For the first time in its history, race cars were racing in October at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR provided exciting racing, a first-time pole winner and a return to victory lane at IMS for Team Penske.
Here are three things we learned during the doubleheader weekend.
So you’re saying there’s a chance…
For the 15th year in a row, the NTT INDYCAR Series championship will be decided in the final race of the season. Stand up if you thought that statement wouldn’t be used in this article? (Is everyone still sitting? If your name isn’t Josef Newgarden, please sit down)
Scott Dixon, who has led the championship since the season opened in June, has stumbled of late allowing the consistent Newgarden to close to within 32 points as the series heads to St. Petersburg for the season-ending Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
And while Dixon has looked more human than his early-season form, he’s still been good on his bad days with finishes of 10th, 10th, 9th and 8th. Dixon is one of six drivers to finish in the top-10 in the last four races – although so is Newgarden, who has two wins in that timeframe.
“It’s definitely been a trying last few race weekends between Mid-Ohio and Indy,” Dixon said. “I’m still mad at myself for making that mistake at Mid-Ohio and letting those points get away. As always, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES points title comes down to the last race, and even without the double points like we’ve seen before.”
Newgarden knows the chances for walking out of St. Pete with his third title in four years are remote, but he’s not giving up.
“Look, we’re in it with a shot,” he said. “We’re going to go to St. Pete and try and win this championship. I just wish we were in a little closer position.”
Rossi late-season surge
While Dixon has looked human since the Mid-Ohio doubleheader, Alexander Rossi has looked like the driver we all expected him to be for most of 2020.
With four-straight podium finishes – the longest podium streak of his career – Rossi has jumped from 18th in the point standings entering Mid-Ohio to his current position of ninth in the standings and could finish as high as sixth with some help at St. Pete.
It leaves us to wonder what might have been had his season hadn’t started so roughly.
“I knew I wasn't going to win a championship pretty early on this year with all that happened,” Rossi said. “For us, it just became about making the most of what races were left, trying to focus on our weaknesses, address issues that we have internally and externally. Just try to get things back going in a decent direction for everyone's mindset going into the winter. I think we've done that a little bit.”
He still has one goal for the St. Pete – win.
“Haven't won yet, so that sucks,” said Rossi, who has won at least one race since his rookie season in 2016. “We have one more shot to do it. Our street course cars are really strong. We have a good shot to do it. We're going to put our best foot forward and try to make it happen.”
Is Meyer Shank ready to step up?
It was a news-making week for Meyer Shank Racing, which strengthen its relationship with Honda, broke ground on its new headquarters near Columbus, Ohio, and announced it has received an investment from Formula One Group (better known as Liberty Media).
On the track, the team also continues to make news as Jack Harvey and the team continues to show consistent pace and post strong results that show the team’s first win may be just around the corner.
Harvey, who scored his and the team’s first podium at the IMS Road Course in May 2019, finished eighth and sixth in the two races at IMS.
Harvey is one of only three drivers who have posted finishes in the top 13 of each race since the Iowa doubleheader – the other two are title contenders Scott Dixon and Josef Newgarden.
“To come out of Indy with an eighth and a sixth, it maybe is a little less than what we might have hoped,” Harvey said. “But, we’ve been so consistently qualified in the top 10 and racing in the top 10. Outside of a little bit of bad luck, I think we have finished quite well. Now we just need to figure out what steps we need to take to get to the podium.”