PREVIEW: 2020 NTT Data IndyCar Series – IndyCar Harvest GP

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Photo Credit: John Cote / Courtesy of IndyCar

The NTT Data IndyCar Series heads back to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course for the final doubleheader weekend of the 2020 season.

It is still mathematically possible for Josef Newgarden to close the 72 point gap to championship leader Scott Dixon, but with only one race left after this weekend, is it too little too late to stop the Chip Ganassi Racing driver from winning his sixth IndyCar championship? Here’s everything you need to know going into the IndyCar Harvest GP.

What happened last year?

Well, there was no Harvest GP last year, but there was another race at the IMS road course earlier this season, the GMR Grand Prix.

Team Penske‘s Will Power dominated the opening half of the race, as higher track temperatures than usual forced teams onto a three-stop strategy as opposed to the traditional two-stop. Only four drivers attempted the two-stop, Santino Ferrucci, Graham Rahal, Conor Daly, and Spencer Pigot.

On lap 35, Arrow McLaren SP rookie Oliver Askew lost the rear end of his car at the exit of the final corner, bringing out a caution that would change the race completely. The caution came at a time when the three-stop drivers were in the middle of their pit windows for the second stop, and would force the leaders Power, Newgarden, and Jack Harvey outside the top ten.

Having already made that second stop, Scott Dixon would restart fourth behind the two-stoppers of Rahal, Pigot, and Daly. The 40-year old Australian would easily blast by on fresher tyres and would dominate the rest of the race, beating second place Rahal by almost 20 seconds for his second consecutive win of the season.

You can read the full race report here.

What should I look out for this weekend?

A quartet of new, yet very familiar faces will be on the grid this week, with silly season already underway.

Sebastien Bourdais announced his return to IndyCar with A.J. Foyt Enterprises earlier this month, piloting the No. 14 car for the rest of this season and into 2021.

Andretti Autosport‘s Zach Veach made the shocking announcement last Wednesday that he would be leaving the team, effective immediately, with James Hinchcliffe taking his place in the No. 26 car.

Two days after Veach’s departure, Oliver Askew was deemed unfit to race this weekend due to a concussion stemming from his wreck at the Indianapolis 500, with Helio Castroneves set to make his first career IndyCar start not racing for Team Penske in his stead.

It was also announced that Dryer & Reinbold Racing will be fielding the No. 24 car for Sage Karam, who competed in the previous two events at Indianapolis this season.

It will be interesting to see how these drivers fare in their returns to the grid.

Scott Dixon will have a chance to wrap up the championship this weekend, and past results favor him at the track. Dixon’s 72 point lead is the largest at this point in the season since, well, himself back in 2008 with a cushion of 78 points.

If he wants to win his sixth Astor Cup, “Dixie” will need to leave Indianapolis with a lead of at least 54 points, which would make second place Newgarden mathematically ineligible at St. Petersburg. Remember, no double points will be awarded in the final race this year.

What is the schedule for this weekend?

Thursday 01 October

14:15 EST / 19:15 GMT – Practice

18:20 EST / 23:20 GMT – Qualifying

Friday 02 October

15:30 EST / 20:30 GMT – Race 1

Saturday 03 October

10:20 EST / 15:20 GMT – Qualifying

14:30 EST / 19:30 GMT – Race 2

Where can I watch the race?

Coverage in the UK for the races will be on Sky Sports F1.

In the United States, coverage for Friday’s race will be on the USA Network, and Saturday’s race will be on NBC. All practice and qualifying coverage will be on NBC Sports Gold.

Where can I keep up with all the action?

You can keep up to date with all the action across the weekend right here at The Checkered Flag.

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

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Lifelong sports junkie, currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Hofstra University. Lead writer for Indycar at The Checkered Flag.
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