Newgarden Takes the Lead
Sunday’s Mid-Ohio Honda 200 at the sports car course in Lexington Ohio was another dominating performance by the Penske Team’s newest member Josef Newgarden. To say that the 26-year-old Tennessean hook-up with the Captain has been a success is an understatement. In taking his third win of the 2017 season, Newgarden has matched his career win total with three and now is the current point leader in the race for the 2017 Indy Car Championship. He now has six career victories. Teammate Will Power won his 5th pole of the season but once the green flag dropped the story was all Car #2. As at Toronto, Newgarden led the most laps and was never seriously challenged. Teammate Will Power said of Newgarden “Josef was strong today. Very, very strong!”
Power held on to the 2nd finishing position and Ohio favorite son Graham Rahal was the top finishing Honda pilot in 3rd. Simon Pagenand finished 4th, giving the Captain 3 of the 4 top finishing spots. Indy winner and Andretti Motor Sports top driver Takuma Sato finished 5th. For Helio Castroneves, the current situation has to be perplexing. After trying to overtake Scott Dixon for the point lead for much of the season, he finally passed the New Zealander with a 7th place finish. However, he is still second in the point standings because his younger teammate is now the hottest jockey in the field and has leapfrogged past both he and Dixon to take the point lead. Dixon is now 3rd in points with a 9th place finish and he has Pagenand breathing down his neck for 3rd in points. The talk about Castroneves leaving Team Penske at the end of this season has resumed and will not die down.
The next time the IndyCar boys meet will be August 20 at the Pocono raceway in Long Pond PA, for ABC Supply 500 Pocono. It is a tricky track and anything can happen, but I’m looking for Newgarden to increase his point lead.
2018 Aero Kits
The 2018 Aero Kits were introduced officially at IMS last week. The kits are designed by engine makers Chevy and Honda to adapt the Dallara DW150 chassis to their respective engines. Juan Pablo Montoya is testing the Chevy kit and Oriol Servia is testing for Honda. The kits give the chassis a sleeker and more aerodynamic look and will have more down force than the 2017 kits. In 2019 all cars will have to use the same universal kits regardless of the engine they use.
Andretti Autorsports Engine Change?
Michael Andretti has not yet decided on the engine that his team will use in 2018. Andretti Autosports has employed Honda power plants since 2014 and has won the Indianapolis 500 3 of 4 times during that stretch, but they have seen both Team Penske and Ganassi Racing outdistance them in total series victories. The Andretti team has been considered the primary Honda team during that time but Michael is seriously considering a move to the Chevrolet engine for the entire team. The team’s contract with Honda expires at the end of 2017.
Bourdais Behind the Wheel Again
Indy Car fans will be heartened to learn that Sebastien Bourdais is behind the wheel of an Indy car just 72 days after a horrifying crash while trying to qualify for the 2017 Indianapolis 500. Bourdais critically injured his hips and pelvis after crashing hard into the south turn wall on day 1 of qualifying. The 38-year-old driver from Le Mans France turned in 80 laps while testing at the Mid Ohio track and turned in some very competitive lap times. Afterwards Bourdais said he felt great but his neck muscles were a bit sore. He said he felt like he could run at Pocono but do not look for that to happen, as there doesn’t look to be a car available for him. He will more than likely compete at Sonoma, the final race of the season and then be ready for 2018.
Nothing So Fine As a Day at the Vic
It’s now time for me to wax poetic about one of my very favorite places to be in Indianapolis. Along the 1st base line at Victory Field. The family took me there for my ah . . . blank blank birthday. It was a really gorgeous day for any outdoor activity but particularly to take in an Indians game. The Tribe was up against the Pawtucket Red Sox. It really doesn’t matter who the Indian’s opponent is. It’s just glorious to be out there gobbling down my foot long hot dog, sharing the moment with my family and watching my grandkids playing around and absorbing a family tradition.
As for the game. It was fairly tight. The Tribe scored a home run early. The Sox retaliated in the 6th. At the top of the 9th the Sox took a 1 run lead, but at the bottom of the 9th the Tribe knocked another out of the park and tied it up. EXTRA INNINGS! Finally after looking like they might be playing the game for eternity, the home team scored the winning run at the bottom of the 12th.
A very special game for a very special day. . . at least or me!