MADISON, Ill — Last night’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 featured a familiar face in victory lane and one that earned his first, but not last trip to an NTT INDYCAR Series podium. You heard about the storylines from the 260-lap race, but what about the ones that maybe flew under the radar.
Let’s empty the notebook.
- Saturday’s race started off a bit dull, but boy did it ever produce from the midrace caution on Lap 145 forward. 10 of the 26 drivers led at least 1 lap. There were 13 lead changes and 520 on track passes in 260 laps of action. The ending was as advertised with a hard charging David Malukas coming less than a second short of his 1st career win.
- You had 2 Penske cars and both Coyne cars making up 4 of the top 5 spots. The 2 teams are on opposite ends of the financial spectrum and here they were battling each other for a win on an oval. That’s everything that’s good about INDYCAR racing.
- ECR woes – They had high hopes entering this weekend. This was arguably Conor Daly’s best track, it was the place Rinus VeeKay scored a pair of top 6’s at in 2020 and Ed Carpenter was runner-up here in 2019. Instead, they never looked the part. They started P15-P-23-P22 and finished 22nd, 23rd and 26th respectively.
- Andretti cars struggle on short ovals – They knew they would. They never expected to be good on these tracks. Gateway was supposed to be an uptick but Iowa was a struggle. Instead, all 4 Andretti cars and their 2 satellite cars have struggled in the 3 combined races. On Saturday night, they finished 11th (Colton Herta), 12th (Devlin DeFrancesco), 13th (Romain Grosjean), 15th (Helio Castroneves), 20th (Simon Pagenaud) and 25th (Alexander Rossi).
- Pagenaud’s end of season struggles – It’s surprising in the fact that the 2016 series champion and 2019 Indy 500 champion began his first season with MSR on the heels of 7 top 11 finishes in the opening 10 races. He’s finished 20th or worse in 4 of the last 5. However, 3 of the 4 were on short ovals….
- The former driver of the 60 car, Jack Harvey, is also struggling. He has finished 18th or worse in 6 of his last 7 starts while watching his teammates compete in the top 10.
- Colton Herta has been no where again lately. 4 of his last 5 finishes have all landed him outside the top 10.
- Rookies speeding up – It seems like we were singing Christian Lundgaard’s praises a lot lately. The rookie driver was 10th in Road America, 11th in Mid-Ohio, 8th in Toronto, 10th in Iowa 1, 2nd in Indy, qualified 3rd and finished 8th in Nashville. Then David Malukas steals the limelight in WWTR with a runner-up. That’s 2 runner-up finishes in the last 3 races for these star rookies.
- Pato O’Ward quietly shining on ovals – He finished 3rd, 2nd, 2nd and now 4th in 4 career WWTR starts. He was 2nd and 1st respectively last month in Iowa. That comes after being 4th in the 2021 Indy 500 and 2nd in the 2022 edition.
- Dixon has a Dixon type of day – The stats say Dixon started 6th and finished 8th. He dropped from 2nd to 3rd in points. However, to be only 13 points out with 2 races remaining leaving a track that they didn’t expect to beat the Penske’s on has to feel somewhat like a win…. He enters the west coast swing on the heels of 9 straight top 10 finishes.
- Marcus Ericsson is the only driver this year to finish in the top 10 in all 5 ovals. He was 3rd in Texas, 1st in Indy, 8th and 6th at Iowa and 7th in WWTR.
- 5 out of the last 6 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. Now Power…
- Chevy has won 11 of the last 13 short oval races.
- Team Penske has won 9 of the 11 races for the Chevy camp including going 7-for-9 here.
- Starting Position Matters: We’ve seen 9 straight Gateway winners coming from a top five starting spot, 10 straight from the top 8 and 7 of the last 9 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, 12 of the 15 races were won by a top 7 starter including 7 of the last 8 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.