INDYCAR Pre-Race Media: World Wide Technology Raceway track trends, favs, sleepers, fades, etc

TRACK: World Wide Technology Raceway (1.25 Mile Oval), DISTANCE: 260 Laps (325 Miles)


TRACK HISTORY/TRENDS

This will be the 6th year that the NTT IndyCar Series has been coming back to the World Wide Technology Raceway near St. Louis and in the shadows of the Gateway Arch. See, the series started coming to the 1.25-mile race track in 2001 and stayed until 2003. Unfortunately, they stopped coming after. All it took was a great management team, a wonderful promoter, a big sponsor and a phenomenal marketing plan and boom, this race has taken off.

  • Pit Stops Were Crucial the last few years — With passing being difficult in 2020, that left the name of the game being pit cycles and perfection on pit road in 2021 and 2022. As an example, for 2020, Pato O’Ward leap frogged the Penske’s for the top spot on the Saturday race. Scott Dixon beat O’Ward narrowly on the final stop of the race to win. Same thing on Sunday. Josef Newgarden, barely got O’Ward on the final stop as they leapfrogged Will Power on the cycle. Finding the right length to go on a stint and finding clean in and out laps were the difference in gaining or losing spots on track this weekend. Newgarden said following his 2020 win that his pit crew won him the race. “I didn’t win the race today,” he said after picking up his 16th career victory that day. “My pit crew won it. I’m not shy to say that. I’ll take it however I can get it.”
  • Starting spots still key – With track position and pit sequences mattering, starting spots were key here last year. We’ve seen 8 straight Gateway winners coming from a top five starting spot, 9 straight from the top 8 and 6 of the last 8 from the top three. At Iowa, the last 3 were won by a top 7 starter including 6 of the last 8 overall there.
  • Pole winners bad luck – You would think since qualifying means a lot, the pole winner would have success. In fact, it’s the opposite in Gateway. There’s not been a pole winner here since Helio Castroneves did it in 2003. For Iowa, the pole winner is now 1-for-17. On the season, the pole winner is 1-for-14.
  • 3 of the last 4 Gateway races saw 2 total cautions for the race.
  • Gateway 1 in 2020 produced the closest finish all season with a margin of victory being .1404-seconds. Last year was .540-seocnds. 2019 was .040-seconds.
  • Other than Josef Newgarden, we’ve had a new winner of this race each time. Only the best win at Gateway too. Names like Paul Tracy (1997), Alex Zanardi (1998), Michael Andretti (1999), Juan Pablo Montoya (2000), Al Unser Jr. (2001), Gil de Ferran (2002), Helio Castroneves (2003), Josef Newgarden (2017,2020, 2021), Will Power (2018), Takuma Sato (2019) and Scott Dixon (2020) all won on the 1.25-mile oval heading into this weekend.
  • 4 out of the last 5 races at WWTR have seen the driver that led the most laps fail to win. In 2018, Scott Dixon led 145 laps but finished third. In 2019, Santino Ferrucci led 97 laps but finished fourth. In 2020, Pato O’Ward (94 laps in Race 1) and Takuma Sato (66 laps led in Race 2) finished third and ninth respectively.

Friday night practice for the INDYCAR Iowa 300 at Iowa Speedway.

TRACK COMPARISONS/WHO’S BEEN GOOD ON THEM

Iowa is the closest comparison as the only other short oval. Team Penske has won 8 of the last 12 short oval races since 2018 with the only other teams winning being AMSP (twice), RLL (once) and Ganassi (once).

Penske put 3 cars in the top 4 here last year including winning 4 of the 6 races since the series returned back in 2017.

Favorites

Team Penske

Hard to ignore the team that’s won so many times here. Josef Newgarden has won each of the last 2 Gateway races and has 3 wins in his 6 starts here. Will Power has a pair of 3rd place finishes in-a-row including 3 podiums in his last 5 and being 2nd and 3rd in Iowa. Scott McLaughlin was 4th last year and 5th at Iowa this year.

Pato O’Ward

He’s finished 3rd, 2nd and 2nd in his 3 Gateway starts. He was 2nd and 1st last month in Iowa.

Sleepers

Ed Carpenter Racing

This is Conor Daly’s his best track. He’s finished 5th, 6th, 10th, 8th and 11th respectively. Rinus VeeKay was 6th and 4th respectively in 2020 before a crash last year.

Meyer Shank Racing

Helio Castroneves knows how to get around here as a 2-time winner. Simon Pagenaud has 4 top 8 finishes in 6 tries including 3 of which being in the top 5.

Dale Coyne Racing

Takuma Sato won here in 2019, has 5 straight top 10’s and enters with some speed. David Malukas may be a rookie in INDYCAR here but he swept the Indy Lights action just one season ago too.


Fades

Chip Ganassi Racing

Jimmie Johnson is a rookie here, Alex Palou has finished 11th, 8th, 7th and 20th respectively here, Marcus Ericsson has been 16th, 5th, 23rd and 9th himself while Scott Dixon has a win (2020) but 15th, 2nd, 3rd, 20th, 5th and 19th in his other starts put them on this list for now. They are top 5 contenders like Iowa, but not so much for the win.

Andretti Autosport

They showed improved speed last year but the finishes lacked. They’d admit these are their worst tracks and don’t expect to shine this weekend. Romain Grosjean was 14th as a rookie with Coyne in 2021 here in his 1st oval start. Ryan Hunter-Reay was also though 15th, 20th, 8th, 7th, 11th and 7th in that same car Grosjean is driving now prior. Devlin DeFrancesco is a rookie, Colton Herta has finished 5th, 14th, 21st, 22nd and 18th in 5 Gateway starts while Alexander Rossi has been 6th, 2nd, 13th, 22nd, 14th and 17th himself. While Herta did lead 101 laps a year ago, I just don’t trust them yet.

Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing

Christian Lundgaard is a rookie, Jack Harvey was 11th, 13th and 10th in 3 tries while Graham Rahal has finished 12th, 10th, 18th, 18th, 20th and 23rd here.

AJ Foyt Racing

While Dalton Kellett was 12th last year, Kyle Kirkwood was runner-up in both of his Indy Lights starts last year, but the fact that only champions win at Gateway and AJ Foyt Racing hasn’t won a race since 2013 scares me off.

Felix Rosenqvist

He was 16th last year and 14th and 17th in 2020.

Callum Ilott

The rookie will get a wide eyed experience this weekend.

Top Stat

3 comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s