AUSTIN, TX – Between them are 31 NTT IndyCar Series championships. In fact, out of those 31 titles, 16 of them have come consecutively. That’s why it wasn’t shocking to see Team Penske, Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti Autosport sweep the entire top five of the finishing order in the season opener on the streets of St. Pete two weeks ago.
That’s also why it’s not shocking to see them all dominate all the preliminary action so far this weekend in COTA either.
In practice session No. 1, seven of the top nine speeds belonged to drivers on these three teams. In session No. 2, six of the top seven were from them. In final practice on Saturday morning, it was more of the same with six of the top seven laps around the 3.427-mile Texas road course.
What about the starting lineup?
They earned six of the top seven starting spots to go along with seven of the fastest nine.
So, why would we pick anyone to beat them?
So, among these three organizations with nine combined drivers, who’s standing out?
Felix Rosenqvist is the top one in my mind. He’s +1600 and had a shot to win in St. Pete despite being a rookie driver. He finished fourth instead. He’s been really fast so far this weekend in being sixth, second and second respectively in the three practice sessions in his No. 10 Honda. He starts fifth.
His teammate Scott Dixon may not have been found near the top of the speed charts on Friday but that’s because he only had one hot lap in the first session but saw that lap impeded by traffic. The second session, they worked on different setups. It paid off. He was P6 in final practice on Saturday and is coming off of a runner-up result in St. Pete. He also starts sixth on Sunday.
Chip Ganassi Racing are ones to watch.
So is Team Penske. They led the way in both sessions on Friday with Josef Newgarden topping the speed charts in the opening session and Will Power being tops overall in the second one.
Newgarden, was first, ninth and fifth respectively this weekend with Power eighth, first and seventh himself. Their teammate Simon Pagenaud has been in the top 10 in all three sessions too with chiming in seventh in both practices on Friday and ninth on Saturday.
Want to pick against those three?
Power, earned the pole while Newgarden rolls off seventh himself.
Andretti Autosport has been strong too. Alexander Rossi is their top pick with being third in both sessions on Friday and quickest on Saturday morning. He qualified on the front row in second. Ryan Hunter-Reay is right there too though with being fourth in all three sessions and qualifying third.
Zach Veach is a sleeper with him being sixth overall in the second session on Friday and 11th in final practice. He’ll start ninth.
As it seems, this is their race to lose.