Today’s question: Now that Josef Newgarden added his name to the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES winner’s list last Sunday at Mid-Ohio, who will become the ninth different winner this season?
Curt Cavin: This one is easy for me: Will Power. He has won at least one race in 14 consecutive seasons, averaging 3.6 wins per year, so it’s reasonable to expect he will win somewhere down this road. Power has won four times on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, won twice at Long Beach with three runner-up finishes, conquered the Gateway oval in 2018, finished second in the most recent trip to Laguna Seca, and is the reigning champion at Portland. He has won a combined 11 poles at these tracks and holds the qualifying record at three of them. Suffice to say, Power is not only due to win a race, these are some of his better tracks.
Zach Horrall: The list of drivers we can still chose from to get their first win of the season is incredible. We’ve seen a lot of unexpected drivers shine this season and find Victory Circle. That said, I’m going to follow that route and go out on a limb a little bit for the series’ ninth different winner: Romain Grosjean. I think we’ll get a repeat winner at Nashville, but I think Grosjean will steal the show at the Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. With its European-like surface and curbing, Grosjean is right at home in Indy. He came close to winning the GMR Grand Prix in May. I think getting to run there a second time this season means he’ll show up Aug. 14 with extremely high confidence and pick up right where he left off with his second-place finish. The crowd was cheering like crazy after he won the NTT P1 Award. Just imagine how loud they’ll be as he’s rising onto Victory Podium.
Paul Kelly: Curt’s choice of Will Power is a strong one, and I like Zach’s thinking about how Romain Grosjean could steal the show on the road course at Indy. But when pondering this question, my mind continually drifts to Graham Rahal. He has seven top-10 finishes in 10 starts this season for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and has produced some sterling drives – on Race Day. And that’s the rub: I think Rahal can win a race this season but only if his qualifying performance improves. He has finished ahead of his starting spot in eight of 10 races this season, with the only blemishes being St. Petersburg and the Indy 500. And remember, he had the pit strategy and timing to possibly contend for a win at Indy until his wheel fell off after a pit stop. If Graham and the team can find speed on Saturday, I think it’s only a matter of time until that’s converted into a win on Sunday.