IndyCar: 5 takeaways from the Brickyard

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INDIANAPOLIS — Prior to the Gallagher Grand Prix, 49 races passed since Alexander Rossi won an NTT IndyCar Series race. On Saturday at the Brickyard, that all changed as Rossi took the top step on the podium.

A tale of two cars for Andretti

For a good amount of time, Saturday, Herta and Rossi ran 1-2, just ahead of Christian Lundgaard. This was the case up until Lap 42, when Herta ran over the Turn 8 curb, broke something on his No. 26 Honda loose and caused a major clutch issue, ending his race. This mishap at the Brickyard adds to what’s been a very unlucky and bizarre 2022 season for Herta, adding to a crash in Long Beach and a poor performance in May at the Indianapolis 500.

However, it was quite the opposite for Herta’s teammate Rossi.

After qualifying next to Felix Rosenqvist on the front row, Rossi looked comfortable where he was all day. And while you never want to see your teammate suffer a mechanical failure, I’m sure the California native had a bit of a smirk on his face under the helmet because his teammate’s loss was (literally) his win. Speaking on his tenure at Andretti Autosport coming to an end, Rossi stated “It would’ve been a sad story if we didn’t win (before I left)…”

Disappointment for McLaren

After touting their team prowess, Friday, following an impressive 1-3 in qualifying, the boys from Arrow McLaren SP didn’t exactly deliver the same kind of result, Saturday, at the Brickyard.

At just the second corner of the race, Pato O’Ward spun, sending him to the back of the field. While the 23-year-old Mexican rebounded to finish in 12th, he finished behind every one of his championship rivals. Going into Nashville, O’Ward sits 46 points behind new championship leader, Will Power.

Felix Rosenqvist‘s story is a bit different, as he spent seven laps out front at the beginning of the race. However, starting on Lap 8, the Swede began to rapidly drop down the order, dramatically dropping from first to fourth in just one lap. For some reason, Rosenqvist wasn’t called into the pits until Lap 15, although he was clearly losing time to the leaders ahead. Like his teammate, Feliz climbed back up the order to finish in ninth, a clear disappointment after he took pole in dominating fashion on Friday afternoon.

Lundgaard shines

At the Brickyard one year ago, Danish driver Christian Lundgaard made his IndyCar Series debut in a one-off for Rahal Letterman Lanigan racing. This year, Lundgaard, at just 21 years old, is in the middle of his rookie IndyCar campaign. With two career top-10s in 13 races, the Dane wasn’t exactly everyone’s pick to stand on the podium on Saturday, but he qualified fourth both in 2021 and 2022 at this race.

Although the Rahal team has had a rough 2022, Lundgaard summed up his feelings on his team’s first podium since Texas last year by saying “The best feeling right now is that the team deserves it…” It is evident that the Rahal team has been steadily improving throughout the season, with Lundgaard’s teammates Graham Rahal and Jack Harvey showing up in the top 10 more often than not during recent race weekends.

Penske owns the Top-five

If your boss owns the track you’re racing on, you should probably have some pretty good results, right? Team Penske seems to think so. Its three drivers all finished inside the top-five, with Scott McLaughlin and Josef Newgaarden coming in at fourth and fifth respectively after Power, who finished in third. Although it wasn’t a win for any of the Penske boys, Power described it best when saying that they should “…make the most of every situation, even if you’re in 12th.”

While that wasn’t the case for Team Penske today, with Power and Newgarden firmly implanted in the battle for the Astor Cup, they’ll need to heed the Australian’s advice in the final four races of the season after the Brickyard.

Power takes points lead from Ericsson

After what seemed like forever, it finally happened: Someone took the points lead from Marcus Ericsson.

While the Swede had an impressive run from 25th to 11th, it wasn’t enough to match the points that Power snatched from a podium finish. Speaking on the upcoming races and the championship fight, the 2014 series champion said “It’s impossible to predict who will be there at the end.”

As it turns out, Power is not wrong. Right now, the top-six in the standings are under a 52-point blanket making sure that no one driver is safe in the championship fight.

Championship standings

  1. Will Power, Team Penske – 431 points
  2. Marcus Ericsson – 422 points
  3. Josef Newgarden, Team Penske – 399 points
  4. Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing – 393 points
  5. Pato O’Ward, Arrow McLaren SP – 385 points

Next Race

  • Music City Grand Prix
  • Sunday, August 7th – 3 p.m. EST on NBC
  • Nashville Street Circuit – Nashville, Tennessee
  • 2021 Winner: Marcus Ericsson

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TOP IMAGE: James Black/Penske Entertainment