It’s barely mid-July, but the condensed nature of the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule means we’re now starting to get into the first “lasts” of the year.
Next weekend, that’s the Honda Indy 2 in Toronto from the streets of Exhibition Place. The doubleheader wraps the eight-race street race schedule for the year.
Here’s a recap of the year on the streets thus far:
ST. PETERSBURG: Will Power opens the year on top after a pass of polesitter Takuma Sato, but causes minor stir with restart pace.
- Podium: Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Helio Castroneves
- Firestone Fast Six: Takuma Sato, Tony Kanaan, Hunter-Reay, Power, Scott Dixon, Marco Andretti
- Other details: 1.9475-second margin of victory, 2 cautions/10 laps, 20 finishers (18 on lead lap), 93.572 average speed
LONG BEACH: Mike Conway comes from 17th to score surprise win for Ed Carpenter Racing, aided in part by a multiple-car pileup triggered when Ryan Hunter-Reay contacts Josef Newgarden going for the lead at Turn 4.
- Podium: Mike Conway, Power, Carlos Munoz
- Firestone Fast Six: Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe, Sebastien Bourdais, Josef Newgarden, Jack Hawksworth, Simon Pagenaud
- Other details: 0.9005 MOV, 4 FCY/18L, 16 finishers (12 lead lap), 82.363 avg. speed
DETROIT 1: Some slight contact between rivals Will Power and Simon Pagenaud early knocks the Frenchman out; the Australian puts on an otherwise clinical drive and holds off late pressure from Graham Rahal.
- Podium: Power, Graham Rahal, Kanaan
- Firestone Fast Six: Castroneves, Hinchcliffe, Hawksworth, Conway, Ryan Briscoe, Juan Pablo Montoya
- Other details: 0.3308 MOV, 4 FCY/17L, 19 finishers (15 lead lap), 90.138 avg. speed
DETROIT 2: Simpler race sees Helio Castroneves’ weekend pace rewarded in a Penske 1-2 on the boss’ – and Chevrolet’s – home turf.
- Podium: Castroneves, Power, Charlie Kimball
- Top six qualifiers: Sato, Hinchcliffe, Castroneves, Conway, Briscoe, Munoz
- Other details: 1.6836 MOV, 4 FCY/13L, 18 finishers (16 lead lap), 93.211 avg. speed
HOUSTON 1: Bizarre race starts wet, triggers penalty for Marco Andretti failing to heed race control call to pit, features contact between Mikhail Aleshin and Sato which leads to a cursing A.J. Foyt, yields varying strategies, sees Graham Rahal punt Tony Kanaan before the last restart was due to happen and Carlos Huertas score the win. Huertas’ fuel tank later found to be 0.1 of a gallon too big, but only minor fine issued.
- Podium: Carlos Huertas, Montoya, Munoz
- Firestone Fast Six: Pagenaud, Castroneves, Dixon, Luca Filippi, Hinchcliffe, Sato
- Other details: Race ended under caution (no MOV), 6 FCY/24L, 16 finishers (13 lead lap), 70.389 avg. speed
HOUSTON 2: Hotter day sees a Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 1-2 led by Simon Pagenaud, with Jack Hawksworth scoring his first podium after holding off Juan Pablo Montoya and passing an ailing Will Power, who’d come from 18th to third, late in the race.
- Podium: Pagenaud, Mikhail Aleshin, Hawksworth
- Top six qualifiers: Castroneves, Aleshin, Pagenaud, Rahal, Bourdais, Justin Wilson
- Other details: 7.2622 MOV, 5 FCY/21L, 18 finishers (11 lead lap), 78.981 avg. speed
So in six races, here’s what we’ve had from the streets:
- Five different winners (Power 2, Castroneves, Huertas, Pagenaud 1 win apiece)
- Four different Verizon P1 Award winners, none named Will Power (Sato 2, Castroneves 2, Hunter-Reay 1, Pagenaud 1)
- 13 different podium finishers of 18 possible podium positions (Power 4, Castroneves 2, Munoz 2, Hunter-Reay, Conway, Rahal, Kanaan, Kimball, Huertas, Montoya, Pagenaud, Aleshin, Hawksworth all 1)
- 20 different drivers who’ve qualified in the top six (Hinchcliffe 4, Castroneves 4, Sato 3, Pagenaud 3, Hunter-Reay, Dixon, Bourdais, Hawksworth, Conway, Briscoe all 2, Kanaan, Power, Andretti, Newgarden, Montoya, Munoz, Filippi, Aleshin, Rahal, Wilson all 1). Not all those 20 have made a Firestone Fast Six, as some have made the top six in the second qualifying session of a doubleheader weekend, set by groups.
- 2.02 average margin of victory, average 4 cautions/17 laps
- A still respectable 16 to 20 finishers of 22 or 23 starters in every race
All told, through six races, it’s fair to say the Verizon IndyCar Series on street courses, 2014, is completely unpredictable. You’re good picking a few random numbers out of a hat heading into a weekend.