With the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season heading into Round 10 this weekend at Road America, it’s time to take a look at what to watch for in the season’s second half.
Race For The Championship Heats Up
With just eight races remaining this season, there are still a handful of drivers in contention for the series crown.
Currently Scott Dixon leads defending champion Simon Pagenaud by only 13 points. One point behind Pagenaud sits Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato in third.
Realistically speaking, any one of the drivers in the top 10 could can take the championship. Yet the further down the standings you go, the more important it is for those drivers to get some race wins under their belts, fast.
In all likelihoods, it will probably once again boil down to a battle between Penske and Ganassi, Honda and Chevrolet.
At the moment, the most likely outcome is that Scott Dixon will put a solid run together, with potential wins in Toronto, Mid Ohio, and Watkins Glen, and ultimately fend off defending champion Pagenaud.
Chevrolet vs Honda
The season started out with Honda bouncing back after a tough couple of seasons, winning the first two races, which were both on temporary street circuits.
However, when it comes to permanent tracks, such as ovals and road courses, Chevrolet have seemingly held the upper hand. Other than Honda’s dominant Indianapolis 500 performances, Chevrolet have won every non-street course race.
With just one more street race remaining on the calendar, it will be interesting to see what happens with Honda’s performance on the permanent road courses.
When it comes to super speedway style ovals, Honda have clearly been fast, but their reliability is still a major question mark. The differences between these two manufacturers could very well be what decides this year’s championship.
What Will Become Of Esteban Gutierrez
When Sebastian Bourdais crashed during qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 back in May, team owner Dale Coyne was left scrambling for a replacement driver.
After toying between James Davison (Indianapolis), Esteban Gutierrez (Detroit), and Tristan Vautier (Texas), it seems Gutierrez has been given the task of piloting the #18 car for the rest of the season.
With several years of Formula 1 experience under his belt, the 25-year-old Mexican is clearly a strong choice, but how long will it take him to adjust to IndyCar?
With no power steering, and a field in which any team has the potential to battle for victory, Gutierrez may be in for his toughest task yet.
He will also face his first oval in a few weeks time, when the series makes its journey to Newton Iowa, a track that can punish even the series’ most veteran drivers.
A solid performance throughout the rest of this season could help Gutierrez in securing a full-time ride next year.
Will Any Driver Claim Their First Career Victory?
With the series filled with so many talented drivers, it’s easy to miss the fact that there are still some reputable drivers yet to visit Victory Lane.
These include Mikhail Aleshin, JR Hildebrand, Max Chilton, and Conor Daly.
Aleshin must be the favourite thanks to his career-best second place finish in Pocono last year, but there will be a huge celebration the day any of these drivers score their first win.