Saturday’s Gallagher Grand Prix (12 p.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network) may be Power’s to lose, my race preview

INDIANAPOLIS — Scott Dixon is surging (5 top 5’s in his last 6 starts). He went from 6th in points to being in a tie for 3rd (-34) with Josef Newgarden. Penske’s face of the team may be forced to sit out Saturdays race due to concussion like symptoms. He’ll be reevaluated Thursday. If he can’t go, Santino Ferrucci will fill in for his 4th race with his 4th different team this season alone.

It also all but assures Newgarden won’t win a 3rd championship too.

Will Power is Mr. Consistency. The Team Penske driver has 3 podiums in his last 4 starts on the season and 6 on the year overall. He also has 9 top 5 finishes as well.

They’re all chasing Marcus Ericsson though who’s been as consistent of anyone. With 19 top 10 finishes in his last 22 starts, Ericsson leads Power by 8 points entering Saturday’s Gallagher Grand Prix (12 p.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network).

Colton Herta won in the rain here in May but outside of being runner-up in Toronto two weeks ago, has had a dismal year. He was 24th and 12th in Iowa and with a 15th place run at Mid-Ohio, he has been 12th or worse in 3 of his last 4 starts. In fact, since his Indy win, he has 1 podium in the last 7 races.

However, he and Ericsson have scored the most points on natural road courses this year and could prove to fight for the win on Saturday afternoon at the mecca of auto racing.

Herta has 5 top 4 finishes in his last 6 Indy road course starts. Ericsson never stars well here but was 4th in May and going for 2 straight Indy wins with a ‘500 triumph in May. Ericsson has 5 top 10’s in 6 Indy road course tries in general anyways and has finished 12th, 4th, 2nd and on natural road courses this season at that.

The door is open for them to step into 2 Indy wins in 2022.

Herta scored his 7th career win on a soggy day in Indianapolis – Photo Credit: INDYCAR Media Site

No one has won in the return Indy trip though outside of Penske and Power seems to be the one worth watching. A pole on Friday ties him with Mario Andretti for most ever. He has 2 wins and a 3rd place finish in his last 4 tries here.

Scott McLaughlin is the top sleeper with 3 top 7’s in 4 natural road course starts including a win at Mid-Ohio on July 3. He is coming off of a podium in Iowa.

Newgarden though is coming off of a rough defeat in Iowa after leading 148 laps on Sunday. He also has just 1 podium in 11 Indy road course tries. So he may be one to fade.

What about Dixon? He’s hot but has no top 5’s in his last 5 on this track through. He’s finished 5th, 10th, 9th and 5th on like tracks this year too. He may not finish better than 5th.

Same for Pato O’Ward who enters with two straight top 2’s. He and AMSP tested here in June and they enter with a podium in 3 straight races now if you count Felix Rosenqvist’s 3rd place run in Toronto. O’Ward won the pole here last August and won the pole on the last natural road course in Mid-Ohio. The thing is, O’Ward has not finished better than 5th here either.

Palou has 1 top 5 in his last 8 starts on the season and has had some bad luck here too. With the backslide, has he and Ganassi checked out until they get this contract resolved?

That’s why Power and McLaughlin are the ones to beat on Saturday but also to why Ericsson and Herta could vie for podiums too.

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