As welcome to the Podium David Malukas!
The NTT IndyCar Series final Oval race of the year at World Wide Technology Raceway, (WWTR) at the track that will forever simply be Gateway for Mwah. Saw 26 Cars on the Grid, with the only change being Ed Carpenter Racing’s (ECR) Boss Fast Eddie’ (Ed Carpenter) in His #33 ECR entry.
Friday’s First Practice session prior to qualifying saw Team Penske’s DJ WillyP’, ergo Will Power on top of the Time Sheets with a speed of 180.539mph. Followed by Chip Ganassi Racing’s (CGR) Alex Palou and Arrow McLaren SP’s (AMSP) Felix Rosenqvist, with Penske’s ScottyMac’, nee Scott McLaughlin and CGR’s Marcus Ericsson rounding out the Top-5. AMSP’s Pato O’Ward was sixth, and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal in seventh was the first driver below 180mph! Penske’s Josef Newgarden, Coyne-Ware Racing’s Takuma Sato and Scott Dixon completed the Top-10.
Interestingly, Rookie Devlin DeFrancesco led the four car Andretti Autosport train in P11,which the Kuhnuck’ backed up with His career Best Qualifying performance of 10th, second Fastest Andretti runner with a speed of 179.531mph. Whilst Fellow Rookies David Malukus (Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsport) was P13 and matched that in Qualifying. A.J. foyt’s Kyle Kirkwood was P16 and 20th in Qualie’. RLLR’s Christian Lundgaard was P19 and Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Callum Ilott was P22. Which both matched later in Qualifying…
Surprisingly, Taku-san’, aka Takuma Sato was the first driver to average 180mph during Qualifying, when He jumped from a 179.9 to 180.3 to finish with a 180.048mph two lap average and will roll off P8.
Felix Rosenqvist, the 17th Qualifier, with the Qualifying order being run in the inverse order of Season Points. Saw the Swede’ get loose and Spin on His first lap and will start last in P26. Although Felix managed to mostly “Save” the car and not sure if He Hit anything? Other than I know He popped one of His tires and I think He lightly Brushed the Wall?
Twentieth qualifier Pato O’ward knocked Sato off of the Pole with a 180.303mph run, (7th) which was extremely short lived. Since Scott McLaughlin became the first Qualifier to eclipse 181mph for a final Qualie’ speed of 181.406mph, ultimately Qualifying fourth fastest.
While according to IndyCar Radio’s Michael Young, the entire track was then being Shaded in Clouds along with a Tailwind down the Straight, which pushed each of the last five Qualifiers Faster ‘N Faster!
Josef Newgarden’s first lap was a bit Disappointing with the recent trend of each runner going Quicker. Being only a 180-plus lap before Josef found two miles per hour more and became the first driver to Throw Down a lap of 182mph! As Newgarden’s average Qualifying run was 181.629mph. (P3) Quickly dispersing Penske teammate McLaughlin.
Next up was Alex Palou, once again in the No. 10 American Legion car. Setting His Best ever Gateway Qualie’ time at 181.289mph. (5th) Before CGR teammate Scott Dixon struggled with the Handling of His #9 racecar for a two lap average of 180.954mph, winding up sixth fastest.
Then Marcus Ericsson raised the bar to 182.070mph (2nd) before the driver I’d predicted to win the Pole prior to Qualifying went out for His Warmup lap. As you just knew that Will Power was going to run the Gauntlet and capture His record tying 67th Pole position!
And even with Will Bobbling in Turns 3-4 on His first lap, it still was in the High 182’s! Before as Power told Michael Young afterwards, He’d also had an issue in Turns 1-2but knew if He kept His Foot into it, He could run a “6!” Which presumably meant 24.6-second lap. Which is exactly what will did with a 24.5782 second lap when Uncorking a Mega’ lap of 183mph-plus! And capturing Pole Number 67 with an average speed of 182.727mph. Now tied with Mario Andretti for Most IndyCar Pole positions, aye Karumba!
From Pole, will Power led a total of 128 laps, and I Heard Mark Gravelly’ James say He’d led 104 of the first 109 laps.
With 43-laps remaining the Red Flag came out for Rain. And I loved ScottyMac’s Deadpan answer to Michael Young. When Young asked Him about Rainbows Down Under? Scotty said Oh Yeah, But they’re Upside Down! And the water goes Down the Drain Backwards. To which Scott Dixon played along with Young later, agreeing with McLauglin and Man, the water goes the opposite way too…
Two Hours, Nine minutes and 14 seconds later, the Red Flag for Rain was lifted with cars refiring engines at 7:09PM Pacific. Before the Green Flag came out four laps later at 7:13PM Pacific. For which it turned into a completely different race! As Josef Newgarden BOO! Passed ScottyMac’ for the lead and never looked back. But my eventual Driver of The Race, the unexpected David Malukas Drove round McLaughlin with just two laps remaining to finish Runner-up for His Debutante IndyCar Podium!
As originally Pato O’ward was going to be my Driver of The Race since I just kept saying Stones! After O’Ward pulled off another of His ultra Daring Passes upon DJ WillyP’ for the lead of the race! (Pre Red Flag) As O’Ward was simply amazing during this race, and it’s a Shame that He and Power both struggled after the Red Flag restart with Thar Flinstone’ tyres being Done Used Up! As Pato would have to settle for P4 while Malukas’s teammate Takuma Sato slipped past Power for fifth. And Power only just Holds onto His Points lead over Newgarden by the three Bonus Points He claimed for winning Pole and leading the most laps!
Of the other Championship Contendahs’, Marcus Ericsson led Scott Dixon and Alex Palou Home in a three car CGR Freight train, P7-8-9 respectively.
2022 Point Standings
1) Will Power: 482
2) Josef Newgarden: 479, -3
3) Scott Dixon: 468, -14
4) Marcus Ericsson: 465, -17
5) Alex Palou: 439, -43
6) Scott McLaughlin: 428, -54
7) Pato O’Ward: 424, -58
Shout Out to Devlin DeFrancesco who scored His career Best finish in 12th. While Kyle Kirkwood finished P17, one place ahead of A.J. Foyt enterprises teammate Dalton Kellett. And Christian Lundgaard finished a disappointing 19th.
2022 Rookies Point Standings
1. (15th) Christian Lundgaard: 283
2. (16th) David Malukas: 272, -11
(Overall Point Standings)