Road America Saturday Wrap-Up

It’s been another full day at Road America for us. It is amazing how quickly time flies here. With  the NTT IndyCar Series practice starting a little after 10:00 am, Qualifying at 1:30 pm and then the final practice at 4:30 –that’s a full day in itself. Then when we try to take in all that the track has to offer, the day can get away from you.

The way qualifying went, you have to wonder if the drought for Team Penske may end on Sunday. Three of the four Team Penske cars made the Firestone Fast Six. Josef Newgarden ended up on the pole, but Will Power will start fourth, while Simon Pagenaud will roll off sixth on the grid. Scott McLaughlin is the only teammate that did not make the Firestone Fast Six. In fact, he didn’t even make it out of Round One, and he will start seventeenth. You’ve got to hand it to Tim Cindric. With everyone (including myself) making a big deal about Team Penske still being winless in mid-June; Cindric brought them here extremely prepared.

The other participants in the Firestone Fast were Colton Herta, Jack Harvey and Alex Palou. If you call Meyer Shank Racing an Andretti team due to their technical association, that means two Andretti cars and one Ganassi car. That means the Fast Six consisted of Penske, Ganassi and Andretti. Some things never change.

Current points leader Pato O’Ward will start tenth; while his teammate for the weekend, Kevin Magnussen will roll off twenty-first. Meanwhile, Oliver Askew will start sixteenth. That is actually lower than I thought he would qualify. He had good runs in practice and I thought he would at least make it to Round Two.The other Ed Carpenter Racing driver has been a little silent since Indianapolis and will start one spot ahead of Askew in the fifteenth starting spot.

Another driver that had a disappointing qualifying run was Graham Rahal. After being third quick in the morning practice, he will start fourteenth. That’s still better than teammate Takuma Sato, who will start twentieth.

The non-Colton Herta Andretti Autosport cars had disappointing results. After being strong in practice, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi will start eighth and ninth respectively. James Hinchcliffe will start nineteenth, but that sort of follows his pattern for the weekend – and for the whole season for that matter. I just can’t figure out why they have not had better results.

Scott Dixon is having a weekend to forget so far. He will start thirteenth, but those are the kind of weekends he turns into podium finishes – so don’t be too surprised to see him near the front at the end of the day tomorrow.

Sébastien Bourdais qualified eleventh, which is an improvement on how his weekend has gone so far. Maybe he can carry that momentum over to Sunday’s race and get a decent result for the Foyt team.

I am sticking with my pick and believe that Alexander Rossi will win tomorrow’s REV Group Grand Prix at Road America. I just have a hunch that he is going to end his winless streak and start a turnaround for the second half of the season. Will he be in the championship hunt? No, but he will at least be competitive and be a spoiler to those that are n the hunt.

It’s an early day tomorrow. Coverage begins on NBCSN at 11:00 am CDT, with the green flag scheduled to fly at 11:38 am CDT. Hopefully, there will be no coverage of other events to shorten the pre-race or the post-race shows.

That’s going to do it for us. We are headed to dinner at another one of our favorites – PJ Campbell’s at the Depot in nearby Plymouth, which is just a few minutes south of the track. It is a German restaurant located in an historic train station that is well over a hundred years old. They have a bratwurst and cheese soup that is possibly the best thing I’ve ever eaten. They have several German specialties and unique dishes, but they serve prime rib on Saturday night – so it will be hard to get me to change my mind.

I had said that Susan will have an article here today. She will have it ready to go first thing in the morning. Fun got in the way of writing today. Check it out first thing tomorrow.

Thanks for following along today. We will be here early tomorrow, so check back then.

George Phillips

2 Responses to “Road America Saturday Wrap-Up”

  1. Yannick Says:

    Hinch’s performances this year make it increasingly look like the problem with that Andretti Autosport car most likely wasn’t Veach.

    With only Herta being fast from that team, does that mean his setups might not fit the other drivers’ styles – or at least might not help them get quicker? Well, at least, it seems to be working for the affiliated entry #60 of Jack Harvey.

    Good to see Penske being back near the front of the field where they belong. Here’s hoping one of them will win it today.

    Whoever is going to win it, will have earned it. Here’s wishing everybody a good and safe race. And thanks again for the coverage from trackside.

    • S0CSeven Says:

      Excellent point that had escaped me. Think George Russell in F1 and you have the classic question of whether it’s the car or driver.

      Many an brilliant driver have vanished due to inferior machinery.

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