Photo from indycar.com
What’s old is new again this weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park as times gone by suddenly take on renewed relevance.
It’s been so long since IndyCar raced at Gateway more announcers have won there than drivers. The truly colorful Paul Tracy won the inaugural race in 1997 and talkative Townsend Bell took the checkers in the Indy Lights race in 2000. It’s just too bad Brian Till didn’t race – for more reasons than one. Helio Castro-Neves, who won the last race held there in 2003, is the only current driver to have done so. He did it in a Toyota.
Photo from indycar.com
Juan Montoya won the race in 2000, but he’s only a test pilot at present. It’s interesting to note several current drivers were in diapers for PT’s win. Only two others apart from Helio have ever raced there: Scott Dixon and Tony “past expiration date” Kanaan. Interestingly, Dixie struggled in his only start there finishing 15th, while TK managed a second place showing in four starts.
Our special prediction is there’ll be lots of Sebastien Bourdais coverage as the Frenchman returns to the car for the first time since his injurious accident at Indy. His rapid recovery and return to racing is remarkable, but doesn’t warrant all the attention it’ll receive from some quarters. By contrast, little will be said of his most recent substitute Esteban Gutierrez, the latest in a long line of Dale Coyne’s misadventures. That’s probably for the best.
Photo from speedsport.com
Pole sitter will likely be Will “Sour Grapes” Power, as he already owns five P1 awards on the season. It’s getting to the point of ridiculousness, as the unstable Aussie routinely bests the field in qualifying. He’s led them to the green over a third of the time this year. What’s the opposite of nostalgia?!
Our prediction for first out is an obvious choice in Sebastian Saavedra. He was among the first DNFs at Pocono for SPM (behind Guti) and isn’t exactly known for finishing races. In fact, the moment he’s most remembered for is his calamitous first lap stall from pole at the 2014 Indy GP. It’s not a memory the Colombian wants to relive, not even for old time’s sake. Seeing SeSaav race makes us miss the Russkie Mikhail Aleshin.
Photo from kron4.com
The biggest surprise of the race surprisingly won’t be Conor Daly who tested well at Gateway, but rather his oval excelling A.J. Foyt Racing teammate Carlos “OK” Munoz. He finished tenth last week at Pocono, won at Detroit a few years ago and sometimes shows quickness on the ovals. However, his legendary octogenarian owner’s team remains seemingly stuck in the past, tempering expectations for many seasons now.
The winner of the race will be truly reminiscent of the old days (and not so old ones, too), as Helio Castro-Neves repeats at Gateway fourteen years after his last triumph. It’ll be only his second win in the last three years and first since Iowa in July, where he wistfully said it “feels like the first time.” The forty two year old’s late career renaissance will prove nostalgic indeed, and surely prompt some reflection from the Cap’n on his uncertain future with the team.