Elkhart Lake, Wis., is the next stop on the IndyCar Series calendar, where the drivers will test their skills at one of the great North American road courses, Road America.
Racers first competed on this circuit in September 1955, and it is one of the few that still holds its original configuration. And why not, as the 4.048-mile track has the sort of hills, hollows, straights and curves that make people wax poetic about road racing. Set on 640-acre grounds and surrounded by forest, Road America is about halfway between Milwaukee and Green Bay and is the road course your grandfather would tell stories about, if they were into racing. The sort where you only sit in the main grandstand for the start and finish of the race. The rest of the time, you wander around, looking for the part of the track you think the most passing will take place, and camp out on a grassy barrow and enjoy the action as it unfolds.
How to watch the IndyCar Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America
- Date: Sunday, June 12
- Location: Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wis.
- Time: 12:30 p.m. ET
- TV: NBC
- Stream: fuboTV (get access now)
What to watch for
At 4.048-miles, this is the longest circuit on the IndyCar schedule, though as they only travel 55 laps, the total race distance of 220.55 miles is less than half the distance of the Indianapolis 500. Not as famous as Laguna Seca’s “corkscrew”, Road America has its own signature section, a downhill that feels like an out of control elevator drop that leads to Turn 11, a fast right-hander known simply as “the kink.” Its long front straight that can see speeds reach 200 mph.
It’s bumpy. Not quite street course bumpy, but still bumpy. Conventional pit stop strategy at Road America is usually around three stops, but don’t be surprised if some teams opt for a four-stop plan to keep fresher tires on, as they did at Belle Isle Park.
This is a very fast and flowing track, and drivers who get into a rhythm can really snap heads left to right like so many leaves in the wind as they fly past. For being in the middle of a forest, Road America doesn’t have a lot of runoff area, and should a driver find trouble there are few areas to escape. Also, it is a long way around if a problem starts on the backstretch of the track until you reach the pits at the front.
(Odds via Caesars Sportsbook)
On the back foot
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing: Christian Lundgaard (+15000) currently leads the rookie of the year chase and finished 14th at Detroit. Teammate Jack Harvey was a spot behind. And Graham Rahal (+7500)? He made it just two laps around the Belle Isle Park circuit before crashing. Rahal is not having a good year. Through seven races he has finished in the top 10 only three times and has led zero laps.
Running in place
Andretti Autosport: This is the kind of track where you expect Alexander Rossi (+1200) and Colton Herta (+600) to strut their stuff. After opening the season with bad luck, Rossi has quietly driven himself into seventh in the standings and is 75 points behind current championship leader — and favorite to win this week — Will Power (+450). But trouble always seems to follow closely behind Rossi, who last won in the series at Road America three years ago. Herta has had more recent success, making it to Victory Lane at this year’s GMR Grand Prix of Indy, but also seems to have issues with out-running trouble.
Arrow McLaren SP: Co-favorite Pato O’Ward (+450) and Felix Rosenqvist (+5000) had a quiet race at Detroit, not really in the mix at the front but still finishing fairly well (O’Ward fifth and Rosenqvist 10th). It was a particularly inspiring drive from Rosenqvist, who started 25th and may be driving for his 2023 seat after underperforming in 2021. Combined with finishes of sixth at the GMR Grand Prix of Indy and fourth at the Indy 500, the Swede is starting to put it all together. A good finish at Road America will only help his confidence moving forward.
Best foot forward
Team Penske: Josef Newgarden (+450) may be hoping the karma wheel turns in his favor on Sunday. Last week, it was teammate Will Power who picked up the victory at Belle Isle Park — where last year he was dominating before an issue with his car KO’d him, leading to Newgarden collecting the win. Last season, Newgarden was well on his way to victory at Road America when a late caution set up a two-lap shootout. A mechanical issue ended his day and Alex Palou drove to the winner’s circle, so Newgarden may be looking for the track, and fate, to give him a little something owed.