Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Winners and Losers: Toronto

It was so great to finally see cars on track (or the streets) in Toronto for the first time since 2019. I'd love to rehash some of my posts from them, but alas, they are in an internet void somewhere, never to be seen again.

Advice to young writers: always keep backup copies, you never know when your stuff will be wiped from existence because...well, I won't go there. But I am kind of bitter.

Anyway, I was in Toronto back in 2019 and loved the way the community supported the race, and it was good to see that the fans were back in earnest. Toronto has been and IndyCar staple for a long, long time, and hopefully it stays that way for years to come.

Last week sure as hell was dramatic, wasn't it? Silly Season spiraled out of control, some championship contenders are just happy to be getting out of town, and Scott Dixon once again showed he is the best IndyCar driver of all time.

I present to you, winners and losers from Up North:


Scott Dixon: His dominant performance proved two things, 1) he is still the best driver in the sport and 2) don't count him out of the championship just yet. Sunday's win was No. 52 for the Kiwi, tying him with Mario Andretti for second in all-time IndyCar wins, and while I still consider Mario the best all-around driver who has ever lived, if you go just by IndyCar, how can you argue against Scott Dixon? He's got it all: wins, championships, an Indy 500...it goes on and on. Dixon has always said that he doesn't worry about the championship until he is 100 points behind, so a deficit of 44 points to teammate Marcus Ericsson heading into a doubleheader weekend is nothing to stress about.

Colton Herta: Herta definitely had a big week, testing a McLaren F1 car early, then coming to Canada and winning the pole and finishing just behind Dixon on track. Despite the dysfunction that is Andretti Autosport right now, I still think Herta is still in championship contention, despite being in eighth place and 97 points in arrears of Ericsson. Momentum is always important, and to get this kind of result heading into five races in five weeks is a good thing.

Marcus Ericcson: The Indy 500 champ just keeps chugging along. He gained points on some of his closest competitors this past weekend, and is doing what he needs to do to win a championship. I didn't have "Ericcson will be leading the points as we head into late July", on my pre-season IndyCar bingo card, but I kind of like it. 

Graham Rahal: There has been a ton of talk about what's wrong with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing lately, and it's pretty valid given the lack of results for anyone on the team. Rahal finally put it together and picked up a season-best P4. Qualifying has been an effort for RLL all season, so if he brings it all together one weekend we may see his first win since 2017 in the cards.


Alex Palou: I hate having to put my favorite driver in this category, but a great drive on Sunday, where he went from P22 to finish sixth, doesn't really cover up the shitshow that had accompanied his week. He really killed a lot of goodwill he's tried to establish over the last three years in the span of a couple of days, and has set up an uncertain future for himself. I think in the end Zak Brown will write a check and he will be in a McLaren car next year, but he and his team could've handled all of this a lot better. 

Pato O'Ward: Speaking of McLaren, Pato was out of the loop from the jump this weekend, failing to get out of the first round of qualifying and eventually finishing P11. Since finishing second in the 500 and fifth at Detroit, he's gone P26, P24 and P11 in his last three events. It's possible to have a mulligan, and maybe even two, during the season and still win the championship, but he's out of mulligans and will really have to push hard the rest of the season to even think about getting seriously back into the hunt.

Romain Grosjean: A year ago, he was the most popular driver in the series. Now? Are you kidding me? I think it's safe to say the honeymoon is over. Not only is he hitting everything but the pace car, but his ranting over the radio adds to his legend, but not in a good way. He's 15th in points and has finished P16 or worse in five of his last six races. I wonder if Michael Andretti misses Ryan Hunter-Reay yet.

To paraphrase Future in the movie 8 Mile: I can't stress how important this coming weekend at Iowa is for many of the drivers. Two races, both during the day, both during extreme heat, it could be crazy times the power of 10. I expect some fireworks and a lot of changes in the championship standings.

Can I digress for a second? Why is it that the races are in the heat of the day and the concerts aren't? I'm excited to see what this weekend holds in store as far as fan activation, and it's exciting to be back at the bullring in Newton, but is this weekend about racing or about concerts? 

Personally, I think it's about racing, and I think the schedule of events are horribly screwed up. Fortunately Iowa always puts on a great show, but next year, let's think of the drivers and teams first.

Have a great week! I won't be at Iowa this weekend -- bummer -- but I hope to see a great show!

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