What’s going on in the IndyCar Paddock at Mid-Ohio

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STEAM CORNERS, Ohio – As Alexander Rossi’s future may be determined soon, there are several other developments in the INDYCAR paddock of tremendous interest at Mid-Ohio.

Andretti Autosport has scheduled a “Driver Media Availability” for Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Watch Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio live on NBC at 4 p.m. Eastern Time.

Once Rossi’s future is announced, the focus will shift to 19-year-old driver Colton Herta at Harding Steinbrenner Racing. Earlier this week, NBC Sports.com reported that George Michael Steinbrenner, IV and his stepfather Sean Jones indicated their partnership with team principal Mike Harding was not solidified for next season. In fact, both said there are as many as “five or six” different options that could see them involved with during the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season.

The son of New York Yankees co-owner and chairman Hank Steinbrenner and the grandson of Yankees patriarch George Steinbrenner, he has been a loyal and supportive partner of Herta through the junior ranks of racing. Jones and Steinbrenner were hoping his involvement in the NTT IndyCar Series would help entice potential sponsors to the operation.

None of the money to help support Harding Steinbrenner Racing is coming from the Yankees or its sponsors.

The team has struggled to attract a big-time sponsor, despite signing GESS International – a bio fuels company – and Capstone Turbines for this year’s Indianapolis 500 and the races that followed.

According the Harding Steinbrenner Racing president Brian Barnhart, the team needs additional funding, either through additional sponsorship or with another team owner getting involved in the team.

Michael Andretti is also heavily involved in Herta’s future with the team. His father, Bryan Herta, is co-owner of the No. 98 Honda along with driver Marco Andretti and Michael Andretti. Herta’s contract is owned by Andretti, which sublet him to Harding in a “junior team” partnership.

If Harding Steinbrenner Racing has financial issues and is unable to continue, Andretti’s options could be to expand his car lineup to five cars or align with another existing IndyCar team. Andretti is trying to firm up those details with Harding Steinbrenner.

Friday night practice for the INDYCAR Iowa 300 at Iowa Speedway.

When Colton Herta won the March 24 INDYCAR Classic at Circuit of the Americas (COTA), he was just 10 days short of his 19thbirthday making him the youngest driver ever to win an IndyCar Series contest.

At one time, Team Penske appeared to be a strong candidate to make a big for Rossi, but that team could focus on Herta as its driver of the future. In order to do that, however, team owner Roger Penske would have to expand to four full-time entries in the NTT IndyCar Series in 2020. That appears unlikely at this time, but stranger things have happened.

Also, there is news circulating that McLaren’s Zak Brown is determined to create a full-time NTT IndyCar Series team and has made several offers to buy existing teams in the series. Once again, that is complicated because McLaren’s departure from Honda after the 2017 season was so acrimonious, that Honda officials in Japan have prohibited Honda Performance Development from doing business with a McLaren effort in IndyCar.

McLaren attempted to make the field for the 103rdIndianapolis 500 with two-time Formula One World champion Fernando Alonso this past May but failed to make the 33-car starting lineup.

Brown spoke to Formula One media members Friday in Hockenheim, Germany – site of this weekend’s Grand Prix of Germany.

“Indy is still very much a work in progress,” Brown told reporters. “We learned a lot on what not to do this year at Indy. That was a rude awakening.

“I made a lot of mistakes in how I put that together. The reasons we want to go to Indy remain. That doesn’t change. When you have a failure, you need to learn from it and grow. The easy thing is to not get back on the horse. But you can’t do that in life. I think you’ve got to dust yourself down and get back on the horse.

“So that is under active review. We would do it differently, needless to say, to how we did it this year. And if we did it, I’d be more inclined to look to do it on a full-time basis than a one-off. I think having tried that, that’s a pretty tall order. Or certainly to go at it by yourself, I think is too tall an order.”

Brown would like to do a full season in IndyCar, but Alonso is not interested in anything other than the Indianapolis 500.

“I’d love to have him involved in an IndyCar program if we were to do it and he wants to do it,” Brown said. “He’s undecided on what he wants to do next year. This is the first time in 17-18 years he doesn’t have a calendar filled with racing, so I think he needs to take the summer break to kind of reconcile in his own mind what he wants to do. But if he wants to go IndyCar racing and we were to do it, of course he’d be top of our list.

“He’s told me he doesn’t want to do a full season. But let’s see what happens when he’s at home for two weekends consecutively not driving a racing car for the first time in 20 years. Personally, I think he would enjoy IndyCar racing.

“He has told me at this point that he doesn’t [want to do a full season]. He knows the commitment it would take. You’ve got to move to America and Fernando’s an all-in or all-out guy as you all know. It’s more a function of he has been racing that long and does he want to take a little bit of time off and figure out what he wants to do.”

Also, Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull told NBC Sports.com that rookie driver Felix Rosenqvist of Sweden will be back next season. The future for another driver from Sweden, Marcus Ericsson of Arrow Schmidt Peterson, is uncertain as he continues to negotiate for a second season with the team.

Arrow Schmidt Peterson will be testing IMSA World Endurance driver Felipe Nasr of Brazil on Monday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Nasr is the current IMSA Sports Car champion and won the 2019 12 Hours of Sebring.

There remain many moving pieces in place in IndyCar as the series heads into Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.

IndyCar champion Will Power completes ‘Victory Lap’ at ceremony in Indianapolis

Will Power Victory Lap
Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment
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INDIANAPOLIS – Will Power went on his “Victory Lap” last week to celebrate his second career championship as the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series champion.

It began with several media interviews in Monterey, California, the day after he won the championship with a third-place finish in the Sept. 11 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey.

From there, it was off to Los Angeles for more interviews and personal appearances that included a VIP Tour at the Petersen Automotive Museum, several appearances on SiriusXM and lunch at The Ivy, where the Team Penske IndyCar Series driver was treated to Wagyu Beef.

“It was one of the best steaks I’ve ever had in my life,” Power told NBCSports.com.

From L.A. back to Power’s North Carolina home, near Team Penske’s home base of Mooresville, there was one stop left on Sept. 17 — the Victory Lap Celebration at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, an invitation-only banquet where Power and his No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet crew at Team Penske were honored for the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series championship.

They didn’t even have to check into a hotel and spend another night on the road. Power and his team left on a Team Penske plane from the Statesville, N.C., airport at 4 p.m. ET Saturday to fly to Indianapolis. On arrival an hour later, a limo bus took the team to IMS.

Power led the 2022 season with five NTT P1 Awards for pole, earning the NTT P1 Award as the best qualifier of the season for the fifth time in his career. Power also made history with his 68th career pole, breaking the all-time mark held by the legendary Mario Andretti.

Power and Scott Dixon also became just two of only five drivers to complete every lap of every race in IndyCar Series history.

“What a year,” Power said as he was awarded his personal Astor Cup trophy (the second in his collection after the 2014 championship. “What a phenomenal year coming off one of my worst seasons personally. We came back with a vengeance.

“I want to thank Roger and Kathy Penske for everything they have done for me over the years. I wouldn’t be standing here and have the numbers I have without what Roger has done for me. I’m given a car every week that is capable of winning the pole, races, championships, and Indianapolis 500s. I’m so grateful for that.

“Also, to Greg Penske, you are there every week now at every event and I know we will be in good hands moving forward with the Penske Family.”

There are many on Power’s team and at home, that helped support Power throughout his career. None is bigger than Power’s wife, Liz, who told Power before the season that he would win the championship and break Andretti’s record.

“I must thank my wife. I’m so lucky to have a wife with that crystal ball that can tell me what is going to happen,” Power said. “I can’t think you enough, babe. I love you so much and you have been a big support to me my whole career. We’ve been together 17 years, and I’ve been in the series 17 years. She has been such a huge support to me. The mother of our child and she is a fantastic mother.

“She can’t tell the future. She just had faith in me.”

Liz Power’s premonition came true and that allowed Power and his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet team to celebrate Penske’s 17th IndyCar championship and 42nd title in the racing team’s history.

“The 12 crew this year, I’ve never had such a great group of guys,” Power said. “Trevor Lacasse (chief mechanic) is such a calm guy, but he does such a meticulous job on the preparation of the car. He is very, very good at keeping the whole crew happy. It feels as if there is no pressure on us. That’s a huge part in getting the most out of people. It was our first year together with you as a crew chief. What a great year to start our relationship.

“Dave Faustino (Power’s longtime engineer), we’ve worked together for 15 years. He’s almost like a wife to me, a partner … apart from sleeping together. We have a very good working relationship. Sorry Dave, I’m an awkward person and you are not.

“The things we have been through in our years together, it’s crazy that we continually improve and get better. We are standing on the podium after winning the championship and we are talking about the car, the race, and the tires. We weren’t talking about the championship.

“We never stop. The other boys were laughing at us, but I’m already thinking about next year.

“Ron Ruzewski (Team Penske IndyCar Managing Director and strategist) on the radio, always calm. He has actually made me a calm person. I rarely get upset on the radio anymore.”

Power also recognized the fans who helped boost attendance at many venues on the schedule this season as NBC Sports enjoyed its largest IndyCar audience yet.

“This series is growing,” Power said. “With open wheel racing now so popular because of Formula One, it’s really our time to push and put money behind it and go now and take IndyCar to another level because we have the best racing product in the world.

“I have to thank my teammates and (Team Penske president) Tim Cindric. I can’t tell you how hard we push each other. We are ultracompetitive and love each other and push each other hard, so thank you.”


Power won the championship by 16 points over hard-charging teammate Josef Newgarden, who finished second in the standings for the third year in a row.

“Overall, I’m filled with a lot of pride for our team and what we were able to do this year,” Newgarden said in his banquet address. “Any year that you step in the championship, you can easily see the challenges it presents everybody.

“It’s a very difficult challenge for the teams and drivers. To be a part of it, make it through it and for us at Team Penske, to topple it, is a very big deal. We’re all competitive.

“The tough thing about being in a championship fight, especially with teammates is we all want to be the best. That’s how it should be. We are competitive people and want to be the best. But it’s a team sport.

“Will, tremendous season, great, great job. I think the world of everybody on our team. It’s a big group. I’m so happy for all of you on the 12-car crew. There is so much we can take into next year.”

Six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon was unable to attend the banquet because of the Goodwood Festival in England but sent congratulations to Power via a video message.

“I really want to congratulate Will Power,” Dixon said. “You drove a tremendous season this year. Even with some of the lows that you had, some of the mistakes with qualifying, you bounced back tremendously. I know how tough these championships are and to see you do it in the style that you did it in the last race of the season, massive congratulations.”

Power’s championship formula included one victory, nine podiums and 12 top-five finishes. Teammate Josef Newgarden was second in the championship with five wins but only six podiums.

Cindric saluted Power’s season in accepting the championship team owner award.

“Will, you took it to another level this year,” Cindric said. “You are the complete package. You completed every lap, had nine podiums, finished out of the top 10 just four times, broke Mario Andretti’s record, and you did it all without cussing at the officials on national TV.

“One complaint I do has is while most of us think you might be from another planet, you never told us your wife was a fortune teller.”

Cindric also honored the seasons of Penske drivers Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin, who won three times in his second full season (“You are one of only two full-time IndyCar drivers that has driven for us in the past 23 years that hasn’t won an Indy 500 or an IndyCar championship. Your time is coming.”).

Kyle Moyer was named team manager of the year (his fifth time and Penske’s sixth). Pennzoil presented Lacasse with the chief mechanic of the year for the first time, the sixth time for Team Penske. The No. 12 crew also won the Firestone Pit Performance Award for the most pit stop performance award points in 2022.

Power, Newgarden and McLaughlin delivered nine of Chevrolet’s series-leading 11 victories this season, helping Chevy win the Manufacturer Award for the seventh time since it returned to the series in 2012 and the first time since 2017. Jim Danahy, U.S. vice president, Competition Motorsports Engineering for Chevrolet, accepted the award on behalf of his team.


Christian Lundgaard was honored as the 2022 NTT IndyCar rookie of the year. Lundgaard, from Denmark, scored one podium, two top-five finishes and seven top-10s in the No. 30 Honda fielded by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. He edged David Malukas of Dale Coyne Racing with HMD by 18 points in the standings for first-year series drivers.

Christian Lundgaard (Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment)

“It’s been a tough season and looking at how it panned out, we struggled so much at the beginning of the season and how we were able to turn it around means so much to me and the team,” Lundgaard said. “It’s the one thing that you only get one shot at. I’m happy to have it.

“Being the first Dane at the Indy 500 certainly helps. Competing here for me is quite important and also special. To win this award and to be here in future years means so much to me. I have a chance to compete for wins and championships.

“This team gave me this opportunity at this track one year ago. We came back and got redemption. We got our first podium here. This year was 40 years ago that Bobby Rahal won the same award. It’s pretty special to keep it among the team.”

Sweden’s Linus Lundqvist was honored as Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champion after a dominant season for HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing. Lundqvist won a series-high five races in the No. 26 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing entry and clinched the Lights championship with a race to spare, ending with a 92-point advantage over Sting Ray Robb. HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing owners Henry and Daiva Malukas accepted the team championship.

“I’m very proud of that,” Lundqvist said. “It’s cool to see. We are starting to look to the future, and this might not be doing too bad. It’s been great. As most of you can guess with Henry and Daiva Malukas (team owners), it’s been an incredible journey. So much fun that we’ve had. To be on the grid this year was so much of a struggle for us. I didn’t even know I would be doing this until January.

“To be able to pull out the season that we had, I cannot thank this team enough. We will celebrate this for a long time. I’m so happy and proud about that.”

Outgoing IndyCar Director of Medical Affairs Dr. Geoffrey Billows also was honored as he is leaving that role while battling cancer.

“When I think of Dr. Billows, I think of two words,” IndyCar president Jay Frye said. “One is selfless and the other is tough. He’s gone through a lot these last couple of years, and he didn’t want anybody to know. He’s an amazing man, and we are very grateful for what you have done.”

Dr. Geoffrey Billows with IndyCar president Jay Frye (Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment)

Billows was presented with a framed checkered flag signed by all drivers in the series as well as other IndyCar officials and dignitaries.

“I was not expecting this at all,” Billows said. “This means so much for me to be part of this family for the past 30 years. I’ve been presented with opportunities I never thought I would ever have. I can’t tell you how much I love all of you guys and care for all of you guys.

“Thank you so much. I want to also thank my wife, Tammy, who has been a pillar of strength as I continue on this journey with cancer for the past two years as well. You will still see me as a consultant because I love this too much to quit altogether.”

When the evening concluded, Team Penske boarded a bus to the airport for the short return flight to Statesville. They were home by midnight.

Power’s Victory Lap was complete.

“The best thing about this is I get to sleep in my own bed tonight,” Power said.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500