After a much needed week off for the NTT IndyCar Series stars last week, the drivers and teams return to action this weekend in Road America. Here are the top five storylines for Sunday’s REV Group Grand Prix At Road America (12:30 p.m. ET/NBC/INDYCAR Radio Network).
Starting Position Will Matter
We’ve seen it a lot in the past, but starting position for Sunday’s race will mean a lot. Two of the three years at Road America the pole winner has gone on to win the race too. In fact, all three years has seen a driver come from the top five to win.
This season alone, seven of the nine races has seen the race winner come from a starting spot within the top 3 Rows. That means if you don’t make the Fast Six on Saturday, you’re likely not winning on Sunday.
Don’t expect many cautions this weekend either. We didn’t see a single yellow fly in last year’s race while also having just one in 2016. In 2017, there were only two yellows. This year, we’ve seen just one caution in two of the three races run on natural road courses. The IndyCar Grand Prix had just three.
Andretti Autosport’s Struggles
The Andretti foursome has been fairly good this year. Yes, Marco Andretti and Zach Veach have struggled at times, but Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay have been consistently up front too.
Where this weekend is key is, Andretti has struggled the last three years at Road America.
Veach, finished 22nd last year. On natural road courses this season, he’s finished 22nd, 12th and 12th respectively.
Andretti, has finished 12th, 18th and 11th respectively at Road America and sixth, 14th and 13th respectively on natural road courses in 2019.
Trends show both will finish 12th or worse this weekend.
What about RHR or Rossi?
Rossi, has never finished in the top 10 on the Wisconsin road course and has finishes of ninth, fifth and 22nd respectively on natural road courses this season.
Hunter-Reay bodes as their best shot. He does have two top four finishes in three tries at Road America to go along with two top eight finishes in three tries in 2019 on natural road courses too.
Sunday could shape up as a Penske vs. Ganassi show. Penske has won in 2016 and 2018 in Road America while Ganassi (2017) was the meat to the Penske sandwich two years ago. Will Ganassi win again this Sunday?
Scott Dixon is their best shot as he’s scored two straight second place finishes on natural road courses this season. He also has two straight podiums at Road America too.
Can he beat the Penske’s?
Josef Newwgarden led 53 of the 55 laps run last year and led 13 laps in a runner-up effort in 2017. He was eighth in 2016. On natural road courses this season, he has two top four finishes in three tries.
Will Power led 46 laps in his win in 2016 and was fifth in 2017. His car engine went sour on the drop of the green flag last year.
Simon Pagenaud has two top seven finishes in his last three Road America tries and won at Indy in May.
The championship race is heating up. We’re officially in the second half of the season now. Heading into this weekend, Newgarden leads Rossi, Pagenaud and Dixon in the standings. With how good Newgarden and Dixon are in Road America, is this Newgarden’s chance to pull further ahead and/or Dixon close the gap? Half of the final eight races are on natural road courses.