Balancing 2021 To This Weekend

The 2020 NTT IndyCar Series championship has gotten more heated than we expected. Josef Newgarden trails Scott Dixon by 32 points. These drivers will finish 1-2 in the final standings.

But, this isn’t the only points race worth watching. You’ll have some guys swinging for the fences but others still points racing too.

Colton Herta said that his goal was to catch Newgarden for second but he’s now too far out to do so. He trails him by 69 points. But, the young driver also has to hold Will Power off for third as Power trails Herta by just 13 points. Pato O’Ward is only 25 back from reclaiming P3, but he’s also only 22 points clear of Rahal for P5. Then you have the fight for a top 10 finish. 22 points separates Alexander Rossi in ninth to Santino Ferrucci in 12th.

Newgarden, won this race last year and is trying to win the season with at least a race win trophy.

Felix Rosenqvist and Marcus Ericsson are chasing top 10 finishes in the points standings. Rosenqvist is in right but 29 points clear of Ericsson. Santino Ferrucci wants to climb back in. He’s 12th (-9).

You also have the race to remain in the top 22 of the entrant standings. See, only the top 22 get the leaders circle payout.

Entering the Indy weekend, the No. 7 with McLaren was +30. The No. 4 with Foyt was +19. The No. 26 Andretti entry was +15 with the other car (No. 98 entry) +2. The 14 car with Foyt was +1 over the No. 20 ECR entry.

Leaving the weekend, its now a battle between Sebastien Bourdais in the 14 car and Marco Andretti in the 98. The 7 car was piloted by Helio Castroneves that weekend in favor of the inured Oliver Askew. They maintained with being +30 as Castroneves was an uneventful 20th and 21st respectively.

Charlie Kimball finished a big 13th on Friday and 23rd on Saturday to go from +19 to +29.

The biggest jumpers were James Hinchcliffe who replaces Zach Veach in the 26 for the remainder of the season finishing 14th and 13th respectively and going from +15 to +33. He did his job.

So did Conor Daly who was 12th and 20th in the two races and went from one point down to 13 points up.

Andretti, had a fire in his No. 98 Honda take him out of a top 10 run on Friday to 25th. He was just 22nd on Saturday and is now -7.

Sebastien Bourdais struggled and was only 21st and 18th over the two days but is +7 still, so mission accomplished on that move. St. Pete is left with a big fight to be the one not left standing when the music stops.

Someone will lose out which is mega since we’re racing in a pandemic and money is obviously tight.

Also, you have drivers auditioning for future contracts. Will Power, Takuma Sato, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Santino Ferrucci, Marcus Ericsson, Rinus VeeKay, Alex Palou, Oliver Askew, Charlie Kimball, James Hinchcliffe, Marco Andretti and Conor Daly are all racing this weekend without contracts for 2021.

This is their final audition.

Then, you have teams focusing for 2021 too. Simon Pagenaud’s team has already looked that way since they’re out of the championship and with just each weekend getting one practice session and testing being outlawed, why not turn the focus to next year especially since there’s no guarantee 2021 will be any different than 2020?

“Some times you learn more from the stuff that doesn’t work than the other way around,” Sebastien Bourdais said the last race weekend in Indy. “We know we’ve got a lot of work. This is INDYCAR. If this was easy, everybody would do it. In reality, you’re playing with a tenth, two tenths, and trying to put it together and it’s hard.

“You can’t test anymore. Those kind of weekends are frustrating because you can’t take anything to put the team in the right direction. There isn’t much practice times. That’s why the teams that have everything sorted out are blowing the doors off because it’s very unlikely that you’re going to figure everything out in that short amount of time so you just do the best that we can.

“That’s what Scott and Larry were pushing for. We’re really kickstarting 2021. It’s that much more crucial when you have that much uncertainty in the car without much seat time or testing. I think we have some smart guys that can figure it out, we just have to give them the right data and reads to get them in the right direction.”

Combine all of this together, and you still get plenty on the line this Sunday in St. Pete.

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