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IndyCar Kohler Grand Prix: Drivers to Watch

by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter
Images via Chris Owens/IndyCar

After nearly two straight months of testing, qualifying, and racing, the drivers and teams of the Verizon IndyCar Series finally got to take a breather over Father’s Day weekend. From the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix on April 7 to the DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 9, the series packed in eight of its 17 rounds this season, including its crown jewel event, the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500. To say the competitors needed the break is surely an understatement.

But they’re back in action once again this weekend in the Kohler Grand Prix, as the ever-popular Road America hosts its annual IndyCar event. Held in June ever since its return to the open-wheel racing calendar, this weekend’s race kicks off the second half of the 2018 championship with most of the top teams having already found their top form. With that in mind, keep an eye on these drivers to watch over the weekend:

Last Race’s Winner: Scott Dixon

Dixon’s victory at Texas allowed him to take a 23-point lead over Alexander Rossi in the standings through nine rounds. He hasn’t finished worse than fourth since the IndyCar Grand Prix that kicked off May festivities in Indianapolis, leading the most race laps in two victories scored in that five-race span. In fact, Dixon has only missed the top 10 once all season, and even then his 11th place result at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach was still far from a catastrophe.

Last Year’s Winner: Scott Dixon

After finishing last in IndyCar’s return to Road America in 2016, suffering a mechanical failure after six laps, Dixon rebounded last year to take a dominant victory. The incoming championship leader at the time, just like this year, he used the win to extend his points lead to 34 over then-defending series champion Simon Pagenaud. Dixon led 24 of 55 laps on the way to his only win of the 2017 season after holding off the pack on a late restart and beating Josef Newgarden to the line by .5779 seconds.

Consistent Contender: Will Power

This year’s Indianapolis 500 winner is always a threat to win on road courses, and that’s exactly what he did two years ago in the sport’s first visit to Road America since 2007. Leading 46 of the race’s 50 laps, it was a far cry from the mechanical failure-influenced 16th place he took in that previous event as a Champ Car World Series rookie. Last year, Power scored a fifth place finish in Wisconsin while coming off of a victory in Texas; he’ll hope to do a few places better after a DNF in the Lone Star State this year.

On a Hot Streak: Ryan Hunter-Reay

With a win and three podiums in the past six races, Hunter-Reay currently sits fourth in the IndyCar standings, within striking distance of the lead. After earning his first podium of the season with a runner-up result in Alabama, he finished second in the Saturday Detroit race and outfoxed Rossi, his Andretti Autosport teammate, to break a three-year winless drought on Sunday. Hunter-Reay’s fifth place finish in Texas ensured that he has top-five results in all but two races so far in 2018.

On the Hot Seat?: Tony Kanaan

Kanaan’s first season driving A.J. Foyt’s famous #14 car hasn’t been quite the force that either side has hoped for so far. DNFs in both the Indianapolis 500 and at Texas two weeks ago have knocked Kanaan out of both the most important race of the season and the team’s home event. While he’s been a regular contender for top-10 results in the other events, taking them at Phoenix, Long Beach, and Detroit 2, the 2004 series champion’s current position in points matches his car number.

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