Tight Factors Race, Chase of Historical past Step into Highlight at IMS

Historical past may very well be made this week at a venue wealthy in historical past.

Staff Penske’s Will Energy, who leads NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers with 5 profession poles for races on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway highway course, can tie Mario Andretti’s all-time pole document by capturing the NTT P1 Award because the quickest qualifier for Saturday’s Gallagher Grand Prix. Andretti gained 67 poles in his INDYCAR profession; Energy’s complete stands at 66.

Moreover, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon, a six-time collection champion, can take one other step towards changing into the game’s winningest driver by going to victory lane this weekend. Within the Honda Indy Toronto on July 17, Dixon tied Andretti for second place with 52 wins; one other victory earns Dixon the place all to himself. A.J. Foyt holds the document with 67 profession wins.

After which there’s the battle for the season championship. Indianapolis 500 introduced by Gainbridge winner Marcus Ericsson of Chip Ganassi Racing returns to IMS with the collection factors lead, however his benefit over second-place Energy is slim. Eight factors separate these two drivers, with a complete of six drivers, together with reigning collection champion Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing, separated by 44 factors with 5 races remaining.

One of many high six is Staff Penske’s Josef Newgarden, whose availability for the two-day occasion within the No. 2 PPG Staff Penske Chevrolet stays in query following an incident within the July 24 race at Iowa Speedway. He was cleared by INDYCAR medical officers to take part within the opening follow Friday and will likely be re-evaluated after that session. Newgarden was main the Hy-Vee Salute to Farmers 300 introduced by Google in a bid to comb the weekend doubleheader and transfer atop the purpose standings when his No. 2 Hitachi Staff Penske Chevrolet spun and hit the wall. Newgarden and Dixon are tied for third place within the standings, 34 factors out of the lead.

Iowa Race 2 winner Pato O’Ward of Arrow McLaren SP is the fifth driver within the championship hunt; he stands fifth, 36 factors behind Ericsson.

Listed below are 5 Issues to Watch For this weekend.

Energy Eyes All-Time Document

Andretti has held the pole document for practically 36 years since passing Foyt. When the 1969 Indianapolis 500 winner certified within the high spot for the ultimate time in 1993 at Michigan Speedway, it appeared nobody would equal that mark. Energy was solely 12 years previous on the time.

Energy, now 41, has come at Andretti’s document quick and furiously, twice successful eight poles in a season (2010, 2011) and successful a pole in every of the previous 14 seasons. In that span, the driving force of the No. 12 Verizon Staff Penske Chevrolet has averaged 4.3 poles a season, and he has three this season capped by a pair earned final weekend at Iowa Speedway.

Statistically, Energy is the quickest qualifier of his era. Amongst drivers in Saturday’s Gallagher Grand Prix, Helio Castroneves (No. 06 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda of Meyer Shank Racing) has 50 collection poles – his complete ranks fourth within the sport’s historical past – and Dixon (No. 9 PNC Financial institution Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) is subsequent amongst energetic drivers with 28 poles. No different driver taking part this weekend has greater than 16.

Energy isn’t simply quick on qualifying days, both. His 41 race wins rank fifth all-time, and his subsequent win will tie Michael Andretti for fourth place. Dixon holds the document for consecutive seasons with at the very least one race win, with 18, however Energy is second with 16. Each have gained a race this season. In all, Dixon has race wins in 20 seasons, one other document. Castroneves has gained in 17 seasons, Energy 16.

Energy additionally has his eyes on one thing larger than statistical marks: He desires a season championship to go together with the one he gained in 2014.

“It’s getting right down to the wire, man,” he mentioned. “Higher convey your ‘A’ recreation or I’m going to take it from (the) younger blokes.”

Dixon Lurking, Once more

It have to be the summer season climate that invigorates Dixon, who has gained 30 of his 52 races after the calendar has flipped to July. Twice he has gained three consecutive races within the seventh month of the yr.

Dixon completed fifth and fourth within the Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend, shaving 10 factors off his deficit to the collection lead. He has sliced away 35 factors this month.

Look out if Dixon has an opportunity to win this championship because the season heads to the West Coast in September for the ultimate two races. In seven seasons in his profession, Dixon has gained one of many final two races.

Dixon hasn’t had Energy’s stage of success on the IMS highway course, however he has been persistently good. He gained the July 4, 2020 race and has posted three second-place finishes on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile circuit, one of the best mark of any drivers by no means to have been employed by Staff Penske.

Nonetheless, current runs on the IMS highway course haven’t been as sturdy for Dixon. His common end up to now 5 begins is 10.5, with no end greater than eighth.

“The final time we had been (on the IMS highway course) was extra of a fumble in qualifying,” he mentioned. “I believe the tempo was undoubtedly there, however you’ve solely bought two laps to get it completed. I began my first lap poorly, after which I spun on my second. When you don’t get it proper (in qualifying), you’re going to be behind the pack (he began twenty first).”

Grosjean Eyes Robust IMS Return

Romain Grosjean (No. 28 DHL Honda) is one to look at this weekend given the boldness pocketed at Iowa Speedway.

Surprisingly, it was Grosjean, who had by no means raced on the brief oval, who had one of the best finishes every day amongst Andretti Autosport drivers. Contemplate that Michael Andretti’s group gained seven of the monitor’s first 9 races with 5 totally different drivers.

Grosjean completed seventh and ninth within the two races after qualifying tenth for every.

“I’m very pleased with the entire weekend,” he mentioned. “With Helio (Castroneves) and Simon Pagenaud and (Alexander) Rossi and (Colton) Herta, they’ve bought a lot extra expertise on ovals that simply with the ability to symbolize one of the best automobile (of the group).

“I’m actually joyful. With a few higher pit stops (in Saturday’s race), it will have been higher (than ending seventh).”

Second-year NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver Grosjean is keen to return to the IMS highway course, though he didn’t fare as nicely within the GMR Grand Prix on Could 14 as he did in final yr’s two races on the circuit. He gained the NTT P1 Award for the primary race and completed second in every race in 2021.

Tight Rookie Battle

Exterior the highlight of the championship pursuit is a two-man contest for collection Rookie of the 12 months.

The separation between Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Christian Lundgaard (No. 30 Protect Cleansers Honda) and Dale Coyne Racing with HMD’s David Malukas (No. 18 HMD Honda) grew smaller at Iowa Speedway, though each drivers posted one of the best end by a rookie driver. Lundgaard completed tenth in Race 1; Malukas was eighth in Race 2.

Lundgaard takes a four-point lead into the Gallagher Grand Prix, and each have been the top-finishing rookie in 5 races this season. Each drivers have had early success at IMS, too.

Lundgaard earned the job with RLLR partially due to qualifying fourth in his maiden NTT INDYCAR SERIES race on the IMS highway course throughout this occasion weekend in 2021. He completed twelfth within the Aug. 14 race. He completed ninth on this yr’s GMR Grand Prix after beginning eighth.

Malukas, who gained an Indy Lights Introduced by Cooper Tires highway race at IMS in 2021, delivered the very best end amongst rookies on this yr’s Indianapolis 500 introduced by Gainbridge at IMS. He completed sixteenth and felt he deserved to be Rookie of the 12 months over seven-time NASCAR Cup Collection champion Jimmie Johnson, who certified twelfth however completed twenty eighth after late contact in Flip 2. He and the staff appear to have used that as motivation for the remainder of the season.

“Ever since (the) Month of Could, the staff has flipped a change,” Malukas mentioned. “We’ve sort of bought the chemistry collectively. I do know what I need from the automobile, and the staff is aware of what I need from the automobile, and it’s all sort of come collectively … throughout all smiles.”

Rookies Callum Ilott (No. 77 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet), Devlin DeFrancesco (No. 29 PowerTap Honda of Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport) and Kyle Kirkwood (No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevrolet of AJ Foyt Racing) have proven flashes this season however are deeper within the standings. Ilott was the top-finishing rooking the GMR Grand Prix, ending seventh, whereas Kirkwood paced all rookies within the Lengthy Seaside avenue race in tenth.

Dream Weekend Schedule

This weekend schedule is about the whole lot a North American motorsports fan might ask for because the NTT INDYCAR SERIES joins NASCAR’s Cup Collection and Xfinity Collection at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Friday, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES opens the motion with its first follow at 9:30 a.m. ET. Qualifying for the NTT P1 Award will likely be held at 1 p.m. Xfinity Collection follow is at 3:05 p.m., with the collection’ qualifying instantly following.

Saturday, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES has a pre-race follow at 8:15 a.m. ET with the 85-lap race broadcast on NBC and the INDYCAR Radio Community starting at midday. The Cup Collection follow session begins at 9:35 a.m., main straight into qualifying at 10:35 a.m. The Xfinity Collection takes its inexperienced flag, additionally on NBC, at 3:30 p.m. The Verizon 200 on the Brickyard for the Cup Collection is ready for Sunday at 2:30 p.m. (ET), stay on NBC.

Weekend tickets may be bought at IMS.com.

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