Preview: 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series – Road America


Credit: Mike Harding / Courtesy of IndyCar

This weekend, the Verizon IndyCar Series heads Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin for the tenth round of the 2018 season, the KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America. With the championship now past its halfway point, things are starting to hot up at the top of the table. Here is a look at everything you need to know ahead of this weekend’s race.

What happened in 2017 at Road America?

In the build-up to last year’s KOHLER Grand Prix, the pace of Team Penske looked more than impressive. The team locked out the first four positions in two of the three practice sessions and then went on to do so again in qualifying.

Helio Castroneves led the charge in qualifying, taking pole position by just over half a tenth of a second ahead of Will Power. The third car of Josef Newgarden was another three tenths off, with Simon Pagenaud completing the quartet. Unbelievably, nine-tenths separated Pagenaud in fourth on the grid from Scott Dixon in fifth place, with a massive 1.6-seconds between Dixon and the pole-sitter Castroneves.

In the race, however, Penske’s advantage was dissolved. Chip Ganassi Racing and Dixon had the much better race-pace, with Scott moving his #9 Honda through the leading quartet to take control of the race. Newgarden tried to hunt down Dixon in the final stage of the race, with the aid of the faster tyre compound, but he could not quite catch him. Dixon would take the victory, half a second clear of second-placed Newgarden. Pole-sitter, Castroneves, completed the podium.

The win would further extend Dixon’s championship lead at the time, but Newgarden’s damage limitation in second place would help him remain not too far behind; which would ultimately enable him to catch him up and ultimately overtake him in the standings during the following events.

You can read the reports from last year’s qualifying and race at Texas by following the links below

What should I look out for this weekend?

Scott Dixon’s past success at Road America may be ominous for the competition. After two wins in the last two race weekends, Dixon finds himself at the head of the championship standings; despite a difficult start to the season. If he and Chip Ganassi Racing are able to maintain their usual mid-season strength, there is every chance he could be back in victory circle again this weekend.

Andretti Autosport‘s Alexander Rossi will be hoping to gain ground on Dixon in the championship. The Californian had been leading the way until a disappointing end to the Duel in Detroit, where a shot at victory disintegrated in the final laps of the second race. Road America has not proved to be a happy hunting ground for Rossi in his two starts at the circuit in IndyCar, with Alexander finishing outside of the top twelve on both occasions. He will hope to turn around his bad run of form this time around.

Will Power, a former winner at Road America, currently lies in third place in the standings. He had been leading going into the last race at Texas, but he was forced to retire from the race after contact with Zachary Claman De Melo. If he can rekindle his past form at Elkhart Lake, Power could find himself closing the gap back to the lead of the championship.

Also, keep an eye on Robert Wickens for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. The Canadian nearly made his IndyCar Series debut at this race a year ago, after the team’s former driver Mikhail Aleshin was almost forced to miss the race due to problems with his immigration visa; which caused him issues trying to enter the United States. Wickens took part in practice, but Aleshin was able to make it to the circuit in time for qualifying and the race.

Wickens, as has often been discussed, has been sensational this season. The rookie has finished in the top ten six times in his nine races, with two podiums to his name. After coming so close to victory at his debut race, Wickens is still searching for his maiden race win. Road America sees Robert return to his traditional strengths on a purpose-built race track. If he get’s the right car underneath him, this weekend could be the weekend where Robert stands on the top of the podium for the first time.

One final driver to keep tabs on will be Alfonso Celis Jr. The Mexican driver, who has previously tested with Force India in Formula 1, will make his Verizon IndyCar Series debut this weekend with Juncos Racing. This year has seen a number of great rookies impress with their unexpectedly decent results. It will be interesting to see whether or not Alfonso can carry on the trend.

What is the schedule for the weekend?

Friday 22 June

12:00 ET / 17:00 GMT – Practice one
16:15 ET / 21:15 GMT  – Practice two

Saturday 23 June

12:00 ET / 17:00 GMT – Practice three
16:00ET / 21:00 GMT – Qualifying

Sunday 24 June

13:05 ET / 18:05 GMT  – Race

Where can I watch the KOHLER Grand Prix?

Tickets are still available for this weekend’s race. Head to Road America’s website for more information.

In the United Kingdom, television coverage is limited to just the races only. Race day coverage will start at 17:30 on BT Sport ESPN.

In the United States, television coverage for the race at Road America will be provided by NBCSN.

Further coverage of practice and qualifying will be provided for all via IndyCar’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.

How can I keep up to date with all the race action?

If you cannot make it to Road America for this weekend’s race, you can keep up to date with all the action across the weekend right here at The Checkered Flag. We will have coverage of not just this weekend’s practice, qualifying and race sessions, but for all on-track action throughout the season.

Be sure to also follow IndyCar on Twitter – @IndyCar – for live updates throughout the event.