TRACK: Road America (4.014-mile, 14-turn road course), DISTANCE: 55 Laps (221 Miles)
This will be the seventh straight year that the series has been coming back to this historic venue. See, this was always a permanent placement on the open wheel calendar. They came here every year from 1982 through 2007. But, with the unification of the two open wheel series for 2008, Road America was a casualty. Then, it came back in 2016 and has been around ever since.
- Other than 2020, the previous four races and last year’s here were won by a top five starter including three of which from the front row.
- Starting positions for natural road courses lately (since 2016) – 41 races (counting Barber, Indy this year)
- 2016: 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st
- 2017: 7th, 1st, 5th, 2nd 1st, 3rd
- 2018: 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 20th, 1st
- 2019: 4th, 1st, 8th, 2nd, 8th, 2nd, 1st
- 2020: 7th, 9th, 7th, 1st, 1st, 2nd, 1st
- 2021: 3rd, 7th, 5th, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 1st
- 2022: 2nd, 14th
- That’s 39 of the last 41 coming from the top 10 (95%)
- That’s 21 of 41 from the pole (52%) and 27 of 41 from the front row (66%)
- Also, that’s 32 of 41 (78%) from the Fast Six.
- In respect to Road America, Team Penske and Ganassi have won six of the last seven races here with Andretti taking the other. They all three combined to go 1-2-3-4 last year.
- 6 of the 7 races saw 3 or fewer yellows including 2 (2018, 2019) going caution free.
Will We See More Dominance?
Road America has been a site lately of some dominating performances. Will we see another on Sunday? Will Power led 46 of 50 laps in his 2016 win. Josef Newgarden led 53 of 55 laps in 2018. Alexander Rossi led 54 of 55 laps in 2019. Pato O’Ward led 43 of 55 laps in his second place effort in the second race of the doubleheader weekend in 2020 while Newgarden led 32 of 55 laps last year before a mechanical failure on the final restart while leading.
So why the dominance at Road America and will it occur on Sunday afternoon?
TRACK COMPARISONS/WHO’S BEEN GOOD ON THEM
While a road course is a road course, Road America is most comparable though to Barber, Mid-Ohio, Indy, Portland 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.
In 2020, Penske and Ganassi each won three times on these types of circuits including all three at IMS. Andretti Autosport won the other that year in Mid-Ohio.
In 2021, Ganassi won three times (Barber, Road America, Portland), Penske twice (Indy, Mid-Ohio), Ed Carpenter Racing once (Indy) and Andretti Autosport once (Laguna Seca) themselves.
So far this season, we’ve had two races on a natural road courses (Barber, Indy).
That’s 16 natural road course races during this Aeroscreen era with Ganassi being victorious six times (3 in each season), Penske 4, Andretti Autosport three times and ECR once.
If you go back to 2019 though, we’ve had 23 different races on natural road courses with 10 different winners. Colton Herta (5) and Will Power (4) lead the field with most wins. Scott Dixon and his Ganassi teammate of Alex Palou each have three trips to victory lane in this span. Josef Newgarden (2) is the only other one with multiple victories on natural road courses since 2019.
In that same span, Ganassi and Penske each have seven with on them. Andretti has four but had a hand in two more with HSR’s pair of victories with Herta during the 2019 season as one of their alliance cars. ECR and RLL each have 1 a piece.
Favorites – Watch Out For Ganassi
He should have won last year in leading 32 laps from the pole. His car quit on him on the final restart. He led 53 of 55 laps in his 2018 win. He was third in 2019 and runner-up in 2017 too.
5 top fives including two wins and a third place effort in his last 6 tries makes him the favorite in my opinion. He enters having led 95 laps in the Indy 500 and a podium in Belle Isle.
He’s had three top two finishes in 7 tries and a podium in four of them at that. He enters having 6 top 4’s in 7 races run this season including a win last Sunday.
He has 3 top 10’s in his last 4 starts including a runner-up in the middle. O’Ward has 4 top 5’s in his last 5 starts on the season.
He was third and seventh on this track in 2020 with Coyne and won last year.
These are his best types of tracks and he finished fifth as a rookie here last year.
He won this race in 2019 and was third in the second race of 2020 and seventh last year. Rossi has a pair of top 5’s in the last 2 starts including a runner-up last Sunday.
His six Road America finishes – third, eighth, sixth, fourth, seventh and 11th respectively. This could be his weekend.
In his last three starts, he was ninth, seventh and third respectively.
He was 10th in Race 1 and fourth in Race 2 in 2020. He was sixth last year at that.
He was sixth and first in 2 of his three Road America starts. He enters having scored 3 straight top 10’s on the sesaon too.
He has five straight top 10 finishes here and driving a car that Romain Grosjean finished fifth in in 2021.
5 of his 7 finishes have been 9th or worse.
His 5 Road America finishes are 21st, 15th, 21st, 18th and 20th respectively.
His two finishes are 13th and 14th respectively.
3 of the next 6 races are on natural road courses including 5 of the final 10 races in general.
Andretti, Penske and Ganassi have combined to win in all 7 races since 2016. Also, the series champion has been on the podium in Road America in each of the last 5 years too.