INDIANAPOLIS — The drivers all thought that the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season would be dominated by the bigger teams of the series. I mean, with a new Aeroscreen, the teams with the most money and resources to spend would be the ones quickest out of the gates.
They were too. Chip Ganassi Racing has won five times. Team Penske won four times. Andretti Autosport and Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing have each won once apiece. If you go back to the start of the 2018 season, the first year of this new car, these are the top four teams in terms of race victories.
Penske has won 19 times over the last three seasons. Ganassi has 10 trips to victory lane, Andretti eight and RLL four. No one else has more than two. In fact, Harding had two last year but they’re now paired with Andretti and gave them their lone win of the season. Dale Coyne Racing and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports are the only other teams to win since 2018.
Penske, Ganassi and Andretti are most definitely the “Big 3.” They’ve combined to win 82% (37 of 45) of the races since the start of 2018. They’ve won 91% (10 of 11) this season. If you go back to the beginning of 2016, they’ve won a paltry 81% (63 of 78) of all races.
RLL is closing the gap, but the “Big 3” are still the ones to beat. That’s what makes what Pato O’Ward and even Santino Ferrucci are doing even the more special.
Four of the top five drivers in points belong to the “Big 3” teams. 11 of the top 13 do too. The only outliers?
O’Ward and Ferrucci.
O’Ward sits third in points on the heels of eight top 10 finishes in 11 starts this season. He has three podiums and was named Rookie of the Year at Indy with a sixth place result. On a day that three of the five rookies crashed, O’Ward was contending for the win. He then backed that up with two podiums at World Wide Technology Raceway. He’s the real deal and doing this while not driving for one of the big teams.
So is Ferrucci. He drove to fourth in the Indy 500. He had top five pace for both Gateway races but a bad final pit stops took him out of contention each time. He made a rare mistake in Mid-Ohio after qualifying on the front row for Race 2 and had a pair of sixth place finishes back in July at Road America. He was also ninth on this very track this weekend on July 4.
While the “Big 3” is shining, O’Ward and Ferrucci are making us dream on what they could do if they ever got a shot in one of those cars.