The Verizon IndyCar Series heads to the Mid-Ohio sports car course for the Honda Indy 200 this weekend will Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud leading the points standings by just 47 points from team mate Will Power who has won three out of the last four races on the schedule including the Honda Indy Toronto last time out.
In contrast, Pagenaud’s last win of 2016 came at the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 14. The Frenchman’s best result since than has been a second place finish in the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit race 2 but such has been his dominance in the earlier part of the season he is still commanding the series lead for five races to go.
However although the race for the 2016 Astor Cup is wide open, Team Penske have completely dominated the Verizon IndyCar Series this year with three of their drivers having won 7 of the 11 races.
So what is the secret of Penske’s success in 2016? The feedback between the team’s four drivers and how they have worked together this season has enabled Roger Penske who is celebrating 50 years in motorsport this year to dominate the series this season however, the other four car teams of Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti Autosport have also done a great job with Alexander Rossi winning the Indianapolis 500 for Bryan Herta Autosport and Michael Andretti is his rookie season in IndyCar but not only that, Andretti claimed a 1-2 finish with Carlos Munoz in second place.
Reigning series champion Scott Dixon has also taken a victory this season when he won in Phoenix at the start of the season but also the smaller teams of KVSH Racing and Ed Carpenter Racing have won races with Sebastien Bourdais winning in Detroit race 1 while Josef Newgarden took victory at the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway.
Penske haven’t had it all their own way this season but have three of the drivers in the top three in the championship with Scott Dixon best of the rest in fourth place for Chip Ganassi Racing. Mid-Ohio is an extremely strong circuit for Ganassi as the team have a record 10 wins here more than any other team on the grid while Dixon is aiming to score his sixth victory here.
The biggest factor once again this season is the fact that the season finale GoPro Grand Prix on Sanoma in September counts for double points which is great news for the likes of Josef Newgarden who will miss the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway as he was forced to retire from the race before it was abandoned and has been told that he along with Dale Coyne Racing’s Conor Daly will not be allowed to restart the race.
Newgarden is 88 points behind Pagenaud in fifth place in the series standings so it is conceivable that the American could win the championship, he had a tough race in Toronto. Last season, Newgarden finished the race in 13th place.