Wednesday, September 14, 2022

INDYCAR: Laguna Seca Season Finale Championship Edition

Come On Will, Sing It! We Are the Champions of the World…


Yeah, Y’all know the Championship outcome by now. As it was Showtime in Monterey with the title on the line. As the talk All weekend long was about how Mega’ the Tyre Deg’, nee Degradation was on the Gritty, Course Sandpaper Ash-Fault! With Scott Dixon saying He thought it was Detroit Bad! (Belle Isle) And Helio Castroneves said He thought the track was the same since He started coming Here Twenty Years Ago! While the track will be repaved next year.



Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden served notice during Friday’s first Practice session by being Fastest with a time of 01:11.4103, with teammate Will Power down in seventh, some five tenths-plus adrift.


As Power was eclipsed by three Andretti Autosport runners, with Colton Herta, Romain Grosjean and Alexander Rossi P2-3-4 respectively. With Colton just  some four tenths-plus adrift of Newgarden.


Whilst Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Rookie Callum Ilott was an impressive P5! And Meyer Shank Racing’s Simon Pagenaud was sixth, one spot ahead of former Penske teammate Power.


Marcus Ericsson was the Quickest of the Chip Ganassi Racing Boyz’ in 10th, with Penske’s ScottyMac’, aka Scott McLaughlin P11. While Scott Dixon was P17, and obviously has some work to do…


David Malukas who trails Christian Lundgaard in the Rookie Of the Year battle by five points was ninth, with the Dane’ winding up P15 on Day-1.


Saturday morning’s practice session saw a few Red Flags brought out. Most notably for Pato O’Ward going Off-track at  Turn 10, the bottom of the Famed Corkscrew, Me Thinks? As the team spent considerable time with All of the bodywork Off trying to Dislodge All of the Sand and Gravel He’d Injested!


Uber Funny how Mark Gravelly’ James was Opining over How Team Penske testing at Portland vs. Chip Ganassi Racing’s test at Laguna Seca was working out with some three minutes left. With Alex Palou P1 at 01:11.3847, and Dixon sixth, whilst Will Power and Josef Newgarden were languishing P22-23 respectively. And then as soon as They looked at their Timing Monitors, Shuhzamm! Power and Newgarden were P3-4, with Dixon still sixth!



So, you’d have to say the first Domino fell during Round-1, Group 1’s Qualie’ session. When Newgarden High-sided Himself on the Turn 8’s Kerb’s entrance to the world famous Corkscrew. Bringing out a Red Flag, which appeared to run Out the Clock, with Dixon also on the Outside. Yet IndyCar Race Control gave everybody left one final lap.


As I Bellowed at my Confuzer’s Speakers for Dixon to Not Advance outta His Round-1 Qualie’ Group, since He’s the Enemy this weekend! Taking Delight over first his CGR teammate Ericson Bumping Him Down to P6, and then Simon Pagenaud Knocked Dixon Out of Qualie’, Yeah Baby! Have I mentioned I’m Rootin’ for Will Power to win the title lately?


As Newgarden refused to speak to IndyCar Radio’s Ryan Marin after a short, terse interview with NBC. And will Roll off P25! Whilst Dixon will start 13th. Giving Will Power sufficient “Breathing Room” on the Race’s start.


Then in Round-1, Group 2, Colton Herta inexplicably took Himself Out of advancing to the Fast 12 Shootout when running Off-track, seeing three of Power’s staunchest competitors for Pole out of the running.


As I began crossing my fingers and Rootin’ for Power to Throw Down upon the remainder of the Field and claim His record setting 68th Pole position at Laguna Seca before the Fast Six Shootout! Which is exactly what Power Did!


As Kudos to SuperMario’, aka Mario Andretti for not only being on Hand, but immediately Shaking Power’s Hand after Breaking His record in Pitlane!


As I loved Mario’s answer on what it takes to claim that many Pole positions? Saying, How Badly do You Want It? If I knew what it took, I’d Bottle It and Sell It!


And I Don’t understand why IndyCar Radio Didn’t speak to Callum Ilott, who claimed His best ever Qualie’ finish in second! Instead talking to Romain Grosjean who rolls off P4, with Alexander Rossi third. While Row 3 features Palou and O’Ward.



Obviously, it’s easy to say after the fact. But I really did tell myself that I wanted Alex Palou to win the Season Finale a few days after attending Portland’s race. As I thought it would be the perfect “Fly in The Ointment” for a Driver who’s possibly driven His last race for Ganassi? And I was laughing so Hard and sticking my finger in the Air and making the Sizzling sound when water Hits a Hot rock! That I Didn’t Hear exactly what IndyCar Radio’s Dan rusanowsky asked Palou? Something ‘bout if He’d be sitting down with Chip afterwards? To which Palou said with mischief in His voice: Yeah Sure, if Cheep’s picking up the Bill! No, Only Kidding…


For which I think sums up the whole crux of the Ganassi v Palou Spat! And it’ll be Sad if Palou Has to sit out a year from IndyCar’s!


Initially I kept saying whilst listening to the Radio Broadcast, you’re giving Me a Heart attack Will! But it also seemed obvious that Will simply let Newgarden go when being passed for second, the first time. And I think I was getting sucked into the Announcers doing their job of creating Drama.


After the race, the more I thought about it, Power knew  what He needed to do to clinch His second IndyCar Championship. And with Palou simply Disappearing from the entire field, Power’s job was made that much “easier.” Although I’m Not saying it was an easy race for Will, but He managed it superbly All Day long! And when Romain Grosjean momentarily threatened His third place, Power closed up on Newgarden and said I’m Here, so Giddy Up!


As you already know about Power being the first IndyCar Champion with only One win in 25 years since Tony Stewart’s 1997 IRL Championship. While you’ve gotta give Newgarden credit for driving the wheels off His #2 Penske with His unpreferred four stop Pit strategy, seeing Him finish second after starting a lowly P25!


Whilst I enjoyed the Karmic Whip snapping Scott Dixon, after the Kiwi’ Had apparently been playing Mental Mind Games with Team Penske at Portland when Questioning their Not using Team Tactics to give Power the Win and a Bigger Points lead prior to Laguna Seca. Hmm, Did anybody see Dixon Sunday at Laguna Seca? Uhm, where did He finish?


As I thought it was a Good race, probably Far more Gripping due to the title fight vs. the actual race. Especially since Palou simply put a Beatdown on the entire field with a thirty second lead over Newgarden!


Which was even more impressive after Palou Had to take a Six place Grid penalty for an unapproved engine change agter Qualifying…


While we All know that Newgarden Had the most wins of the season with five vs. Power and Palou’s One! Not to mention Power’s teammate ScottyMac’s (McLaughlin) Breakout season with three W’s!


But it was another Great Year, and now another Stupendous 351 Days Offseason looms large! While I suppose Thars still formula 1, but I’d say that Championship’s already Toast! With Max Verstappen being crowned World Champion Any day now…


Oh Yeah, almost forgot the IndyCar Rookie Of the Year (ROY) Battle. As Groan, Congrats to Christian Lundgaard who drove from 16th to finish fifth. Whilst David Malukas went Backwards from starting sixth and finishing P13 seeing the Dane’ clinch ROY Honours in the season’s final race.


Congratulations Will Power, Job Done!