INDYCAR Pre-Race Media: Top 5 favorites/race preview for Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey (3 p.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network)

TRACK: WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca (2.238-mile, 11-turn road course), DISTANCE: 90 Laps (201 miles)

Favorites ā€“ Another Wide Open Race Again?

Scott Dixon

He was third in 2019 and driving for a Ganassi team that’s won three times on natural road courses this season.

Will Power

He’s always good at the end of seasons and was runner-up the last time out in Laguna during the 2019 season. Definitely a wise pick here.

Colton Herta

He’s at his best on natural road courses including a dominating win in 2019.

Alex Palou

Yes he’s a rookie here but Palou is in a championship fight and has won three times on natural road courses this season.

Alexander Rossi

Worth a look. He was sixth in 2019 and is usually good on these types of tracks.

Race Preview

For a second straight week, we go to a track without a lot of recent history on. This is the penultimate race of the 2021 season and since 2005, we’ve only had one race here. That came back in 2019 as the then season finale. Last year, COVID kept INDYCAR away which means this is the first race with the Aeroscreen at Laguna Seca.

Plus, Pato O’Ward, Alex Palou and Rinus VeeKay are rookies on the track. Josef Newgarden finished eighth in 2019. Will Power, Scott Dixon and Simon Pagenaud went 2-3-4 that day.

Does this open the door for a championship push?

It’s all about sustaining at this point. Dixon did that last year as he watched Newgarden go on a terror at seasons end. He still held him off at seasons end.

Now, Palou is in the same position. But with so much left to be decided on a track that doesn’t lend these drivers a lot to fall back on, who pans out?

Of Note

Laguna went dormant from 2005 through 2018 without INDYCAR before a return in 2019. They didn’t visit in 2020 due to COVID restrictions.

Key Stat

  • 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.

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