Gearing Up: Plenty of Potential Winners Poised for Sonsio GP

  • Racing News
Scott Dixon

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES shares an anniversary this week with Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Ten years ago Friday, the series staged a road race at the historic facility for the first time.

Simon Pagenaud won that race, which began with a pileup when Sebastian Saavedra’s car failed to launch from its standing start. It seems so long ago.

SEE: Sonsio GP Race Details

Since then, IMS has held 14 additional NTT INDYCAR SERIES races on the 14-turn, 2.349-mile circuit. Team Penske’s Will Power has won five of them while nabbing six poles. Both are high marks for the series at this venue.

A year ago, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou scored one of the event’s most dominating victories, finishing with a 16.8006-second margin. But consistently, these NTT INDYCAR SERIES races and the support series that join them have been close and exciting. Even Palou’s victory tells such a tale: 12 lead changes among eight drivers, the highest totals the event has experienced.

This weekend’s Sonsio Grand Prix should offer more of the same. Twenty-seven car-and-driver combinations are confirmed, led by four drivers – Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden, Graham Rahal and Power – who competed in the inaugural race in 2014. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Dixon won the second IMS road race of last season, recovering from a first-lap spin to back up a win in 2020. Team Penske’s Newgarden also won a 2020 race on the circuit. Rahal was the most recent driver to win an NTT P1 Award here as the fastest qualifier, doing so for last year’s Gallagher Grand Prix.

Then there’s Colton Herta, who always seems to have a fast car in these races. The Andretti Global w/Curb-Agajanian driver won in May 2022 and was on his way to capturing the July race, as well, until he broke a gearbox running over a curb on Lap 42. This week, the second-generation driver arrives with the series points lead for the first time in his career.

Officially, this will be the fourth race of the season, with a non-points race at The Thermal Club in Southern California thrown in. Each has had a different winner: Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward, Palou, Dixon and Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin in that order.

The standings are tight, particularly at the top. The three leading drivers – Herta, Power and Palou – are separated by just three points, with Dixon only four markers behind in fourth. Felix Rosenqvist, who is still getting to know Meyer Shank Racing, is fifth. Chip Ganassi Racing rookie Linus Lundqvist has a spot in the top 10 – he’s eighth – as does AJ Foyt Racing’s Santino Ferrucci (10th).

McLaughlin and Newgarden should be fun to watch this weekend as they work to scramble out of the points deficit created by disqualifications from the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding. McLaughlin scored the maximum number of points in winning the recent Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix powered by AmFirst to vault from 29th in the standings to ninth. Newgarden enters this weekend 16th in points. Remember, Team Penske has won a series-leading eight times on this circuit.

Seven of the drivers ready to suit up this week have won a road course race at IMS, including Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay and Arrow McLaren’s Alexander Rossi. Rahal and Christian Lundgaard are others to watch; both won poles on the circuit last year for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, and Rahal would have won the second race without Dixon’s comeback heroics.

There is track activity aplenty this weekend, and Friday’s action begins at 7:55 a.m. ET with the USF2000 series kicking off two full days for the public to consume. INDY NXT by Firestone also competes this weekend with a pair of races, the first a 35-lapper Friday at 6:15 p.m. ET (Peacock, INDYCAR LIVE, INDYCAR Radio Network).

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES has a pair of practices Friday (9:30 a.m. ET and 1:10 p.m. ET) followed by qualifying at 4:20 p.m. ET. All of this action will be available on Peacock, INDYCAR LIVE and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

Saturday, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES warmup will be at 11:15 a.m. ET with INDY NXT by Firestone’s second 35-lap race of the weekend at 1:05 p.m. The Sonsio Grand Prix has a 3 p.m. ET airtime on NBC, Peacock, INDYCAR LIVE and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

It’s time to race. And after that, the big one: the 108th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 26.