The Verizon IndyCar Series heads to ISM Raceway next weekend for the Grand Prix of Phoenix. It will be the first time that the drivers will have raced with the universal oval configuration aero-kit.
The performance of the kit should give us an idea of what we can expect when the series heads to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway next month for the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.
One team who looked incredibly strong during a recent test at the ISM Raceway was Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing with both Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato running well during the test.
RLLR showed at the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg that they have got to grips with the new aero kit very quickly as Graham Rahal came from the back of the field to finish the race on the podium in second place behind race winner Sebastien Bourdais.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing have done well on ovals in the past, who can forget the epic Firestone 600 Texas Motor Speedway in 2016? Rahal led home the closet finish in Texas Motor Speedway history, winning the race just ahead of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports James Hinchcliffe and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Tony Kanaan.
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports should be extremely competitive at ISM Raceway as they have emerged from the winter break as an extremely strong contender in 2018 with both James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens performing well in St Pete, Wickens scored his first Verizon P1 Award on his race debut while the Mayor of HinchTown ended the just off the podium in fourth place.
Another driver and team who can’t be ruled out next weekend is Scott Dixon and Chip Ganassi Racing. The Iceman is no stranger to victory lane having scored 41 Verizon IndyCar Series victories to date and he will be hoping to add a 42nd on a track were he is no stranger to success having won here with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2016 when the series returned to Phoenix for the first time in 11 years.
Dixon has the added benefit of having Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull calling the shots for a race and together they are a formidable force in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Ed Jones in the No.10 NTT DATA Honda should also be very strong in Phoenix having performed extremely well at last years Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil where he finished on the podium in third place.
When considering who might figure next weekend, of course we can’t discount Team Penske, although they didn’t have the strongest start to the season in St Pete, they have been extremely strong on ovals and have the defending race winner on board. Simon Pagenaud led home team mate Will Power to give Team Penske a 1-2 finish, this is something ‘The Captain’ will be hoping his outfit can repeat this season and if they can go one better and lock out the podium that would be even better for the team.
Ed Carpenter could be one to watch next weekend as he returns to the cockpit of the No.20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet of the first time in 2018. We don’t have long to wait as track action gets underway in Phoenix on Friday.