MADISON, Ill — The 15th round off the 2022 NTT INDYCAR Series season is upon us with Saturday’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 (6 p.m. ET, USA, INDYCAR Radio Network). 26 drivers enter the World Wide Technology Raceway hoping for a win. The 26 cars in the race are the highest we’ve seen since the series’ return to the St. Louis area in 2017. But who crosses the finish line first?
It all likely came down to qualifying on Friday afternoon.
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.
On the season, 11 of the 14 races were won by a top 7 starter including 6 of the last 7 at that. The only 3 not?
The rain in Indy for the GMR Grand Prix and 2 street course races at Belle Isle and Nashville.
So it’s safe to say your race winner on Saturday will be coming from the top 4 Rows. However, I don’t necessarily think it will come from the pole winner.
You would think since qualifying means a lot, the pole winner would have success in finding victory lane. In fact, it’s the exact opposite in Gateway. There’s not been a pole winner here since Helio Castroneves did it in 2003. For Iowa, a similar track, the pole winner is now 1-for-17. On the season, the pole winner is 1-for-14.
That means the race winner comes between starting spots 2-7.
The pole winner though should at least score a podium with 4 of the last 5 races seeing the pole winner finish either 2nd or 3rd including both in Iowa.
Last year’s pole winner finished 3rd here.
Which is why I can see the pole winner start off leading a lot of laps but not winning. I mean 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.
Also, there’s a good bet that the winner that comes between 2nd and 7th in the starting lineup and is in a Chevrolet powered car, there’s your winner.
Since the start of the 2018 season, the series has raced 12 times on short ovals. Team Penske has won 8 of them. The only other teams to have won are AMSP (twice), RLL (once) and Ganassi (once).
That’s an 83% (10-for-12) win rate for the bowties.
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. They’ll have 3 of the top 4 starters.
The final couple of factors are other than Josef Newgarden, we’ve had a new winner of this race each time. Also, 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), 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.
So who triumphs on Saturday?
- 2 Newgarden – Should have swept Iowa and won from 3rd here last year.
- 12 Power – The pole winner trend stays true.
- 5 O’Ward – Repeat of Iowa for the podium?
- 9 Dixon – A very Dixon like performance this weekend to be the best of the rest.
- 8 Ericsson – Will points race to nab a top 5.