TRACK: WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca (2.238-mile, 11-turn road course), DISTANCE: 95 Laps (214.51 miles)
- Starting positions for natural road courses lately (since 2016) – 45 races (counting Barber, GMR Grand Prix, Road America, Mid-Ohio, Gallagher Grand Prix and Portland this season)
- 2016: 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st
- 2017: 7th, 1st, 5th, 2nd 1st, 3rd
- 2018: 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 20th, 1st
- 2019: 4th, 1st, 8th, 2nd, 8th, 2nd, 1st
- 2020: 7th, 9th, 7th, 1st, 1st, 2nd, 1st
- 2021: 3rd, 7th, 5th, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 1st
- 2022: 2nd, 14th, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 1st
- That’s 43 of the last 45 coming from the top 10 (96%)
- That’s also 22 of 45 from the pole (49%) and 31 of 45 from the front row (69%)
- Also, that’s 36 of 45 (80%) from the Fast Six.
- 9 of the last 10 have been won by the front row (90%) including 13 of the last 18 (72%).
- The last 4 Laguna Seca winners came from the front row with three of which coming from the pole.
- 21 of the last 23 visits won from a top 3 starter (15 from the pole, 4 from 2nd)
- 22 of the 23 were won from a top 6 starter in general.
- Laguna went dormant from 2005 through 2018 without INDYCAR before a return in 2019. They didn’t visit in 2020 due to COVID restrictions.
- Older track surface. Tons of tire fall off. Similar to Darlington in sense of low grip, high tire wear. Have to slow down to go fast. Be smooth.
TRACK COMPARISONS/WHO’S BEEN GOOD ON THEM
In 2020, Penske and Ganassi each won three times on these types of circuits including all three at IMS. Andretti Autosport won the other that year in Mid-Ohio.
In 2021, Ganassi won three times (Barber, Road America, Portland), Penske twice (Indy, Mid-Ohio), Ed Carpenter Racing once (Indy) and Andretti Autosport once (Laguna Seca) themselves.
So far this season, we’ve had five races on a natural road courses (Barber, Indy (twice), Road America and Mid-Ohio) with 3 different organizations winning (AMSP, Andretti, Penske).
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That’s 20 natural road course races during this Aeroscreen era with Penske winning 8 times, Ganassi 6, Andretti Autosport four times and ECR/AMSP once each.
Fast 6 Potential
- Colton Herta – On like tracks, he was 10th, 14th, 5th, 3rd, 9th and 7th respectively. In Laguna, he’s 2-for-2 in poles.
- Alexander Rossi – Has made the Fast 6 and 3 out of the natural road courses this season. However, he has 2 top 3 starting spots in Laguna Seca in as many tries too.
- Pato O’Ward – He’s made the Fast 6 in all 6 of the natural road courses this season (2nd, 5th, 6th, 1st, 3rd and 6th) and was 6th here last year.
- Felix Rosenqvist – On like tracks he’s qualified 6th, 6th, 8th, 4th, 1st and 7th this season.
- Alex Palou – He’s qualified 3rd, 2nd, 3rd, 7th, 7th and 5th on like tracks this season. He qualified 4th here last year.
- Will Power – He’s been up and down this year on these tracks. He was 19th at Barber, 15th at Road America and 21st in Mid-Ohio but also 1st and 4th in Indy. For Portland, he was 3rd. In his 2 Laguna starts, he’s qualified 7th and 3rd respectively.
- Josef Newgarden – He’s qualified 7th, 3rd, 2nd, 14th, 5th and 2nd on like tracks this year. He was 4th and 17th in his 2 Laguna starts.
Fringe Fast 6
- Christian Lundgaard – Another rookie but one that qualifies well on like tracks. He was 14th in Barber, 8th in Indy, 13th in Road America, 16th in Mid-Ohio, 6th in Indy 2 and 4th in Portland. This car was in the Fast 6 (6th) here last season.
- Scott McLaughlin – He qualified 4th in Barber, 11th in Indy, 9th in Road America, 2nd in Mid-Ohio, 15th in Indy 2 and 1st in Portland. He was 16th here last year.
- Rinus VeeKay – On like tracks this season was 1st, 15th, 17th, 11th, 8th and 12th respectively. He qualified 24th as a rookie here a year ago.
- Scott Dixon – He was 13th at Barber, 21st and 20th at Indy, 10th in Road America, 5th in Mid-Ohio and 16th in Portland. Dixon has qualified 2nd and 8th respectively here.
- Callum Ilott – These are his best tracks. Ilott was in Row 6 at Barber (11th) and Road America (12th) as well as 7th at Indy 1, 10th in Mid-Ohio, 19th in Indy 2 and 14th in Portland. He was 26th here last year though.
- David Malukas – He was 18th, 24th, 14th, 8th, 11th and 10th on like tracks.
- Romain Grosjean – He qualified 8th at Barber, 10th at Indy, 7th in Road America,17th in Mid-Ohio, 22nd in Indy again and 15th in Portland. He was 13th here last year.
Probably In The Middle
- Graham Rahal – He was 9th at Barber, 12th at the Indy GP, 22nd in Road America, 18th in Mid-Ohio, 17th in Indy 2 and 11th in Portland. He has qualified in the Fast 12 here twice (8th, 12th).
- Jack Harvey – On the season, he was 15th in Barber, 9th at Indy, 20th in Road America, 24th at Mid-Ohio, 13th in Indy 2 and 17th in Portland. For Laguna, he’s qualified 24th and 20th respectively.
- Marcus Ericsson – He qualified 4th in Road America but was 12th, 18th, 13th, 25th and in Barber, Indy, Mid-Ohio, Indy 2 and 18th Portland respectively during in the year too. He was 11th and 7th respectively here though too.
- Conor Daly –On like tracks this season, Daly has qualified 22nd (Barber), 4th (Indy RC), 18th (Road America), 22nd (Mid-Ohio), 10th (Indy return trip) and 20th in Portland. In his 2 Laguna tries he’s qualified 13th and 18th respectively.
- Simon Pagenaud – On like tracks this season, Pagenaud has qualified 24th, 20th, 11th, 6th, 12th and 19th respectively. He was 6th and 9th respectively in Laguna though too.
- Helio Castroneves – He was 16th, 19th, 16th, 15th, 16th and 21st on like tracks this season.
Takuma Sato – He has never made it out of the 1st round in 2 Laguna Seca qualifying tries.
Jimmie Johnson – He was 26th in Barber, 27th and 23rd in Indy, 26th at Road America and 27th at Mid-Ohio. He started 25th in 2021.
Devlin DeFrancesco – He has qualified 20th 17th, 21st, 20th, 14th and 24th on like tracks this season.
Kyle Kirkwood – He started 21st, 22nd, 24th, 9th, 21st and 13th on like tracks this year.
Dalton Kellett – On the season, he was 23rd, 26th, 23rd, 23rd, 24th and 25th respectively on these types of tracks. He started 27th here last year.
He led 83 laps in his win from the pole in 2019 and 91 more in another win from the pole last year. Can he 3 peat on Sunday?
He was runner-up last year and has 2 runner-ups on like tracks this season.
How will Rossi go out with Andretti? He was 6th in 2019 and qualified on the front row last year and won on a like track at Indy at the end of July. If he can stay on track, watch out.
He was 3rd in 2019 but 13th last year. He finished 3rd last weekend and coming to a track he tested at last Monday before Portland. Dixon also has 6 top 5’s over the last 8 races on the season too.
Not one of their stronger tracks. Josef Newgarden was 8th and 7th in his two tries, Will Power was 2nd and 26th while Scott McLaughlin was 12th as a rookie here last year. On like tracks this season, they’ve been great though. McLaughlin has a pair of wins and scored the most points on them. He also enters with 5 straight top 4 finishes overall. Newgarden would be my fade among them. He has just 2 top 5s in 6 races on them.
This track suited him to a 3rd place run in 2021. Andretti has been good here so there’s no reason to believe Grosjean won’t contend for the win on Sunday.
He was 11th in 2019 and 6th last year. Ericsson also has 3 top 6 finishes in his last 5 starts on natural road courses in 2022.
We know he’ll likely qualify well as he was 4th and 8th in his 2 Laguna Seca starts as well. Now you’re giving him Andretti power.
He was 12th in 2019 but 4th last year. He enters on the heels of a top 5 finish last week in Portland.
Despite finishing 22nd last year, he’s seen this track now and has qualified very well on these types of tracks in 2022 as well. He has 2 top 10 finishes in 2022 and both are on like tracks including last week.
Arrow McLaren SP
Pato O’Ward was 5th in 2021. Felix Rosenqvist while running for Chip Ganassi Racing was 5th in 2019. He was 19th last year. Between the duo in 6 natural road course races run in 2022, they have a combined 2 top 5’s between them as well.
Ed Carpenter Racing
Conor Daly was 22nd and 16th in his 2 Laguna Seca starts while Rinus VeeKay was 18th last year. While they do have a top 5 in 3 of the 6 natural road course races, just 1 of them was on the podium.
AJ Foyt Racing
These are their worst tracks in 2022.