By Dylan Reynolds, The Open Wheel
This weekend INDYCAR makes its much-anticipated return to Road America for both Indy Lights and the Verizon IndyCar Series. The KOHLER Grand Prix will be the Verizon IndyCar Series’ first race at Road America since 2007 and the historic venue should provide a tremendous weekend of racing. The Open Wheel will be live on site covering the race weekend so stay tuned to this site and our Twitter page @openwh33l for all the action.
Photo by Chris Owens/INDYCAR
Indy Lights Preview: Mazda Indy Lights Grand Prix of Road America Presented by Cooper Tires (Entry List), Race 1 – Saturday June 25, 2016 1:00PM (ET) & Race 2 – Sunday June 26, 2016 9:45 AM (ET) – Good luck predicting this one. Results from a test at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course earlier this month are about as relevant of information as we can get as there are no published test results (or Lights testing period as far as I know) or recent history for Indy Lights at Road America. It’s a much different lineup this weekend as Hargrove, Enerson, Rosenqvist, and the SPM No. 77 car are gone and in come rookies Garett Grist (Team Pelfrey) and James French (Belardi Auto Racing). I expect the Carlin cars to be strong due to Jones’ P1 and P2 finishes at Barber and Serralles topping the charts at the Mid-Ohio test. Santiago Urrutia’s win at Barber and P2 showing in the Mid-Ohio test each bode well for his chances at a good weekend. My picks to win: Felix Serralles and Ed Jones
Verizon IndyCar Series Preview: KOHLER Grand Prix, Sunday June 26, 2016 12:30PM (ET) NBCSN – It’s hard to know what to make of previous driver experience at Road America as the series hasn’t raced at the venue since 2007. Sebastien Bourdais is the only driver in the field with a Verizon IndyCar Series win at Road America and also won two poles and started in the Top 5 in all four of his starts. For that reason alone Bourdais has to be a favorite especially after his strong showing at Belle Isle. Beyond that it’s very tough to pick out which of the usual names should be particularly strong at Road America but those with experience in the big cars here are Bourdais, Castroneves, Dixon, Hunter-Reay, Kanaan, Montoya, Pagenaud, Power, and Rahal. A lot of the field has recent testing experience on the circuit so it shouldn’t take too long for the field to get up to speed. My pick to win: Graham Rahal – I have almost no basis for this other than Rahal scoring a podium on his Road America debut in 2007 and a gut feeling but it’s about time for Rahal’s consistent speed in 2016 to be rewarded with a great result. While all the drivers are excited for the venue this weekend, Rahal seems especially fired up for his Road America return and being in Gehl colors for the first time since his days in Atlantics. Rahal’s win at his “home track” at Mid-Ohio last year was inspiring and it could be another weekend where it means more to Rahal than anyone else. That should make him stronger and one of the true favorites.
My fantasy.indycar.com picks: Sebastien Bourdais, James Hinchcliffe, Tony Kanaan, & Charlie Kimball – With no clear cut favorite or history for this event my strategy is to try and put together a solid lineup of what could or should be Top 10 picks. You know my thoughts on Bourdais, Kanaan has been excellent over the last 12 months, and Hinchcliffe and Kimball are solid picks in the $25 range.