The 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season has reached its halfway point following last weekend’s dramatic DXC Technology 600 under lights at Texas Motor Speedway and with that in mind at Paddock Eye we thought it is the perfect opportunity to take a look back at the season so far.
We have seen some dramatic changes in the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2018 following the introduction of the universal aero kit which has proven to be a huge hit both on and off the track.
Chevrolet and Honda have been extremely competitive in 2018 with Honda just edging out a slight advantage over Chevrolet in the races we have had so far.
Looking back at the season opening Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg, Sebastian Bourdais took an impressive win for the newly formed partnership of Dale Coyne with Vasser Sullivan Racing however despite the win it was in fact Schmidt Peterson Motorsports rookie Robert Wickens who stole the show in St Pete taking pole position for his first ever Verizon IndyCar Series race.
In St Pete the podium was a Honda lock-out with Sebastian Bourdais, Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal rounding out the top three.
From St Pete it was on to Phoenix for the first oval event of the season and this is where Team Penske really were able to stretch their legs with defending series champion Josef Newgarden taking victory ahead of Robert Wickens who scored his first Verizon IndyCar Series podium while Alexander Rossi took the lead in the championship following his third place finish. Honda doing a great job with two of the three drivers on the podium powered by them.
The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach was next up and Alexander Rossi extended his advantage at the top of the standings dominating the race after taking pole position. Team Penske’s Will Power took his first podium finish of the season with second place while in only his third race for the team, Ed Jones scored a third place finish for Chip Ganassi Racing in the No.10 NTT DATA Honda.
Once again it was Honda who outnumbered Chevrolet on the podium in Long Beach, following the event in Long Beach it was on to the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama which due to torrential rain had to be abandoned on the Sunday and finished on the Monday which in four years of reporting on the Verizon IndyCar Series I have never experienced.
The race in Barber was dominated by Josef Newgarden and the Chevrolet powered Team Penske but once again Honda outnumbered Chevrolet on the podium with Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter Reay and Schmidt Peterson Motorsport’s James Hinchcliffe picking up their first podium finishes of the year.
Following the race in Barber it was on to the big one, the Month of May starting with the IndyCar Grand Prix of Indianapolis which was won by Team Penske’s Will Power with Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon picking up his first podium of the year and the first for his new primary sponsor PNC Bank when he came home in second place just ahead of a very impressive drive from Robert Wickens who was third for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
The big news coming into the month of May was that Danica Patrick was returning to the Verizon IndyCar Series for the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil with Ed Carpenter Racing however despite an impressive qualifying she was forced to retire from the race following contact with the wall.
The other big news from the month of May was that Schmidt Peterson Motorsports James Hinchcliffe and Dale Coyne Racing’s Pippa Mann failed to qualify for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
The race was won by an elated Will Power of Team Penske who took his first Indianapolis 500 win in 11 attempts much to the delight of The Captain Roger Penske who collected his 17th Indianapolis 500 win. Ed Carpenter who had put his No.20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet on pole finished the race in second place while Scott Dixon scored his second podium in a row in third place.
The result was also the first time this season that the bow tie outnumbered Honda on the podium.
The month of May also saw the return of Helio Castroneves for both the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the Indy 500. The Brazilian had a strong GP but was forced to retire from the 500 so an attempt at victory number four will have to wait until 2019. Roger Penske has already confirmed that the Brazilian will return next season.
Following the month of May, the busy schedule for the Verizon IndyCar Series continued as they headed straight from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to Michigan for the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix where in race one Scott Dixon took his first win of the season for Chip Ganassi Racing coming home ahead of the Andretti Autosport pairing of Ryan Hunter Reay and Alexander Rossi giving Honda a podium clean sweep in Chevrolet’s back yard.
In the second race of the double header weekend, Ryan Hunter Reay took a dip in the foundation following his first win since 2015 coming home ahead of Indianapolis 500 winner Will Power of Team Penske and Ed Jones of Chip Ganassi Racing who picked up his second podium of the season.
Following Detroit it was on to Texas for the DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway where thanks to great team work and pit-stops, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon scored his second win of the season in the No.9 PNC Bank Honda and in doing so has taken the lead in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings as the teams head to Road America next time out.
Dixon came home ahead of 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series champion Simon Pagenaud who scored his first podium of the season in the No.222 DXC Technology Chevrolet for Team Penske while Alexander Rossi came home in third place.
The Kohler Grand Prix at Road America takes place on June 24.