It’s race day in Illinois! Yes, I’m serious! While admittedly World Wide Technology Raceway is usually associated with St. Louis and is located 300 miles from my house, I’m still going to claim it as an Illinois track.
Anyway, I’m not on site this weekend as I am home attending a wedding, but have mere distractions ever kept me from dropping some opinions?
Here’s what I see going down under the floodlights for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 tonight.
Does Power keep up the momentum? Though last week’s race at Pocono was called at the 320-mile mark Sunday, Will Power will still take that ‘W’, his first one of the season. Power enters this week as the defending race champion, and usually once he starts getting good results, they tend to start coming in bunches for him. He’s 128 points back in the championship hunt, and with three races left he’s pretty much out of contention, so he has nothing else to do except go for race wins.
Penske is the team to beat tonight. Oh really? Sure, the Penske triumvirate takes up three of the first four spots on the grid, with Josef Newgarden on pole, but don’t sleep on Dale Coyne Racing tonight. Sebastien Bourdais will start P2, while the ever-improving Santino Ferrucci, who finished fourth at Pocono, starts a career-best P6. Ferrucci was also quickest in practice Friday afternoon, so DCR has found something here. SeaBass hasn’t won in 30 races (St. Pete, 2018), he’s plenty motivated, and usually does well on tracks of this size.
Moving day. On the PGA Tour, Saturday is referred to as “moving day”, where players really buckle down to set themselves up for a final Sunday push. With oval racing being a little more unpredictable, someone could make a move in the championship. A win by Josef Newgarden could set him up nicely, and Simon Pagenaud could get a little closer with a win and a Newgarden stumble.
Speaking of moving, that’s what Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi will need to do, as both turned in sub-par efforts in qualifying. Dixon, who has a win and three seconds in his last four races, starts P8 while Rossi tries to come back from that opening lap crash Sunday from the 11th starting position.
If the final practice means anything, you could see some other movers from back in the field too. Conor Daly (starting 18th) led Friday’s night practice session, and Zach Veach (15th) was P3. With passing at a premium they will have to work a little magic to get up front, but Veach came from 16th starting spot to finish fifth a year ago, so it can be done.
Predictions! I have Will Power keeping a good thing going this weekend, as he picks up his second straight win. Simon Pagenaud and one of the DCR cars will make up the remainder of the podium.
Pit Lane Parley
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Photo credit: Chris Owens/IndyCar Media