We’re 8 races into the 2022 NTT INDYCAR Series season with 6 different drivers tasting the sweet palate of victory lane. While Josef Newgarden has won 3 times and on 3 different types of tracks (oval, street course, road course), he’s still 32 points down in the standings in 3rd.
We’ve seen 8 different pole winners in the same 8 races.
That’s Indy Car racing over this last decade. It’s unpredictable. I mean you have last weeks winner in Belle Isle come from 16th that day and follow that up with a 15th place starting spot this time around.
“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.”
We have 3 different organizations represented in the top 4 in points. The thing is, we’ve had a change of the points lead after every race since Long Beach.
“It’s extremely difficult,” Josef Newgarden said. “It’s hard to win a pole. Hard to win a race. The landscape is not constant these days. I think 10 years ago you used to have sort of consistent trends. When a team would find a performance edge, they would typically carry that edge across the entire year.
“Whereas now I think people find these little edges on each other like every weekend. It’s going up and down all the time.
“You see a McLaren strong at one track, Andretti strong at another, Ganassi pops up, ECR pops up, we’re in the mix. Then a Shank pops up. It’s never ending.
“We say every year it’s the closest competition we ever had. Somehow it keeps getting tighter. It must be just the development of this car has really hit a fine point. You’re just constantly tuning little things now, millimeters of changes.
“The driving style is getting tighter, with simulators, all this stuff you can analyze. It’s impossible to hide something from the competition.
“Yeah, it is very difficult to win these races consistently.”
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. Ericsson takes the lead back from Power after a runner-up in Road America and a 19th place run out of Power.
“Yeah, I would like to stop that,” Ericsson joked on Sunday.
“I think, no, yesterday was the eighth different polesitter in eight races I think, if I’m correct. I think that says a lot about INDYCAR at the moment. It’s the most competitive series in the world. We have 27 cars this weekend. I think that’s incredible. Out of those 27 cars, it feels like at least 15 of them cars can win the race if they have their day.
“It’s really fun to be part of that. Yeah, I think it’s going to be tough all year. Miss a little bit one weekend, you’re P10 or P15. It means you need to be on top of things all the time.
“Last weekend was a good example. A bit off on strategy, didn’t work our way. We managed to finish seventh. That’s the results we need to if we want to win the championship.
“Any given weekend can be a new winner. It’s hard to be even in the top 10 if you don’t get everything right.
“I think it’s going to be a tough season, a long season. We put ourselves in a really good position now, leading. So we just got to keep doing what we’ve been doing. The last 12 months we were the top scorer in the championship. I think that says something about where we’ve been performing since Detroit actually last year, it was actually 12 months ago today.
“Yeah, I think we’re in a strong position, but it’s going to require a lot of hard work, keep doing what we’ve been doing.”
Next up is Mid-Ohio for what should be another thrilling show.