Connect with us


2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Season Preview



ST. PETERSBURG, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season kicks off with this weekend’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. This is the 18th year of the event, whose 1.8-mile, 14-turn, temporary street course uses part of the Albert Whitted Airport and city streets.  The three-day event generates $48-million dollars annually in economic impact for the St. Petersburg area a.

Colton Herta is the defending race winner. Previous winners entered in the event include Josef Newgarden (2019 & 2020), Will Power (2014 & 2010), Helio Castroneves (2006, 2007 & 2012) and Graham Rahal (2008).

Chip Ganassi Racing enters 2022 as the team to beat. CGR is going for their third straight season Championship after Alex Palou won his first in 2021 and teammate Scott Dixon won his sixth in 2020.

CGR is no stranger to winning multiple titles in a row. Jimmy Vasser, Alex Zanardi and Juan Pablo Montoya reeled off four straight titles from 1996 thru 1999. Dixon and Dario Franchitti also took home four straight Championships from 2008 thru 2011. Zanardi and Franchitti are the only CGR drivers to capture back-to-back titles and Palou is looking to join that elite company.

Dixon finished fourth in last year’s title battle with teammate Marcus Ericsson finishing in sixth place. Dixon took home a race win and Ericsson picked up his first career win and added another victory in the inaugural Music City Grand Prix.  Palou visited three victory lane three times, giving CGR 6-wins in 17-events and three drivers in the Top 6 in the Championship.

“It’s been a good progression for me in my three years in INDYCAR, just getting better and better,” said Ericsson.  “Last year was really a breakthrough year for me with a couple of wins and another podium and a very solid season.”

The fourth member of the CGR squad, Jimmie Johnson, is running the full-season in 2022 after only running the road and street course races in 2021. Johnson’s steep learning curve was marked by gradual progress as he began to get more familiar with the race car and the racetracks.  Johnson is looking forward to returning to race tracks with some familiarity.

“I feel like last year, Detroit there was Race 1 and 2 and a huge improvement from day-to-day so experiencing that first-hand I know that this year is going to be so much better,” said Johnson, who has a documentary film crew following him around this weekend.

Herta and Andretti Autosport could be primed to challenge CGR for the top spot. Herta tied Palou for the series-high in wins with three but finished 5th in the Championship standing.

Alexander Rossi returns to the No. 27 Honda for Andretti and looks to regain Championship contender form after going winless the past two seasons.

Andretti has added Romain Grosjean to the team. Grosjean replaces Ryan Hunter-Reay in the DHL Honda. Grosjean, like Johnson, will also benefit by going back to racetracks for the second time.

The Team Penske trio of Josef Newgarden, Will Power and Scott McLaughlin return for 2022. Newgarden finished 2nd in the 2021 Championship standings and will be looking to add a third title to his considerable resume. The only thing missing from JoNew’s resume is an Indy 500 win.

Three Rivers Karting

Power’s 2021 season could be characterized as blindingly fast at times coupled with bad luck (Detroit Race 1) and some not-so-stellar driving.

McLaughlin, like Grosjean and Johnson, visited many of the race tracks for the first time in 2021 and looks to take the next step in his development. McLaughlin showed flashes of what could be with a best showing of second in the first Texas race.

Another team with significant changes on and off track is Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. RLL is in the finishing stages of building a new team headquarters in Indiana. RLL has added Jack Harvey and Christian Lundgaard to the driver roster to be teammates with Graham Rahal.

Meyer Shank Racing is expanding to two full-time cars with 4-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves being joined by Simon Pagenaud in the two-car squad. Castroneves ran a limited schedule in 2021 and Pagenaud finished 8th in the Championship in his last season with Penske.

Arrow McLaren SP is seeking some consistency. Pato O’Ward is unquestionably one of the series rising stars who has been blinding fast… times. O’Ward’s teammate Felix Rosenqvist had a dismal 2021, finishing 21st in the title fight. Rosenqvist struggled finding a set-up that fit his driving style but with Craig Hampson atop his pit box in 2022, expect to see improvement.

“I think something that is pretty big on my radar is consistency,” O’Ward told Pittsburgh Racing Now.  “I feel like our good races were great.  Our bad races were horrendous.  That’s what we need to bring up and that will help us overall in the Championship.”

“I’m really psyched,” said Rosenqvist. “I just want to get out there.  I feel like we worked really hard in the off-season.”

Dale Coyne Racing returns with new drivers and a new partner.  Takuma Sato moves over to DCR with Rick Ware Racing after spending the last few seasons with RLL Racing.  Rookie David Malukas moves up from IndyLights and joins DCR in partnership with HVM.

Conor Daly is full-time in 2022 driving for Ed Carpenter Racing where he will team once again with Rinus VeeKay and Carpenter, who will run the Indianapolis 500.

“It’s crazy to think the last time I was full-time with one team was 2017, life changes a lot in five years,” reflected Daly, who brings new partners Bitnile and Earnity into the series in 2022. “I think there is a lot of exciting things going on with Earnity, a new app that you can download, it’s crypto-trading that you have access to and you can follow me on it.”

A.J. Foyt Racing also has a couple of new drivers who will join returning veteran Dalton Kellett, who will be back in the No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevy.  2021 IndyLights Champion Kyle Kirkwood will be behind the wheel of the No. 14 ROKiT Chevy and Tatiana Calderon will be behind the wheel of the No. 11 ROKiT Chevy on the road and street courses.

Juncos Hollinger Racing is back for 2022 and will campaign Callum Ilott in the No. 77 Chevrolet.

Watching the NTT INDYCAR SERIES will be easier for some folks this year as a majority of races will be on NBC Network TV with a couple on USA Network as the NBC Sports Network (NBC-SN) has been shuttered.

All races will be broadcast by the INDYCAR Radio Network on SiriusXM Satellite Radio Channel 160.


INDYCAR Drivers Frustrated With Racing At Iowa Speedway



Penske Entertainment: James Black

NEWTON, IA (July 14, 2024) – NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers feel something needs to be done to make the Hy-Vee Doubleheader weekend at Iowa Speedway as exciting on-track as it has been historically.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bummed about the race and how it raced,” said Pato O’Ward of Arrow McLaren Racing, who finished second Friday night. “Really tough to get that second lane working, compared to I don’t know how many on-track passes we had last year, probably not even a 10th of that. That was a bit frustrating because I thought we had a very strong car, definitely a car that was capable of winning. Just no way to get around a car.”

In 2023 for race one there were 1,502 total passes, of which 319 were for position.  Conversely in race one of 2024 there were 192-total passes Saturday night, 100 of those were for position.

“Unfortunately I don’t think our car and our formula works super well for this type of track adjustment,” said Saturday night’s third place finisher Josef Newgarden about the partial track repave. “We’re different than a Cup car. We’ve developed our car differently than they have. It doesn’t always mesh. It definitely didn’t mesh tonight.”

Three Rivers Karting

“Bit of a shame that couldn’t really do anything to pass or to do anything,” said Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing, who finished second on Sunday. “It’s the most boring thing I’ve ever done. It was yesterday, as well. It’s a shame that we couldn’t really put on a better show. I think everybody will agree that it was a very boring race to drive.”

INDYCAR reduced downforce levels by about 450-pounds heading into the race weekend and tire supplier Firestone came with new right side tires after heat-related issues during a recent test session at the track.  The combination led to a parade-like race on Saturday and Sunday.

“I feel like we go into it and not do the right amount of study or whatnot to get it done and to get it to work,” said Saturday night’s winner Scott McLaughlin, who finished third on Sunday. “That’s not a shot at the sport, not a shot at anything. It’s working together with the amazing people and the geniuses we have up and down pit lane. It’s just a matter of making it work.”

“I think INDYCAR could go to work with downforce levels, working with Firestone on a few other things,” McLaughlin explained. “But you just can’t blame the track because at the end of the day they have to repave this at some time.”

“We went from the best oval race we would have all season to potentially the least amount of passing,” said Sunday’s winner Will Power.  “Maybe just a softer tire might just work with this downforce level. Just a softer tire. If it degrades, people go out. You can roll to the outside.  I don’t know what the answer is, but we certainly got to do something for next year.”

Continue Reading


Will Power Wins 2nd Race Of INDYCAR Doubleheader Weekend At Iowa



Penske Entertainment: Chris Jones

NEWTON, IA (July 14, 2024) Will Power is back in victory lane on an oval after winning Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES Hy-Vee One Step 250 presented by Gatorade.  Power’s last oval win was nearly five years ago at Pocono Raceway.

“I didn’t really think I’d win today,” said Power.  “You know how life goes, it just happens like that. Yeah, been trying to win this one for a long time. Stoked to tick that box. I’ve won a lot of races at a lot of tracks. When you tick a box at a track you haven’t won on, it feels pretty good.”

Team Penske elected to leave Power’s No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet, which started 22nd, out on the track during the first green-flag stint and it paid off because the caution flag came out for Augustin Canapino’s stalled car, allowing Power and Championship leader Alex Palou cycle to the front of the field.

“My plan from the beginning was to sit back and save a lot of fuel, just get the best possible number using the speed, lifting,” explained Power. “In that gap, prayed for a yellow because I knew there would be out-laps. That would be when people would be prone to mistakes. That’s exactly what happened.”

Power restarted the race in the 2nd position and followed Palou until the next round of pit stops.  Power’s team did not disappoint, beating Palou’s time by nine-tenths of a second, putting the two-time series Champion out front for the final 50-laps.

“I know if I hit my marks, it’s going to be an extremely fast stop,” said Power.

Three Rivers Karting

Palou rebounded from Saturday night’s crash to finish second and retain the Championship points lead, 35-over Power, who sits second.

“It’s been a weekend where we had a ton of speed compared to what we had before with qualifying third and second,” said Palou. “Was a shame yesterday obviously with the pit stall on the first pit, then the crash during the second stint.  Yeah, happy that today we’re in second.”

Saturday night’s winner Scott McLaughlin finished third after starting on the pole and getting caught by the caution flag that benefitted Power and Palou.

“I was on the undercut,” explained McLaughlin. “At the end of the day, I mean, I would have come out in front of Alex. Will would have had to pit in a couple laps’ time. That’s just how it rolls, man. I’ve won a race by a delayed yellow. I’ve lost a race now. It’s just part of the deal. I think everyone will have one or two of those in their career.”

Palou’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon finished fourth in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing while Colton Herta fifth in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda of Andretti Global w/Curb-Agajanian.

The series next race is on the Street of Toronto for the Ontario Honda Dealers Indy Toronto.  Practice begins Friday at 3 p.m. ET at Exhibition Place in Toronto.

Iowa Race 2 Results

Continue Reading


Scott McLaughlin Wins 1st Race Of INDYCAR Iowa Doubleheader Weekend



Penske Entertainment: Travis Hinkle

NEWTON, IA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin is now a winner on an oval after grabbing the victory in Saturday night’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES Hy-Vee Homefront 250 presented by Instacart.

McLaughlin started alongside pole-sitter Colton Herta of Andretti Global and grabbed the lead beating everyone out of the pits after a caution flag on Lap 80 when Graham Rahal’s No. 15 One Cure Honda suffered a cracked wheel.

McLaughlin led the final 164-laps and held off Arrow McLaren’s Patricio O’Ward, who finished second and Team Penske teammate Josef Newgarden who finished third.

“At the end of the day I did the job in some ways from my perspective, but it was a team win,” said McLaughlin. “They put me out in front and got me the lead. I was able to show how good our car was just controlling the pace at the front.”

Great pit work from O’Ward’s number 5 crew got him out the pits in second place late in the race giving him a chance to challenge McLaughlin for the win.

“Yeah, awesome job by the guys in the pits,” said O’Ward. “That’s truly what got us in this position to fight for the podium.”

O’Ward was frustrated that the race track ended up being aa one groove track after a recent repave and despite INDYCAR dedicating a practice session to trying to rubber-in the second groove.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bummed about the race and how it raced. Really tough to get that second lane working,” explained O’Ward, who keeps moving up in the Championship fight. “Compared to I don’t know how many on-track passes we had last year, probably not even a 10th of that. That was a bit frustrating because I thought we had a very strong car, definitely a car that was capable of winning. Just no way to get around a car.”

Three Rivers Karting

For the record, there were 192-total passes Saturday night, 100 of those were for position.  Comparatively there were 1,502 total passes in race one at Iowa in 2023, 319 for position.

A driver who didn’t have a problem making any passes was Newgarden, who started 22nd after a lackluster qualifying effort.  Newgarden grabbed eight spots at the drop of the green flag by using the high line and making passes in the pits.

“It was a great recovery by the team,” said Newgarden. “My goodness, they were really good in the pits, like really, really good. If Pato’s guys were good, mine must have been double as good. I made up probably 80% of my position in the pits tonight.”

Championship leader Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing had trouble in the pits for the second straight week.  Palou stalled the No. 10 DHL Honda on the first pit stop, dropping from third place to 19th place.

Palou quickly regained six places and threw it all away on Lap 176 when he lost control on the frontstretch and backed it into the outside wall.  The miscue relegated Palou to a 23rd place finish, his worst in two-plus years, a span of 36 races, when he finished 27th in the 2022 race at Road America.

Palou’s finish cost him 11-points in the title fight.  Palou now leads O’Ward by 37-points with Team Penske’s Will Power sitting third, 43-points out of the leads.  Six-time Series Champion Scott Dixon remained in fourth, 46-points back.  The victory vaulted McLaughlin to fifth, 59-points out of first.

Race 2 of the Hy-Vee One Step 250 presented by Gatorade takes place tomorrow at noon ET, live on NBC, Peacock and INDYCAR Radio Network.  McLaughlin will start on the pole after setting a new track record in qualifying.

Iowa Race One Results

Continue Reading

Discover more from Pittsburgh Racing Now

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading