The NTT IndyCar Series heads to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin this weekend for the 2019 REV Group Grand Prix at Road America; the tenth round of the 2019 championship. Josef Newgarden enters the weekend as the defending race-winner at Road America and the current championship leader. Can anybody take the fight to Newgarden this year? Here’s everything you need to know ahead of this Sunday’s race.
What happened in 2018 at Road America?
In qualifying for last year’s KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America, Team Penske‘s Josef Newgarden took pole position with a stunning last-gasp lap right at the end of the session. His lap after the chequered flag began to fly was enough to see him beat team-mate Will Power to pole position by just half a tenth of a second.
At the start of the race on Sunday, Power’s front-row start quickly faded away to nothing. The Australian would plummet down the order with major engine issues. He would be officially retired from the race soon after; another blow to Will’s 2018 championship hopes.
Newgarden’s race, on the other hand, was nigh-on faultless. He would remain virtually unchallenged for the entire race duration, with only Andretti Autosport‘s Ryan Hunter-Reay keeping on tabs with Josef until the final few laps, when Newgarden would put his foot down an extend his lead to over three seconds.
Newgarden would cross the line to take the victory with a 3.3-second gap to second-placed Hunter-Reay. The win would be his third of the season after having stood on the top step of the podium at ISM Raceway and Barber Motorsports Park and would put him into fourth place in the championship standings. Scott Dixon would take the final spot on the podium, thus maining his championship lead at the time.
The major drama of the race centred around championship contender, Alexander Rossi. Alexander came under some scrutiny from some of his competitors, pundits and IndyCar fans after some forceful battling against Takuma Sato and Robert Wickens. Rossi pushed both drivers off of the track whilst battling for position at different stages of the race, but Alexander would ultimately down in sixteenth-place after suffering from a late-puncture.
You can read the full race reports from last year’s race at Road America by following the link below:
What should I look out for this weekend?
With arguably the most momentum of any driver in the field heading into this weekend’s race, championship leader Josef Newgarden will certainly be a force to be reckoned with. Entering with a lead of twenty-five points in the standings ahead of Alexander Rossi, Newgarden also comes into the race as the most recent race winner after having won the last race at Texas Motor Speedway. Additionally, as mentioned above, he is the most recent winner at Road America after having dominated this race twelve months ago.
Since Road America returned to the NTT IndyCar Series calendar in 2016, two of the three races held so far have been won by Penske drivers; the most recent of which being Newgarden’s win last year. However, the 2016 edition of the race was won by Newgarden’s team-mate, Will Power. The Australian could well have been in contention for a win again last year had it not been for his unfortunate engine woes, but his pace throughout the weekend up to that point had been looking good.
Power, once again, enters the weekend hoping for a turnaround in form. After making a long-awaited return to the podium back in Detroit, the last race at Texas Motor Speedway was Power uncharacteristically off of the pace all weekend; starting fifteenth and finishing in only ninth place.
Despite having only taken two podiums in the opening nine races and having also finished outside of the top ten in three of the other races, Power still remains in sixth place in the championship standings. However, the gap between himself and championship leader Newgarden is a staggering 113 points. If Power wants to be any kind of factor in the championship fight, he desperately needs to begin a consistent run of stronger race results as soon as possible.
Reigning series champion, Scott Dixon, will also be on the hunt for a strong finish to put himself back in the fray for the title. Despite being in fourth-place in the championship standings, Dixon trails Newgarden by eighty-nine points. Having finished on the podium at Road America in the last two years, including his win in 2017, Dixon will be hoping to score a hat-trick this weekend by finishing in the top three and, hopefully, gaining ground on Newgarden in the title.
Lastly, once again, the fight between this year’s class of rookies has the potential to be exciting once again. After scoring his best finish in IndyCar to date at Texas last time out, Dale Coyne Racing‘s Santino Ferrucci enters the weekend as the highest-placed rookie in the standings; currently sat in ninth place with 193 points to his name. Chip Ganassi Racing‘s Felix Rosenqvist trails Ferrucci by just twelve points, with fellow full-time rookies Marcus Ericsson and Colton Herta further back after having fantastic results interspersed with poor finishes.
Road America has the potential to favour any one of the rookies in the field. The traditional road course nature of Road America could arguably suit Ferrucci, Rosenqvist and Ericsson; all of whom have spent prior years racing on many tracks of a similar style in Europe. However, only Herta enters the weekend having previously raced at Road America. Colton scored a win and a second-place finish at Road America in last year’s Indy Lights championship. It will certainly be interesting to see which of the rookies comes out on top this weekend.
What is the schedule for the weekend?
Friday 21 June
12:05 ET / 17:05 GMT – Practice one
16:00 ET / 21:00 GMT – Practice two
Saturday 22 June
12:00 ET / 17:00 GMT – Practice three
16:00 ET / 21:00 GMT – Qualifying
Sunday 23 June
12:30 ET / 17:30 GMT – Race
Where can I watch the 2019 REV Group Grand Prix?
Tickets are still available for this weekend’s race. Head to the Road America website for more information.
As a part of the IndyCar’s UK coverage deal, both qualifying and the race will be broadcasted live on Sky Sports F1.
In the United States, television coverage for the REV Group Grand Prix will be shown on NBC Sports.
Further coverage of practice and qualifying will be provided in the United States by NBC Sports Gold.
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 this weekend’s practice, qualifying and race sessions.
Be sure to also follow IndyCar on Twitter – @IndyCar – for live updates throughout the event.