IndyCar Mid-Ohio Race 2: Colton Herta and Andretti Autosport sweep podium.

image courtesy of IndyCar

It has been a fifteen year wait for the Andretti Autosport team but they have finally achieved a team sweep of the podium at Mid-Ohio, ending the double-header in style. The race was dominated by young superstar Colton Herta getting his third IndyCar career win, his first of the 2020 season.

Following a magnificent pole position start, his fourth of his career, the son of Bryan Herta led from start to finish, untroubled by second place teammate Alexander Rossi.

The driver of the No. 27 Honda finished 1.3826 seconds back for his second podium of the weekend and third of the year. Just over one second back came veteran Ryan Hunter-Reay, giving Andretti Autosport three podium finishes on Sunday alone and four on the weekend after just one in the previous nine races.

“I’m so happy. We’ve been knocking on the door almost every week, and we’ve had the pace, but just some reason or another, this or that, things have gone wrong,”

 Herta said on the post-race broadcast after leading 57 of the 75 laps Sunday:

“We just need to be finishing on the podium more, maybe every other weekend. It seems like only when we win, we get up here, so if we could fill in some of those spots, we’d be good.”

This win moves Herta into fourth place in the series championship, eclipsing both yesterdays winner Will Power and Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato. A worthy prize for a young racer who has been one of the standout drivers this season with eight top ten finishes in ten starts before Sunday.

“That’s so huge, so huge. Thank god we came here to Mid-Ohio,” said team owner Michael Andretti post-race on the broadcast. “I was a little worried we weren’t gonna be able to get here, but those guys at Green Savoree Racing Promotions did a good job getting this race on. After the way things have gone this year, this is huge for the team.”

Added Rossi:

“I’m so happy for Andretti Autosport. It’s been a terrible year for us, and to do this, that’s just huge. Hats off to Colton and the No. 88 team, but to sweep the podium, that’s very cool. We’re just focused on race wins and building a good foundation for next year, and we’re doing that with this now.”

However, it could have been very different for the team as Herta narrowly missed what could have been a race ending incident on lap one when Santino Ferrucci ran off-track at turn 4 only to re-join and collide with teammate Alex Palou and Chip Ganassi’s Felix Roseqnvist. Both of their races ended they’re with Santino being sent to the back of the grid for avoidable contact.

Following a period of caution the field pitted on lap sixteen that saw Alexander Rossi cycle up from tenth to fourth, Hunter-Reay from eight to third, Power from seventeenth to tenth and O’Ward from twenty first to fourteenth.

During this time Takuma Sato and Marco Andretti stayed out attempting to go long into the race and attempt a strong overcut which proved effective in yesterdays race. Unfortunately, their efforts would be in vain after Marco lost the car into the gravel not soon after, and after Sato failed to make much ground, finishing outside the top ten.

Another memorable moment came on lap 22 when championship leader Scott Dixon, who had been following Herta and Rossi, came out of shape and spun into the grass. A rare mistake from the five time champion that sent him right to the back of the pack. He would eventually spend the rest of the race fighting back through the pack with some audacious moves on the likes of Jack Harvey and Rinus VeeKay, eventually finishing in tenth, just two spots behind runner up in the championship Josef Newgarden.

An ‘off weekend’ for the Kiwi which saw his lead in the championship cut by twenty four points.

“I got a little too aggressive there and hit the overtake on the exit, and it was just too much power,” Dixon said. “I spun the tires and the car. It was a stupid mistake I shouldn’t have made. It should have been an easy points day.”

Following Hunter-Reay’s season-best third, Graham Rahal finished fourth for the second time this weekend, with Marcus Ericsson climbing from a 15th-place start to end fifth.

Graham Rahal interestingly now sits sixth in the championship standings alongside his Rahal Letterman teammate Takuma Sato in seventh. Separated by one point.

It was a Penske trio finishing sixth, seventh and eighth with Simon Pagenaud, Power, and Newgarden. A slow pit-stop by Josef Newgarden caused himself and teammate Will Power to have a drag race out the pits in which Power came out victorious. The status-quo remained the same for most of the race.

Patricio O’Ward, third place in the championship, started in eleventh on the grid and held his own from a late-charging Scott Dixon to round out the top ten.

Other notable results were highest placed rookie, Rinus VeeKay who extended his lead in the ‘Rookie of the season’ standings, while beating his Ed Carpenter Racing teammate Conor Daly.

IndyCar now has a two to three week break until we return to the Indianapolis Road Course for the Harvest GP on October 2nd and 3rd.

Official Classification:

  1. (1) Colton Herta
  2. (10) Alexander Rossi
  3. (8) Ryan Hunter-Reay
  4. (12) Graham Rahal
  5. (15) Marcus Ericsson
  6. (6) Simon Pagenaud
  7. (17) Will Power
  8. (9) Josef Newgarden
  9. (21) Pato O’Ward
  10. (3) Scott Dixon
  11. (11) Rinus VeeKay
  12. (19) Jack Harvey
  13. (18) Max Chilton
  14. (2) Santino Ferrucci
  15. (14) Oliver Askew
  16. (16) Conor Daly
  17. (13) Zach Veach
  18. (22) Takuma Sato
  19. (23) Charlie Kimball
  20. (7) Marco Andretti
  21. (20) Dalton Kellett
  22. (5) Felix Rosenqvist
  23. (4) Alex Palou

IndyCar Mid-Ohio: Will Power dominates to take first win of 2020

image courtesy of IndyCar

Will Power dominates at Mid-Ohio to take his first win of the 2020 IndyCar season and his maiden win at Mid-Ohio. The Australian was barely troubled leading from lights out to chequered flag at a circuit that he has finished in the top five in eight out of his previous eleven outings.

Following the race, Power was elated saying:

“That’s probably the first race in 10 years that I’ve just gone hard. I just said, ‘Screw this, let’s just go hard and use my raw pace and see what happens.’ We won the race, it was a great strategy. … It’s great to tick off Mid-Ohio.”

This will be a welcome positive in a season that has been blighted with unreliability, bad pit stops and other calamities which have made this a season to forget for the one time series champion. Additionally, it was a great day for Penske who finished both first and second with Josef Newgarden.

Rain threatened the race with five laps to go, but in typical motorsport fashion stayed clear until after the chequered flag.

Newgarden’s second place is important in terms of the championship, cutting the deficit to Scott Dixon to 75 points. Certainly not an insurmountable target with just under five races to go.

Someone who enjoyed a fantastic day was Andretti’s Alexander Rossi was able to hold off Rahal Letterman’s Graham Rahal in the closing stages. Earlier in the race, the ex-Formula One driver decided to try the overcut-on competitors Ryan Hunter-Reay and Graham Rahal. Rossi was putting in some blistering in laps using his ‘push to pass’ off the corners to gain as much lap time as possible. When he eventually came into the pits, he was released back out behind Ryan Hunter-Reay, albeit much closer than before.

Following a close fight between both teammates Rossi got on the radio to get Hunter-Reay to move aside as the likes of Felix Rosenqvist closed in. The team eventually caved in and allowed Rossi to eventually overtake Rahal to claim third position. The last ten laps were a tense fight between Rahal and Rossi in which the latter came out victorious.

Ryan Hunter-Reay would eventually finish in fifth, ahead of Chip Ganassi driver Felix Rosenqvist who found much more pace on a road course which he is used to. Felix was the highest placed Ganassi car at Mid-Ohio, a magnificent achievement for the young-super star.

Jack Harvey continued a super run of form finishing in seventh position, his fourth top ten of the season. The British driver pitted early, attempting the undercut on many of his fellow competitors to claim my self-prescribed title of: ‘best of the rest’

Colton Herta had a dramatic race of epic proportions finishing in eight place. Starting outside the top ten, the young-gun opted to start on sticker black tyres, attempting to go longer into the race. However, it wasn’t as simple as it turned out. A battle ensued with the likes of Santino Ferrucci, Rinus VeeKay and Marco Andretti. Herta made his way past VeeKay in the hunt for fellow countryman, Santino. After a slow pit stop, caused after Colton had to put on the brakes during Alexander Rossi’s stop, the time lost put him out into a scrap with championship leader Scott Dixon. The next stage of the race involved a titanic fight between these two which Herta won with a gutsy move down the inside. Pitting late on the final pit stop cycle would hand him his fully deserved final classification.

Ed Carpenter Racing duo Rinus VeeKay and Conor Daly rounded out the top ten in magnificent style. Perhaps the greatest moment of the race was VeeKay’s audacious move on Dalton Kellet and Colton Herta, the Dutchman caught them both napping and passed them with an exhilarating move around the outside. Rinus was once again the highest place rookie, extending his position in the standings as ‘Rookie of the Year’.

Outside the top ten it was a miserable day for championship contenders Scott Dixon and Patricio O’Ward who bravely fought their way back to eleventh and twelfth respectively. Both enjoyed some incredible wheel to wheel battles, trying to claw back some of the advantage Newgarden had gained. O’Ward will be disappointed not to capitalise on Dixon’s poor qualifying, now 79 points behind. Even more worrying will be his deficit to second place Josef Newgarden (33 points).

Further ramifications for the championship include Will Power moving up into fourth position in the standings on 76 points, three behind the McLaren SP driver.

To our delight, IndyCar goes again for the second race of the double-header tomorrow.

Official Classification
1st – Will Power
2nd – Josef Newgarden
3rd – Alexander Rossi
4th – Graham Rahal
5th – Ryan Hunter-Reay
6th – Felix Rosenqvist
7th – Jack Harvey
8th – Rinus VeeKay
9th – Colton Herta
10th – Scott Dixon
11th – Pato O’Ward
12th – Alex Palou
13th – Conor Daly
14th – Santino Ferrucci
15th – Marcus Ericsson
16th – Max Chilton
17th – Takuma Sato
18th – Simon Pagenaud
19th – Oliver Askew
20th – Zach Veach
21st – Charlie Kimball
22nd – Dalton Kellett
23rd – Marco Andretti

IndyCar Mid-Ohio Preview

The NTT IndyCar Series returns this weekend for its fourth doubleheader with the Honda Indy 200 at Lexington’s Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The undulating twists and turns of the thirteen-corner, 2.2-mile road course has seen the circuit become one of the favourite locations on the calendar for drivers and fans alike.

What’s more, with just five races remaining, it’s up to the few remaining title challengers to step up this weekend if they wish to keep the championship alive.

Scott Dixon heads into this weekend on 416 points, a 96-point advantage over Josef Newgarden, with Patricio O’Ward and Takuma Sato realistically the remaining two contenders, albeit around 150 points behind.

Scott Dixon (Joe Skibinski / IndyCar Media)

Looking Back to 2019 Mid-Ohio and beyond.

The 2019 running was won by current championship leader Dixon in spectacular fashion. The New Zealander had rookie Felix Rosenqvist charging in the closing laps. In the final pass through turn two they had wheel contact. Both cars bobbled, but the drivers kept them straight, which led to a thrilling run to the chequered flag as Dixon drove with tires that had lost their effectiveness.

The margin of victory was 0.0934 seconds, the closest IndyCar finish at Mid-Ohio and third closest on a road course in IndyCar history.

Dixon and Chip Ganassi have proved a dominant force at Mid-Ohio in recent years. ‘Mr Mid-Ohio’ has a staggering six wins at the Sports Car Course, likewise Ganassi have won there 11 times, giving them a vast amount of confidence heading into the weekend.

Other drivers who have enjoyed success at the circuit have been Newgarden, Alexander Rossi and Simon Pagenaud with a win apiece. Alongside them, look out for likes of O’Ward, Jack Harvey, Oliver Askew and Rinus VeeKay who have all had relative success at the track in the junior categories.

Pato O’Ward (Joe Skibinski / IndyCar Media)

What should I look out for this weekend?

Dixon is the bookies favourite to win the IndyCar championship due to his commanding lead. However, the focus on this race will continue to be on his realistic championship rivals to see whether they can make a dent in that points deficit. Out of those only Newgarden has won here before, and he may be the most obvious challenge to the Kiwi.

O’Ward will be coming into the weekend following some magnificent but bittersweet performances having narrowly missed out on a handful of wins this season. The Mexican has been a consistent qualifier and regularly puts himself in the frame to challenge for the win. It’s often been strategic calls that have stripped those opportunities away. He’ll be looking to rectify that here to claim his maiden IndyCar win.

Sato, perhaps coming down from his second Indy 500 win, was in the fight arguably in both races last time out at Gateway. He’s somehow found a run of form that’s put him in his highest championship spot in his career. Although challenging Dixon in the standings is a tough order, to compete well against the likes of two-time champion Newgarden and up-and-coming superstar O’Ward will be all the incentive Sato needs to prove that experience sometimes trumps youth.

Another driver with something to prove this weekend will be Andretti’s Rossi. His crushing performance in the 2018 running race saw him and the team take a dominant victory from pole with an incredible tyre strategy. Rossi has demonstrated that he has the speed and his team have the strategies to come out on top in Mid-Ohio and he’ll be determined to do so again to try and draw himself closer to the top five in the championship, after a season plagued by bad luck.

Rinus VeeKay (Joe Skibinski / IndyCar Media)

In terms of the battle for the coveted ‘Rookie of the Year’ title, VeeKay currently leads that fight, 13th in the standings on 181 points. His closest rivals are Alex Palou on 160 and Askew on 155. All three drivers have enjoyed a mixed bag of success and rotten luck, showing promising qualifying and race pace. VeeKay certainly has the momentum coming into the weekend and will be looking to replicate the win he had at the circuit during his time in the Pro Mazda Championship.

Just a mention about Colton Herta. What a season he’s been having. I wrote about his incredible qualifying performances during my preview for Gateway and touted him as someone to watch out for. He then went on to finish in fourth and sixth across both races of the doubleheader putting him in fifth place in the championship on 250 points. In only his sophomore year in IndyCar he’s certainly proved that he’s a superstar in the making, and now has the consistency to mount a title challenge in the future. I wouldn’t put it past Herta to do something similarly impressive this weekend to try and break into the top four.

Dale Coyne Racing‘s Santino Ferrucci is also on an impressive run of form. A fellow sophomore and a young American ‘hot-shot’, he is easily, like-for-like Colton Herta’s closest rival. After an amazing fourth at the Indy 500, followed by a top ten finish last time out at Gateway, Ferrucci is making somewhat of a name for himself. It wasn’t too long ago that he enjoyed a run of three top ten finishes between IMS and Iowa. He’ll be hoping to draw on his prior experience of racing single-seaters in Europe to try and get a similarly strong result on the Mid-Ohio road course this weekend so that he can impress further.

Finally, keep an eye on Meyer Shank Racing‘s Jack Harvey, aiming to continue what has so far been relatively strong season so far for the British driver. He’s shown glimpses of brilliances with three consecutive top ten finishes (IOWA 1, IOWA 2, INDY) and a strong showing at Gateway before an unfortunate timing with the caution ruined a race where he’d been running in the top 5. He’s currently 14th in the standings, which is by far the highest he has ever been during his time in IndyCar. This weekend he has an opportunity to push for 11th in the standings as Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marcus Ericsson, VeeKay and Harvey are all separated by just 3 points.

IndyCar at Mid-Ohio will be shown live on Sky Sports F1 with qualifying set for 7:30pm (GMT) on Saturday followed by the race at around 8:30pm (GMT) on Sunday.

Josef Newgarden wins at Gateway race 2 to keep championship hopes alive.

image courtesy of IndyCar

Defending series champion Josef Newgarden closed the points gap to Scott Dixon in the championship with a victory at Worldwide Technology Raceway at Gateway. His second at the famous ‘egg-shaped’ circuit

The Penske driver had been firmly in the hunt behind both pole sitter Takuma Sato and Arrow McLaren SP driver Patricio O’Ward. However, the American seized first position after the final pit stop window with 43 laps remaining after teammate Will Power was caught in traffic while entering the pits.

Josef and Pato both came into the pits on lap 151, the Mexican narrowly ahead. However, a slick pit stop by the Penske crew allowed the two time series champion to beat the Mexican to the pit lane exit. It was smooth sailing from there, leading rhe rest of the way to the chequered flag.

O’Ward eventually settled for second after finishing third yesterday in race one. Missing out on race victories is becoming something of a trademark for the young driver in his sophomore year. It seems like a matter of not if, but when O’Ward will experience the top step of the podium this season as he consolidates third in the championship.

This win will be Josef Newgarden’s 16th in his career and second this season. His first since at the Iowa Speedway and his first at Gateway since 2017.

Pole sitter Takuma Sato was running well until a failed overcut pit stop denied him a top five position. Sato was caught in traffic while trying to overtake backmarkers which inevitable slowed him down on his in lap, allowing the likes of Power, O’Ward and Newgarden through. Unfortunately, it didn’t end there for the two-time Indy 500 winner, bringing out the caution with less than five laps to go by running into the wall. An unfortunate end for what looked set to be magnificent weekend for the Japanese driver.

Dutch rookie Rinus VeeKay had an incredible race from 18th to fourth. He pitted earlier than the rest of the top ten and was able to slice his way through the field. Scott Dixon would round up the top five.

Some honourable mentions include Colton Herta who finished in a solid sixth position and Conor Daly in eight. Herta, who finished in an incredible fourth in yesterdays race starting in tenth for today’s running. It was a masterful drive and even saved a massive ‘tank slapper’ at half distance which could have easily ended the young American’s day.  Daly likewise put on an overtaking masterclass from his starting position of fifteenth. Both drivers have enjoyed a lot of success at this circuit in recent years and it was no exception this weekend.

However, more poignantly, as the racing drew to a close, so too did a certain Brazilians time in the sport. Sadly, today was Tony Kanaan’s last scheduled race in the IndyCar series. Though he finished in 19th position, it will be his 2004 series championship, his 2013 Indy 500 win, his 16 other career wins and 15 pole positions that he will be remembered for. Liked by the entire paddock it is a sad day to see a great close a chapter in a remarkable career that has spanned over twenty years.

We look forward to seeing Tony Kanaan again in a potential future Indy 500 guest appearance. But until then, we at the PitCrew Online wish ‘TK’ a happy retirement.

Alongside Kanaan the IndyCar circuits will take a five week break before we return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for another double header weekend.

Scott Dixon defends from Sato to win at Gateway

image courtesy of IndyCar

Scott Dixon continued where he left off during the closing stages of the Indianapolis 500, defending from a late charging Takuma Sato to take his 50th career IndyCar win at the World Wide Technology Speedway – his fourth win this season.

Patricio O’Ward had led over 100 laps of the Gateway, only to be beaten out of the pits by a quick and efficient stop by Dixon and the number nine Chip Ganassi crew. The five-time world champion had played the long game, sufficiently saving fuel behind the Mexican McLaren driver meaning that he only required a short refuel to get him out across the pit exit line comfortably ahead.

Further drama ensued when two-time Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato had a slow right rear tyre change, which may well have cost him the net lead of the race. Instead, he was shifted out just behind Patricio O’Ward and firmly in the hunt for the race win.

On fresh rubber, the Japanese driver was able to make quick work of O’Ward with an ‘Evel Knieval’ inspired move around the outside. O’Ward nearly lost control of the car as Sato swept across the front of the Arrow McLaren SP but was able to stabilise the car to finish in third. It will be a bitter pill to swallow as it is the third time the Mexican has had a race win snatched from him in the closing stages following Road America and Iowa.

Sato was then able to set out to close the gap to Dixon. It would eventually come down to as much as two tenths of a second, however Dixon was able to just hang on to achieve the third most wins in IndyCar history behind A.J Foyt and Mario Andretti. He had never before won at the Gateway and has now won at 23 different tracks.

It was certainly a memorable race that began in spectacular fashion. As the race got underway, Alex Palou had to pull out to the left of the rolling start to avoid the car in front. Those behind took this to be a signal for the start of the race. Unfortunately, this resulted in a massive pileup involving Simon Pagenaud, Oliver Askew, Zack Veach and Alexander Rossi among others.

Colton Herta finished in a magnificent fourth position, continuing his strong run of form this season. After being benefited by a late caution, Colton was able to  jump the Husky Chcolcoate Chip Ganassi of Marcus Ericsson who finished in a strong P5.

Rinus VeeKay was affected by the early collision and decided to pit only a few laps in. He continued to undercut the entire field making plenty of positions after every pit window. From a starting position of 14th he finished in a magnificent P6. A deserved result for a rookie that has been plagued by pit stop issues and bad luck.

Ryan Hunter-Reay and Felix Rosenqvist finished in P7 and P8 respectively. The Swede benefited massively after a late caution brought on by bad weather meant that those who pitted would lose out massively. By staying out longer he was able to shuffle further up the order and was potentially looking at a top five finish. Unfortunately, he almost lost the rear of the car on the restart and plummeted down to ninth were he stayed for the remainder of the race.

Rounding out the top ten was Tony Kanaan and a magnificent performance from Conor Daly. The American put in an incredible display to make it into the top ten during the first half of the race. However, after pitting early the late caution disadvantaged him sending him tumbling down the order to P13. To regain lost ground the way Conor did shows skills, composure and determination.

Scott Dixon’s win now moves him to 386 points in the championship, now 117 clear of Josef Newgarden who bagged just 18 with his 12 place finish.

IndyCar now moves on to a second race at Gateway on Sunday where Takuma Sato will be looking for redemption starting on pole position.

 

Outside contenders at the IndyCar Bommarito Automotive 500

Following the dramatic conclusion of the Indianapolis 500, IndyCar relentlessly ploughs on with frightening momentum into a double header weekend at the World-Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, Illinois.

Now two-time Indy 500 champion Takuma Sato brings massive confidence to the Bommarito Automotive Group 500, a race he won last year after holding off a late-charging Ed Carpenter in the closing stages to win by a narrow lead of 0.0339 seconds. It was the closest finish in IndyCar history.

He will get the opportunity not once, but twice to win at Gateway again. It is a sight we have almost become accustomed to, with doubleheaders at Iowa, Road America and of course over in Formula 1 with double-headers at Austria and Silverstone.

Looking at the championship standings it is a grim picture for anyone who is not Scott Dixon. The New Zealander holds a commanding lead of 84 points over his next closest rival, Josef Newgarden. It paints a clearer picture of how dominant the five-time world champion has been this season when noticing third placed Patricio O’Ward is a further 33 points behind Newgarden. Can anyone stop the brilliance of Scott Dixon?

Frankly, outside Newgarden, O’Ward and Sato, you may think the chances are slim.

But alas, there are many other drivers looking to prove themselves at the famous ‘egg-shaped’ circuit. Here are my surprise candidates to achieve a good result this weekend:

James Black / IndyCar Media

Santino Ferrucci

However infamous this young driver may be, you can’t argue with the results he has been putting in this season.

A pair of sixth place finishes in the REV Group Grand Prix at Road America road course doubleheader was certainly a standout. More recently, a fantastic fourth at the Indianapolis 500 following a late charge which saw him finish three tenths behind leader Takuma Sato and within touching distance of podium finisher Graham Rahal.

In three out of the last five races he has finished in the top six. You could therefore argue that the young gun is finding his feet comfortably in IndyCar, vehemently charged to change his reputation in global motorsport.

While the likes of VeeKay, Palou, Askew and O’Ward may be stealing most of the headlines, Santino will be looking to upset the status-quo. You only have to look back a year when he finished fourth at Gateway after leading almost one hundred laps of the famous egg-shaped circuit.

Joe Skibinski / IndyCar Media

Conor Daly

Weeks have elapsed since a hilarious prank war between Conor Daly and Alexander Rossi, where the Andretti driver awoke to find his golf cart dismantled and relieved of its wheels. Since then, you could say Daly would have gladly swapped that same golf cart in place of his actual IndyCar over the last few races.

He has not finished in the top ten since the first race at Iowa and will be looking to bounce back in spectacular fashion.

Luckily for Conor, it seems he has a knack at Gateway. In his two race starts at the Bommarito 500 he has never finished outside the top six, a statistic that may give him confidence going into the weekend.

Bouncing between Carlin and Ed Carpenter Racing this year certainly will not have helped to form any sort of consistency needed for a title challenge. However, out of all his teammates he is currently tied with the most points alongside hotshot rookie Rinus VeeKay. If you were looking for a dramatic teammate battle, this one would be the one to watch.

Chris Owens / IndyCar Media

Colton Herta

The young American has had something of a roller-coaster of a season. While he is win-less this year, a seventh, fourth and a pair of fifths in the opening four rounds of the campaign proves he has consistency as well as raw speed. He comes radiating confidence after finishing a tremendous eight at the Brickyard.

What has been most impressive this year has been his qualifying form. Since the GMR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway his qualifying results have been as follows: Indianapolis (3rd), Road America Race 1 (7th), Road America Race 2 (2nd), Iowa Speedway Race 1 (4th), Iowa Speedway Race 2 (5th). He only barely missed out on the ‘Fast Nine’ shootout at the Indy500. In such a competitive field, such consistent qualifying pace is a solid indicator that Colton has the speed to match anyone in the series. I expect a similar solid qualifying run to occur, and with that, a potential for a good result.

If you need any more evidence, the Californian has made two Indy Lights starts at Worldwide Technology Raceway leading 69 of 75 laps in 2018 before settling for second. Herta finished one spot lower in his first race at the 1.25-mile oval.

Takuma Sato seizes second Indy 500 win

image Courtesy Of IndyCar

Takuma Sato seizes a second Indianapolis 500 victory from Scott Dixon during the closing stages of the race.

Dixon, who had led over one hundred and ten laps at The Brickyard was overtaken by the Japanese driver after the final round of pit stops and looked unstoppable as he continued to build over a second gap to the five-time IndyCar world champion.

Lapped traffic caused late drama as Sato lost a good amount of aerodynamic performance in dirty air. However, both Sato and Dixon cleared the troublesome backmarkers and It was looking to be a shootout finish.

That was until Specer Pigot brought out the final caution with less than five laps to go with a terrifying side on collision with the pit entry wall. Spencer was relatively unhurt by the incident and will go for medical check-ups immediately as a precaution.image Courtesy Of IndCar

Race officials refused to bring out the red flag, which had it been used would have given us a last-dash race to finish under an enthralling restart. Instead, Takuma Sato cruised to the finish line behind the safety car to be only the twentieth driver to take multiple Indy 500 victories, his first since 2017.

Dixon, was quick on his radio to suggest a red flag should be thrown, knowing his only chance of victory could have been snatched from him in that moment:

“Are they going red?” Dixon asked. “They’ve got to go red. There’s no way they can clean that up.”

Graham Rahal, Sato’s teammate at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, was closing in on the top two during the closing stages of the race only to cross the line in third.

Unfortunately for pole sitter, Marco Andretti, it was a day to forget as he rarely posed a threat to the front runners, tumbling down to thirteenth place. The search for another Andretti winner at 500 goes on.

For Arrow McLaren SP driver Patricio O’Ward he will take the coveted fastest rookie award crossing the line in seventh with a magnificent performance that saw him briefly leading the race. However, his performance will be bittersweet given circumstances of fellow teammates Oliver Askew and Fernando Alonso.

Following a caution caused by Dalton Kellet, a restart saw Conor Daly drop a wheel onto the concrete apron through turn four and fired his Ed Carpenter Chevrolet into the wall. Oliver Askew drove into the ensuing smokescreen and took avoiding action but lost control making heavy contact with both the wall and Daly.

image Courtesy Of IndCar

For two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso, it was also a troublesome day where he struggled constantly with balance and clutch issues. He rarely appeared inside the top twenty eventually finishing in twenty first, crushing his dreams of taking the triple-crown on what may be his final attempt as he goes to race with the Renault F1 team for the next two years. However, he can take some solace that after two attempts, he has finally crossed the line to finish, what he may come to call ‘The Hardest Spectacle in the World’.

In this incident-filled race, there was eight non-finishers with James Davison, Marcus Ericsson, Oliver Askew, Conor Daly, Dalton Kellet, Alex Palou, Alex Rossi and Spencer Pigot all failing to cross the finish line.

Andretti Autosport driver Alexander Rossi was running with frontrunners Dixon and Sato for the majority of the race. Indeed, it was Dixon and Rossi who were working together to pull away from the rest of the field during the second quarter of the race.

However, it was not to be for the 2017 Indy 500 winner, after an issue in the pits with a slow right rear caused Rossi to be released dangerously into the path of Takuma Sato. A subsequent investigation handed a penalty to Rossi sending him painfully to the back of the grid.

Clearly angered by the punishment, Rossi went straight on the attack making up five positions on the first lap of racing but his chances of victory quickly went from slim to zero as he became the latest retiree.

Losing the rear at turn two, Rossi slid the majority of the way down the wall on the back straight. In four previous Indy 500 entries, Rossi had a record of one victory and no finish lower than seventh. Now, he can add a DNF to that list.

Pit stops are always an opportunity for errors, but for Rinus VeeKay it was a constant early source of problems. The rookie Dutchman first stalled in a stop, but at the next stop earned a stop-go penalty for hitting team personnel – locking his brakes and sliding into the mechanics while entering for a stop.

However, the pivotal moment of the race may have come at lap 122, which saw Spanish rookie Alex Palou embrace the barrier at turn one, a similar incident to Marcus Ericsson 98 laps previously. The caution came at the wrong time to enable drivers to make it to the flag on one more fuel stop, but all drivers save for Felix Rosenqvist pitted for fresh tyres and none other than Sato and Dixon were at the head of this train, giving them an straight race to the finish.

Other noteworthy performances were of Santino Ferucci who finished in a magnificent fifth after a late charge saw him overtake defending IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden. In addition, credit should be given to young star Colton Herta in eight and Britain’s Jack Harvey in ninth.

In the war between the engine manufacturers it was Honda that dominated with eight out of the top finishers. James Hinchliffe in seventh and Colton Herta in eight were the only Chevrolet powered cars in the top ten.

Top Ten Official Classification:

  1. Takuma Sato – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
  2. Scott Dixon – Chip Ganassi Racing
  3. Graham Rahal – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
  4. Santino Ferucci – Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan
  5. Josef Newgarden – Team Pesnke
  6. Patricio O Ward – Arrow McLaren SP
  7. James Hinchliffe – Andretti Autosport
  8. Colton Herta – Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport
  9. Jack Harvey – Meyer Shank Racing
  10. Ryan Hunter-Reay – Andretti Autosport

Rinus VeeKay: “We are ready for the 500”

Rinus VeeKay image courtesy of IndyCar

The first time I took notice of this young Dutchman, he was leading the F3 Asian Winter Series competing with the likes of Williams test driver Dan Ticktum and F3 heavy-hitters David Schumacher and Ye Yifea. I didn’t know much about him at the time, but I was mightily impressed with his performances ultimately dominating the championship twenty nine points ahead of his nearest rival.

Now, he is starting fourth in the Indianapolis 500, the highest placed rookie.

It has been a whirlwind twelve months for Rinus VeeKay to say the least, a name he adopted after coming to compete in the US, his real name: Rinus Van Kalmthout. Since his incredible performance in the Indy Lights series he has been catapulted into motorsport stardom with the Ed Carpenter Racing team for the NTT IndyCar series for the 2020 season.

For the Netherlands, it is a seismic moment. The first Dutch driver in top tier American Open wheel racing since Robert Doornbos in 2009. Doornbos and only four other Dutchman have ever raced in IndyCar including two time Indy 500 winner Arie Luyundyk Sr, his son Arie Luyundyk Jr, Cornelius Euser and Jan Lammers.

Having waited so long for another star in the IndyCar series, they were treated to a miraculous sight last Sunday, seeing Rinus blasting through turn one of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway clocking in at just over 240mph. One of the fastest unofficial speeds ever recorded at the Indy 500.

The previous day he knocked many big names out of the ‘Fast Nine’ shootout, including the likes of Will Power, Josef Newgarden, Helio Castroneves and Fernando Alonso to name but a few. This is no mean feat. However, rather than let the pressure get to him, he put in a fantastic four-lap average (230.704mph) during the ‘Fast Nine’ to start on the fourth row alongside Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchliffe.

I was fortunate to sit down with Rinus on Wednesday 19th August, four days before he is due to take the starting grid in ‘The Greatest Spectacle in the World’. The aim: to get an insight into the nineteen-year-old Dutchman, to reflect on his fantastic performance so far.

Adam (Q):

Hi Rinus! How are you feeling? Are you OK?

Rinus VeeKay (R):

Yeah, I’m feeling great. It’s been a crazy few days, but I’m very happy with the result and it’s been a crazy weekend, but it’s also been the best weekend.

 Q:

So Rinus, first of all, congratulations on such a magnificent performance at your first Indy 500. Through to the ‘Fast Nine’, starting fourth, the highest placed rookie. That is the highest starting position for a Dutchman in 21 years since the 1999 Indy 500, which was your mentor, Arie Luyendyk, who started on pole that day.

That must be something you are immensely proud of. How do you reflect on such a fantastic debut performance?

R:

Yeah, I’m really proud of it. Of course, I did not really expect it. Of course, I knew we had a good car, but the Hondas were looking strong and I was really happy to make the ‘Fast Nine’. But then, yeah, having such a good qualifying run; that almost front row was possible was amazing.

Q:

Absolutely and you’re the only Chevrolet powered car through to the ‘Fast Nine’, which is incredible as well. Many have commented on the lack of speed by Chevy and that you guys were running a low downforce set up in order to negate the power of the Hondas. However, you hit 240 miles an hour going through into turn one.

My question has two parts here. One, what was it like running at such an incredible speed? Have you experienced anything like that ever in your career?

And secondly, would you be running a similar low downforce set up during the race? And what can you expect to get out of the race with that?

R:

Well, it was amazing touching 240 miles per hour, that’s kind of a dream come true. It’s amazing speed, of course, I had a bit of a tailwind. It was cool, turning in to turn one staying flat to 240 miles an hour. Never experienced that before, but this definitely is my land speed record.

For the race, you need more downforce to run in traffic in the race, and the tyres will not last if we keep it on that low downforce. So yeah, we will go for more downforce on a kind of race trim that everyone will be on. And yeah, we have a really strong race car. I know that. And we are ready for the 500.

Q:

Fantastic. You seem to have had quite a lot of success at the Motor Speedway. You came third here at the Freedom 100 in Indy Lights and you seem to done well at the road course in both Indy lights and IndyCar. What is there about the Motor Speedway you find so special?

R:

It’s super special, it’s like the racing mecca. The feeling driving here, if you just drive through the gates, it’s just like heaven.

It’s amazing and I really enjoy driving here. Of course, you need a bit of luck to be successful, but I love the speedway and of course, also the IMS road course has been amazing this year with my highest IndyCar finish so far.

Q:

Some of our readers may be hearing about you for the first time, but they will be eager to learn a little bit about your amazing journey into IndyCar. So, you know, I’ve got a list here of some of your accolades.

  • Second in US F2000 National Championship (2017),
  • Second in the BOSS GP series (2017),
  • Third in  the MRF Challenge Formula (2017),
  • First in the Pro Mazda Championship (2018),
  • First in the F3 Asian Winter Series (2019),
  • Second  in the Indy Lights Series (2019).

Some may be wanting to know why you chose to go round the US motorsport route rather than the European circuit and follow people such as Max Verstappen going to Formula One.

What was it that drew you to America? And I have heard that there are some perceptions that it’s more down to talent in the US. Is that a fair assumption?

R:

Yes, that’s quite fair to say. The Road to Indy is known for their scholarship program and I won the 2018 Pro Mazda Championship and because of that I had the funding to go to Indy Lights. Then it just all happened from there on. So actually that win in 2018, made possible, by The Road to Indy, just made it possible for me to drive in my car eventually.

it’s been tough to go this way. It’s not always been easy but it’s been a great few years and to make it to IndyCar in this rapid way is great.

 Q:

One question I had from one of our contributors was about your time in the BOSS GP Open series. He wanted to ask. It’s one of the more lesser known categories, one could say, but it hosts so many historical sports cars. It sounds like such an amazing series to be a part of. Did you learn anything in particular in your time in that series? And what benefits did you find in doing it?

R:

Yeah, my goal to do that was, I was 16 years old, when I did that. I did a few races there I didn’t do the full season. But to get experience at that young age with, well, I had 680 horsepower. Wow. That’s something very educational. And it’s something important to master when you’re younger. And I think that’s really helped me getting used to high power, high breaks, high downforce when I was only 16 years old.

Q:

Fantastic. Do the likes of people like Max Verstappen, Robin Frinjs in Formula E, Nick de Vries who is F2 Champion, and of course yourself. Does that give you hope that motorsport in the Netherlands is on the rise? It seems like Dutch motorsport is in a really good place right now.

R:

Yeah, it really is. We have some great drivers. Robin Frinjs who is a great driver in DTM and Formula E. Nyck De Vries who is a great driver in Formula E. Max Verstappen of course and then on the other side of the ocean, it’s me in IndyCar. It’s great to have so many drivers in the top categories of open wheel racing, and it’s just great to be part of it.

Q:


It’s like you said, you don’t get many Dutchmen in IndyCar. What is it like trying to get the attention of motorsport fans from the Netherlands to watch you in IndyCar? Do you think that you have a lot of attention right now from the Netherlands?

R:

Yeah, the attention is really getting better and better. Of course, it’s been a little tough because everyone was super ‘Formula One minded’. Now they’ve seen my qualifying performance and of course now with the internet, Twitter, everything, it rolls like a snowball. Everyone starts to get really excited. I think most of the country is going to watch the 500 next weekend, so it’s going to be really cool. I think especially the attention towards IndyCar is really on the rise now.

Q:

It certainly has been with my family we’ve been sat around the whole sofa watching it for the past few weeks. So you’ve provided some fantastic entertainment, especially during lockdown.

In the lower categories, you had a competitive rivalry with the likes of fellow rookie Oliver Askew. You two alongside Alex Palou and Dalton and Pato will be going for the Rookie of the Year title on Sunday. Do those sorts of things motivate you as a driver? And will competing well against the likes of Oliver be an extra bit of motivation for you come the race on Sunday?

R:

I’ve had a long rivalry with Oliver. He’s a great driver and he’s always been a benchmark whenever you go to the track. We have a lot of quick drivers in IndyCar now so Oliver is a quick rookie but also Alex, Patricio, Dalton Kellet, they are super quick here. We’ve got some really strong rookies this year and it feels good to be kind of the best rookie and so that gives me a huge amount of confidence.

Q:

How would you rate your IndyCar season so far? You’ve had a few unfortunate accidents here and there but on the whole your performances have been really positive and certainly the qualifying here at Indy 500 surely should give you confidence for the rest of the full IndyCar season. So how would you reflect on the season so far and your hopes for the future? 

R:

Yeah it’s been a weird season. Of course with COVID to start off with and then my first race at Texas was very immature, very rookie, but I really learned from that. It was one of my biggest lessons in my career. And then from then on, as a driver I made huge steps.

Of course after that we had Indy IMS Road Course where I had my first top five finish. That was great with a great strategy. And then at Road America we struggled a little, I also had some engine issues in the race so that was unfortunate. And in Iowa we were on our way possibly to a victory in race 1 until, well you know what happened with Colton. That was very unfortunate. In race 2 we had some pit lane issues so it’s not been the luckiest year. But, well let’s hope we can make a turnaround from here.

 Q:

For all your prospective fans out there as I am sure after this weekend you will have many. What can we expect from you come this Sunday?

R:

I’m gonna just give it my all. I know we have a great race car. Of course a lot of the race is about strategy, so that will be important, a lot of thinking. But I think we can make the people at home, make then sit at the top of their seats and enjoy the race. I really want to make sure that this year, when there are no fans, they still really enjoy it.

Q:

And that’s another good point that there will be no fans this year at the 500. Does that feel a little bit strange do you think that’s going to be weird come Sunday?

R:

It feels a little strange yeah. You are so used to having so many fans here at Indy. The fans make the event what it is and you miss that. You can feel that the atmosphere is not like that. Of course, it’s still the 500, you still have the speed and the sensation but yeah the fans are a gift when they are here.

Q:

I mean I’m sure that even though they are not going to be there there’s going to be thousands more at home tuning in watching at home live so don’t worry there’s going to be lots of people supporting you back at home.

I think that’s pretty much all we have time for that’s the fifteen minutes. So thank you so much Rinus it’s been a real pleasure talking to you. Thank you for giving up some of your time to speak to us. We wish you so much luck for the race on Sunday and we really hope you have a good turnout and a good result come this Sunday?.

R:

Thank you very much. I’ll make sure everyone will enjoy the race, and me too and hopefully drink the bottle of milk at the end!

 

 

Marco Andretti seals incredible first Indy 500 pole

image courtesy of IndyCar

Marco Andretti will start on pole position for the 2020 Indianapolis 500.

Marco, the grandson of Mario Andretti beat five-time world champion Scott Dixon by less than two hundredths miles per hour. Miraculously it will be the first time since the 1987 Indianapolis 500, thirty-three years ago that an Andretti has sealed pole position at ‘The Greatest Spectacle in the World’.

He was also able to set the fastest time in Saturday’s qualifying session, an utterly dominant weekend for the American. His father, Michael had famously never started on pole position or won the Indy 500.

“Actually, I thought of him because today when I walked out of the motorhome it was pretty windy,” Marco iterated of his grandfather. Sunday’s qualifying session was held in a crosswind. “He has a famous quote ‘within us. He doesn’t say it to many people, but he says, ‘the wind will scare you but it will never crash you.’ So today, he was right.”

Marco’s highest finish at the 500 was back in 2006 where he came second.

Starting alongside him will be championship leader Scott Dixon in the Chip Ganassi and Takuma Sato in the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. All three will complete the first row on the grid.

Ed Carpenter Racing rookie Rinus Veekay qualified in fourth; he was the only Chevrolet powered car in the Fast Nine. His first season in IndyCar has been mired with bad luck with flashes of brilliance for the young Dutchman. He has often been overshadowed by the likes of Palou and Askew. But if you look back at young Rinus’s record in European single seater racing, this may not come as a surprise to many.

Completing the second row on the grid in fifth and sixth place are Andretti Autosport teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe. This will be Hinchcliffe’s highest Indy 500 start since his famous pole position in 2016.

Another standout performance was the Dale Coyne Racing rookie Alex Palou who qualified in seventh place. The young Spaniard has enjoyed a magnificent rookie season so far and will be looking to compete for the Rookie of the Year title.

Completing the third row are Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal in eight and Alexander Rossi in ninth who will be disappointed to be outqualified by his Andretti Autosport teammates.

Indy 500 Provisional Starting Grid:

Row 1: Marco Andretti (231.068 mph); Scott Dixon (231.051 mph); Takuma Sato (230.725 mph)

Row 2: Rinus Veekay (230.704 mph); Ryan Hunter-Reay (230.648 mph); James Hinchcliffe (229.870 mph)

Row 3: Alex Palou (229.676 mph); Graham Rahal (229.380 mph); Alexander Rossi (229.234 mph)

Row 4: Colton Herta (230.775 mph); Marcus Ericsson (230.566 mph); Spencer Pigot (230.539 mph)

Row 5: Josef Newgarden (230.296 mph); Felix Rosenqvist (230.254 mph); Pato O’Ward (230.213 mph)

Row 6: Ed Carpenter (230.211 mph); Zach Veach (229.961 mph); Conor Daly (229.955 mph)

Row 7: Santino Ferrucci (229.924 mph); Jack Harvey (229.861 mph); Oliver Askew (229.76 mph)

Row 8: Will Power (229.701 mph); Tony Kanaan (229.154 mph); Dalton Kellett (228.88 mph)

Row 9: Simon Pagenaud (228.836 mph); Alonso Fernando (228.768 mph); James Davison (228.747 mph)

Row 10: Helio Castroneves (228.373 mph); Charlie Kimball (227.758 mph); Max Chilton (227.303 mph)

Row 11: Sage Karam (227.099 mph); JR Hildebrand (226.341 mph); Ben Hanley (222.917 mph)

The Indy 500 will be live on Sky Sports F1 on Sunday 23rd August.

 

 

Entry list revealed for the 104th Indianapolis 500

IndyCar logo courtesy of IndyCar.

In a statement released by IndyCar on Monday 11th August, a 33-car field will enter the Indianapolis 500. Among those include eight past winners: Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002, 2009), Scott Dixon (2008), Tony Kanaan (2013), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2014), Alexander Rossi (2016), Takuma Sato (2017), Will Power (2018) and Simon Pagenaud (2019).

Castroneves, who retired from a full time IndyCar seat in 2017 will be aiming for his fourth win in an attempt to join an elite list of drivers with the same accolades including: A.J Foyt, Al Unser,  and Rick Mears.

The field will include six IndyCar champions including: Scott Dixon, Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan, Simon Pagenaud, and reigning champion Josef Newgarden.

Also joining them will be two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso, who returns to the ‘500’ with the Arrow McLaren SP team. Alonso will be competing to become only the second driver in history, alongside Graham Hill, to achieve the ‘triple crown’.

Alonso had two previous outings at the ‘500’, which both saw him retire with an engine related issue and fail to qualify for the starting grid. Alonso will be hoping ‘three times the charm’, as Arrow McLaren SP have seemingly been on the rise with recent performances from Patricio O’Ward and Oliver Askew. Thus, the Spaniard may be in a good position to challenge for a win this time around.

There were initial worries that IndyCar may not have been able to stage a full field due to the current coronavirus pandemic. However, late entries from Ben Hanley (DragonSpeed Racing) and James Davison (Dale Coyne, Byrd Racing, Belardi Autosport and Rick Ware Racing) have ensured this will not be the case.

However, the purse for the event has been nearly slashed in half, following the news that the race will be held with no spectators for the first time in its history.

Five drivers will be competing for the rookie of the year title: Alex Palou, Oliver Askew, Pato O’Ward, Rinus Veekay and Dalton Kellet. O’Ward, will be aiming for redemption after failing to qualify in last year’s qualifying shootout.

Andretti Autosport has entered six cars, the most of any team.

Practice runs between Wednesday 12th and Friday 14th August. Qualifying is scheduled between Saturday 15th and 16th August. The final practice session, which has been extended to two hours will be held on Friday 21st August.

The Indianapolis 500 will be set to race at 2:30pm on Sunday 23rd August, with live coverage on Sky Sports F1 in the UK and NBC in the US.

Complete Entry List

1 Josef Newgarden Team Penske Chevrolet

3 Helio Castroneves Team Penske Chevrolet

4 Charlie Kimball AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet

5 Pato O’Ward Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet

7 Oliver Askew Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet

8 Marcus Ericsson Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

9 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

10 Felix Rosenqvist Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

12 Will Power Team Penske Chevrolet

14 Tony Kanaan AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet

15 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

18 Santino Ferucci Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan

20 Ed Carpenter Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

21 Rinus Veekay Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

22 Simon Pagenaud Team Penske Chevrolet

24 Sage Karam Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet

26 Zach Veach Andretti Autosport Honda

27 Alexander Rossi Andretti Autosport Honda

28 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport Honda

29 James Hinchcliffe Andretti Autosport Honda

30 Takuma Sato Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

41 Dalton Kellett AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet

45 Spencer Pigot Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

47 Conor Daly Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

51 James Davison Dale Coyne Racing Honda

55 Alex Palou Dale Coyne Racing Honda

59 Max Chilton Carlin Chevrolet

60 Jack Harvey Meyer Shank Racing Honda

66 Fernando Alonso Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet

67 JR Hilderbrand Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet

81 Ben Hanley DragonSpeed Chevrolet

88 Colton Herta Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport Honda

98 Marco Andretti Andretti Herta Autosport with Marco Curb-Agajanian