TRACK: WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca (2.238-mile, 11-turn road course), DISTANCE: 95 Laps (214.51 miles)
The modern record (1946-present) for most different winners in a season is 11 in 2000, 2001 and 2014. We’ve had nine already this season.
- Starting positions for natural road courses lately (since 2016) 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 7th, 1st, 5th, 2nd, 3rd, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 20th, 1st, 4th, 1st, 8th, 2nd, 8th, 2nd, 1st, 7th, 9th, 7th, 1st, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 1st, 7th, 5th, 1st, 2nd and 1st That’s 36 of the last 38 coming from the top 10 including 20 from the pole and 29 of 38 (79%) from the Fast 6.
- The last 4 Laguna Seca winners came from the front row with three of which coming from the pole.
- 21 of the last 23 visits won from a top 3 starter (15 from the pole, 4 from 2nd)
- 22 of the 23 were won from a top 6 starter in general.
- Laguna went dormant from 2005 through 2018 without INDYCAR before a return in 2019. They didn’t visit in 2020 due to COVID restrictions.
- Old track surface. Tons of tire fall off. Similar to Darlington in sense of low grip, high tire wear. Have to slow down to go fast. Be smooth.
TRACK COMPARISONS/WHO’S BEEN GOOD ON THEM
While a road course is a road course, Portland is most comparable though to Barber, Road America, IMS (road course), Mid-Ohio and Laguna Seca. Toronto, Long Beach and St. Pete are street circuits run on city streets. These other road courses are all natural free flowing terrain with some elevation changes. If you’re good at one, you’re more than likely good at the others.
But, Laguna is different in the sense it’s a lot like Darlington on the NASCAR side. It’s abrasive which creates a lot of tire wear. You have to finesse your car around the track. If you push too hard, the tires fall off even quicker. You also most have to slow down to go fast if that makes any sense.
It’s why the best of the best typically win in Laguna in the sense that whomever has the most car control and can save tires the best are the ones that usually get champagne on the podium when it’s all said and done.
Last year, Penske and Ganassi each won three times on these types of circuits including all three at IMS and then swept the podium in one of the races on them already this season at Barber. Ganassi then won in Road America and Portland while Penske won at Mid-Ohio and Indianapolis 2. For the other stop at Indy this year, Rinus VeeKay (ECR) won in May.
Andretti Autosport won the other race last year.
Scott Dixon won twice a year ago so did Will Power. Alex Palou started 2-for-3 this season with wins in Barber and Road America then won again last Sunday in Portland. VeeKay, Power and Josef Newgarden won the other races.
If you go back to 2019, we’ve had 17 different races on natural road courses with 10 different winners. Power, Dixon, Palou and Herta are all the best with three wins a piece for Dixon, Palou and Herta and four for Power. Newgarden (2) is the only other one who has more than one.
Penske and Ganassi each have seven wins on them. Andretti has scored four trips to victory lane on them too. RLL and ECR are the only other teams to have won a natural road course event since 2019 as it came at Barber (2019) and IMS (2021).