NTT IndyCar Series: Road America Rev Group Grand Prix Preview

Alexander Rossi races to turn 8 at Road America. © [Andy Clary/ Spacesuit Media]

Alexander Rossi races to turn 8 at Road America. © [Andy Clary/ Spacesuit Media]

by Paul Gohde

Another IndyCar race and another pandemic-forced experiment, actually two, as the NTT series moves from the somewhat tight road course in Indianapolis, to the long and flowing natural course at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin: Road America. The Rev Group Grand Prix will be run as a two-day doubleheader brought about by the summer’s pandemic-influenced postponements and cancellations. This will also be the first major motorsports event of 2020 that will open its gates to fans who will try to stay safe in and around the 640 acres of America’s National Park of Speed.

Race Facts: This weekend will see Indy car races No. 30 &31 held at Road America since Hector Rebaque won the inaugural back in 1982. CART, Champ Car and IndyCar have sanctioned events here with IndyCar bringing the current series back in 2016 to the 4.048-mile, 14 turn natural road course that opened in 1955. Among active IndyCar drivers Alexander Rossi (2019), holds the race record (132.894mph/1:39:40.474) while Colton Herta, in his first try at RA last year, took the pole (140.306mph/1:42.992). Each race this weekend will run for 55laps/ 220.77 miles.

Recent Road America Race History: Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi led 54/55 laps in 2019 on his way to a record win over Team Penske’s Will Power. The 28.43sec win was part of an early season run by Rossi that saw him place first or second in five of the first seven races. Josef Newgarden was third; his sixth podium finish of the year. Pole winner Colton Herta finished eighth.

2020 Season So Far: Scott Dixon has dominated the first two events, winning at the Texas oval and at the Indianapolis road course last weekend in his Chip Ganassi Honda. He leads the points battle with 104, followed by Simon Pagenaud (75) and Josef Newgarden (64). Colton Herta (58) and Graham Rahal (54) trail. Honda (182) leads Chevrolet (142) in the Manufacture’s battle.

Race Entries: As of this writing 23 cars are entered for the Saturday/Sunday doubleheader; the same number as 2019. The usual road course lineup finds about the same names that toiled at Indy last week, minus James Hinchcliffe, Spencer Pigot and Sage Karam.

Notes: TV: Qualifying, Race 1, Saturday, 2:15p.m. ET, NBC Sports (Live)…Race 1, Saturday, 5p.m., ET, NBC Sports…Race 2, Sunday, Noon ET, NBC… Mario Andretti and son Michael have won six of the 29 Indy car races run here since 1982. Mario’s three came in the first six (1982-’87)…The USF 2000 and Indy Pro 2000 Road to Indy series will run several events during the weekend along with Vintage Indy car events…28 drivers have earned points in the first two IndyCar events…Dixon, Newgarden, Power and Rossi are the only entered drivers who have won here… Among historic teams, Newman-Haas won here 10 times from 1983-2007.

Our Take: “Stuff” can happen on a high-speed 4.048-mile road course and often does at Elkhart Lake. The twisty hills and valleys can be hard on cars and the somewhat narrow track can cause unintended contact that could put your best race strategy behind the pit wall earlier than you planned. Yes, 23 cars often get stretched out over the long course, but unwanted restart contact going into Turn One late in the race sometimes ends your race in the sand trap ahead. Since IndyCar brought the series back to RA in 2016 no driver has come close to winning twice and that may continue Saturday or Sunday. Look for at least one new winner here, or perhaps two. We’ll pick Colton Herta or Felix Rosenqvist to win their first at Road America. Then again, Dixon may win his 2020 third in-a-row (or fourth?).

They Said It: Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “Last weekend (Indy GP), just about everything that could have gone wrong for our Verizon Chevrolet did and we are just ready to head into the weekend super motivated to improve upon last week. I love road courses and this track is by far one of the most beautiful on the circuit. I’m glad we’ll have some fans there since the track has such lively crowds. NBC and NBC Sports are going to be airing the two races and we’re all thankful to give fans a great show two days in a row.”

Next Race: Iowa Speedway Doubleheader… July 18-19…Newton, IA



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