Road America Preview

Forgive me as this post starts out on a personal note, but I will get down to this weekend’s Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America in a minute. What is Sonsio, you ask? It is a Vehicle Protection Company, offering all types of different plans, that are probably better than the extended warranties you field daily calls about.

This weekend marks the arrival of my favorite IndyCar weekend – Road America in beautiful and quaint Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The NTT IndyCar Series made the return to Road America in 2016, about ten years after it fell off of the schedule as a casualty of the open-wheel reunification of 2008. Once I started this site and was getting credentialed to various tracks, I vowed that if Road America ever reappeared – we would go check it out. When the track appeared on the 2016 schedule, I was true to my word.

We loved it so much that we’ve been back every year since, even the COVID year of 2020. We went to only one track all of that convoluted season, but Road America was it.

This year was appearing to be in doubt. Most know that my wife Susan had to miss out on this year’s Indianapolis 500, because she had been hospitalized since Tuesday May 24.

What I have not shared since the 500 is that Susan was hospitalized until just two days ago – Wednesday June 8. She was hospitalized for fifteen nights. She was in bad shape when she went in, but they identified the cause of her problems being an abscess in her liver (most likely a by-product of her chemo a year and a half ago) and she was stabilized by that Friday before the race.

Every day after Memorial Day, we kept thinking that would be the day they would release her – but they never did. They essentially just watched her, while mixing in a scan here and a test there. She was about to pull her hair out by this past Monday, when they told her they were going to do one more fairly invasive test on Tuesday – a laparoscopic procedure to “have a look around”. She needed that afternoon to recover, and then they finally turned her loose on Wednesday morning. She asked if she would be able to ride in a car to Wisconsin the next day and they said she would be, so here we are!

We had a very slow, yet uneventful drive up here yesterday. Susan is sore from her procedure on Tuesday. I vowed we would go at her pace, and we did. Today we get to visit one of our favorite spots on earth.

People have asked my why we treasure this track over so many others, and it’s hard to put it into words. There are so many things it has going for it, it’s hard to boil it down to one or two things. Normally, I would say it’s easier to come up with a couple of things I don’t like about Road America, but I can’t even name a single thing I don’t like. OK, here’s one – they don’t sell Spotted Cow beer (a local favorite) anywhere on the grounds of Road America. That’s it. That’s the only negative I can come up with.

We love the location, the scenery, the weather, the Wisconsin hospitality, the various food selections inside the track, the restaurant selections away from the track, the gift shop, the track layout – and anything else you can think of.

Susan and I have made some great memories here since 2016, and each year is just as good as the others. But from what it took for us to get here this year, I think this year may be the most special yet.

So about this weekend’s race…

Last weekend at Belle Isle showed us an Alexander Rossi we’ve not seen since, well…at Road America in 2019. At the time, Rossi was in the midst of contract discussions presumably with Team Penske and Andretti Autosport. Rossi dominated the race at Road America, leading all but one lap on a pit stop shuffle. Like last week’s race, there were no cautions – helping Rossi to stretch out his lead. By the time the checkered flag flew, Rossi had a twenty-eight second lead over Will Power – the same two drivers as last week, with a different order of finish.

I’m not sure anyone who was present in that post-race press conference had any clue that Rossi would be winless three years after that beatdown. Now that the worst kept secret in town has been announced and it’s confirmed that Rossi will be joining Arrow McLaren SP for 2023 and beyond, we are seeing a Rossi that has only one thing on his mind – winning. He doesn’t want to wait and start winning when he gets to McLaren next year – he wants to win now!

Will Power now has his first win of the season under his belt. That means his streak of at least one IndyCar race win per season since 2007 continues, dating back to his Champ Car days with Derrick Walker. His newfound approach of harvesting points as well as race wins has put him back in the points lead, but only by three points over Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson. Rossi’s future teammate, Pato O’Ward is only nine points behind Ericsson and last year’s series champion, Alex Palou, is lurking just fourteen points out of the lead in fourth. Those four are so close, they could all come out of Elkhart Lake completely jumbled up from where they are right now.

Much further back is Josef Newgarden, who currently sits forty-seven points behind his teammate Power. His race at Road America last year still stings. After leading thirty-two of fifty laps and leading during a late-race caution, Newgarden’s gearbox got stuck in first-gear as the green flag flew. It was all Newgarden could do to keep from getting collected in Turn One. After dominating the race, Newgarden settled for finishing twenty-first. That storyline sounds strangely like Scott Dixon’s Indianapolis 500 a couple of weeks ago. Will Power got redemption at Belle Isle last week, one year after an almost sure race win was taken away from him. Could Newgarden get the same payback?

Scott Dixon sits in seventh and Alexander Rossi is currently seventh in this week’s point standings. In fact, you could throw a blanket over positions seven through ten. Rossi has 181 points, just seventy-four points out of first. A month ago, that didn’t seem possible. Two points behind Rossi is Simon Pagenaud in eighth. Five points behind Pagenaud is Felix Rosenqvist in ninth place. Just one point behind Rosenqvist is Scott McLaughlin, who needs to jump start his season after starting out first and second in the first two races.

Road America offers fast straightaways and technical turns. It also is the longest track on the IndyCar schedule at 4.048 miles. At only fifty-five laps, you’d better get your pit strategy right, because it’s a long way back around if you don’t. The large elevation changes don’t help either.


As usual there is a lot of track activity going on this weekend. All of the Road to Indy is here this weekend, as are the Radical Cup Cars and the Vintage Indy Cars. It is a jam-packed schedule and it appears to be no time during the three-day weekend that there will not be cars on track.

The first IndyCar practice gets underway this afternoon at 3:30 pm local time (Central Daylight) and will be shown live on Peacock. Practice Two begins on Saturday morning at 9:45 CDT on Peacock; while Qualifying gets underway at 12:45 pm Saturday on Peacock. The final practice will take place Saturday afternoon at 4:20 CDT on Peacock. There will be no Sunday morning warm-up, at the race coverage begins at 11:30 am CDT Sunday on Big NBC.

As usual, we will be posting here throughout the race weekend. Susan feels much better than she did qualifying weekend in Indianapolis, so she will “probably” have a post up here this weekend. You will also benefit from her photographic skills that involve much more than me pointing an iPhone at something and shooting. You can also follow us on Twitter for comments, photos and videos. Follow me at @Oilpressureblog, or Susan at @MrsOilpressure.

Who will win on Sunday? I think those that are in the middle of a bunched up points race will jockey around for position, but will stay bunched up after the race. That means those that are in a battle for positions one through four will still be chasing or running from the same drivers – unless Rossi makes a big jump from seventh. I also think Josef Newgarden is in a make or break point in his season. I think he does well at Road America, but does not win. I think that Marcus Ericsson will back up his Indianapolis 500 victory and win at Road America on Sunday, to prove that he is no fluke. He will also win an IndyCar race that does not involve a red flag, for the first time I his career.

Please check back later.

George Phillips

4 Responses to “Road America Preview”

  1. Patrick Says:

    This is wonderful news that Susan was able to make the trip. Hope she has a great time and doesn’t overdo it. Please try to get a picture of Simona.

  2. So thankful you can both attend this weekend. We leave in a couple hours. Look forward to seeing you.

  3. billytheskink Says:

    Glad to hear the news about Susan. You all have a great time this weekend.

  4. SkipinSC Says:

    As one who has followed your blog almost from its beginnings (and married a Doc,) our one request for this weekend is that you and Susan enjoy the trip. We readers will be here after the weekend and the two of you probably could use some YOU time. We’ll be grateful for what you post regardless of when.

    Skip and Kathy Free

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