NASHVILLE, Tenn –Alex Palou remains in the points lead and despite a seventh place finish in Sunday’s Big Machine Music City Grand Prix. In fact, his gap actually gained a bit in going from 39 points up to 42. That’s because second place in the standings entering the weekend in Pato O’Ward had a rough go of it in tagging the wall in practice on Friday, qualifying eighth on Saturday and having a rough go of it in the race in making contact with Alexander Rossi on Lap 51. After serving two drive through penalties, he’d finish 13th and fall to 48 points back.
O’Ward is now reeling a bit. His last three finishes have been ninth, eighth and 13th respectively.
Scott Dixon supplants O’Ward for second and gains 14 points in going from third (-56) to second (-42). He’s starting to come along now too. This was his third straight top four result and seventh top five of the season. Palou, has nine top sevens and seven top fives himself, but six of those top fives are podiums.
That’s the difference right now between he and Dixon.
Josef Newgarden crashed in qualifying on Saturday and started 12th. He only finished 10th and falls to -75. Newgarden, has just two top five finishes in his last six starts on the year. While he and O’Ward each have four podiums, it’s their lack of top fives in comparison to Dixon and Palou as to why they’re falling further back.
Marcus Ericsson in the hottest driver in the series as he’s scored two wins and three top two finishes in his last five races. In that span, he’s had the most points scored as he went from -104 to -79 with five races remaining in the season.
The thing is, Graham Rahal (-124) and Colton Herta (-135) have to wonder what might have been this season. Rahal, brought his No. 15 Honda home fifth on Sunday for his eighth top seven in 11 races run this season. Literally in all but three races he’s had a top seven finish and in those other three races, two of them he had a top five car including a winning strategy for Indy before his tire literally fell off after a pit stop. That race paid double points and for the 32nd place result, well that is the big reason as to why he’s not closer than sixth in points right now.
Herta, has six front row starting spots and yet again saw a race get away from him. Imagine if he could turn those front row starting spots to podiums?
Dixon has led the most laps this season but his 42 points out. Newgarden has led 197 laps and Herta 154. They’re fourth and seventh respectively in the standings.
This race for the title is likely down to five guys but it’s really coming down to the Ganassi threesome.