Following a full month off, the NTT IndyCar Series returns to action this weekend on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. The GMR Grand Prix marks just the second race of the 2020 season.
While it’s only race 2, this could be a championship building day for a couple of drivers.
When looked at the early standings, just one race in, you’d see Scott Dixon holds a slight 13 point advantage over Simon Pagenaud in second. Third place is defending series champion Josef Newgarden (-16), while Zach Veach (-20) and Ed Carpenter (-23) round out the top five.
But, you also have Conor Daly sitting there in sixth (-25) points out and some drivers ahead of him that for whatever reason have struggled on the 2.439-mile road course.
Carpenter, runs ovals only. Newgarden and Veach have never finished in the top five of this race before either. Daly, has made two starts in this race before, one of which he came home sixth.
Pagenaud, has won this race three times, including just last year. With this being the beginning of a stretch of five races in a 15 day span, wouldn’t this be a prime points day for both, even if it is just race No. 2?
I’m 100% full throttle right now in my head,” said Pagenaud. “I’m really in a good space mentally to go to this racetrack and score as many points as possible. I’m definitely thinking championship right now.”
You have to look at doubleheaders the next couple of weekends following Indy at Road America (July 11-12) and Iowa (July 17-18) too. We’ve raced four times in Road America recently and Dixon and Newgarden have won two of them. Dixon, has three straight top fives there. Newgarden, has three straight podiums.
Then, it’s to Iowa where Newgarden and Dixon finished 1-2 last year with Newgarden leading 229 or more laps in three of his last four races there. He has four top two finishes in his last six Iowa tries. Dixon, has two podiums in his last four tries.
Pagenaud, has never finished better than fourth at either track. Daly, has no top 10’s at either. Wouldn’t that make this Saturday’s their best shot at making up ground for later? I mean, you’re giving Dixon and Newgarden four combined chances at the next couple of race tracks?
“I think for me personally, yes, you want to kind of keep the momentum going because I know that I’ve been strong here in the past. But it’s also a new environment still with this team for me,” said Daly.
“We’re going to have a lot to learn about ourselves. Carlin and I at Texas, I knew that environment already. We were able to take advantage of that. We had a fantastic car. They did the job over the off-season, kind of working with what I had told them last year that we needed to do.
“This is still new for us at Ed Carpenter Racing. I’m just excited. We’re only one race in. We want to do well at every race. I’m not really thinking about points or anything yet. But I can’t wait to just get things going.
“Yes, Road America is going to be wild, Iowa is going to be tough, swapping teams and everything like that. It will just be nice to get things going. I think if you do well, though, at Indy right now, it does create some good momentum because you’re just going to be going back-to-back races. It’s always nice to have good momentum and cars that are in one piece, as well.”