Marcus Ericsson Josef Newgarden

Today’s question: What is your biggest takeaway from the two NTT INDYCAR SERIES races in June, the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear and the Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America presented by AMR?

Curt Cavin: Much to consider here, and as I wrote in Monday’s Fifth Gear piece, Josef Newgarden’s past success at tracks in the second half of the season suggest he is in excellent position to win his third NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship in six years. But if I’m considering only the Detroit-Road America races, I’ll say Marcus Ericsson’s steadiness is my biggest takeaway. I figured his Indy win would be his last moment atop the standings, but he regained that position Sunday by finishing second in Elkhart Lake. In addition to scoring the most series points over a 12-month span – Detroit to Detroit – the Swede has netted four consecutive top-seven finishes with three top-fours. Ericsson is not so sneaky anymore.

Zach Horrall: Without a doubt, my biggest takeaway is Alexander Rossi’s return to form. He finished second at Detroit and given a couple extra laps, he maybe could’ve won the race. Last weekend at Road America, he finished third, but it was a complete weekend, showing speed in practice, qualifying and the race. Did you know that this is the first time since the fall of 2020 that Rossi has scored back-to-back podium finishes? Back then, he had four straight podium finishes over Mid-Ohio and IMS road course doubleheader weekends. What’s more, it’s only the sixth time in his NTT INDYCAR SERIES career that he’s finished on the podium in consecutive races. Suddenly, Rossi is seventh in the championship. Sure, he’s still 75 points back, but as this season has already shown, anything can happen.

Paul Kelly: Josef Newgarden did more than win the $1 million PeopleReady Force for Good Challenge bonus by taking the checkered flag at Road America, splitting that sum with two worthy charities, SeriousFun Children’s Network and Wags and Walks Nashville. In my mind, Newgarden sealed his status as the favorite to win his third NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship. Sure, Newgarden is third in the standings, 32 points behind leader Marcus Ericsson. But nothing paves the road to a title like winning, and Joe New has three wins this season – one on each of the types of courses on which the series races, ovals, road courses and street circuits. Nobody else has more than one victory this year. Plus, as Curt mentioned, Newgarden has won on five of the eight tracks remaining on the schedule this season during his career. So, I think it’s only a matter of when, not if, Newgarden overtakes Ericsson and teammate Will Power and stays atop the standings all the way through the season finale Sept. 11 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.