With races on three consecutive weekends to close out the month of July, the NTT IndyCar Series took a two-weekend hiatus to start the month of August. It’s hard to call it a “break” given many teams tested — and James Hinchcliffe’s long-awaited wedding thrown in there too — things get back to normal this weekend when the series makes its return to Pocono Raceway for the ABC Supply 500.
Speculation is that this is potentially the last trip to the “Tricky Triangle”. With the event’s contract up and negotiations ongoing, it still remains to be seen as to whether Pocono will be on the schedule next year.
Speculation aside, let’s look at a couple of things going on this week:
*The championship. The battle resumes this week with Josef Newgarden holding a 16-point lead over Alexander Rossi, with Simon Pagenaud (47 points back) and Scott Dixon (62 points) still in the chase. Expect the battle to resume at the front of the field, as usual. Rossi is the only one of the quartet with a win at Pocono, but Newgarden has two runner-up finishes here, and, well, Dixon and Pagenaud both know how to win 500-mile races. This one is going to be a tough one as the pressure tightens with four races to go.
*Daly back in the seat. Conor Daly didn’t run his first race of the season until the Indy 500, but with the deals he’s brokered lately he will finish the year will have run six of the final 11 races of 2019. He’s back in the No. 59 Carlin seat this weekend after having most recently finished 13th at Iowa last month. He will stay in the No. 59 next weekend at Gateway, then will return to the Andretti Autosport fold for the finale at Laguna Seca. Given how well he ran at Indy, where he was competitive all day before finishing 11th, if Carlin can give him a good car here he has a chance to really make a big splash.
*The McLaren buzz. It was no surprise to see McLaren deciding to join IndyCar as a full-time entrant in 2020, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t knock a few socks off last week when they announced their partnership with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. SPM’s breakup with Honda was one I didn’t see coming, and where it leaves them in terms of a 2020 driver lineup remains to be seen. Hinchcliffe’s status due to his personal relationships with Honda make for an interesting few weeks, and if Marcus Ericsson doesn’t return — which seems likely — who gets that other seat? I know absolutely nothing about this situation, but if I’m McLaren and there is a seat open, I throw a ton of money at Colton Herta, and if that doesn’t work (since he is probably staying in some type of Andretti situation), I’d call Santino Ferrucci, who still has not formalized his 2020 plans.
Who said Silly Season was over? See you this weekend!
Photo Credit: Chris Owens/IndyCar Media