The much needed week off is behind us and another one is coming up next week. But, first things first, it’s time for Sunday’s Kohler Grand Prix (12:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN/INDYCAR Radio Network) in Road America. The race is the 10th of the Verizon IndyCar Series season. With nine previous races run this season and each of the last two years of racing Road America factored in too, here’s a safe choice for five favorites and five sleepers for this weekend’s race.
Since the beginning of the Month of May, no one has been as hot in the Verizon IndyCar Series than Scott Dixon. He’s scored 248 points since the INDYCAR Grand Prix, eight more than second place Will Power and 53 more than third place Ryan Hunter-Reay. In fact, only five drivers are within 100 points of him since the start of May. He’s been on a terror too. Dixon, finished runner-up in the INDYCAR Grand Prix, third in the Indianapolis 500, won in the first doubleheader race in Belle Isle and finished fourth in the other. He’s also coming off of a win two weekends ago in Texas.
Heading into June, he led zero laps. So far this month, he’s led 158. While he had a stellar Month of May, he’s having a better June. 158 laps led, two wins in three races and a fourth place run in the other. That has propelled him from seventh in the standings heading into May into the points lead heading into this weekend’s race in Road America.
What’s even more troubling for the rest of the field is that Dixon is the defending race winner in Elkhart Lake. He led 24 laps last year en route to a victory over the Penske’s. He started on the front row in 2016. This could be another race win for Dixon and one that could give him a huge advantage heading into Iowa in July.
While he’s struggled a bit all weekend, you can’t overlook him.
So, what going on with Josef Newgarden? He was the points leader heading into May and now sits fifth. After scoring two wins and two seventh place finishes in the first four races of the season, he hasn’t finished in the top seven since. He was eighth in the Indy 500 which was his best result since the start of May. He has three finishes outside of the top 10 in the last five overall races on the season. His 131 points scored in that time frame ranks him seventh in the series.
He did finish runner-up last year in Road America and did win at Barber, but is the speed and luck gone? So far, it’s looking like, no. He was fastest in both practice sessions on Friday and will start on the pole.
Will Power slipped when he crashed two weeks ago at Texas. That 18th place finish took him from first to third in the Verizon IndyCar Series points standings. But, since the Month of May, it’s not like he’s been bad. He’s scored 240 points in the five races in that time frame, taking two wins and a runner-up finish in those five races. Only Scott Dixon (248) has scored more points since the start of May. Now, it’s a big battle from here on out between Dixon and Power for the 2018 championship. While others are certainly in striking distance, watch out for these two.
Heading into this weekend’s race in Elkhart Lake, Power and Dixon are the only two that have won since the series’ return in 2016. They’re the two hottest drivers over the last two months. Odds say they’re the favorites right?
Power, led 46 laps in his win in 2016. Dixon led 24 laps in his win last year. In the Month of May, Power led 115 laps alone. He hasn’t led in June, but that’s because Dixon who led zero laps on the season entering June has led 158 this month alone.
Power, will start second in the race.
He’s had a stellar rookie season and heading to a track that suits his driving style. Road America is a lot like the tracks over in Europe. Wickens, excelled on them. Plus, he was fourth and second respectively in practice on Friday and quickest on Saturday. He qualified his car fifth.
Other than a slip up in the second practice yesterday, Rossi was third in the first and fourth this morning. He even qualified his No. 27 Honda fourth too. He’s great on natural road courses and a driver I wouldn’t sleep on.
Don’t sleep on Ryan Hunter-Reay. He finished fourth in this race in 2016 and was runner-up on another natural road course this season in Barber. He’s scored the third most points since the Month of May with netting 195 points over the last five races. Plus, the only other driver to win since the start of May other than Dixon and Power is him. He won the second race of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix race weekend. He also has four straight top five finishes and five in the last six races. This season alone, he has seven top five finishes in his No. 28 Honda. Why not another this weekend?
He starts third.
Charlie Kimball heads to Road America on a hot streak. He finished eighth in the second race on the streets of Belle Isle and 10th in the last race two weeks ago in Texas. At Elkhart Lake, the site of this weekend’s race, Kimball placed sixth in each of the last two years.
So, watch out for the California native as a solid sleeper in his No. 23 Chevrolet this weekend.
He’s always good in Road America and has been quietly good this weekend. Rahal, rolls off ninth on Sunday and was in the top 10 in the final two practice sessions of the weekend. He finished third in this very race in 2016 and his teammate Takuma Sato also starts up front too.
He hasn’t had the finishes in his two Road America starts, but Sato had a great test last week and was in the top 10 in both practice sessions on Friday. Plus, on natural road courses in 2018, Sato has had a really good car. His seventh place starting spot further proves that point.
This has been a great weekend for him. He was eighth quick in two of the three practice sessions so far and qualified his No. 26 Honda 11th. With him having prior success in Indy Lights at Road America plus a fast car recently, watch out.