3 practice sessions and qualifying are in the books in preparation for Sunday’s Sonsio Grand Prix (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network). Alexander Rossi was quickest on Friday afternoon. Pato O’Ward went fastest on Saturday morning. Alex Palou topped the speed charts on Saturday afternoon.
Rossi qualified on the pole.
3 different teams make up the top 3 spots in the starting lineup with 4 different teams consisting in the Fast 6. That’s the NTT INDYCAR Series at its finest. While Rossi seems like the best fit for a win, nothing is guaranteed either.
“There’s no gimmes this day,” Josef Newgarden said after qualifying on Saturday. “I thought Detroit was going to be pretty straightforward last weekend and it was anything but that. Don’t hold your breath.”
That’s the nature of the beast.
Rossi became the 8th different pole winner in the 8th race of the season. We’ve also had 6 different winners too and if he can be just the 2nd driver to win a race from the pole in 2022, then he’d bump that mark up to 7 winners in the 1st 8 races of the year after 55 Laps of racing on Sunday afternoon at the picturesque Road America road course in central Wisconsin.
That’s Indy Car racing over this last decade. It’s unpredictable.
I mean you have last weeks winner come from 16th and follow that up with a 15th place starting spot this time around. He’ll be hard pressed to get up to a top 5 this time around as 2nd in points is Marcus Ericsson who rolls off 4th in his No. 8 Dallara-Honda. He only trails Power by 3 points entering this race. That’s essentially 2 spots on track.
“It has become incredibly hard to get poles,” said Power back in May. “It’s just a different guy each week who gets it all together, so it is hard.”
If he beats Power across the finish line, we’re more than likely to go a 7th straight race with a different points leader leaving it. Scott McLaughlin was the championship leader following his season opening win on the streets of St. Pete. He’d lead the standings after his runner-up in Race 2 at Texas. However, after Josef Newgarden won in Long Beach, he supplanted his Team Penske teammate for the top spot heading to Barber as McLaughlin was 14th.
We’ve had a new leader ever since that mark.
Newgarden would finish 14th in Barber with last year’s champion Alex Palou coming home 2nd for his 3rd podium in 4 races run at that time of the season. Palou would now inherit the lead going to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Palou finished 18th in the rain soaked GMR Grand Prix which allowed Power who finished 3rd for his 5th straight top 4 to start 2022 off with to take over the points lead going into the 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500.
Power qualified 11th and finished 15th for that race. Ericsson went from 5th to 1st to become the new points leader after the double points event following his Indy 500 triumph.
In Belle Isle, Power rebounded to win with Ericsson finishing in 7th. Power now led Ericsson by those 3 points coming into this weekend.
That’s why this season has been a see-saw all year and one that at this point may produce another points leader. Maybe this time the tag for it goes to Pato O’Ward who starts 6th and enters only 12 points back.
Maybe it goes back to Ericsson. Maybe it goes to Palou.
Either way, this season is unlike anything we’ve ever seen.