NTT IndyCar Series: Circuit of the Americas IndyCar Classic Preview

Alexander Rossi| at the Circuit of the Americas. © [Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media]

Alexander Rossi at the Circuit of the Americas. © [Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media]


by Paul Gohde

It won’t be Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel racing around this weekend at the Circuit of the Americas just outside Austin, TX, home of the United States Grand Prix in October. But IndyCar’s Josef Newgarden and Scott Dixon could give those F1 drivers a good run for their money and probably provide a more exciting race for the track’s inaugural IndyCar Classic fans.

  • Race Facts: The 3.471-mile, 20-turn Grand Prix layout provides a real challenge through Texas’ hill country with an almost straight up-the-hill run from the start to an acute Turn One left-hander. The inaugural race at COTA will be for 60 laps (204.6 miles). COTA is currently the only track to host both an F1 race and an Indy car event since 2006 at Montreal.
  • Sunday’s Grid: Twenty-four entries are posted for the Classic with rookies Kyle Kaiser (Juncos Chevrolet) and Patricio O’Ward (Carlin Chevrolet), making their first 2019 series’starts Sunday. Rookie Ben Hanley made his series’ debut at St. Petersburg but will appear next at Barber for Dragon Speed. Veteran Charlie Kimball will also sit out the COTA race while waiting for his next start for Carlin at the Indy 500.
  • COTA IndyCar History: There is none. But it is interesting that the race came about after negotiations between IndyCar and Ft. Worth’s Texas Motor Speedway reportedly brought about an agreement giving TMS a sanctioning fee discount in exchange for the Texas oval waiving its territorial rights to an IC event.
  • The Season So Far: Josef Newgarden grabbed an early lead in the standings with his win at the season opener in St. Petersburg. Rookie Felix Rosenqvist led early for 31 laps before Newgarden took command and held off Scott Dixon for the win. Will Power, last season’s Indy 500 winner, was third while Rosenqvist , hoping for a podium in his first IndyCar run, was fourth. Two-time St. Petersburg winner (2017, 2018) Sebastien Bourdais suffered an engine issue and finished last. Newgarden (C) leads the driver points (53) followed by Dixon H/40, Power C/37, Rosenqvist 33/H and Rossi 31/H.
  • Our Take: COTA should even-up the field as no IndyCar team has raced there before. Marcus Ericsson has had several starts here in Formula One, but Spring Training practice garnered mixed results. The circuit is about the same length as Road America but is very different in style, with long straights and five more turns than RA. Drivers also noted that the surface is hard on tires. Team Penske should again battle with Chip Ganassi’s squad for the win with Newgarden’s Chevy fighting it out with Dixon’s Honda. Look out for Alexander Rossi to set foot (or feet) somewhere on the podium.
  • Notes: TV, NBCSN ‘s Qualifying: Saturday,3:00 p.m. ET, Race: Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, Green Flag, 1:40 p.m. ET…Harding-Steinbrenner’s rookie Colton Herta described the COTA circuit as “spectacular” after practicing there earlier…As has become an F1 tradition at COTA, Muse will headline a Saturday night concert in the track’s amphitheater and Asleep at the Wheel will star on Friday night…Six rookies will make up 25% of Sunday’s starters…Dixon will be trying to capture his sixth series championship this season. AJ Foyt holds the IndyCar record with seven.
  • Final Words: Felix Rosenqvist (No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) “COTA is going to be an interesting event. The track is very different to all the others on the calendar, so it remains to be seen what the racing will be like. It’s probably one of the toughest circuits on tires and also in terms of diversity needed set-up wise. I think everyone is excited about this new addition to the calendar and we all enjoyed being there for the tests (last month). It will be a bit of a restart as the track is so different and I’m sure it’s going to mix up the (finishing) order a bit.”



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