Thursday, June 30, 2022

Track Walk: Mid-Ohio 2022

The ninth round of the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series season takes the series to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the first race of summer. After a two-week break, IndyCar is back for what will be a busy summer stretch. Mid-Ohio is the first of six races held in a 36-day period. Just over a third of the 2022 season will take place over the next three-dozen days. There will be two road course races, two oval races and two street course races in this six-race stretch. With nine races remaining and 486 points left on the table, every human being is still mathematically alive to lift the Astor Cup as IndyCar champion. 

Time: Coverage begins at noon ET on Sunday July 3 with green flag scheduled for 12:30 p.m. ET.
Channel: NBC
Announcers: Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and James Hinchcliffe will be in the booth. Kevin Lee and Dillon Welch will work pit lane.

IndyCar Weekend Schedule
First Practice: 3:30 p.m. ET (75 minutes)
Second Practice: 8:35 a.m. ET (40 minutes)
Qualifying: 2:45 p.m. ET 
Warm-Up: 9:45 a.m. ET (30 minutes)
Race: 12:50 p.m. ET (80 laps)

* - All sessions will be available live on Peacock

Who Has a Case for Redemption?
In the last two IndyCar races, the winner had experienced some heartbreak at that track the year before. 

In 2021, Will Power was leading when the red flag came out in the first Belle Isle race with six laps to go. When it was time to restart the cars, Power's wouldn't and he lost the lead and a likely victory. In 2022, Power went from 16th to first in one of the most impressive victories of his IndyCar career.

In 2021, Josef Newgarden led the most laps at Road America. Late cautions meant for a late restart. With two laps to go, Newgarden's gearbox failed and dropped him down the order. In 2022, Newgarden took the lead from Alexander Rossi through the first pit cycle and went on to hold off all challenges to take his third victory of the season. 

Could we see a third redemption story in as many races?

Power has another case for redemption. He qualified fourth in last year's Mid-Ohio race, but spun on lap three and collected Ed Jones, eliminating both cars from the race. It was the worst Mid-Ohio finish for Power and only the third time in 14 starts he finished outside the top ten. 

Colton Herta started second in last year's race, but pit lane issues from hell ruined Herta's race. A re-fueling issue cost him spots on the first stop, he stalled on his second stop, and the team did not get the car full of fuel on that stop, meaning Herta had to make a late stop for a splash for fuel, costing him a top ten finish.

It might not be because of last year at Mid-Ohio, but Alexander Rossi has redemption from the last race. Already on a 44-race winless streak, Rossi felt confident starting on pole position at Road America. Pit lane traffic cost Rossi on his first pit stop and he lost the lead. He pushed to make a late run at Josef Newgarden, but Rossi ended up losing a spot on the final restart and finished third. Now on a 45-race winless streak, and after finishes of second and third, Rossi looks for his third consecutive trip to the podium be a first. He has five consecutive top five finishes at Mid-Ohio, a streak that began with his 2018 victory. 

It might not be a 45-race winless streak, but it has been 32 races since Felix Rosenqvist's one and only IndyCar victory in the second race of the Road America doubleheader. The Swede enters on a good run of form. He has four consecutive top ten finishes, the first time he has had four consecutive top ten finishes in his IndyCar career. Rosenqvist signed an extension with McLaren during the break, but the multi-year agreement does not specify which series he will drive in next year. He could drive in either IndyCar or Formula E in 2023. A victory at Mid-Ohio could assure Rosenqvist the long projected third Arrow McLaren SP IndyCar seat, keeping him next to Patricio O'Ward and Rossi, AMSP's new signing.

Takuma Sato has the most Mid-Ohio starts without a victory at the track. Sato has 13 starts on the 2.25-mile road course, but he has never even finished on the podium. He has only two top five finishes and his tenth-place result in 2021 was only the fourth time he has finished in the top ten. He has finished outside the top fifteen in eight of 13 starts. 

Do We Have Nine?
Eight races and eight different pole-sitters and IndyCar is on the verge of doing something of matching a record. Nine different pole-sitters through the first nine races in a season has only been done twice before, though one of those years has an asterisk.

It was first done in 1952, but there is a note that the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb counted toward the championship that season. No pole position was technically awarded as there was no qualifying for that race, but in the first nine races where qualifying was held, nine different drivers took the top spot. 

Fred Agabashian was on pole position in the Cummins Diesel Special for the Indianapolis 500, the first turbocharged engine in Indianapolis 500. In the next eight races, Jim Rigsby, Cliff Griffith, Mike Nazaruk, Bob Sweikert, Jimmy Reece, Bill Schinlder, Jack McGrath and Bill Vukovich started on pole position. McGrath became the first repeat pole-sitter.

The last time the season opened with nine different pole-sitters was in 1961. Tony Bettenhausen, Eddie Sachs, Dick Rathmann, Al Keller, Don Branson, Parnelli Jones, Jim Hurtubise, Rodger Ward and A.J. Foyt were those pole-sitters. Sachs was the first repeat pole-sitter.

Who could extend this streak in 2022 and put IndyCar on the brink of history?

The defending IndyCar champion has yet to start on pole position this season. Not only does Álex Palou not have a pole position, but his average starting position of 6.5 is second best in IndyCar. Palou has started in the top three in five of the last six races. In three Mid-Ohio starts, Palou has started 20th, fourth and seventh. 

Patricio O'Ward, third in average starting position at 7.625, but like Palou, the Mexican driver does not have a pole position this season. He has started in the top five in four of the last five races with his worst starting position in that stretch being seventh. O'Ward has never started in the top ten at Mid-Ohio. In three races, he has started 15th, 21st and 20th. 

Romain Grosjean makes it three drivers in the top five of average starting position this season without a pole position. Grosjean averages 8.625 in starting position, but he has only started in the top five once this season, fifth in the St. Petersburg season opener. Grosjean started 18th at Mid-Ohio last year. 

Marcus Ericsson has yet to score a pole position in his IndyCar career, and Ericsson has started in the top five in two of the last three races. Ericsson's best career starting position came at Mid-Ohio last year when he started third. 

Among the drivers with a pole position at Mid-Ohio who could extend this streak to nine different pole-sitters, Hélio Castroneves has two pole positions at the track. However, those came in 2007 and 2008, the first two races at Mid-Ohio with the Indy Racing League. Simon Pagenaud was on pole position in 2016 and went on to win that race.

Who could break the streak?

Will Power has five Mid-Ohio pole positions, the most all-time. Power has started on the front row nine times at Mid-Ohio and in the top five 11 times in 14 starts. Mid-Ohio is known as Scott Dixon's track, and Dixon has two pole positions here. He has started in the top five in eight of 18 Mid-Ohio starts. 

Josef Newgarden has started in the top ten in ten of 11 Mid-Ohio starts and eight of those have been top five starts. Colton Herta has started on the front row in the last two Mid-Ohio races. Alexander Rossi has made it to the second round of qualifying in every one of his Mid-Ohio appearances. Rossi has made the Fast six in four of seven starts. 

Big American Weekend
Independence Day is Monday and IndyCar will have eight drivers entered at Mid-Ohio this weekend.

Josef Newgarden is not only the top American in the championship. Newgarden is the only active American driver with an IndyCar championship and he leads all active American drivers in race victories. His 23 victories has him 19th all-time and 13th among America drivers. A victory this weekend would level him with Ted Horn and Bobby Rahal on victories. This is the fifth-time Newgarden has won three races in a season. He has won four races in three seasons, but he has never won five times in a season. 

Alexander Rossi is on a good run of form. Three consecutive top five finishes have lifted Rossi from 15th to seventh in the championship. His 16 laps led last race at Road America were his most since he led 61 laps at St. Petersburg in 2020. Outside of Texas where era issue ended his race after 11 laps, Rossi has finished on the lead lap of the other seven races.

Colton Herta finds himself outside the top ten in the championship in what has been a boom-or-bust season for him. Herta was fifth at Road America, only his third top five finish this season. He has yet to have top five results in consecutive races and his longest stretch of top ten finishes has only been two events. 

Conor Daly is 13th in the championship, his best championship position through the first eight races of a season. Daly has completed the third most laps this season, 920. The three laps he did not complete all came at Texas. Daly has two top ten finishes at Mid-Ohio, but the most recent one was in 2017. 

Graham Rahal is back home in Ohio this weekend, but the driver of the #15 Honda likely wanted to return better than 15th in the championship. Rahal has finished in the top ten of half the races this season, but his best finish is only seventh. He has made 81 starts since his most recent IndyCar victory at Belle Isle in 2017.

David Malukas will make his first Mid-Ohio start in an IndyCar this weekend. Malukas never won at Mid-Ohio in ten starts. He was third in both Indy Lights races last July and runner-up in both Indy Lights races last October at the season finale. 

Kyle Kirkwood was the Scott Dixon of Mid-Ohio in the Road to Indy series. Kirkwood has eight Mid-Ohio victories in nine Road to Indy starts at the track. He also won at Mid-Ohio twice in the F4 United States Championship and three times in the F3 Americas Championship. 

Jimmie Johnson returns to make his second Mid-Ohio start. Johnson was 22nd in last year's race, one lap down. He has finished outside the top twenty in the last five races, and he has started outside the top twenty in all the road/street course races this season. 

Newgarden and Herta are the only American winners this season and they have combined for four victories. American drivers have combined for at least five victories in six of the previous seven seasons.

At Mid-Ohio, American drivers have won six of the last ten races at the track. American drivers had won only eight of the first 28 Mid-Ohio races and had gone 14 Mid-Ohio races without a victory before Charlie Kimball's victory in 2013.

Rookie Roundup
IndyCar's class of 2022 is about to hit the halfway point of their rookie seasons and it is time to ask, how are they doing?

In short, not great. 

None of the rookies are ranked in the top fifteen in the championship. No rookie has a top five finish, and the rookies have a combined four top ten finishes between 45 combined starts. 

Christian Lundgaard leads the five rookies, sitting 16th in the championship. The Dane is the only rookie with multiple top ten finishes this season. He was eighth at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and tenth at Road America, where the Dane also led a lap through the pit cycle. Lundgaard's average finish of 14.25 is the best among the rookies, and better than veterans Takuma Sato, Rinus VeeKay, Jack Harvey and Hélio Castroneves. Lundgaard has finished on the lead lap in six of eight races, including five consecutive. 

While Lundgaard has the best average finish among the rookies, Callum Ilott has the best average starting position at 15.571. Ilott has arguably turned the most heads among the rookie class. Ilott has the best finish among the rookies, an eighth at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, but he has made it to the second round of qualifying three times in five road/street course appearances, and his best starting position was seventh on the IMS road course. He also led five laps during a pit cycle at Texas.

David Malukas has the best starting position for a rookie this season, he was sixth at Belle Isle, the only time a rookie has made the Fast Six in qualifying this season, but a top ten finish has eluded Malukas. He was 11th at Texas and Belle Isle, and he was 12th at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Like Lundgaard, Malukas has five consecutive lead lap finishes.

Kyle Kirkwood was the first rookie to get a top ten finish this season when he finished tenth at Long Beach, but it has been a difficult year for the 2021 Indy Lights champion. He has finished outside the top fifteen in the last five races and in seven of eight races this season. He has rested from three races as well, including from what was going to be a top ten result at Belle Isle. Kirkwood also hurt his hand that weekend in a practice accident. He has started outside the top twenty in five of eight races. 

There is always one rookie that ruffles some feathers. In 2022, that is Devlin DeFrancesco. The Canadian has had a few notable incidents this season. DeFrancesco was involved in three separate incidents at Texas, the final of which took out Graham Rahal and Hélio Castroneves after an unadvised dive to the bottom entering turn three. This earned DeFrancesco a six-spot grid penalty for the Long Beach race. At Road America, DeFrancesco ran into the back of Will Power, spinning out the then-championship lead earning him a stop-and-go penalty. DeFrancesco has not finished nor started better than 17th this season. 

Tatiana Calderón has made six starts as she splits A.J. Foyt Racing's #11 ROKiT Chevrolet with J.R. Hildebrand, who runs the oval events. Calderon is regularly at the bottom of the timesheet. Her average starting position is 25th, the worst of the drivers to have run majority of the races. However, Calderón does keep the car moving forward and out of trouble. It earned her 16th at Long Beach and 15th in the mixed conditions on the IMS road course, where she led a lap through pit cycle. She has finished every start, but she has been a lap down in five starts and multiple laps down in three of them.

Road to Indy
It will be a busy holiday weekend at Mid-Ohio with six Road to Indy races in support of IndyCar's Honda 200. 

The Indy Lights championship enters the second half of its season with Linus Lundqvist on top. Lundqvist's championship lead remains a healthy 82 points but there remains a hearty 378 points left on the table for the final seven races. 

Sting Ray Robb's runner-up finish at Road America has him in second in the championship, as Benjamin Pedersen dropped to third after finishing 11th at Road America. Pedersen trails Lundqvist by 97 points. Danial Frost is 100 points off Lundqvist. Matthew Brabham is 101 points back while Christian Rasmussen's maiden Indy Lights victory has the Dane sixth in the championship, 115 points off the lead.

Hunter McElrea has podium finishes in the last two races and he is up to seventh in the championship, 117 points behind Lundqvist. Kyffin Simpson sits in eighth on 169 points, three points ahead of Jacob Abel and seven points ahead of Antonio Serravalle. 

Ernie Francis, Jr. continues to look for his first top five finishes of the season. Francis, Jr. has 154 points, eight ahead of Christian Bogle and 12 clear of James Roe, Jr.

Indy Lights will race at 10:30 a.m. ET on Sunday July 3.

Louis Foster was first and 13th at the Indy Pro 2000 races at Road America nearly three weeks ago. Foster remains the championship despite the poor second race result. The Brit has 223 points and a 19-point lead over Reece Gold. Thirty-two points back is Nolan Siegel, who has one top five result in the last four races. 

Enaam Ahmed has four consecutive top five results and eight top five results from ten races. Ahmed sits 39 points behind Foster in the championship. Braden Eves scored his first victory of the season in the second Road America race and is 40 points back while Josh Green rounds out the top six, 43 points off the top spot. 

Salvador de Alba picked up a pair of podium finishes at Road America and de Alba has 149 points, three points ahead of Jack William Miller, who was second in the second Road America race. Kiko Porto has not finished n the top five in the last four races and the 2021 U.S. F2000 champion has 145 points, one more than Colin Kaminsky, whose best finish is seventh in the last four races after having three podium results in the four races prior to this slump. 

Yuven Sundaramoorthy has 128 points, Wyatt Brichacek has 117 points, Jonathan Browne has 114 points and Jordan Missig rounds out the full-time drivers on 111 points.

Both Indy Pro 2000 races will be on Saturday July 2. Race one will be at 11:40 a.m. ET with race two scheduled for 5:55 p.m. ET.

Michael d'Orlando maintained the U.S. F2000 championship lead with his victory in the second Road America race, but his advantage has evaporated to six points over Myles Rowe after Rowe scored a pair of runner-up finishes in Wisconsin. D'Orlando was 14th in the first race of the weekend. 

Jace Denmark has five consecutive top five finishes, including a victory in the first Road America race. Denmark's 192 points has him 25 points off d'Orlando in the championship. Billy Frazer is 33 points back in fourth while Jagger Jones has dropped to fifth, 37 points back after finishing 13th and seventh at Road America. 

Bijoy Garg is on 159 points while Thomas Nepveu scored his first podium result of the season with a third in the second Road America race. Nepveu is five points behind his DEForce Racing teammate Garg in the championship. Spike Kohlbecker and Christian Weir have 127 points and 123 points respectively.

The first U.S. F2000 race will be at 5:15 p.m. ET on Friday July 1. Race two and three will be on Saturday July 2 at 10:45 a.m. ET and 5:00 p.m. ET respectively.

Fast Facts
This will be the ninth IndyCar race to take place on July 3 and the first since Tony Kanaan won at Kansas in 2005. 

Three times did the Grand Prix of Cleveland take place on July 3. Al Unser won on the banks of Lake Erie on that date in 1983, while Mario Andretti won there in 1988 and Sébastien Bourdais won a night race at Cleveland in 2004. 

This July 3 will mark the 51st anniversary of Team Penske's first IndyCar victory. Mark Donohue won the inaugural Pocono 500 on that date in 1971. 

Team Penske is the all-time leader in IndyCar victories for a team with 227 victories, including the last two races, and five of eight races run in 2022.

Team Penske has won 116 oval races and 111 road/street course races.

Team Penske is tied with Chip Ganassi Racing for most Mid-Ohio victories. Each team has won 11 times at the course. 

Will Power has the most IndyCar victories for Team Penske with 39. Hélio Castroneves is second with 30, Rick Mears is third with 29 and Josef Newgarden is fourth with 19. Danny Sullivan and Al Unser, Jr. are tied for fifth with 12 victories.

Mid-Ohio is the first race of summer. Since 2008, the winner of the first race of summer has only won the championship four times in 14 years, but the first winner of summer has won the championship the last two seasons. 

The average starting position of a Mid-Ohio winner is 3.4736 with a median of second. 

The pole-sitter has won the last three Mid-Ohio races and five of the last seven Mid-Ohio races. 

Prior to this seven race stretch, the pole-sitter had won only one of prior nine Mid-Ohio races.

The pole-sitter has won 15 of 38 Mid-Ohio races, but the pole-sitter has never won four consecutive Mid-Ohio races.

The average number of lead changes in a Mid-Ohio race is 4.7105 with a median of five. 

Thirteen of the last 16 Mid-Ohio races have had five lead changes or more. 

The most lead changes in a Mid-Ohio race is eight on three different occasions (1988, 2007 and 2017). 

No driver has ever led every lap of a Mid-Ohio race.

The average number of cautions in a Mid-Ohio race is 1.837 with a median of two. The average number of caution laps is 7.108 with a median of seven.

Only two of the last 16 Mid-Ohio races have had more than two cautions. Five of the last 16 Mid-Ohio races have been caution free. 

Pit stop issues will not slow down Colton Herta this weekend and he wins his second race of the season. Marcus Ericsson's championship lead will at least be cut in half. Dalton Kellett scores more than seven points. Rinus VeeKay will finish ahead of Conor Daly and finish in the top ten. At least six teams are represented in the top ten. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing will have its best driver finish ahead of Meyer Shank Racing's best driver. Scott Dixon will be the top Ganassi qualifier. At least four drivers will lead a lap and at least two drivers will lead at least ten laps. No pair of teammates will make contact. The 12th-place starter will finish in the top five. Sleeper: Felix Rosenqvist. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Best of the Month: June 2022

The halfway point of 2022 is here. Six months down, six month remain and the motorsports season is just picking up. 

Every championship is taking shape and the next few weeks will be critical in determining who will be competing silverware and who will be hoping for a better shot next year. 

Before we can worry about the championships, let's consider what was seen this month, and some of that was done in person. 

LED Necessity
After attending the Belle Isle weekend and seeing IMSA and IndyCar race in consecutive days, I can say IndyCar must find a way to bring the LED panels back to the cars. 

I am not one of these LED panels obsessives, who believe it is the greatest sin in the world IndyCar took them away. I understood why IndyCar removed them because they were causing electric issues with the cars. We can't have cars being knocked out of the races because the LED panel caused the electrical system to short circuit. IndyCar would never hear the end of it if the Indianapolis 500 lead slowed due to a glitch related to the LED panel. IndyCar was smart to make the decision it did over three years ago. 

However, I am not sure there has been a more fan-friendly item put on a race car than the LED panel. Especially at a road/street course where you could be seated without any video broad in eye sight or out of ear shot of a speaker with the race broadcast, the LED panel keeps you completely informed without mental gymnastics to figure out the running order. It prevents the attendee from losing track of the race and possibly following the wrong car that they think is the leader or in contention for the lead. 

The one issue with the LED panel IndyCar had been the series wanted it to have all these features. Become the flag of the driver's nationality, sponsors, etc. Keep. It. Simple. Stupid. 

All a viewer needs is position in the race, and pit stop time during pit stops. We don't need it to light up into the Stars & Stripes or the Union Jack or the Tricolour. Let us know who is leading, the rest of the running order and a pit stop time. 

Again, not an LED obsessive, but I think IndyCar looks pretty bad for having the LED panels for a nearly five-year period and then to not have them for the last three years. It is like if the NBA decided to take the shot clock down from the top of the backboard. That would significantly change the viewing experience in the arena and on television. 

I hate to be blunt but if the new car, whenever that arrives, does not have LED panels, it will be a massive failure for the series.

No pressure, guys! Have fun!

Castroneves to Daytona
With Hélio Castroneves' victory in the Superstar Racing Experience season opener at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida, a deal unbeknownst to nearly everyone came to light in the post-race interview. 

SRX CEO Don Hawk had made a deal with Castroneves that if Castroneves won an SRX main event this season, Hawk would get Castroneves an entry for the Daytona 500. 

Castroneves won the season opener and was immediately looking to get his reward in victory lane that Saturday night in the Florida Panhandle. 

The good news is Hawk is working on it, and it sounds like many are interested in Castroneves having a ride. 

We have heard many similar deals before, or heard many other top drivers say they would love to drive in a certain race only for it never to happen. How many times did we hear Tony Stewart was looking to return to the Indianapolis 500 or how many times did we hear Jeff Gordon say he wanted to run the 24 Hours of Le Mans? Neither have happened. 

There is a lot of time between now and February 2023, and it comes down to sponsorship. Someone has to fund this ride and I don't think Hawk is doing it out of his own pocket. I know Castroneves isn't going to pay for this, but this is the type of entry we should see at an event such as the Daytona 500 each year. 

Castroneves is one of the top IndyCar drivers of his generation. He has since added a sports car championship and two 24 Hours of Daytona victories. The Daytona 500 has a long history of attracting top talent from other forms of motorsports. 

Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt each won the race. 

The Daytona 500 has drawn one-off entries from Indianapolis 500 winners: Johnny Rutherford, Bobby Unser, Al Unser, Al Unser, Jr. Parnelli Jones, Gordon Johncock, Tom Sneva, Troy Ruttman... 

Grand prix winners: Dan Gurney, Innes Ireland, Pedro Rodríguez... 

Sprint car champions: Sammy Swindell, Steve Kinser, and...

Sports car champions: Al Holbert, Elliott Forbes-Robinson, Christian Fittipaldi, Jo Schlesser, David Hobbs, Vic Elford, Mark Donohue, Boris Said, Dorsey Schroeder.

Big races draw big names. Jacques Villeneuve returned this year nearly 15 years after missing the Daytona 500 just to get in the field and say he did. 

In Castroneves' case, it is a chance for history, to join Andretti and Foyt as the only drivers to win both the Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500, but it is also a chance to join this list of drivers just to start the race. He is more than worthy of it and this should be a near yearly thing. Scott Dixon should have made a Daytona 500 start by now. The same could be said for Will Power. Josef Newgarden is a part of that group now. Fernando Alonso toyed with it but he should absolutely give it a go. Toyota should bring Kamui Kobayashi to the event. There is plenty of time left in the Formula One offseason for Daniel Ricciardo to run Daytona. Chevrolet should get Jordan Taylor and Nick Tandy entries. 

The restrictor plate nature of the race doesn't allow driver talent to standout above others, but it is still a major race and a thrill to participate in. It is unlike the other great races in the world from how the race unfolds to how the starting grid is set. 

I hope Castroneves gets a shot at it and in a good car. I am not sure he would be able to snag a Chartered entry and have to avoid qualifying, but he deserves at least something competitive. 

Ben Keating: Le Mans Winner
There were a lot of popular winners at the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year, but Ben Keating probably earned the most praise. 

Winning in GTE-Am with Henrique Chaves and Marco Sørensen in the #33 TF Sport Aston Martin, Keating had been on the top step of the podium three years ago, but when his Ford GT found to exceed the permitted fuel capacity, the victory was stripped. It was a tough break for Keating, who has been nothing but an outstanding sportsman. His passion for driving and pushing himself is admirable, jumping between GT cars and prototypes and sometimes doing it in the same race. He is clearly a man making the most of abilities. 

As hard as a driver tries, you cannot will a Le Mans victory. In a pro-am class it is likely even harder. There are more variables and the class is larger. Keating has had good drivers, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Felipe Fraga, Ricky Taylor and Luca Stolz to name a few. This year Chaves and Sørensen were two entirely new co-drivers. Sørensen is a world champion, but Chaves was a rather unknown, competing on his grandest stage of his career. None of the three put a wheel wrong. This time the victory stood for Keating and company.

How does Keating back it up? He won the 6 Hours of the Glen two weeks later in the LMP2 class and he already won the 12 Hours of Sebring in the LMP2 class earlier this year. For the near future, Keating will go for the Endurance Trophy for GTE Am Drivers in the FIA World Endurance Championship, but I wouldn't be surprised if Keating has his sights on something bigger, perhaps an LMDh entry and cracks at overall triumphs in sports cars greatest races. Either way, it is a pleasure to watch and Keating is one who makes this sport more enjoyable.

July Preview
Somehow July is here. I thought May went by quickly. June was a blink. 

There really isn't one standout event in July. There is the Spa 24 Hours at the end of the month, but it doesn't quite grab the motorsport world's attention like some other events. 

Other than MotoGP, everyone will be competing. There will be a notable debut later this month. 

At the WEC Monza round on July 10, the Peugeot 9X8 Hypercar will contest its first race. Paul di Resta, Mikel Jensen and Jean-Éric Vergne will drive the #93 Peugeot while Loïc Duval, Gustavo Menezes and James Rossiter will be in the #94 Peugeot.

This will be Peugeot's first appearance in the top level of sports car racing since 2011. The last time Peugeot competed was the 6 Hours of Zhuhai, the final round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup ever, as WEC debuted the following year. Peugeot went 1-2 in that race was Sébastien Bourdais and Anthony Davidson taking the victory ahead of Franck Montagny and Stéphane Sarrazin.

There were nine LMP1 entries in that Zhuhai race, including two Audi R18s, a Lola-Toyota for Rebellion Racing, two OAK Racing Pescarolo 01-Judds, a Lola-Aston Martin and a Courage-Oreca-YGK Hybrid that the Japanese Tokai University fielded, the only hybrid entered in that race. 

Mika Häikkinen competed in that race driving a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3. Rossiter was driving a Lotus Evora in the GTE Pro class with David Heinemeier Hansson and Johnny Mowlem. There was one Le Mans Prototype Challenge Oreca FLM09 in the race. Christian Ried won in GTE-Am and Ried is the only driver who has competed in every WEC race since the inception of the series.

Other events of note in July:
The aforementioned Spa 24 Hours.
Formula E has five races between Marrakesh, Brooklyn and London.
IndyCar has five races between Mid-Ohio, Toronto, Iowa and the IMS road course.
Formula One has four races, including a sprint round in Austria. 
Supercars will be in Townsville and Taliem Bend. 
The Norisring is back in July for the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters.
NASCAR will visit five tracks for the one and only time this month. 
Superstars Racing Experience will close out its season with four races. The final two will be dirt races.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Musings From the Weekend: Picking Through the IndyCar Season So Far

Robert Wickens won a race. So did Mark Wilkins, as the Canadian duo won at Watkins Glen in the Michelin Pilot Challenge's TCR class. Bill Auberlen and Dillon Machavern won overall in that race with Turner Motorsport. Watkins Glen hosted nothing but fabulous races all weekend. Mazda MX-5 Cup was spectacular. It was a good week for hillclimbs. I hope American Formula One fans like commercials. Adelaide is back on the Supercars schedule, and it will be the 2022 season finale. Porsche unveiled its 963 LMDh entry, it costs $2.9 million, and the factory confirmed its driver line-up. Sébastien Loeb had an engine fire. Honda is running out of healthy MotoGP riders. IndyCar did some testing at Iowa and on the IMS road course. Here is a rundown of what got me thinking. 

Picking Through the IndyCar Season So Far
Eight races are behind us this IndyCar season with nine remaining. At this quasi-midway point to the championship, now is a good time to look over what happened over the first four months of the season.

It is one thing to look at the race winners and the championship, but let's look at some of the finer details of the season, the things that you really have to look for. These are eight deep observations from the first eight races of the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series season.

No Double Points
Every year after Indianapolis, we are wondering what the championship would look like without double points. This year saw Marcus Ericsson go from seventh to first in the championship off his Indianapolis 500 victory. If it was a normal race, 50 points for a victory and no additional qualifying points, Ericsson likely would not have gone to the championship lead. 

But how would things look if Indianapolis was treated like every other race?

1. Will Power - 249 (+1)
2. Josef Newgarden - 244 (+1)
3. Marcus Ericsson - 235 (-2)
4. Álex Palou - 213 (+1)
5. Scott Dixon -204 (+1)
6. Patricio O'Ward - 202 (-2)
7. Scott McLaughlin - 194 (+2)
8. Colton Herta - 191 (+3)
9. Alexander Rossi - 188 (-2)
10. Simon Pagenaud - 173 (-)
11. Felix Rosenqvist - 166 (-3)
12. Romain Grosjean - 165 (-)
13. Rinus VeeKay - 146 (+1)
14. Conor Daly - 143 (-1)
15. Graham Rahal - 143 (-)
16. Christian Lundgaard - 128 (-)
17. Takuma Sato - 125 (+1)
18. Hélio Castroneves - 110 (-1)
19. David Malukas - 109 (-)
20. Jack Harvey - 99 (-)
21. Callum Ilott - 85 (+1)
22. Kyle Kirkwood - 80 (-1)
23. Jimmie Johnson - 79 (+1)
24. Devlin DeFrancesco - 76 (-1)
25. Dalton Kellett - 57 (+2)
26. Tatiana Calderón - 53 (+3)
27. Santino Ferrucci - 51 (-1)
28. Tony Kanaan - 36 (-3)
29. J.R. Hildebrand - 35 (-1)
30. Ed Carpenter - 29 (-)
31. Juan Pablo Montoya - 25 (-)
32. Marco Andretti - 9 (-)
33. Simona de Silvestro - 9 (+2)
34. Sage Karam - 8 (-1)
35. Stefan Wilson - 5 (-1)

A bunch of positions change, but there isn't some seismic shift in the championship standings. Power would be on top, Ericsson would drop two spots but would only be 14 points off the championship lead. O'Ward would lose two spots as would Rossi, and the drivers that had bad days at Indianapolis gain spots. McLaughlin would be up two, Herta up three, Dixon gets a spot, even VeeKay would get a spot. 

But overall, the picture looks pretty much the same.

Ericsson - Eight Different Finishing Positions
Speaking of Marcus Ericsson, through eight races he has finished in eight different positions. 

9th, 3rd, 22nd, 12th, 4th, 1st, 7th, 2nd. 

Ericsson isn't the only one to do that this year. Alexander Rossi, Scott McLaughlin, Colton Herta, Rinus VeeKay, and Kyle Kirkwood have done it as well. 

Rossi: 20th, 27th, 8th, 9th, 11th, 5th, 2nd, 3rd.

McLaughlin: 1st, 2nd, 14th, 6th, 20th, 29th, 19th, 7th

Herta: 4th, 12th, 23rd, 10th, 1st, 30th, 8th, 5th

VeeKay: 6th, 10th, 13th, 3rd, 23rd, 33rd, 16th, 17th

Kirkwood: 18th, 25th, 10th, 22nd, 26th, 17th, 24th, 20th

That's not even the strangest part. Ericsson opened last season with ten finishes in ten different positions. 

8th, 7th, 19th, 12th, 10th, 11th, 1st, 9th, 8th, 2nd

His first repeat position was first when he won at Nashville!

But Ericsson didn't even have the longest streak last season. Will Power did not have a repeat finishing position through the first 12 events.

Power 2021: 2nd, 8th, 14th, 13th, 11th, 30th, 20th, 6th, 3rd, 25th, 14th, 1st

So I have to ask, has a driver ever finished in a different position and started every race in a season?

The answer is yes, most recently was in 2001 with Eddie Cheever in the Indy Racing League.

In 2001, Cheever finished 19th, 9th, 24th, 26th, 12th, 6th, 13th, 1st, 15th, 21st, 4th, 3rd and 18th, 13 different finishing position in 13 races.

It was actually quite frequent in the early IRL seasons, as the schedules were shorter. It happened every season from 1996 to 2001. The 1996 season only had three races and 13 drivers had a different finish in each race. No surprise there. 

In 1997, Buddy Lazier had ten different finishing positions in ten races. The 1998 season had Cheever, John Paul, Jr., Sam Schmidt and Mark Dismore each have 11 different finishing positions in 11 races. Dismore did it in a second consecutive season with ten different finishing positions in ten races during the 1999 campaign. In 2000, Cheever, Robbie Buhl, Greg Ray, Airton Daré and Jaret Schroeder had nine different finishing positions in nine races. Then Cheever did it on his own in 2001. 

In 2002, Jeff Ward had 14 different finishing positions entering the 15th and final round of the season. Ward was 25th in the Texas finale and he had finished 25th at Michigan four races earlier. 

While we had all those drivers have a different finishing position in every race of a season, the longest streak to open a season since the CART-IRL split in 1996 was Ed Jones, who in 2017 had 15 different finishing positions in the first 15 races. He was 13th in the 15th round at Gateway. In the 16th round at Watkins Glen, he naturally finished 13th. 

Outside of the 1996 IRL season, every IRL/IndyCar season has had at least one driver start the season with at least nine different finishes through the first nine races.

Expanding this beyond the Indy Racing League/IndyCar, no one ever did it in CART. Bobby Unser and Scott Brayton made it through ten of 11 races in 1981 with a different finishing position. Unser was second in the Phoenix finale. He was second in the Phoenix season opener as well. Brayton failed to qualify for the Phoenix finale.

Since 1946, only five other drivers have had a different finishing position in every race of a season. Mel Kenyon did it in 1972, going ten-for-ten. The other four happened over two seasons during the USAC-CART split. In the 1979 USAC season, Jerry Sneva and Cliff Hucul each had seven different finishing positions in seven races. In the 1981-82 USAC Season, Tom Bigelow and Gary Bettenhausen each had six different finishing positions in six races. Bigelow and Bettenhausen were the only two drivers to start all six races that season. 

That means, since the end of World War II, there have been 30 occasions of a driver finishing in a different position in every race of a season, spread over nine different seasons. 

Kenyon is the only driver to have a different finishing position in every race in a season during a non-fractured period of IndyCar racing, and overall, the longest season a driver did it in was 13 races.

If any of the six drivers still alive does it in 2022, it would be a historic accomplishment. 

Last Formula One-Experienced Champion
Ericsson is leading the championship and he has 97 Formula One starts to his name. With many people considering Formula One vastly superior to IndyCar, Ericsson did get me wondering when was the last time a Formula One-experienced driver won an IndyCar championship. 

This is a driver who had already driven in Formula One and then won an IndyCar championship. Sébastien Bourdais would not count, as all of Bourdais' Champ Car championships came before his first Formula One start.

Looking over the recent champions, none of them have raced in Formula One. Scott Dixon has won five of 14 championships since reunification. Dario Franchitti has three championships in that timeframe. Josef Newgarden has two. Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power, Simon Pagenaud and Álex Palou each have one. But those seven champions combine for zero Formula One starts. 

There have been past Formula One drivers to come through IndyCar and compete full-time since reunification. Rubens Barrichello competed in 2012. We have Alexander Rossi now, as well as Ericsson and this is Romain Grosjean's first full season. Takuma Sato has been full-time since 2010 but has never finished better than seventh in the championship. Justin Wilson spent over a decade in IndyCar but never won a championship. Robert Doornbos had two full seasons but no championships. Max Chilton spent a few seasons in IndyCar and didn't even get on a podium for a race. 

We covered Bourdais. Sam Hornish, Jr. never raced in Formula One. Neither did Dan Wheldon nor Tony Kanaan nor Paul Tracy. Cristiano da Matta competed in Formula One AFTER his 2002 CART title, not before. Gil de Ferran had no Formula One experience, same as Buddy Lazier and Greg Ray. We know Juan Pablo Montoya went after his CART title. Kenny Bräck didn't run Formula One. 

Alex Zanardi!

The last IndyCar champion with Formula One experience was Zanardi in 1998. Prior to his two titles with Ganassi, the Italian had made 25 Formula One starts between the 1991 and 1994 seasons driving for Jordan, Minardi and Lotus. 

Prior to Zanardi was Nigel Mansell. Bobby Rahal made two Formula One starts in 1978 before he ever entered an IndyCar race let alone won three championships. Emerson Fittipaldi was a two-time world champion before winning his first IndyCar title. Danny Sullivan drove for Tyrrell in the 1983 Formula One season after making a pair of IndyCar starts in 1982, including finishing third on debut at Atlanta, but Sullivan's IndyCar title came in 1988, five years after his one year in Formula One. 

Six out of eight seasons from 1986 to 1993, the IndyCar champion had made at least one Formula One start before winning the IndyCar title. Since 1994, Zanardi is the only champion with prior Formula One experience. Kind of stunning when you think about it... you know with those Formula One drivers having such superior skills and all. Even the most mediocre Formula One driver would wipe the floor in the IndyCar... or perhaps not.

Swedish Domination
More Marcus Ericsson talk! Ericsson leads the IndyCar championship while fellow Swede Linus Lundqvist leads the Indy Lights championship. 

I ask: When was the last time the IndyCar championship leader and the Indy Lights championship leader were the same nationality but excluding American drivers? 

How about September 9, 2007 after Chicagoland? The final Indy Racing League race prior to reunification. On that day, Alex Lloyd claimed the Indy Lights championship and Dario Franchitti won the IndyCar championship in dramatic fashion on the final lap. Two British drivers, each ended that day as champion.

What is the Best Starting Position?
You may have heard it a few times on the IndyCar broadcasts this year, but the pole-sitter has not been great this year. 

Through eight races, the average finishing position for the pole-sitter is 9.875. That doesn't mean it has been a poor season. The pole-sitter has won once, been on the podium in half the races and been in the top five in five races, but the pole-sitter has also finished 21st, 23rd and 21st this year. 

For comparison, here is the average finish for the pole-sitter over the previous six seasons.

2016: 4.06
2017: 9.56
2018: 6.41
2019: 6.36
2020: 8.36
2021: 5.63

If the pole-sitter is averaging a finish of 9.875, and this is considered a poor season for it, what starting position has the best average finish this season? 

2nd - 6.0
7th - 6.375
8th - 9.375
5th - 9.75
4th - 9.75
1st - 9.875
6th - 10.0
11th - 10.75
30th - 11th (One race - Indianapolis)
14th - 12.25
16th - 12.375
18th - 12.375
13th - 12.875
20th - 13.0
9th - 13.25
27th - 14.75 (4 races)
10th - 14.875
3rd - 15.375
15th - 15.75
19th - 15.875
17th - 16.75
21st - 17.0
28th - 17.0 (One race - Indianapolis)
12th - 17.375
22nd - 17.75
31st - 18.0 (One race - Indianapolis)
24th - 19.625
25th - 20.5
23rd - 22.625
26th - 23.125
32nd - 24.0 (One race - Indianapolis)
33rd - 26.0 (One race - Indianapolis)
29th - 27.0 (One race - Indianapolis)

Pole position doesn't look that bad when put into context.

It should come as no surprise the starting position that has produced three winners this season, and the only starting position to have multiple winners, is the best through eight races. Second on the grid has been on the podium in five races this season. 

I am not surprised seventh is second. How many times do we see a fast car fail to advance from the second round of qualifying by a few decimal points? That seventh starter is just as quick as those that make the Fast Six. The seventh starter has also finished in the top ten of seven of eight races.

The big question is on 3rd starting position, averaging a 15.375. Rinus VeeKay's 33rd at Indianapolis does drag this down, but third starter finished 20th at Texas, 25th in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and 27th at Road America. I think third is the position to avoid more than any others. 

I don't think there are any other major surprises out of that. I think it shows a pretty balanced field. Slow cars usually qualify at the back and finish at the back. Excluding starting positions 28th through 33rd, which have only been seen at Indianapolis, only five starting positions have not produced a top ten finisher this season, the usual bottom four spots on the grid, 23rd, 24th, 25th and 26th, and somewhat strangely 17th. I only say somewhat strangely because 16th, 18th, 19th and 20th have all at least produced one top five finisher this year. 

Seventeen positions have produced a top five finisher this year. The best starting positions to not produce a top five finisher are 12th, which has only one top ten finisher, tenth at Long Beach with Kyle Kirkwood, and 15th, which was eighth at Texas with Simon Pagenaud and tenth at Indianapolis with Santino Ferrucci. 

Six different starting positions have produced race winners, including two starting spots outside the top ten, and both of those came on a road/street course. It is always better to start at the front, but most starting positions have potential in IndyCar at the moment. 

Has Anyone Made a Debut at Iowa?
I dreamt earlier in the week that I finished second to Will Power on debut at Iowa with Scott Dixon finishing third (eat it Dixon!). 

But that got me wondering, has anyone every made their IndyCar debut at Iowa? 

Iowa has always been in the middle of the season, never any earlier than the middle of June and never later than late July. It isn't in a time when we see drivers making their first IndyCar starts. We see some drivers make their debuts in the middle of the season, but mostly at road or street course weekends. Kevin Magnussen debuted at Road America. Esteban Gutiérrez and Santino Ferrucci both debuted at Belle Isle. Ryan Norman debuted at Mid-Ohio last year on the 4th of July. 

When it comes to ovals, not many debut there, at least not since reunification.

Texas 2020 was the first oval season opener since 2008. Kurt Busch and Fernando Alonso both debuted at the Indianapolis 500, but not many drivers picked Texas when it was in June to make their IndyCar debut, though Wade Cunningham comes to mind (hi, Wade!). 

Once the season gets to July or August, a time when Iowa, Gateway and Pocono have taken place in recent seasons, a driver isn't making a debut on an oval. Not to forget mentioning a driver has to pass an oval orientation test before being approved to run on an oval. Unless that driver is throwing cash at a team that test isn't going to happen. That test day would be more valuable elsewhere.

If a seat is open for a midseason oval race, a team is going to find a veteran. Ferrucci, J.R. Hildebrand, Spencer Pigot, Gabby Chaves, Sage Karam, Charlie Kimball, Tony Kanaan, one of those guys are getting the call. 

Back to the question, has any driver made an IndyCar debut at Iowa?

Eighty-one drivers have made an IndyCar start at Iowa. No driver has ever made an IndyCar debut at Iowa. 

Just as I suspected. Will an Iowa debut ever happen? I think that depends more on the health of the Iowa event than some driver who wants to plunge into IndyCar at Iowa. I would love to see some silver crown or sprint car driver like Kody Swanson or Justin Grant or even a Brad Sweet or Donny Schatz make a one-off start at Iowa, but that is highly unlikely to ever happen. 

Of the 81 drivers to run an IndyCar race at Iowa, 22 made their debuts at St. Petersburg, which has been the season opener for the better part of the last 15 years. Fifteen drivers made their debut at Homestead. Homestead was the season opener for CART and the IRL from the late 1990s through the 2000s. The next most is Indianapolis with eight debutants, which makes sense because how many drivers have put together a one-off program for a debut? 

What are a few surprising debut locations?

Did you remember Scott Dixon made his IndyCar debut at Fundidora Park in Monterrey, Mexico? 

Or that Vitor Meira debut at Kentucky? 

Or Jaime Camara and Milka Duno both debuted at Kansas? Albeit those debuts came in different years.

Unless there is something out of left field, I doubt we will see a debut this year at Iowa, but with all that HyVee money being thrown around, maybe this supermarket chain can cause a splash. 

Teammates Loving Teammates
There are seven instances of teammates that are next to each other in the championship. 

Álex Palou and Scott Dixon (5th and 6th)
Colton Herta and Romain Grosjean (11th and 12th)
Conor Daly and Rinus VeeKay (13th and 14th)
Graham Rahal and Christian Lundgaard (15th and 16th)
Takuma Sato and David Malukas (18th and 19th)
Jimmie Johnson and Tony Kanaan (24th and 25th)
Dalton Kellett, Tatiana Calderón and J.R. Hildebrand (27th, 28th and 29th)

It doesn't really mean anything, but it is fascinating nonetheless, especially when teammates are trying to come out best in that intra-team fight. 

This does show which teams have to do work. 

Ed Carpenter Racing, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Dale Coyne Racing have their drivers right in the middle or toward the bottom third of the grid. Those organizations all have work to do. 

Fewest Points Through First Eight Races
You never want to be on the bottom, but you also don't want to be historically on the bottom. 

Through the first eight races, Dalton Kellett has scored 62 points, leaving Kellett 27th in the championship. Only 23 drivers have started every race this season. Kellett is averaging 7.75 points per start and this includes the double points for the Indianapolis 500.

I ask: What is the fewest points through the first eight races of a season? Obviously, this is for drivers who have started all eight races.

I have some bad news for Mr. Kellett. Since 2014, when the Indianapolis 500 became a double points race, his 62 points is by far the fewest a driver has earned through eight races. Even worse is Kellett set the record low last year when he had 81 points through eight races. Prior to the last two seasons, since 2014 the fewest points scored through eight races was 103 by Max Chilton in 2018. 

It gets worse for Mr. Kellett.

His 62 points are the fewest for a driver since reunification and that is including seven seasons when the Indianapolis 500 wasn't double points.

And it gets even worse for Mr. Kellett.

His last two seasons are still the two fewest totals since reunification. The next lowest is 88 points, Sebastián Saavedra's total through the first eight races of the 2013 season. 

Because of differences in points standings, we have to cap this off at reunification. Even the 2008-2011 seasons really aren't a fair comparison because back then 18th to 24th each received 12 points and 25th down all received ten points. From the 2013 season onward is the only timeframe we can use for a fair comparison. 

Either way, this has not been a great year for Mr. Kellett. 

Winners From the Weekend
You know about Robert Wickens, Mark Wilkins, Bill Auberlen and Dillon Machavern, but did you know...

The #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura of Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor won the 6 Hours of the Glen, its third victory of the season. The #52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca-Gibson of Ben Keating, Scott Huffaker and Mikkel Jensen won in LMP2, its second victory of the season. The #74 Riley Motorsports Ligier-Nissan of Felipe Fraga, Gar Robinson and Kay van Berlo won in LMP3. The #23 Heart of Racing Aston Martin of Ross Gunn and Alex Riberas won in GTD-Pro, its second victory of the season. The #27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin of Roman De Angelis, Ian James and Maxime Martin won in GTD.

Francesco Bagnaia won the Dutch TT from Assen, his third victory of the season. Augusto Fernández won the Moto2 race, his second consecutive victory and third of the season. Ayumu Sasaki won the Moto3 race, his first career grand prix victory. Dominique Aegerter and Eric Granado split the MoteE races, and both riders now have three victories this season..

Chase Elliott won the NASCAR Cup race from Nashville, his second victory of the season. Justin Allgaier won the Grand National Series race, his second victory of the season. Ryan Preece won the Truck race.

Kalle Rovanperä won Safari Rally, his fourth victory of the season.

Gilles Magnus and Mikel Azcona split the World Touring Car Cup races from Aragón.

Tony Stewart won the SRX race from South Boston Speedway, his first victory of the season, and third in SRX competition. 

Max Chilton won the Goodwood Festival of Speed and set the course record at 39.08 seconds in the McMurty Spéirling. 

Robin Shute won the 100th edition of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. 

Coming Up This Weekend
IndyCar spends a holiday at Mid-Ohio.
Formula One is back at Silverstone. 
NASCAR will be at Road America, possibly for the final time.
IMSA returns to Mosport, DPi, LMP3 and GTD only.
SRX returns to Stafford Springs.
Norisring is back in July for the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters.
European Le Mans Series will be at Monza.
Italy will be busy as Misano hosts the GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup.
World Touring Car Cup heads west to Portugal for the Vila Real round. 

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Let's Look at the League - June 2022

For the last few years, I have taken a different approach at looking at the IndyCar season and the race results. 

While keeping up the usual championship, I have tracked head-to-head results, as seen in most team sports where two sides face each other and there is one winner and one loser. In a given race, there are 13 winners and 13 losers. The top teams make the playoffs, the worst teams in the top league are relegated and the rest are fighting to remain alive, and in the second league, the top two are promoted with another competing in a playoff for a final spot. 

We are beyond the halfway point in the 2022 IndyCar head-to-head league format, and with some downtime before the next race, let's go over where we stand in this fictitious world. Who is in playoff contention? Who is in the relegation battle? What teams are looking good for promotion?

We will start in League One.

League One:

Conference 1 (Top four go to the playoffs, fifth is safe, sixth and seventh to relegated playoff, eighth is relegated)

1. #12 Penske 7-1
St. Petersburg: WIN (3rd to #27's 20th)
Texas: WIN (4th to #51's 20th)
Long Beach: WIN (4th to #9's 6th)
Barber: WIN (4th to #45's 18th)
GPOI: WIN (3rd to #10's 18th)
500: WIN (15th to #3's 29th)
Belle Isle: WIN (1st to #26's 8th)
Road America: LOSS (19th to #27's 3rd)

2. #27 Andretti 5-3
St. Petersburg: LOSS (20th to #12's 3rd)
Texas: LOSS (27th to #26's 12th)
Long Beach: WIN (8th to #3's 14th)
Barber: LOSS (9th to #10's 2nd)
GPOI: WIN (11th to #45's 13th)
500: WIN (5th to #9's 21st)
Belle Isle: WIN (2nd to #51's 13th)
Road America: WIN (3rd to #12's 19th)

3. #3 Penske 4-4
St. Petersburg: WIN (1st to #9's 8th)
Texas: WIN (2nd to #10's 7th)
Long Beach: LOSS (14th to #27's 8th)
Barber: WIN (6th to #26's 10th)
GPOI: LOSS (20th to #51's 7th)
500: LOSS (29th to #12's 15th)
Belle Isle: LOSS (19th to #45's 15th)
Road America: WIN (7th to #9's 9th)

4. #10 Ganassi 4-4
St. Petersburg: WIN (2nd to #45's 13th)
Texas: LOSS (7th to #3's 2nd)
Long Beach: WIN (3rd to #51's 17th)
Barber: WIN (2nd to #27's 9th)
GPOI: LOSS (18th to #12's 3rd)
500: WIN (9th to #26's 30th)
Belle Isle: LOSS (6th to #9's 3rd)
Road America: LOSS (27th to #45's 13th)

5. #45 Rahal Letterman Lanigan 4-4
St. Petersburg: LOSS (13th to #10's 2nd)
Texas: LOSS (9th to #9's 5th)
Long Beach: WIN (15th to #26's 23rd)
Barber: LOSS (18th to #12's 4th)
GPOI: LOSS (13th to #27's 11th)
500: WIN (24th to #51's 25th)
Belle Isle: WIN (15th to #3's 19th)
Road America: WIN (13th to #10's 27th)

6. #26 Andretti 4-4
St. Petersburg: WIN (4th to #51's 10th)
Texas: WIN (12th to #27's 27th)
Long Beach: LOSS (23rd to #45's 15th)
Barber: LOSS (10th to #3's 6th)
GPOI: WIN (1st to #9's 10th)
500: LOSS (30th to #10's 9th)
Belle Isle: LOSS (8th to #12's 1st)
Road America: WIN (5th to #51's 15th)

7. #9 Ganassi 3-5
St. Petersburg: LOSS (8th to #3's 1st)
Texas: WIN (5th to #45's 9th)
Long Beach: LOSS (6th to #12's 4th)
Barber: WIN (5th to #51's 13th)
GPOI: LOSS (10th to #26's 1st)
500: LOSS (21st to #27's 5th)
Belle Isle: WIN (3rd to #10's 6th)
Road America: LOSS (9th to #3's 7th)

8. #51 Coyne 1-7
St. Petersburg: LOSS (10th to #26's 4th)
Texas: LOSS (20th to #12's 4th)
Long Beach: LOSS (17th to #10's 3rd)
Barber: LOSS (13th to #9's 5th)
GPOI: WIN (7th to #3's 20th)
500: LOSS (25th to #45's 24th)
Belle Isle: LOSS (13th to #27's 2nd)
Road America: LOSS (15th to #26's 5th)

Conference 1 Breakdown:
The #12 Penske entry of Will Power looks set for a playoff spot but being only three games clear of the bubble is far from untouchable. A difficult second half could see him in trouble of advancing. Just look at the #27 Andretti entry. Alexander Rossi started the season 1-3 and has proceeded to win four consecutive matchups. A 1-3 run over the next four matchups would see Power on an 8-4 record entering the final two matchups. If he ends up 8-6, there is a good chance he makes the playoffs, but he could find himself fall on the wrong side of playoff line. 

There is a four-way tie for the final two playoff spots. Going off the head-to-head matchups between those four teams, the #3 Penske, the #10 Ganassi and #45 RLLR entries are all 2-1 while the #26 Andretti is 0-3. Best race result breaks up the three-way tie. Scott McLaughlin won at St. Petersburg. Álex Palou has two runner-up finishes. Those two teams hold the tiebreaker and the final two playoff spots. The #45 RLLR's best finish this season was ninth at the hands of Santino Ferrucci at Texas. With six weeks to go in the regular season and all these teams still having to meet a second time, the playoff picture is bound to be shaken up. 

Of course, not only are the playoff spots important, but fifth is guaranteed safety to the 2023 season while sixth would have to go to the relegation playoff and could be knocked out of the league. Colton Herta will need to be flawless in the next six races to pick up a few spots in the standings. 

Not far out of the playoff picture, but somewhat surprisingly in seventh is the #9 Ganassi entry. Scott Dixon has not caught a break. Four of his five losses have been top ten finishes, and two of those have been losses to race winners. Dixon hasn't been spectacular this season, but he hasn't been poor either. I think this goes to show how tough IndyCar is and even on a driver's best day, there is a good chance they will run into someone better. 

That leads us to the bottom and Takuma Sato. The #51 Coyne entry's only victory was at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. This has been a rough year for Sato, but has it really been this bad? I wouldn't say so. Consider that the #45 RLLR entry is just outside a playoff spot but has half the number of top ten finishes as the #51 Coyne entry. Sato has not caught many breaks, meanwhile, the #45 RLLR has caught the breaks with Jack Harvey catching Colton Herta when Herta has an accident at Long Beach, McLaughlin at Belle Isle when McLaughlin had an off and lost a lap and Palou at Road America when Palou was pretty much knocked out four laps into the race. 

As things stand, we could have two Penske drivers, an Andretti and a Ganassi in the playoffs, but also Herta and Dixon in the relegation playoff. They would face the sixth and seventh-place teams from Conference 2, meaning there is a chance Herta and Dixon could meet in the relegation playoff final with the loser being bumped down to League Two in 2023.

Conference 2 (Top four go to the playoffs, fifth is safe, sixth and seventh to relegated playoff, eighth is relegated)

1. #8 Ganassi 6-2
St. Petersburg: WIN (9th to #60's 15th)
Texas: WIN (3rd to #30's 19th)
Long Beach: LOSS (22nd to #18's 21st)
Barber: LOSS (12th to #28's 7th)
GPOI: WIN (4th to #5's 19th)
500: WIN (1st to #2's 13th)
Belle Isle: WIN (7th to #15's 26th)
Road America: WIN (2nd to #60's 12th)

2. #2 Penske 6-2 
St. Petersburg: WIN (16th to #18's 26th)
Texas: WIN (1st to #28's 26th)
Long Beach: WIN (1st to #60's 19th)
Barber: WIN (14th to #30's 15th)
GPOI: LOSS (25th to #15's 16th)
500: LOSS (13th to #8's 1st)
Belle Isle: WIN (4th to #5's 5th) 
Road America: WIN (1st to #18's 16th)

3. #15 RLLR 5-3
St. Petersburg: WIN (7th to #30's 11th)
Texas: LOSS (22nd to #60's 8th)
Long Beach: LOSS (7th to #5's 5th)
Barber: WIN (8th to #18's 20th)
GPOI: WIN (16th to #2's 25th)
500: WIN (14th to #28's 31st)
Belle Isle: LOSS (26th to #8's 7th)
Road America: WIN (8th to #30's 10th)

4. #60 Meyer Shank 4-4
St. Petersburg: LOSS (15th to #8's 9th)
Texas: WIN (8th to #15's 22nd)
Long Beach: LOSS (19th to #2's 1st)
Barber: LOSS (11th to #5's 1st)
GPOI: WIN (2nd to #28's 17th)
500: WIN (8th to #18's 16th)
Belle Isle: WIN (9th to #30's 14th)
Road America: LOSS (12th to #8's 2nd)

5. #28 Andretti 4-4
St. Petersburg: WIN (5th to #5's 12th)
Texas: LOSS (26th to #2's 1st)
Long Beach: WIN (2nd to #30's 18th)
Barber: WIN (7th to #8's 12th)
GPOI: LOSS (17th to #60"s 2nd)
500: LOSS (31st to #15's 14th)
Belle Isle: LOSS (17th to #18's 11th)
Road America: WIN (4th to #5's 26th)

6. #18 Coyne 3-5
St. Petersburg: LOSS (26th to #2's 16th)
Texas: WIN (11th to #5's 15th)
Long Beach: WIN (21st to #8's 22nd)
Barber: LOSS (20th to #15's 8th)
GPOI: LOSS (12th to #30's 9th)
500: LOSS (16th to #60's 8th)
Belle Isle: WIN (11th to #28's 17th)
Road America: LOSS (16th to #2's 1st)

7. #5 Arrow McLaren SP 3-5
St. Petersburg: LOSS (12th to #28's 5th)
Texas: LOSS (15th to #18's 11th)
Long Beach: WIN (5th to #15's 7th)
Barber: WIN (1st to #60's 11th)
GPOI: LOSS (19th to #8's 4th)
500: WIN (2nd to #30's 18th)
Belle Isle: LOSS (5th to #2's 4th)
Road America: LOSS (26th to #28's 4th)

8. #30 RLLR 1-7
St. Petersburg: LOSS (11th to #15's 7th)
Texas: LOSS (19th to #8's 3rd)
Long Beach: LOSS (18th to #28's 2nd)
Barber: LOSS (15th to #2's 14th)
GPOI: WIN (9th to #18's 12th)
500: LOSS (18th to #5's 2nd)
Belle Isle: LOSS (14th to #60's 9th)
Road America: LOSS (10th to #15's 8th)

Conference 2 Breakdown:
Slightly tighter than Conference 1, Marcus Ericsson and Josef Newgarden have the #8 Ganassi and #2 Penske entries tied at the top. The tiebreaker currently goes to Ericsson, who beat Newgarden head-to-head at the Indianapolis 500 of all races. They will meet again at the second Iowa race and that could decide who gets the #1-seed. 

Newgarden has won three races, but he is also slightly fortunate that he could win head-to-head matchups with a 16th at St. Petersburg and 14th at Barber. Both Ericsson and Newgarden are only two games to the good of the playoff bubble. A few breaks have Newgarden with greater breathing room than his results suggests he should have.

Graham Rahal has the #15 RLLR entry at 5-3 and has twice won with finishes outside the top ten, including one victory against Newgarden. The #60 Meyer Shank and #28 Andretti entries are tied at 4-4. The #60 MSR holds the tiebreaker as Simon Pagenaud defeated Romain Grosjean at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. But it is tight top to bottom in Conference 2.

The #18 Coyne and #5 AMSP entries are both one game out of a playoff spot. David Malukas defeated Patricio O'Ward at Texas and holds the tiebreaker. Each time O'Ward has finished outside the top ten he has lost, but he also lost at Belle Isle with his fifth-place finish paired against Newgarden, who finished fourth. It is the only instance of a top five finisher losing a head-to-head matchup this season.

Last season, only four top-five finishes resulted in head-to-head losses and that was actually down compared to the 2019 and 2020 seasons, where seven and eight top-five finishers respectively ended up losing head-to-head matchups. It happens and unfortunately O'Ward happens to be the only one to suffer such a cruel fate in 2022. 

That leads us to the #30 RLLR entry on the bottom and in the drop zone. Coincidentally, Christian Lundgaard is the top rookie in the IndyCar championship, and yet he is at the bottom off his conference when it comes to head-to-head matchups. A slightly bad break was his loss at Road America with a tenth-place finish while paired against his teammate Rahal, who was eighth. Six of his seven losses have been to drivers who finished in the top ten and his seventh loss was when he was 15th at Barber, paired against Newgarden, who finished 14th. We are talking about three positions over two races being the difference between Lundgaard fighting for safety or being on the edge of a playoff spot. 

The championship leader and the driver with the most victories both are well-positioned for the playoffs, but it is wide-open for the other two playoff spots and a driver ranked in the top five of the championship is currently in a relegation playoff spot. 

There are still six weeks remaining but the margin for error has evaporated.

League Two (Top three automatically promoted)
1. #7 AMSP 8-1
St. Petersburg: WIN (17th to #48's 23rd)
Texas: WIN (21st to #29's 24th)
Long Beach: WIN (11th to #77's 24th)
Barber: WIN (16th to #14's 22nd)
GPOI: WIN (6th to #11's 15th)
500 Quals: LOSS (8th to #21's 3rd)
500: WIN (4th to #20's 6th)
Belle Isle: WIN (10th to #06's 25th)
Road America: WIN (6th to #4's 23rd)

2. #21 ECR 6-3
St. Petersburg: WIN (6th to #11's 24th)
Texas: WIN (10th to #77's 16th)
Long Beach: WIN (13th to #4's 26th)
Barber: WIN (3rd to #06's 21st)
GPOI: LOSS (23rd to #48's 22nd)
500 Quals: WIN (3rd to #7's 8th)
500: LOSS (33rd to #29's 20th)
Belle Isle: WIN (16th to #14's 24th)
Road America: LOSS (17th to #20's 14th)

3. #06 MSR 6-3
St. Petersburg: WIN (14th to #29's 22nd)
Texas: WIN (23rd to #14's 25th)
Long Beach: WIN (9th to #20's 12th)
Barber: LOSS (21st to #21's 3rd)
GPOI: WIN (14th to #4's 27th)
500 Quals: LOSS (27th to #77's 19th)
500: WIN (7th to #11's 14th)
Belle Isle: LOSS (25th to #7's 10th)
Road America: WIN (22nd to #48's 24th)

4. #48 Ganassi 5-4
St. Petersburg: LOSS (23rd to #7's 17th)
Texas: WIN (6th to #4's 17th)
Long Beach: WIN (20th to #29's 25th)
Barber: WIN (24th to #77's 25th)
GPOI: WIN (22nd to #21's 23rd)
500 Quals: WIN (12th to #11's 17th)
500: LOSS (28th to #14's 17th)
Belle Isle: LOSS (22nd to #20's 12th)
Road America: LOSS (24th to #06's 22nd)

5. #20 ECR 5-4
St. Petersburg: LOSS (21st to #77's 19th)
Texas: LOSS (18th to #11's 14th)
Long Beach: LOSS (12th to #06's 9th)
Barber: WIN (19th to #4's 23rd)
GPOI: WIN (5th to #29's 21st)
500 Quals: WIN (18th to #14's 28th)
500: LOSS (6th to #7's 4th)
Belle Isle: WIN (12th to #48's 22nd)
Road America: WIN (14th to #21's 17th)

6. #29 Andretti 5-4
St. Petersburg: LOSS (22nd to #06's 14th)
Texas: LOSS (24th to #7's 21st)
Long Beach: LOSS (25th to #48's 20th)
Barber: WIN (17th to #11's 26th)
GPOI: LOSS (21st to #20's 5th)
500 Quals: WIN (24th to #4's 29th)
500: WIN (20th to #21's 33rd)
Belle Isle: WIN (18th to #77's 21st)
Road America: WIN (18th to #14's 20th)

7. #77 Juncos Hollinger 4-5
St. Petersburg: WIN (19th to #20's 21st)
Texas: LOSS (16th to #21'st 10th)
Long Beach: LOSS (24th to #7's 11th)
Barber: LOSS (25th to #48's 24th)
GPOI: WIN (8th to #14's 26th)
500 Quals: WIN (19th to #06's 27th)
500: LOSS (32nd to #4's 27th)
Belle Isle: LOSS (21st to #29's 18th)
Road America: WIN (11th to #11's 25th)

8. #14 Foyt 3-6
St. Petersburg: WIN (18th to #4's 25th)
Texas: LOSS (25th to #06's 23rd)
Long Beach: WIN (10th to #11's 16th)
Barber: LOSS (22nd to #7's 16th)
GPOI: LOSS (26th to #77's 8th)
500 Quals: LOSS (28th to #20's 18th)
500: WIN (17th to #48's 28th)
Belle Isle: LOSS (24th to #21's 16th)
Road America: LOSS (20th to #29's 18th)

9. #4 Foyt 2-7
St. Petersburg: LOSS (25th to #14's 18th)
Texas: LOSS (17th to #48's 6th)
Long Beach: LOSS (26th to #21's 13th)
Barber: LOSS (23rd to #20's 19th)
GPOI: LOSS (27th to #06's 14th)
500 Quals: LOSS (29th to #29's 24th)
500: WIN (27th to #77's 32nd)
Belle Isle: WIN (20th to #11's 23rd)
Road America: LOSS (23rd to #7's 6th)

10. #11 Foyt 1-8
St. Petersburg: LOSS (24th to #21's 6th)
Texas: WIN (14th to #20's 18th)
Long Beach: LOSS (16th to #14's 10th)
Barber: LOSS (26th to #29's 17th)
GPOI: LOSS (15th to #7's 6th)
500 Quals: LOSS (17th to #48's 12th)
500: LOSS (12th to #06's 7th)
Belle Isle: LOSS (23rd to #4's 20th)
Road America: LOSS (25th to #77's 11th)

League Two Breakdown:
After stealing victories in the first two weeks with rather poor results, Felix Rosenqvist's run of good form has the #7 AMSP entry on top of League Two and three games clear of fourth. 

It is tight for the other two promotion spots. Rinus VeeKay and Hélio Castroneves have the #21 ECR and #06 MSR entries currently in the top three, but only one game ahead of the #48 Ganassi, #20 ECR and #29 Andretti entries. Some of these results are flattering. 

Three of Jimmie Johnson's five victories are with results of 20th or worse. Devlin DeFrancesco has finished 17th or worse in all five of his victories and he has won four consecutive weeks!

Meanwhile, Callum Ilott has the #77 Juncos Hollinger entry two games out of promotion.

If there was ever a way to encapsulate how uncompetitive A.J. Foyt Racing is, even in a fictional environment, the team's three entries are the bottom three in League Two. The team's combined record is 6-21. Half of their victories are against other A.J. Foyt Racing cars! 

There have been a few tough breaks for the Foyt camp. For example, the #11 Foyt entry with J.R. Hildebrand was paired with Jimmie Johnson for Indianapolis 500 qualifying and Hélio Castroneves for the Indianapolis 500 itself. Hildebrand was 17th and 12th in those respective events. Not bad for the team, but Hildebrand lost to Johnson, who qualified 12th, and lost to Castroneves, who finished seventh. Tatiana Calderón was 15th at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, not bad especially in wet conditions, but she was paired with Rosenqvist, who finished sixth. Again, DeFrancesco is 5-4, with a four-week winning streak, and has yet to finish better than 17th. Sometimes you are the hammer, and other times you are the nail. 

For League One, it has six weeks left in the regular season. After Nashville, the top four will advance to the playoffs at Gateway, Portland and Laguna Seca. Fifth-place in each conference will be secure for the 2023 season, but the sixth and seventh-place finishers will go to the relegation playoff held over the Gateway and Portland weekends. Eighth-place in each conference will be relegated. 

League Two has eight more weeks to go. With League Two being a round robin format, the top three after the Laguna Seca finale will earn promotion. 

We will take another look at the league after Nashville to preview the playoff matchups and update the promotion/relegation situation. 

Monday, June 20, 2022

Musings From the Weekend: In the Olden Days

Max Verstappen held off Carlos Sainz, Jr. to win the Canadian Grand Prix. At least Canada got a point from its two drivers at the home race. Hélio Castroneves could be set for an entry into a NASCAR Cup race at Daytona. Supercars disqualified Chaz Mostert from practice, and then from race one, but it all turned out all right. GT World Challenge America continues to be rather boring. GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup continues to be slightly less boring. The French had a good day in Germany. Here is a rundown of what got me thinking.

In the Olden Days
I don't like when we do not have a historical perspective. It happens every year with the Indianapolis 500, especially since it now pays double points. Double points is labeled as a "gimmick." It is worth more than any other race. It is viewed as improper, and no race should be weighed greater than another race, as it tilts the championship. 

Every year after Indianapolis we normally see the race winner jump up a few positions in the championship. Marcus Ericsson went from seventh to first this year based on one result because there were more points on the table. 

Many get hung up on the benefit for winning the race, but it seems many have a narrow view of the past and ignore that for the longest time, Indianapolis always was worth more points than pretty much every other race. 

When the American Automobile Association and USAC sanctioned the highest level of IndyCar, races had different points totals based on the mileage. The winner received two points for every mile in the scheduled distance. Win the Indianapolis 500 and a driver was awarded 1,000 points. Win a 100-mile race, a driver earned 200 points. Second place received 80% of the winner's total. It decreased by ten percent all the way down to 30% of the winner's total for seventh before decreases in 5% increments from eighth to 12th. 

This did cause some peculiar championship results. In many seasons, an Indianapolis 500 victory was all you needed to be champion when combined with other respectable results, as the rest of the season was only 100-mile races. 

In 1955, Jimmy Bryan won six of 11 races, but he was second in the championship on 1,480 points. Bill Sweikert won the Indianapolis 500 and the Syracuse 100 in September. He had 2,290 points, 1,000 of which were for winning one race. 

Bryan had almost no chance of beating Sweikert, and Sweikert mathematically clinched the championship after five races. 

Up until the CART era, this points system remained in place. It wasn't a gimmick; it was how it was. It might seem unfair that longer races were worth more points, but it was how the championship was awarded, and there is some logic behind it. It is arguably harder to win a 500-mile race versus a 100-mile race. Longer races means more wear on the car and driver. That does seem like it should be worth something.

IndyCar did have multiple 500-mile races in many seasons during the 1970s, and when the schedule increased to have 16 races or more, full season success could cancel out just winning Indianapolis or any of the longer races. The best example is the 1978 season. Al Unser completed the Triple Crown, winning the three 500-mile races at Indianapolis, Pocono and Ontario. That was 3,000 points to his name in only three of 18 races. Tom Sneva ended up winning the championship despite not winning a single race. Figure that one out? Six runner-up finishes and 12 top five finishes helped Sneva while Unser missed two races and failed to scored points in five other races. 

Even when CART first started, it weighed races based on mileage. It used the USAC system at first. For the 1981 and 1982 seasons, CART decreased the points totals with 20 points for a victory in a 100-mile race, 40 points to win a 200-miler, 60 in a 300-miler, 80 in a 400-miler and 100 points to win a 500-miler. It wasn't until the 1983 season where every race paid the same number of points. 

The USAC system was the system. It wasn't seen as a gimmick. It might have caused an imbalance in importance of races, hurting some while propping up others, but that was the norm. At that time, making every race equal was the gimmick. Giving out a point for fastest qualifier and most laps led were gimmicks.  

After decades of saying Indianapolis was the most important race in the season and awarding it as such, it must have been weird for Indianapolis to become level with a 150-mile race at Phoenix, or a 200-mile race at Mid-Ohio. 

Perspective matters. It is perfectly fine to believe every race should pay the same amount of points. There is a fairness in that and helps a championship. To act like what happens today is some grave sporting injustice ignores decades of history of how races were scored and perceived. 

With that mindset, what would this IndyCar season look like through eight races if the USAC points system was used today? 

Keep in mind, IndyCar races are much different distances than back then. The Indianapolis 500 is still the same, but there weren't any street courses. Every race was scheduled to round number mileage or as close to it as possible. There weren't 167.28-mile races or 220.77-mile races. Even 180-mile races were nonexistent. 

Here is what I have done: I have done two points per mile of the scheduled distance for all the winners, expect for Texas, which was 357.12 miles, but I rounded it to 700 points for the winner, Long Beach and Belle Isle were both treated as 150-mile races and paid 300 points to the winner as those races were 167.28 miles and 164.5 miles respectively, and Barber paid 400 miles to the winner, as it was a 207-mile race and rounded down.

St. Petersburg awarded double from 180 miles and Road America paid double from 220 miles. The decreasing points proportions from second down to 12th remained the same. Second received 80% of the winner's total and so on all the way down to 12th receiving 5%. 

What would the standings look like and how would that compare to the actual standings?

1. Marcus Ericsson - 2,264 points (-)
2. Will Power - 1,672 points (-)
3. Josef Newgarden - 1,620 points (-)
4. Patricio O'Ward - 1,518 points (-)
5. Álex Palou - 1,348 points (-)
6. Alexander Rossi - 1,243 points (+1)
7. Scott McLaughlin - 1,212 points (+2)
8. Scott Dixon - 1,118 points (-2)
9. Felix Rosenqvist - 1,011 points (-1)
10. Colton Herta - 1,006 points (+1)
11. Simon Pagenaud - 867 points (-1)
12. Romain Grosjean - 804 points (-)
13. Tony Kanaan - 700 points (+12)
14. Conor Daly - 630 points (-1)
15. Rinus VeeKay - 529 points (-1)
16. Graham Rahal - 408 points (-1)
17. Hélio Castroneves - 360 points (-)
18. Santino Ferrucci - 290 points (+8)
19. Jimmie Johnson - 280 points (+5)
20. Christian Lundgaard - 182 points (-4)
21. Takuma Sato - 174 points (-3)
22. Callum Ilott - 144 points (-)
23. David Malukas - 120 points (-4)
24. Juan Pablo Montoya - 100 points (+7)
25. J.R. Hildebrand - 50 points (+3)
26. Kyle Kirkwood - 45 points (-5)

Under the USAC system, where all the points totals are based on the scheduled race distance, the top five in the championship would be the exact same. And frankly, outside of Tony Kanaan's third-place finish in the Indianapolis 500 and Santino Ferrucci's two respectable runs in the two oval races, the championship is practically identical to what we have had this season. 

Are double points a gimmick or just a different way to award race results? Is the USAC system any less valid than the current system? 

It would matter over the remaining races. There is a big difference in the remaining races and the points left on the table. Based on scheduled race distances (and I will treat both Iowa races as 250-mile events, round Nashville up to 175 miles, and round Portland and Laguna Seca down to 200 miles), the maximum points remaining is 3,830. Still more than enough for anyone to be champion, but proportionally, Ericsson's lead is about 16% bigger under the USAC system than the current system. 

It is important to keep the past in mind. It is too easy to blast doing something different as a gimmick or unwarranted. A balanced championship with all the races paying the same number of points is a fair way to decide a champion, but a different system is not any less valid especially if it ends up producing practically the same result. 

Winners From the Weekend
You know about Max Verstappen, but did you know...

Fabio Quartararo won MotoGP's German Grand Prix, his third victory of the season. Augusto Fernández won the Moto2 race, his second victory of the season. Izan Guevara won the Moto3 race, his second consecutive victory and third of the season.

René Rast and Ricardo Feller split the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters races from Imola. 

Anton de Pasquale, Cameron Waters and Chaz Mostert split the Supercars races from Darwin.

Sacha Fenestraz won the Super Formula race from Sportsland SUGO, his first career victory in the series.

Hélio Castroneves won the SRX race from Five Flags Speedway, his first career victory in the series.

The #32 Audi Club Team WRT Audi of Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts and the #89 AKKodis ASP Team Mercedes-AMG of Raffaele Marciello and Timur Boguslavskiy split the GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup race from Zandvoort.

The #1 K-PAX Racing Lamborghini of Andrea Caldarelli and Michele Beretta swept the GT World Challenge America races from Virginia International Raceway, 11 consecutive victories for K-PAX Racing in GTWCA competition. The #18 RS1 Porsche of Eric Filgueiras and Stevan McAleer and the #34 Conquest Racing/JMF Motorsports Mercedes-AMG of Gavin Sanders and Michai Stephens split the GT4 America races. George Kurtz swept the GT America races.

Todd Gilliland won the NASCAR Truck race from Knoxville.

Coming Up This Weekend
The Dutch TT.
A six-hour race around Watkins Glen for IMSA. 
NASCAR begins summer at Nashville Superspeedway.
The Safari Rally takes place.
World Touring Car Cup will run at Aragón.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

IndyCar All-Time Winner Progression

Right after Scott McLaughlin won the IndyCar season opener at St. Petersburg, becoming the 297th different winner in IndyCar history, I went over the record book and looked for the milestone race winners in IndyCar history as the 300th winner isn't that far away. 

When going over the record book, I started thinking about A.J. Foyt and his record 67 victories. How did he get there? We never hear about Foyt's rise to the top and when he became the all-time leader in victories. We know the record and we know it has long been seen as untouchable. But when did it become that way? How long has Foyt been the man on top?

Today is June 15, 2022. The first IndyCar race recognized in its record book took place on June 12, 1909. One hundred 13 years and three days after the first IndyCar race, let's look over the all-time winner progression, from that first race to A.J. Foyt to where we sit today. 

Races #1, #2 and #3 - Portland Road Course
IndyCar's first race day was a Saturday triple-header on a 14.6-mile road course in Portland, Oregon. The first two races were three-lap, 43.8-mile races. The final was the Wemme Cup Race, a 102.2-mile, seven-lap event. 

The first winner was Howard Covey before Charlie Arnold won race two. Bert Dingley, who finished second in the first two races of the day, won the Wemme Cup Race. 

After day one in IndyCar history, there were three drivers tied for the all-time lead. They would get some company.

Seven-Way Tie
There were seven different winners in the first seven races in IndyCar history. After the Portland weekend, there were two races held on June 18-19, 1909 in Crown Point, Indiana. The Indiana Trophy Race and Cobe Trophy Race took place. 

Joe Matson won the Indiana Trophy Race and Louis Chevrolet won the Cobe Trophy Race in eight hours, one minute and 39 seconds.

The next race was on July 5, 1909 in Denver. Eaton McMillan won a 290-mile race on a 14.5-mile circuit. On July 10, Harris Hanshue won the Dick Ferris Trophy Race in Santa Monica, California. Later that day, the tie would be broken. 

Bert Dingley - Two Victories
On the same day as the Dick Ferris Trophy Race was the Leon Shelter Trophy Race, and Dingley won it to become the first repeat winner in IndyCar history. His time as the sole leader would not last long.

Bert Dingley/Bob Burman/Louis Chevrolet - Two Victories
Bob Burman's first career victory came in the next race on the AAA Championship Car schedule after Dingley's second career victory. Burman won the Prest-O-Lite Trophy Race, a 100-lap event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway held on August 19. 

On Labor Day Monday, September 6, Burman scored his second career victory in the Vesper Club Trophy Raceheld on the 10.6-mile Merrimack Valley Course in Lowell, Massachusetts. That same day, Louis Chevrolet would get his second career victory in the Yorick Club Trophy Race. 

Dingley's time on top lasted 58 days before he had some company. This tied trio would be broken about three weeks later.

Louis Chevrolet - Three Victories
Chevrolet won the Long Island Stock Car Derby Class D race held in Riverhead, New York on September 29, 1909. Chevrolet was ahead of Burman in second, and Chevrolet got to be the sole leader in IndyCar victories. 

Chevrolet closed the 1909 season as the all-time leader. 

Louis Chevrolet/Ray Harroun - Three Victories
Chevrolet held the all-time lead, but he did not win any of the final five races in the 1909 season. 

The 1910 season opener was held on May 5 at the 2-mile Atlanta Motordrome. Ray Harroun scored his first career victory. 

Though a year before the inaugural Indianapolis 500, Indianapolis Motor Speedway was busy over the Memorial Day holiday in 1910. Three races were held between May 27 and May 30. Harroun won the Wheeler-Schebler Trophy Race, a 200-mile event on May 28. Two days later, a year before Harroun would make history in another way, Harroun won the Remy Brassard Trophy, a 50-mile race, and he tied Chevrolet for the all-time lead. 

Chevrolet's time alone on top lasted 243 days. A familiar name would join these two on three victories.

Louis Chevrolet/Ray Harroun/Bob Burman - Three Victories
The next race saw Burman win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the second Remy Brassard Trophy Race, this time a 100-mile event, on July 2. Harroun was third. Chevrolet was ninth. 

It would get a little more crowded on top. 

Louis Chevrolet/Ray Harroun/Bob Burman/Bert Dingley - Three Victories
Neither Chevrolet nor Harroun nor Burman won again over the final 11 races of the 1910 season. 

In the third race of the 1911 season, Dingley won the Panama-Pacific Road Race held on February 22. The 15-lap, 163.845-mile race took place on a 10.923-mile course starting and finishing in Oakland, California. 

Ray Harroun - Four Victories
Harroun's inaugural Indianapolis 500 victory was not just the first Indianapolis 500 ever. It also made Harroun the all-time leader in victories. 

Harroun retired after winning the first Indianapolis 500. It was only a matter of time before someone would pass him. 

Ralph DePalma - Five Victories
With Harroun retired, his record was waiting to be overtaken. The only problem is no one was biting. 

Harroun lasted the entire 1911 season on top. He went a full year as the all-time leader when the second Indianapolis 500 came around, but the 1912 season set up a charge to the top. 

Ralph DePalma's first career victory came in 1909 at the Long Island Stock Car Derby where Louis Chevrolet became the first driver to three victories. DePalma won the Class A race that day. He would not win again until the second race of the 1912 season, the Jepsen Trophy Race held on May 4 in Santa Monica. 

DePalma would have his infamous defeat later that month at Indianapolis. Later that season, he swept the races held on August 31 at the Elgin Road Race Course in Elgin, Illinois. He won a 254-mile race and a 304.92-mile race in the same day, leveling him with Harroun on all-time victories. 

Harroun's time alone on top lasted 459 days. 

The next race was the Vanderbilt Cup race held on the 7.88-mile Wauwatosa Road Race Course around Milwaukee, Wisconsin. DePalma scored his third consecutive victory and became the all-time leader on October 2. 

With DePalma on top, this was the start of a three-driver battle over the entire 1910s. 

Ralph DePalma/Ralph Mulford - Five Victories
DePalma closed the 1912 season as the all-time leader, but Ralph Mulford won the 1912 season finale held at the Brighton Beach Race Course in Brooklyn, New York. It was Mulford's fourth career victory after having one victory in the 1910 season and two victories in 1911. 

On July 4, 1913, Mulford won the 200-mile race on a one-mile dirt oval in Columbus, Ohio. 

DePalma was on top for 275 days, but he would not be tied for long. 

Ralph DePalma - Six Victories
Just under a year after he went level with Harroun for the all-time record at Elgin, DePalma won the Chicago Auto Club Trophy Race on August 29, 1913 and put himself back on top with six victories, but the battle was just starting. 

Ralph DePalma/Earl Cooper - Six Victories
While DePalma and Mulford sat tied on five victories, Earl Cooper started collecting victories on a frequent basis over the 1913 season. 

His first career victory was in Tacoma, Washington on July 5, 1912. 

In 1913, Cooper won five consecutive starts. He won again at Tacoma, one year to the day of his first career victory. Two days later, he won another Tacoma race. 

On August 9, Cooper won the Santa Monica Road Race. The final event of the season was a doubleheader held on September 9 in Corona, California held on the 2.768-mile road course on Grand Boulevard. Cooper swept those races and ended the 1913 season level with DePalma for the lead in all-time victories. 

This was just the start of what would be an active 1914 season. 

Ralph DePalma - Seven Victories
DePalma won the 1914 season opener, the Vanderbilt Cup race, which was held in Santa Monica. 

Ralph DePalma/Earl Cooper - Seven Victories
Back in Tacoma, Cooper scored his seventh career victories on July 4.

Ralph Mulford - Eight Victories
Three races were held on 2.5-mile Galveston Beach Course from July 30 through August 3. Mulford won all three of them, his first victories in over a year and he went from third in victories, two off the lead, to the all-time leader in the course of a week. 

Ralph DePalma - Nine Victories
Less than three weeks later, DePalma swept a doubleheader at Elgin, winning the two races held over August 21-22. 

Ralph DePalma/Ralph Mulford - Nine Victories
Two months after DePalma went to the top, Mulford leveled with DePalma. Mulford won a 100-mile race on the one-mile Galesburg, Illinois oval. 

Over the course of the 15-race 1914 season, the all-time lead in victories changed three times and it was equalled on two other occasions. These three drivers weren't done yet. 

Ralph DePalma - Ten Victories
The first to double-figures, DePalma's Indianapolis 500 victory in 1915 captured him the top spot solely for the fifth-time in his career. 

Ralph DePalma/Ralph Mulford - Ten Victories
A little over two months later, DePalma and Mulford were level again after Mulford won a 300-mile race on the one-mile Des Moines Speedway board oval. 

Ralph DePalma - 11 Victories
Three weeks after that, DePalma was alone on top again with a victory in the 100-mile race at the Kalamazoo Fairgrounds. 

Earl Cooper - 12 Victories
DePalma and Mulford went back and forth over 1915, but Cooper had a splendid 1915 season himself. 

Cooper won the 1915 season opener in San Diego, his eighth career victory. His ninth career victory was at Elgin on August 20. On Labor Day, September 5, Cooper won the 500-mile race around the two-mile Twin City Motor Speedway in Minneapolis with Johnny Aitken as his co-driver. 

Cooper then won the 109-mile race at the Arizona State Fairgrounds on November 20 for his 11th career victory. Five days later, Cooper won the 100-mile race on the Panama-Pacific Exhibition Track, a one-mile dirt oval in San Francisco. And the 1915 season ended with a new all-time leader. 

Ralph DePalma - 13 Victories
The 1916 season saw DePalma win at Des Moines on June 24 and then Minneapolis on July 4, moving him back into the all-time lead, and DePalma would hold the spot for the rest of the 1916 season. 

Earl Cooper - 15 Victories
Cooper tied DePalma on 13 victories in the first race of the 1917 season, winning the George Washington Sweepstakes at Ascot Park in Gardena, California on March 4. Victory #14 was on June 16, the War Derby held on the two-mile Speedway Park board oval in Chicago. 

No surprise, Cooper retook the all-time lead in victories in Tacoma on September 3. He held the lead through the 1917 season, but things would change in the 1918 season. 

Earl Cooper/Ralph Mulford - 15 Victories
On May 16, 1918, the 1.25-mile Uniontown Speedway board oval hosted the Liberty Sweepstakes, a five-race event. Mulford won the second heat that day and then won the main event, putting him on 15 victories and tying him with Cooper. 

Earl Cooper/Ralph Mulford/Ralph DePalma - 15 Victories
On July 28, 1918, Speedway Park in Chicago hosted a doubleheader, a 20-mile race and a 30-mile race. 

DePalma won the 20-mile race to open the action, his first victory in nearly 11 months. Cooper, Mulford and DePalma were all level on victories for the first time since August 1, 1914 when Mulford won the second race of the triple-header spread over six days in Galveston. It was the final time the three drivers were tied for the all-time lead because...

Ralph DePalma - 16 Victories
DePalma won the 30-mile race at Speedway Park to complete the sweep and take the all-time lead...

Ralph DePalma - 19 Victories
Then DePalma swept the International Sweepstakes triple-header held on August 17 at the two-mile Sheepshead Bay Speedway board oval. The three races were 20 miles, 30 miles and 50 miles in duration. 

Ralph DePalma - 20 Victories
Mulford would win the 1918 season finale in Uniontown. He would win a 30-mile race at Sheepshead Bay on June 14, 1919, but that would be his 17th and final victory. DePalma won the 50-mile race later that day to become the first driver to 20 victories in IndyCar history. 

The all-time lead was DePalma's. 

Ralph DePalma - 24 Victories
DePalma won at Elgin on August 28, 1920. He would win three times in the 1921 season, all at the 1.25-mile Los Angeles Motor Speedway board oval. His 24th victory came in his 76th start. 

DePalma continued racing until 1933. He made 24 more starts in his career, but never won another championship race. Despite not winning once over the final 12 years of his career, DePalma held onto his record.

Tommy Milton put up a viable threat. 

Milton's first career victory was in 1917. His first Indianapolis 500 victory came in 1921 and at the end of that season Milton was already on 15 victories. He won four times in 1922 and reached 20 victories with his second Indianapolis 500 victory in 1923. He won once in 1924 and twice in 1925 to reach 23 victories, but he made only one start in 1926 at the Carl G. Fisher Trophy Race at the Miami-Fulford Speedway. He ran the 1927 Indianapolis 500 and then retired from competition, one victory shy of matching DePalma's record. 

Earl Cooper kept competing into 1927. He won once in 1921 but didn't win again until 1924. He won once again in 1925 and twice in 1926 to reach 20 victories. It should be noted Jimmy Murphy won 19 races between February 28, 1920 through his fatal accident at Syracuse on September 15, 1924, only three days after turning 30 years old. Murphy had won three consecutive races before losing his life at Syracuse. He won 19 of his 52 starts, a phenomenal 36.538% winning percentage, winning the championship in 1922 and posthumously in 1924. 

DePalma not only held the all-time record at the end of the 1920s, but the 1930s... and 1940s... and 1950s.

What did the top ten in victories look like at the end of those decades?

IndyCar All-Time Victory Leaders - End of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s
Ralph DePalma - 24
Tommy Milton - 23
Earl Cooper - 20
Jimmy Murphy - 19
Ralph Mulford - 17
Eddie Hearne - 11
Dario Resta - 10
Louis Chevrolet - 10
Peter DePaolo - 10
Frank Lockhart - 10

During the 1930s, only 46 races total took place over those ten years, meaning the top ten all-time victory leaders didn't change. Louis Meyer came the closest to the top ten with eight victories. Bill Cummings had six victories at the end of that decade. 

World War II interrupted the 1940s and no races took place from September 2, 1941 until the 1946 Indianapolis 500. In the 1940s, only 49 races took place. Rex Mays would have eight victories by the end of the 1940s. Mauri Rose reached seven victories. Wilbur Shaw, Tony Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons would each reach six victories. 

However, things were picking up at the end of the decade. The schedule was up to 14 races in 1949, and we would see consistent schedule lengths over the 1950s, meaning a shakeup in the record book was imminent. 

IndyCar All-Time Victory Leaders - End of the 1950s
Ralph DePalma - 24
Tommy Milton - 23
Tony Bettenhausen - 22
Earl Cooper - 20
Jimmy Murphy - 19
Jimmy Bryan - 19
Ralph Mulford - 17
Eddie Hearne - 11
Johnnie Parsons - 11
Rodger Ward - 11
Dario Resta - 10
Louis Chevrolet - 10
Peter DePaolo - 10
Frank Lockhart - 10

Four drivers reached the ten-victory milestone during the 1950s. 

Bettenhausen was the first to get there in the second race of the 1951 season, the Rex Mays Classic at Milwaukee. Bettenhausen ended that season with 17 career victories. Parsons won the 1951 season finale at Bay Meadows in San Mateo, California to reach ten career victories. Parsons would win the 1952 season finale at the Arizona Fairgrounds, his 11th and final victory. 

Bettenhausen only ran the Indianapolis 500 in 1952. He was a part-time driver from 1952 through 1957 and went nearly two years between victories. Bettenhausen won twice during the 1953 season. His 20th victory was at Syracuse on September 8, 1956. 

While Bettenhausen was away from full-time competition, a pair of young drivers emerged. Rodger Ward scored his first two career victories in successive races early in the 1953 season. Jimmy Bryan scored his first career victory in the penultimate round that year. 

Bryan would win the 1954 championship with five victories, including four consecutive to close the season. He would win six races in 1955 but finish second in the championship to Bob Sweikert. Bryan bounced back to take another two championships in 1956 and 1957. Bryan won four races and two races respectively. He ended the 1957 season with 18 career victories.

Bettenhausen returned to full-time competition in 1958. Bryan won the Indianapolis 500 that year, as he stepped back from full-time competition. Bettenhausen took the title in 1958 despite not winning a race. Ward quietly won races. He had three victories in the 1957 season and two in 1958. 

In 1959, Bettenhausen won the second race of the season at Trenton, but Ward won the Indianapolis 500 and took control of the championship. Ward won at Milwaukee and DuQuoin to reach the ten-victory milestone. He won the Hoosier Hundred at the end of summer and the championship was practically his. Bettenhausen won the penultimate race of the season at the Arizona Fairgrounds, his 22nd career victory. 

Ward won twice during the 1960 season but lost the championship by 290 points to A.J. Foyt. Foyt did not get his first victory of the season, and career, until the Ted Horn Memorial on September 5. Foyt won four of the final six races. 

However, darkness would hang over the early 1960s. At Langhorne, the fourth round of the 1960 season, Jimmy Bryan lost his life in an opening lap accident. Bettenhausen lost his life in practice for the 1961 Indianapolis 500. 

Ward won three more times in 1961, bringing his career total up to 16, but Foyt won four times, including his first Indianapolis 500. Foyt opened the 1962 season with a victory at Trenton, but Ward picked up his second Indianapolis 500 victory that May. Foyt won the two races following Indianapolis and Ward ended that streak with a victory at Trenton. Ward won again at Syracuse, his 20th victory and Foyt won the penultimate round of the season at Syracuse, ending the season on 12 career victories, ninth all-time. Ward took his second championship at the end of 1962.

In the next two seasons, the IndyCar record would be changed forever. 

Ward and Foyt again went at it for the championship in 1963. Each driver won five times over the 12-race season. Parnelli Jones won the Indianapolis 500 and Jim Clark won at Milwaukee in August. While they were level on victories, Foyt had 11 top five finishes. His worst finish was eighth in the Phoenix finale. Ward had nine top five finishes but failed to score points in two races and missed the Langhorne round at the end of June. 

But the final two races of the season were most important for Ward. 

Rodger Ward - 25 Victories
Ward had picked up his 23rd career victory at the Hoosier Hundred in September. Foyt clinched the 1963 championship with his victory eight days later at Trenton while Ward retired after six laps due to a fuel leak. 

After Johnny Rutherford wrecked out of the lead on lap 13 at Sacramento, Ward went on to lead the final 88 laps and tied Ralph DePalma for the all-time lead in victories. At the Phoenix finale, Ward passed Chuck Hulse on lap 31 and led the final 70 laps to become the all-time leader in victories. 

DePalma became the all-time leader on July 28, 1918. For 16,548 days, 45 years, three months and 20 days, DePalma held the all-time lead in victories until Ward surpassed him. 

Ward would not hold onto the all-time lead for long.

IndyCar All-Time Victory Leaders - End of the 1963 Season
Rodger Ward - 25
Ralph DePalma - 24
Tommy Milton - 23
Tony Bettenhausen - 22
Earl Cooper - 20
Jimmy Murphy - 19
Jimmy Bryan - 19
Ralph Mulford - 17
A.J. Foyt - 17
Eddie Hearne - 11
Johnnie Parsons - 11

A.J. Foyt's 1964 Season
We all know the story of Foyt's 1964 season. Seven victories to open the season, including his second Indianapolis 500 victory. Ten victories from 13 starts but lost in it is the history we have taken for granted. 

A.J. Foyt - 27 Victories
Foyt's eighth victory of the season at DuQuoin on September 7 tied him with Rodger Ward for the all-time lead in victories. Nineteen days later, Foyt won the Hoosier Hundred to break the record. His victory at Sacramento, the penultimate round of the season, put him on 27 victories. 

Ward's reign as the all-time leader lasted 314 days. Ward's final career victory was on April 24, 1966, a little over a month before his final start, which came in the Indianapolis 500. 

A.J. Foyt - 67 Victories
Foyt went on to win 40 mores races after the 1964 season through his final start nearly 28 years later.

A year after he became the all-time leader, Foyt was the first driver to reach the 30-victory milestone in the Hoosier Hundred. Foyt would be the first to 40 victories on September 29, 1968 at Sacramento, hit 50 on April 6, 1975 at Trenton and made it to 60 on August 6, 1978 at Texas World Speedway. 

By the end of the 1970s, Foyt's win rate decreased. He won at Silverstone later in the 1978 season, Foyt's third and final road course victory in IndyCar competition. His others were at Continental Divide Raceways in Colorado in 1968 and at Mosport in 1977. 

With the USAC/CART split, Foyt remained on the USAC side of the fence at the start. He won six races in 1979 on his way to taking his seventh and final championship. His final victory was in a rain-shortened Pocono race on June 21, 1981, the final USAC Championship Car paved race at a track other than Indianapolis. The race ended 88 laps prior to the scheduled distance. Geoff Brabham was runner-up in his third career start. Tom Bigelow and George Snider rounded out the top four. Harry MacDonald was fifth on debut. MacDonald's only other start was a month later in the CART Michigan race. 

It was the IndyCar debut for Jack Hewitt, who would not make his Indianapolis 500 debut until 1998. Front-engine dirt cars filled out the 29-car field. 

Foyt's 67th victory came in his 286th start, a winning percentage of 23.426%. He would make another 83 starts and his final winning percentage dropped to 18.157%. Foyt's final start was the 1992 Indianapolis 500, a ninth-place finish, nearly 35 years after he finished ninth on debut at Springfield.

21,081 Days Later
At time of posting, Foyt has been the sole leader in IndyCar victories for 57 years, eight months and 20 days. 

For perspective, Foyt became the all-time leader almost a year before Mario Andretti scored his first career victory. Foyt reached the 30th victory when won the Hoosier Hundred on September 18, 1965. Andretti had one victory to his name at that time. At the end of the 1970s, Foyt was 30 victories clear of second, and that was Al Unser.

As we know, Scott Dixon is the closest active driver to Foyt. Dixon is on 51 victories and will turn 42 years old this in a little over a month. Seventeen victories is a lot. Not impossible for Dixon, but highly unlikely for a driver who might have five full seasons left. 

Fourteen drivers have at some point held a share of the all-time lead in IndyCar victories. Eight drivers have held the record on their own. Will we ever see a 15th? Will someone ever reach 68 victories? 

Foyt's record will remain intact for the foreseeable future. It will reach day 21,082 and go far beyond that.