Going into this race it still could be Alexander Rossi’s championship. Only twenty-six points separate first place Scott Dixon from Rossi. As previously discussed what needs to happen for a major swing is for Dixon to have a bad weekend and Rossi to have a great weekend. There’s a bit more of a cushion between Rossi and third place Will Power, but should Rossi have a bad weekend and Power have a race like he did in Gateway, that could change too. It’s too soon I think to say that the championship is Dixon’s.
There’s also the issue surrounding the Schmidt Peterson Motorsport #6 entry, on Wednesday the car was slated on the entry list with driver to be announced. Easy money was on Conor as he drove for SPM following James Hinchcliffe’s crash at Indy, and he doesn’t have driving duties for Harding this race. SPM has tapped Carlos Munoz to drive the #6 both at Portland and Sonoma. Carlos is a favorite of this podcast (especially Abby) and most recently finished seventh in this year’s Indianapolis 500. Carlos is a strong driver and will drive the #6 well as Robert Wickens continues to heal.*
For this race, it’s going to be a lot of drivers figuring out the course. A permanent road course in the Pacific northwest is going to prove to be tricky. Some, such as Will Power and Sebastian Bourdais, have history with this track but even then it has been a while. I anticipate a lot of changes to set up as the weekend goes on.
I’m also very interested in the trajectory of Zach Veach. He’s had two strong back-to-back showings on Ovals. The series switches over to the last two road course races, here’s hoping he can keep up the momentum.
Besides a good number of the paddock having no experience on this track what-so-ever, there are two new drivers for this race: Santino Ferrucci (Honda – Dale Coyne) and Alfonso Celis Jr. (Chevrolet – Juncos). They are unique one-offs given the recent article regarding Juncos Racing wanting to go to two cars next year and the…issues that Santino has had over in the Formula 1 circuit.
* I’ve seen some gripping on the internet about the lack of udpates again – they will provide updates when they [The Team, The Family, of INDYCAR] are ready to provide updates.