Lapped traffic played a role in how the XPEL 375 ended at the Texas Motor Speedway back in March. Scott McLaughlin had the most dominant car in an exhilarating NTT INDYCAR Series race on the 1.5-mile track. Unfortunately for him, not only was lapped traffic a key, his car wasn’t handling right in traffic either.
That allowed his teammate Josef Newgarden to close back in. McLaughlin led Newgarden by .3534-seconds with 10 to go. It remained there with five to go at .2593-seconds. In fact, at the white flag, it was .3149-second advantage in McLaughlin’s favor.
However, with lap cars in front, Newgarden made his move. He was either going to wreck or go down trying. It paid off in an outside move in Turn 4. Newgarden went high, McLaughlin was low. They had a drag race to the stripe to which Newgarden held off McLaughlin by .0669-seconds.
“I’m telling you, I was yelling,” Newgarden said. “I was on the radio way before the line, which I don’t normally do that. You don’t do that. You stay in the race. I was just so pumped up that, one, the car was sticking, I wasn’t flying towards the fence. But I’ve never had a race end that way. I’ve never been in a position to capitalize on that type of victory.
“I was really excited. Still really am. That’s one of the coolest wins, probably the coolest win I’ve ever had in the 2 car. Hopefully we have more of those. Yeah, really, really neat to be a part of that.”
Scott McLaughlin’s St. Pete and Mid-Ohio Wins
We knew it was only a matter of time before Scott McLaughlin broke out in the NTT INDYCAR Series and in 2022, it didn’t take long. He stormed to the pole in the season opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete and a day later, earned his maiden win in emotional fashion.
After a down year as a rookie in 2021, he admitted he was miserable. But to finally breakthrough in Race 1 of his sophomore campaign at the place he made his series debut in October 2020 was a site to witness.
Then his Mid-Ohio win with his parents here to see it was nothing short of amazing either. He had missed them dearly when he came over for that 2020 debut but they’d not been able to come. His St. Pete win they were still overseas in New Zealand. They came over here for the Indy 500 and stayed for 90 days after. McLaughlin rewarded their extended stay with a win at Mid-Ohio on July 3.
Herta’s GMR Grand Prix Save
The race of the year had to be the GMR Grand Prix back on May 14 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A heavy rainstorm came into the Indianapolis area about an hour before the start of the race. It wet the track. However, as the conditions dried and the race got going, the 2.439-mile racing surface dried quicker than expected.
Herta had the right call to pit early for slicks but on his out lap on a damp track, he made the save of the year too.
If you separate all the drama out then they’d take over the entire top 5 so let’s itemize it out in one moment. It all got started with McLaren Racing signed Colton Herta to an F1 test contract. Pato O’Ward who has let it be known that his ultimate end goal is to be an F1 driver wasn’t initially part of that F1 deal. Even though he tested last winter for McLaren, the team he currently drives for, he wasn’t awarded a separate F1 testing contract like Herta received. O’Ward was pissed and didn’t hide that fact either. He was questioning his future with the team now. It carried over into a rough start to the season. Little did we know it then, that this was just the tip of the silly season iceberg for 2022.
O’Ward and McLaren later reached a new deal and his stats greatly increased as a result. You had the Andretti Autosport internal drama from Mid-Ohio on July 3 then 11 days later the Alex Palou contract saga began.
That doesn’t count the on track drama of Romain Grosjean and Graham Rahal from Barber which was after Grosjean pissed off Takuma Sato in St. Pete. Nashville featured chaos between Grosjean and Josef Newgarden as well as Devlin DeFrancesco and Sato.
There was enough drama in 2022 to fill a reality TV show if INDYCAR had one….
Rookies End Of Season Success
The future is always bright in the series but the pure raw emotion that was brought out of Christian Lundgaard when he finished runner-up in late July on the IMS road course or David Malukas’ runner-up finish in Gateway was a sight to behold.