IndyCar

PREVIEW: 2022 NTT IndyCar Series – Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America

4 Mins read
(Photo Credit: Joe Skibinski / Penske Entertainment / Courtesy of IndyCar)

For the third week in a row, the NTT IndyCar Series is back in action with the Sonsio Grand Prix, held at the iconic 14-turn, 6.515 km Road America circuit.

After his win at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park, Will Power enters this weekend as the points leader with 255 points, while Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson comes in second only three points behind. Pato O’Ward occupies the third position with 243 points, only two ahead of defending series champion Alex Palou. Rounding out the top five is Josef Newgarden on 208 points.

This weekend will see the return of Callum Ilott to Juncos Hollinger Racing after missing the Detroit Grand Prix due to a broken hand suffered in the Indy 500, while fellow rookie Kyle Kirkwood has also been cleared to race following his sprained right hand in the Motor City. Another return comes in the form of Simona De Silvestro and Paretta Autosport, with the woman-led team focusing on a three-race road course package instead of just the Indy 500.

So, who will be able to best the fan-favorite circuit? Will we see the points lead change hands yet again? And could this be the year we finally see Alexander Rossi return to the dominant form we saw from him at this track in 2019? Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the Sonsio Grand Prix.

WHAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR?

(Photo Credit: Joe Skibinski / Penske Entertainment / Courtesy of IndyCar)

Newgarden looked all but set to win the REV Group Grand Prix, but a mechanical issue coming past the start/finish line with two laps to go handed the win to Palou.

Newgarden led the field to green and kept a healthy lead throughout the beginning stint of the race, but that gap was erased after a spin by Jimmie Johnson on the exit of turn seven on Lap 16. Cautions tend to breed cautions at Road America, and another came out on Lap 23 for Ericsson who spun after a tank-slapper at the exit of turn three. Newgarden kept his lead after teams pit under caution, beating out Palou.

Kevin Magnussen, who was filling in for the injured Felix Rosenqvist, led a few laps after not pitting under the caution, but became the reason for the next yellow on Lap 35 after a mechanical issue forced him to retire.

Newgarden had cycled back up to the lead and continued to lead the pack, before Ed Jones spun in turn 12 with four laps to go, turning the race into a three-lap shootout to the finish with everyone in contention. Coming up the hill, Newgarden heard a popping sound and plummeted down the order while Palou went on to take the victory. Colton Herta and Power finished off the podium in second and third respectively.

You can read the full race report here.

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR THIS WEEKEND?

Rossi with his second-place trophy at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix. (Photo Credit: Joe Skibinski / Penske Entertainment / Courtesy of IndyCar)

The first driver to highlight is of course Rossi. After the announcement that he will join Arrow McLaren SP next season, Rossi put together an incredible performance that came up just short of victory in Detroit. Although his future lies with another team, Rossi once again seems focused on the task at hand with Andretti Autosport, a phenomenon that we saw happen to his soon-to-be teammate O’Ward earlier in the season.

Rossi’s 2019 performance at Road America has come up in conversation ever since it happened, a race where the American led all but one lap and finished with a gap of 28 seconds to second place. Not to mention, this was also the last time that Rossi won an IndyCar race. Will he be able to return to the top step of the podium at a track where he scored one of his most iconic wins?

Rosenqvist after winning the REV Group Grand Prix Race 2 in 2020. ((Photo Credit: Joe Skibinski / Penske Entertainment / Courtesy of IndyCar)

Sticking on the thread of AMSP, Road America is a track that has been kind to Rosenqvist in the past. After all, it was the site of his first career IndyCar victory in 2020 after a thrilling battle to the finish with now-teammate O’Ward.

With his future uncertain in papaya orange and black (and neon blue too), the Swede has needed good results to keep himself in the running for that third car spot and he has delivered. Through the past three races, Rosenqvist has three top ten finishes, even after starting dead last in Detroit. While this will be his first race at Road America with AMSP, another strong finish could be in the cards.

(Photo Credit: Joe Skibinski / Penske Entertainment / Courtesy of IndyCar)

Another driver that Road America has been kind to is Palou. The Spaniard earned his first podium here in 2020, making a name for himself with Dale Coyne Racing w/ Team Goh, and of course winning last year.

While he’s been quiet this year with only three podiums in seven races, he’s still been one of the most consistent drivers in the field and still sits top five in points. This could be the weekend he finally gets in the win column for 2022.

(Photo Credit: Matt Fraver / Penske Entertainment / Courtesy of IndyCar)

As mentioned before, Paretta Autosport make their return to IndyCar this weekend with De Silvestro once again piloting their entry. The team made their debut at last year’s Indy 500 in a partnership with Team Penske, finishing thirty-first after a spin entering pit road. Now in a partnership with Ed Carpenter Racing, this will be the first of three races the woman-led team runs in this season as they look to build towards a full road and street course program before even going full-time. After this, they will also be running at the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio in July as well as the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix on the Nashville Street Circuit in August.

With A.J. Foyt EnterprisesTatiana Calderon on the grid, this marks the first time that IndyCar has seen multiple female drivers on the grid at a non-Indy 500 race since the 2013 season finale at Auto Club Speedway.

Lastly, let’s highlight qualifying. Seven different drivers have started on the pole in each of the seven races so far this year. Qualifying has been the perfect example of the parity that exists within the IndyCar series, and will absolutely be a session to watch come this weekend.

WEEKEND SCHEDULE

Friday 10 June

1325 PST / 1625 EST / 2025 GMT – Practice 1

Saturday 11 June

0745 PST / 1045 EST / 1445 GMT – Practice 2

1045 PST / 1345 EST / 1745 GMT – Qualifying

1420 PST / 1720 EST / 2120 GMT – Final Practice

Sunday 12 June

0930 PST / 1230 EST / 1630 GMT – Race

WHERE CAN I WATCH?

Coverage in the UK for the race will be provided by Sky Sports F1.

In the United States, coverage for the race will be on NBC, while practice and qualifying will be streamed on the Peacock streaming service.

HOW CAN I KEEP UP WITH ALL THE ACTION?

You can follow all the all the action here at The Checkered Flag. We will be providing coverage of the practice, qualifying, and race sessions.

You can also follow IndyCar on Twitter (@Indycar) for live updates during the sessions.

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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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