The Verizon IndyCar Series returns to action with heavy hearts tonight at Gateway Motorsports Park, as everyone’s thoughts remain with Robert Wickens after a terrifying crash last weekend at Pocono Raceway. The outpouring of support from the IndyCar community has been significant over the past week, as the series’ top rookie so far this year looks to recover from multiple injuries and surgeries suffered in the incident.
But part of the reality of motorsport is that the show carries on. 21 other drivers have a job to do in tonight’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500, the third-to-last round of the 2018 season, and will strap on their helmets for an 8PM ET/5PM PT green flag. As they get ready for 248 laps on the Gateway oval, here are three storylines we’ll be watching out for until the checkered flag flies:
Can Alexander Rossi do anything to separate himself from Scott Dixon this weekend?
The good news for Rossi: having closed in the gap to Dixon incrementally over the past few weekends, he’ll start second in tonight’s round at Gateway. The bad: he’s starting there because a rained out qualifying session on Friday set the field on points, so Dixon is on the pole. And after the duo finished 1-2 in final practice, even with Rossi ahead, it’s probably going to take some aggressive pit strategy and a lot of luck for the duo not to be right on each other’s tails tonight.
Are we seeing the beginning of a breakout stretch for Zach Veach?
Andretti Autosport’s newest full-time driver sits 16th in points right now, having used much of his rookie season to get accustomed to an IndyCar ride. A surprise fourth place run at Long Beach and the fastest race lap at Road America have been bright spots, but Veach has cracked the top 10 in each of his last three outings, including a sixth place finish at Pocono last week, on three very different tracks. Even Rossi only managed three straight top-10s once as a rookie, and look at him now.
How will Gabby Chaves run in his return to Harding Racing?
With Conor Daly’s services already contracted to Roush Fenway Racing in Road America this weekend, Chaves finally has a chance to get back in action with Harding at Gateway. He’ll look to improve on a season-best finish of 14th, scored at both the season opener in St. Petersburg and the Indianapolis 500. Daly managed to do better in his Harding debut at Toronto, but Chaves’ return will hint at just what this team, a rumored landing spot for McLaren and Fernando Alonso, is capable of accomplishing right now.