race or two at the track. Generally speaking, it is not a track that a lot of drivers have much experience on, meaning it should be a fairly level playing field throughout.
The grid is broadly the same as it was at St Pete with only three notable differences. Reigning Indy Lights champion Patricio O’Ward takes over from Charlie Kimball in the #23 Carlin for his first race of the season, after his Harding deal fell through earlier in the year. Kyle Kaiser and Juncos are making their first appearance for 2019 in what is their only confirmed race for this season, so far at least. The only other change is the omission of Ben Hanley and DragonSpeed, who will return to the grid next round at Barber Motorsports Park.
There is no form book for this track, so any predictions on who will go well here are merely educated guesses. At St Pete, Honda clearly had some reliability issues and they’ve been very quiet about them since, with no notion as to whether they’ve actually found what the problems were. Based on the form of one race, Chevrolet seems to have the upper hand, but that could all change at COTA. All drivers will be hoping for a good race in Austin, but only time will tell who will shine and who will struggle.
NBC is broadcasting the race in the US while in the UK it will be on Sky Sports F1 again, though this time hopefully with fewer coverage breakups and adverts! Indy Lights are the only of the three Road to Indy series racing at COTA with their two races held on Saturday and Sunday. The times you’ll need to watch the action this weekend are as follows…
Practice 1 – 11:15am (EDT) / 3:15pm (GMT)
Practice 2 – 3:05pm / 7:05pm
Practice Warmup – 4:10pm / 8:10pm
Practice 3 – 11:00am / 3:00pm
Qualifying – 3:00pm / 7:00pm
Race – 1:30pm / 5:30pm
|2||Josef Newgarden||Team Penske|
|4||Matheus Leist||AJ Foyt Racing|
|5||James Hinchcliffe||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports|
|7||Marcus Ericsson (R)||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports|
|9||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|10||Felix Rosenqvist (R)||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|12||Will Power||Team Penske|
|14||Tony Kanaan||AJ Foyt Racing|
|15||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan|
|18||Sebastien Bourdais||Dale Coyne Racing|
|19||Santino Ferrucci (R)||Dale Coyne Racing|
|20||Ed Jones||Ed Carpenter Racing|
|21||Spencer Pigot||Ed Carpenter Racing|
|22||Simon Pagenaud||Team Penske|
|23||Patricio O’Ward (R)||Carlin|
|26||Zach Veach||Andretti Autosport|
|27||Alexander Rossi||Andretti Autosport|
|28||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport|
|30||Takuma Sato||Rahal Letterman Lanigan|
|32||Kyle Kaiser||Juncos Racing|
|60||Jack Harvey||Meyer Shank Racing/Schmidt Peterson Motorsports|
|88||Colton Herta (R)||Harding Steinbrenner|
|98||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport|
Featured Image Credit: Stephen King/IndyCar