BELLE ISLE, Mich – Its been years since we’ve had two young American drivers on top of the NTT IndyCar Series. Yes, I’m aware Simon Pagenaud is still sitting second in the points standings heading into Sunday’s 70 Lap doubleheader finale on the streets of Long Beach, but it’s likely going to be a battle between Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud for this year’s championship.
How fun will that be?
Penske vs. Andretti.
American vs. American.
Newgarden (28) vs. Rossi (27).
Simon Pagenaud leads Josef Newgarden in the wet on Saturday in Belle Isle – INDYCAR Media Site
Both drivers are proving their team owners smart. Penske lured Newgarden away from Ed Carpenter Racing and all he’s done is win nine times since joining the storied organization for the 2017 season.
Rossi, won the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 in just his sixth career series start and proved Michael Andretti and Bryan Herta geniuses to take a chance on what many considered a castoff F1 driver that was just using Indy Car as a stepping stone to a future Formula One seat.
Well, three years later, Rossi has won five times in total and is coming off of a second place finish in the points standings last year. Currently, he’s third this year and just 33 points behind Newgarden heading into Sunday’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.
He’s only seven points behind Pagenaud for second. With how this season is going, expect Rossi to potentially move into second on Sunday.
Since 2017, no one has as many wins in the series as Newgarden (9). But sitting there in third is Rossi (5) who trails only Newgarden and Will Power (6).
Newgarden, has 16 podiums since 2017 while Rossi has 14. It’s 22-20 in top fives with the advantage going to Newgarden. It’s also 33-30 in top 10’s with Newgarden leading that category too.
In poles, Rossi leads 6-5 while Newgarden has led the most laps between them at 1,003-639.
Both are among the tops in all those categories.
This season, Newgarden has finished either first or second four times. He has six top four finishes in seven tries.
Rossi, has one win and two runner-ups. He also has six top 10’s in the same seven tries. Newgarden has led three more laps than Rossi in 2019 128-125. The next best is Pagenaud with 121. The next best after them is Takuma Sato with 78.
Those are the top four in the points standings right now. But, with Sato 65 points out and Scott Dixon in fifth 92 points out, this looks like it’s going to come down to a battle between Newgarden and Rossi. It’s the potential rivalry that Indy Car needs because it’s between two very talented America’s who can become household names.