2022 Writers’ Roundtable, Vol. 35: Laguna, Title Winners?

September 7, 2022

At present’s query: Who will win the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey and the Astor Problem Cup as NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion this Sunday? (3 p.m. ET, NBC and INDYCAR Radio Community)

Curt Cavin: Why change now? Sure, Crew Penske opted to make use of its closing take a look at day of the season at Portland Worldwide Raceway whereas a lot of the remainder of the sphere, together with title challengers from Chip Ganassi Racing, went to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, however this has been the yr of Roger Penske’s drivers. Josef Newgarden has 5 wins, Scott McLaughlin has three and Will Energy has the sequence lead by 20 factors and might safe the championship by ending third or higher in Sunday’s season-ending Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey. I count on an excellent battle from CGR’s Scott Dixon this weekend, however let’s name McLaughlin the race winner and Energy the season champion with a 1-2 end simply as we noticed at Portland.

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Arni Sribhen: There was just one NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver to win at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for the reason that sequence returned to the monitor in 2019. I’m not one to buck traits, so I’m selecting Colton Herta to three-peat at his favourite monitor. Herta gained from the pole to cap his rookie season in 2019 and did it once more in 2021 as a part of a sweep of California races. Choosing towards the Californian in California appears silly. I simply want selecting the champion among the many 5 drivers within the Run for the Championship was as simple. All 5 drivers have proven the shape deserving of the Astor Problem Cup in 2022. And nonetheless, in my view, one driver has been probably the most constant by means of the season. Scott Dixon is aware of the system to win championships. When you may’t win, maximize what you may. With top-10 finishes in each race however one this season in addition to finishing each lap this season, he’s carried out simply that. It’s not a shock to see him in rivalry for his seventh INDYCAR SERIES championship. Dixon doesn’t have the wins that Josef Newgarden has this yr, and he’s been chasing Will Energy for the reason that inexperienced flag fell on the season, however Iceman has come again on Championship Sunday earlier than. He might do it once more on Sunday.

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Paul Kelly: Colton Herta is the current grasp of Laguna Seca, profitable each NTT INDYCAR SERIES races there for the reason that sequence returned to Monterey in 2019. However I don’t suppose he makes it a three-peat this weekend, because the title contenders have been simply too locked in the previous couple of weeks. However oddly sufficient, not one of the 5 2022 contenders for the Astor Problem Cup had an ideal race final yr at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, with Marcus Ericsson sixth, Josef Newgarden seventh, Scott McLaughlin twelfth, Scott Dixon thirteenth and Will Energy twenty sixth. Nonetheless, it’s onerous to miss the momentum McLaughlin and his “Thirsty 3’s” crew have now. They’re free, quick and don’t have anything to lose because the longest shot among the many title aspirants. That may ship a fourth victory to cap an astonishing yr for McLaughlin in simply his second season in open-wheel automobiles. Consistency has been the calling card this season for the brand new Zen grasp of the sequence, Energy, and I believe he’ll carry the No. 12 Verizon Crew Penske Chevrolet residence in a protected sufficient place to carry off Dixon for his second INDYCAR SERIES championship.

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