Scott Dixon

Today’s question: Now the Month of May is over at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, what’s the biggest storyline with three road and street races in the next four weekends, starting with Detroit?

Curt Cavin: In my opinion, the championship is going to be decided by a fierce battle between two-time champions Alex Palou and Josef Newgarden. But sitting quietly out of the radar is Scott Dixon, who delivered another solid points-paying day in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. It was again Dixon-like in how he raced from the 21st starting position to finish third, and he was one untimely caution beginning on Lap 147 from being in a great spot to score his elusive second Indy victory. Dixon figures to be sneaky good in all the 12 remaining races, and if he can get to the season finale still in contention, he will certainly like his chances at Nashville Superspeedway, where he won the most recent three series races (2006, 2007 and 2008). Dixon might just sneak in and win his record-tying seventh series title.

Eric Smith: Defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Alex Palou is among the top storylines coming into this stretch as the current points leader won at three of the four tracks just last season. The one he didn’t, WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, was the site of his victory by over 30 seconds in 2022. Those accomplishments are why my top storyline has a twist. Can either Will Power and/or Colton Herta end their winless droughts? Both had frustrating endings in the108th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge with each finding the Turn 1 SAFER Barrier. This stretch of four races provides ample opportunities for each to rebound. Both came into the Month of May 1-2 in points and enter Sunday’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear third (Power) and fifth (Herta). If they want to be taken seriously for an NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship pursuit, they must end their droughts during this stretch or Palou can pull too far ahead in points. Power last won 33 races ago, in Detroit at Belle Isle in 2022. He finished runner-up in last year’s Detroit race and has three second-place finishes in five races this season. Road America (June 9), WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca (June 23) and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (July 7) follow, with Herta having the race won at Road America last year before a costly pit decision and had a top two car at Mid-Ohio last season before another pit lane issue. Herta is a two-time Laguna Seca winner. Power has three top-four finishes in his last four Laguna Seca starts and has seven top-four finishes, including a 2020 win in his last nine Mid-Ohio starts. Can they keep Palou out of victory lane and tighten the gap?

Paul Kelly: I’m keeping an eye on two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Josef Newgarden and his quest for a third NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship. Newgarden’s title chances looked shot after he lost his victory and points from the season opener at St. Petersburg when he and teammate Scott McLaughlin were disqualified from that event last month after it was discovered Team Penske had violated INDYCAR Push-to-Pass technical regulations. But after his win at Indy, Joe New is seventh in points, 61 behind leader Alex Palou. That’s a big gap, but if Newgarden can produce three or four top-five performances at Detroit, Road America, Laguna Seca and Mid-Ohio, he might be in excellent position to lift the Astor Challenge Cup at the season finale in September in his hometown of Nashville. Why? Because Newgarden is the unquestioned best oval racer in the series right now, winning seven of the last nine series races on circle tracks dating to July 2022. And six of the last eight races this season are on ovals, when it’s presumed Newgarden will inhale points like a kid over a fresh bowl of Cocoa Puffs.