IndyCar gears up for the final 10 races of 2014 in next 10 weeks

0 Comments

The Verizon IndyCar Series has had two weekends off since it took the checkered flag Saturday night, June 7, at Texas Motor Speedway.

It now has two off weekends – total – between now and the end of the season.

This is when the condensed schedule concept created by Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles will either make or break teams as they head down the crazy stretch of races.

Here’s the weekend-by-weekend schedule from here until the end of August:

1.  June 28-29, Houston doubleheader
2.  July 6, Pocono 500-miler (double points)
3.  July 12, Iowa night race
4.  July 19-20, Toronto doubleheader
5.  July 27, OFF WEEKEND
6.  August 3, Mid-Ohio
7.  August 10, OFF WEEKEND
8.  August 17, Milwaukee
9.  August 24, Sonoma
10. August 30, Fontana season finale, 500-miler night race (double points)

For comparison, NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series has already raced 16 times compared to IndyCar’s 8 – and still has 10 more regular season races to go before their Chase for the Cup. So 20 races to go versus 10, but those 20 are spread out between now and November 17, rather than 10 until August 30.

F1? Also with 11 races to go, but like NASCAR, stretching into November.

My conversation I had with racing legend Mario Andretti at Circuit of the Americas last year prompted some harsh words for this schedule layout for IndyCar.

And over the next several weeks – there’s six races in four weekends coming up – we’ll see how the IndyCar teams and series holds up through this meat grinder of a schedule.

IndyCar Power Rankings: Pato O’Ward moves to the top entering Texas Motor Speedway

0 Comments

The NBC Sports IndyCar power rankings naturally were as jumbled as the action on the streets of St. Petersburg after a chaotic opener to the 2023 season.

Pato O’Ward, who finished second because of an engine blip that cost him the lead with a few laps remaining, moves into the top spot ahead of St. Pete winner Marcus Ericsson and Alexander Rossi, who finished fourth in his Arrow McLaren debut. Scott Dixon and St. Pete pole-sitter Romain Grosjean (who led 31 laps) rounded out the top five.

St. Pete pole-sitter Romain Grosjean (who started first at St. Pete after capturing his second career pole position) Callum Ilott (a career-best fifth) and Graham Rahal entered the power rankings entering the season’s second race.

Three drivers fell out of the preseason top 10 after the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg – including previously top-ranked Josef Newgarden, who finished 17th after qualifying 14th.

Heading into Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway, here’s NBC Sports’ assessment of the current top 10 drivers through the first of 17 races this year (with previous preseason rankings in parenthesis):


NBC Sports’ IndyCar Power Rankings

1. Pato O’Ward (5) – If not for the dreaded “plenum event” in the No. 5 Chevrolet, the Arrow McLaren driver is opening the season with a victory capping a strong race weekend.

2. Marcus Ericsson (7) – He might be the most opportunistic driver in IndyCar, but that’s because the 2022 Indy 500 winner has become one of the series’ fastest and most consistent stars.

3. Alexander Rossi (10) – He overcame a frustrating Friday and mediocre qualifying to open his Arrow McLaren career with the sort of hard-earned top five missing in his last years at Andretti.

4. Scott Dixon (3) – Put aside his opening-lap skirmish with former teammate Felix Rosenqvist, and it was a typically stealthily good result for the six-time champion.

5. Romain Grosjean (NR) – The St. Petersburg pole-sitter consistently was fastest on the streets of St. Petersburg over the course of the race weekend, which he couldn’t say once last year.

6. Scott McLaughlin (6) – Easily the best of the Team Penske drivers before his crash with Grosjean, McLaughlin drove like a legitimate 2023 championship contender.

7. Callum Ilott (NR) – A quietly impressive top five for the confident Brit in Juncos Hollinger Racing’s first race as a two-car team. Texas will be a big oval litmus test.

8. Graham Rahal (NR) – Sixth at St. Pete, Rahal still has the goods on street courses, and Rahal Letterman Lanigan remains headed in the right direction.

9. Alex Palou (4) – He seemed a step behind Ericsson and Dixon in the race after just missing the Fast Six in qualifying, but this was a solid start for Palou.

10. Will Power (2) – An uncharacteristic mistake that crashed Colton Herta put a blemish on the type of steady weekend that helped him win the 2022 title.

Falling out (last week): Josef Newgarden (1), Colton Herta (8), Christian Lundgaard (9)