Let me start by saying I’m sorry I haven’t kept up with my blogging this summer. No excuses really, just busy with Matthew finishing his training with the Air National Guard and getting ready for school. Zach entered his Senior year and enjoys his job at Sonic. We usually attend the race at WTT Raceway but that was the weekend we moved Matthew to SIU. Ironically, his roommate drove up for the race. It was super tempting to make a last minute decision to attend also but with Steve with us and the threat of rain we remained in the Carbondale area and watched on TV. I regretted that decision when Will Power made history by tying Mario Andretti for the most poles but was glad for our decision when the race was red flagged for over two hours due to rain.
This past weekend the NTT IndyCar Series wrapped up its season at Laguna Seca. Five drivers were still eligible for the championship but in reality it was really down to Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Scott Dixon. The funny part is I was rooting for Will Power. How many times have we seen a race where Will Power wins the pole, dominates the race and wins? More times than I can count and more times than I care to recall but he doesn’t do it as much as he used to and more recently it’s his teammates that are dominating the race so when Will win the pole I was thrilled. Sadly, IndyCar ruined it for me by announcing it on my phone notification before I was able to watch qualifying. I try so hard to stay off social media when I can’t watch live so it was disappointing to glance at my phone and see who won from my Lock Screen. Nevertheless, it was exciting to watch.
So while IndyCar ruin the pole results, I didn’t know how everyone else did. While we know that Josef should have qualified much farther up I was glad to see that he would have to fight his way up from the back. Josef brought out a red flag when he messed up on the corkscrew and that put him starting in the second to last position. The red flag also caused havoc with Scott Dixon’s qualifying attempt and Scott did not advance to the fast 12. Power’s race was looking a lot more straightforward now.
Power advanced to the fast 6 and won his 68th pole in IndyCar, beating Mario Andretti’s record. Mario was among the first to congratulate Will and it was a sweet moment to watch. Power won 5 poles in the 2022 season so one can only assume that at least a few more poles will be added to his tally before he retires.
With both Josef and Dixon starting significantly farther back it seemed Power should have the best chance of winning but one can never count out the iceman, Dixon or Team Penske. Scott Dixon was unimpressive this race though and hovered near the middle never really posing any threat. Josef Newgarden was quite the opposite. Josef had a great day and a yellow flag work in his favor. He was quickly passing cars and eventually passed Will Power on track. However, no one could come close to Alex Palou who won with a 30 second gap to Josef. Power finished third but solidly in first for the championship.
So Alex Palou got a win that he desperately needed for himself as he continues to wait and see what his future holds. Personally, I think he is crazy. He should have stayed with Ganassi but I don’t know him or what his goal in racing is but I would rather drive for a winning team and fight for an Indianapolis 500 win than be a no one in F1. Palou is well liked among fans and this whole mess might have derailed his career- that’s a post for another day. It will be interesting to see where he ends up.
Josef Newgarden proved that he is definitely at the top of his game. He had a few hiccups this year, including qualifying this past weekend but working your way from the back to the front is quite a feat and I expect both a 500 win and more championships in his future. He will come back in 2023 even stronger and you’d be crazy to bet against him next year.
Will Power! Wow, what a weekend. Honestly, I’m more impressed seeing the pole position record broken than the championship won. Years from now people will talk about the poles more than him winning another championship. Hopefully, now that the championship is won he can allow himself to celebrate the history he made by breaking Mario’s record. While I said earlier I have seen Will win the pole and dominate races many times, it does seem to be slowing down a touch and among the three Penske drivers, Will had the least amount of race wins. Once a driver is not on top I start cheering for him more. I guess you can argue that Will is still very much on top. You would be correct, but I think he had to fight harder for this one, or at least in a different way. He had to keep himself calm and recognize the talent he is up against without letting that intimidate him into making mistakes. He was calm and consistent and that is how he won the championship. Congratulations Will Power!
So let’s discuss the race itself.
Corkscrew- Such a fun turn to watch. It’s ironic that what messed Josef up in qualifying was also the same place he made many of his race passes. Always exciting watching cars go through the corkscrew.
Yellow flag- While I can understand IndyCars decision to not throw a yellow right away, I do not agree with it. While other racing series try and create drama, IndyCar avoids it by trying to “play fair” and waiting for all cars to pit before the track goes yellow. I don’t like this for two reasons. First, it’s only a matter of time until that backfires and someone is hurt because the yellow was delayed. Second, while a poorly timed yellow can ruin a drivers day, that is racing, that is part of the drama. IndyCar doesn’t need to create drama but can allow regular circumstances to play out and either ruin or make a drivers day. I don’t like yellows because I like seeing all the carnage of crashed race cars. I like yellows because it changes up the flow of the race and sometimes works in the favor of the small teams or struggling drivers and can provide a career and moral boosting win. A yellow should be thrown as soon as a car stops on the track or hits the wall.
Rookies- Christian Lundgaard won Rookie of the Year honors. He did great and deserves it. It was a highlight for the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team because honestly they struggled most of the year. However, I was really pulling for David Malukas to win. All the rookies were fun to watch this season. I had thought at the beginning of the season I would be most closely watch Kyle Kirkwood but sadly the Foyt team continues to struggle and I grew tired of watching Kyle. David Malukas took over as my favorite rookie but unfortunately he was not able to overcome the points deficit and was runner up for ROY.
A couple final tidbits-
James Hinchcliffe is great in the booth. I love that he is still a part of the series.
Double points for the Indy 500 are not needed. I’m all for Indy qualifying to pay more points but they are not needed for the race.
Peacock is great and well worth the price. My only real complaint is I’d love to be able to start it at anytime. I don’t always make it in time to watch live but then I need to wait until an hour or so after practice or qualifying is over to watch the replay. I’d love to be able to start that at anytime.
Thank You! I sure appreciate all who read my blog. I have a couple things I hope to write about soon sharing ways to keep enjoying IndyCar during the off season. Hope you will check them out.