Road America Preview

The action is heating up for the NTT IndyCar Series, as they are in the midst of five races in 15 days. After a historical July 4th weekend in their back yard with NASCAR, the premier open-wheel series heads north to one of the most iconic road courses in the world. Road America will host their first-ever doubleheader event for IndyCar, with primetime races on Saturday and Sunday. There will be four days of non-stop action, with the Road to Indy hosting multiple races before IndyCar arrives on Saturday. There will also be vintage Indy racing throughout Saturday and Sunday.

The first two rounds of the season have been dominated by Scott Dixon. The five-time series champion crushed the field at Texas and won the GMR Grand Prix by nearly 20 seconds. Should he perform well this weekend in Elkhart Lake, he could have a commanding lead in the championship standings in a season that is sure to be shortened by the pandemic. Dixon has been solid in this race over the last three years. He won the event in 2017, finished on the podium in 2018, and recorded a top-five finish last year.

The four races at Road America since IndyCar’s return has produced four different winners. In fact, the four winners (Dixon, Will Power, Josef Newgarden, Alexander Rossi) have combined to lead 192 laps in this event. The rest of this year’s field has combined to lead a total of six laps. There are 23 drivers entered in the event this weekend.

Rossi is the defending race winner, but his victory a year ago was vastly different from his previous starts. He finished 15th, 13th, and 16th in those first three years, and never led a lap. Last year he dominated the race, leading all but one lap. Ironically enough, Rossi has not led a lap in any IndyCar race since this race last year. Rossi’s Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay has never led a lap at Road America, but he has completed all 297 laps in his six starts at the track.

Newgarden has been good at Road America, but while driving for Team Penske, he has been great. His three finishes with Roger Penske’s team are 2nd, 1st, and 3rd. He has also led the most laps at Road America.

Some legendary names have won on this famous course. Mario and Michael Andretti each won three times, along with Emerson Fittipaldi, Paul Tracy, Jacques Villeneuve, AJ Allmendinger, Sebastien Bourdais, Dario Franchitti, and Alex Zanardi to name a handful. Even some legends had a hard time winning here. Al Unser, Al Unser Jr, Arie Luyendyk, Rick Mears, and Bobby Rahal all failed to capture the checkered flag in Elkhart Lake. Rahal had ten top-five finishes, but never visited victory lane. He very well could this weekend though, as a team owner. Graham Rahal has been very good on the 4-mile, 14-turn circuit. He has completed every lap in his five starts and has finished on the podium twice. He has finished 8th, 6th, and 4th in addition to those two podium results.

For the first time this season, IndyCar will have a race with fans. Road America has already had three weekends of racing that were open to fans. The national club-level SCCA June Sprints, SVRA vintage races, and a second race for MotoAmerica after their season opener was not able to have spectators. I am going to be at the event this weekend, so my coverage of the races on this website may be delayed due to travel. This will be my first trip to Road America, and I have only heard great things about it. The track will be handing out face coverings and hand sanitizer to everyone upon entry to the facility, in addition to touchless temperature checks at the gate.

Both REV Group Grand Prix at Road America races will be full-distance (55 laps) and feature quick qualifying sessions before each race. A 75-minute practice session is scheduled for 11 AM ET on Saturday, and group qualifying (12 minutes each) will begin at 2:15 PM. Race coverage begins at 5 PM ET on Saturday and will air on NBC Sports Network. Sunday’s race will have group qualifying at 9 AM ET with the race coverage kicking off at 12:30 PM ET on NBC.

Driver Quotes

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: “I’m really looking forward to Road America. It’s definitely one of my favorite tracks, so it’s always a joy to go there. It’s beautiful to begin with and it’s a fun place to race. It also tends to really fit my driving style so my PPG Chevy team and I are excited to get back on track there. I also can’t say enough about how I am excited for us to have some fans back at track this weekend. We missed you guys and are glad we will see some of you in Wisconsin with us. We’re going to put our all into both races this weekend for this doubleheader and are thankful our friends at NBC will be airing one race on NBCSN and the other on NBC.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL: “I am so excited to get back to Road America, especially, for a doubleheader! It is one of the most iconic racetracks in North America and runs through some beautiful landscape. The over 4-mile length lends itself to great racing and high speeds! After finding a strong direction with the #4 Tresiba Chevrolet at the Indy GP, I am looking forward to getting on track Saturday and continuing to move up the grid.”

PATO O’WARD: “Road America can’t come soon enough. Coming off a solid race at the GMR Grand Prix in Indianapolis, everyone at Arrow McLaren SP and I are looking forward to building on the momentum we have created so far this season. Road America is an iconic track on the calendar and I can’t think of a better place to welcome fans back to NTT INDYCAR SERIES race in a safe, responsible manner.”

OLIVER ASKEW: “We know the Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolets are fast and can contend for pole positions, now we need to work on finishing strong on race day. A doubleheader at Road America is the perfect opportunity to get a great result for the whole team. I’m looking forward to welcoming fans and partners back to the track, it will awesome to have people cheering us on again.”

MARCUS ERICSSON: “I’m really looking forward to getting back to Road America. It’s one of the nicest tracks on the calendar and it was really fun going there last year. It’s also exciting for us as a team to build on a strong performance at the Indy GP, obviously, for Scott winning, but also for me I think my race went really well. We had a strong pace and came home with a sixth place there in the Huski Chocolate Honda car. We’re aiming to build on that performance and we think we should be really strong in Road America. I’m bringing confidence from that strong weekend. So, I’m really looking forward to it and I can’t wait to get there!”

SCOTT DIXON: “It feels great to get the start to the season we’ve had. The team has put a lot of work into the program and we’ve unloaded with fast cars in both races so far. I’m glad we’re getting into racing every weekend. With doubleheaders in Road America and Iowa the next two weekends, the fans should get some really good action. That means lots of racing and I think that’s what we all want both as drivers and as racing fans. Road America is one of my favorite tracks and our goal is to keep the PNC Bank car at the front twice this weekend.”

FELIX ROSENQVIST: “I’m really looking forward to the Road America doubleheader coming up this weekend. It’s a really fun track, one of the better ones on the calendar and I think that goes for the spectators, as well, because it’s a really beautiful, old-school track. It hasn’t been the start of the season that I wanted, but I think we have a good car with the NTT DATA Honda on both the road course and the oval. So, I’m really looking forward to getting back on a roll and try to get some results going here again. I think it’s a good opportunity in Road America. It’s a track where I had a good result last year. Personally, I love going there and having a doubleheader couldn’t be better. It’s going to be a lot of racing in a short time and coming with Iowa after that as well with a doubleheader. It’s good to be going again and good to be back so shortly after Indy GP.”

WILL POWER: “I am so pumped for a doubleheader weekend at Road America. Last weekend just about everything that could have gone wrong for our Verizon Chevy team did, and we are just ready to head into the weekend super motivated to improve upon last weekend. I love road courses and this track is by far one of the most beautiful on the circuit. I’m glad we’ll have some fans there since that track always has such a lively crowd. They really make the event even more fun. NBC and NBC Sports Network are going to be airing the two races so I know we’re all thankful to give fans a great show two days in a row.”

DALTON KELLETT: “Coming off my NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut at the GMR Grand Prix, I can’t wait to be back on track in the #14 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet at Road America. The doubleheader will be a great opportunity to keep learning and build on the foundation work from last weekend. My first event was all about learning the car and maximizing track time. I’m going into this weekend with that same focus, the more quality track time and experience I get under my belt, the better we can position ourselves for a strong result. In the short turn around, we’ve reviewed the data and have a pretty good idea where we need to focus our attention to keep improving. We will be heading into Road America with clear goals in mind.”

GRAHAM RAHAL: “Obviously I’m very excited to get to Road America after a strong run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I think that we proved out some great theories and improvements at IMS. I’m very proud of our engineering corps, and Takuma, Spencer and everyone that worked hard to get us where we are. I’m excited; I think we should be very strong. We’ll keep our focus on it and do the best that we can but we should be very good. We had a good race there last year and fought for a podium and I feel like we’re a little better off this year with how we came out of IMS. Not just the end result, but the performance in general, by all three cars was good so I feel good about it. I think we should be pretty strong. The Aeroscreen is hot; it’s a challenge. For me physically, I actually felt OK (at IMS) except my neck was getting very tired. But as far as my heart rate, I burned some serious calories in the race at IMS, but I actually felt good. Road America is a little easier of a track, physically, than IMS is so we’ll be all right.”

SANTINO FERRUCCI: “I’m looking forward to the doubleheader at Road America this weekend. INDYCAR and the track will be allowing some fans to attend for the first this season so that is exciting. I’m very happy with the way the Coyne Vasser Sullivan team has developed the SealMaster Honda road course car. The work we’ve done on the simulator is paying off. Our pace is definitely there and we are coming off a top-10 finish at the GMR GP. We’ll be back in the SealMaster colors this weekend and If we can have zero mistakes I think we can fight for a top-five finish and possibly a win for all our sponsors.”

CONOR DALY: “I am very excited to get back to Road America in an NTT INDYCAR SERIES car after a few years away! I enjoyed being there last year in a sports car, it went quite well. We are hoping to continue to use what we learned from the GMR Grand Prix, have a strong qualifying run and follow it up with a strong couple of races. The doubleheader will be really interesting. I can’t wait to get back in it, it’s nice to have a continuous flow of work now. We’re going to keep improving, keep getting better and go trophy hunting.”

RINUS VEEKAY: “Road America is a very successful track for me. I had my first-ever win in American racing there in 2017, which was also my first win in race cars. I swept the weekend, which was nice! It’s been a good track for me. It’s my all-time favorite track so it’s cool to be able to race an NTT INDYCAR SERIES car there this season! Being a doubleheader, it’s good for me! It’s also a pleasure to drive in the blue Direct Supply car this weekend. I’m really excited and looking forward to it. I think we can pull another great weekend out of our hats!”

SIMON PAGENAUD: “I think the Menards Chevy team really showed their strength as a group at the Indianapolis road course this past weekend. On Saturday we came through the field and ended with a podium finish. It was a really strong championship level weekend! Road America is a doubleheader with lots of points on the table. This is one of the most beautiful tracks we get to race on in the series but it also is quite complex. We are going to give it 100%. For our partners at Menards. Wisconsin is their backyard and it’s always great to represent them so close to their home. This weekend will mark the first time we see fans back at the racetrack and that is amazing. Thanks to NBC Sports and NBC for their support also in this unprecedented times, as well.”

ZACH VEACH: “I’m really excited to go up to Road America, especially because it’s the first event that we’re going to have fans at. These race weekends have been nice to get back into the race car, but some element has been missing and that’s just the interaction with the people at the event. Being able to share the race with people that are there watching from the corners is such a special thing and so important for all of us drivers. I’m excited to get to Road America for that and hopefully get us back in the top 10 and compete for another top five and possibly a podium there. We have two races, it’s the first doubleheader that we have this season, so hopefully we can roll off the truck well, because if you’re fast on Saturday then you should be fast on Sunday.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI: “It’s been a tough start to the year with two mechanicals, but that is behind us now. We have four races in the next two weekends, which will give us a chance to come back. We’re focusing on race wins for the AutoNation / NAPA team, and looking forward to welcoming fans back to the track this week at Road America.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: “We are headed back to one of my favorite places in the U.S. and top three tracks on my list! Over the past few years, we have been very competitive here, so I’m optimistic heading into the doubleheader weekend. The 28 team has been strong at the first two race weekends; however, we’ve experienced some unusual situations which have kept us from challenging for a win. We’re all super focused on a strong double race weekend at Road America and putting that DHL Honda up front.”

TAKUMA SATO: “I think we are moving in a good direction with our road course setup. We haven’t done enough testing with it but we proved this road course setup had good potential at IMS. I think we are looking strong. Two road course races will be tough. I can’t imagine doing practice, qualifying and a race in one day and then the next day have qualifying and a race. I think last weekend was good training. It was a hot day and the Aeroscreen made it hotter but Road America has a longer straight so hopefully that will help us. (On the Aeroscreen at IMS:) “It was hot during the race at IMS. The cooling was technically working well, but the problem was that the debris and marbles were coming through the duct and broke into the helmet hose and blocked flow so we need to work on that.”

ALEX PALOU: “We’ve done some simulator work in preparation for Road America so that should help us heading into the weekend. It gives me a better idea of what to expect, but it’s still going to be tough because of the single practice session. Even if you’ve driven the track on the simulator, nothing beats driving on the real thing, so you still need some time to learn the track and get the car where you want it to be and that can be tough to do in just one 90-minute session. That said, I’m confident we’ll be stronger there than at Indy. From what I’ve seen by watching onboard videos and with the sim work, the track is really nice, it has a little bit of everything and I’m looking forward to not only one but two races there this weekend.”

MAX CHILTON: “I think myself and the whole Carlin team are feeling extremely energized after last weekend on the road course at IMS. We didn’t have the best finish after some bad luck, but we showed so much promise and pace all weekend and it’s a really good feeling going into Road America knowing we have a fast car in the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet. Road America is such a great track and it really suits my driving style, so I’m very excited to get back to Gallagher’s ‘home track.’ It’ll be interesting racing back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday and I’m sure it’ll be quite the workout for both drivers and crews, but we’re ready to put on two days-worth of on-track action for the fans at the track and those watching at home.”

JACK HARVEY: “Road America is just one of the most beautiful racetracks that you could ever go to. When you think about permanent road racing tracks in North America, Road America is definitely on that list. It was a tough weekend for us last year, but after we dissected it during the offseason and we feel pretty confident about what went wrong. Now we know what we need to do this year to have a strong result.”

COLTON HERTA: “Road America is going to be AWESOME. Really looking forward to having the fans back, although we won’t get much interaction with them, it’ll be nice to see them around the track and in the stands when driving. Track-wise, there aren’t many places that we go that beat that track, the place is incredible. I was really fast there last year and had my first-ever pole, so really looking forward to getting back.”

MARCO ANDRETTI: “We have a good chance to get back in the top 10 in points this weekend. Road America is my favorite permanent road course and it will be good to have fans back with us. We have had pace this year, so some luck will put us back into the top five.”

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