By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
After a much-needed week off, the Verizon IndyCar Series returns to Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin for the tenth race in the 2018 schedule, the KOHLER Grand Prix.
Road America made a welcome return to the IndyCar calendar in 2016 and has quickly become one of the largest race day crowds on the schedule. Will Power and Scott Dixon have won the last two races at Road America and both have twice visited victory lane this year.
Power swept the Indianapolis Motor Speedway rounds of the championship, winning the INDYCAR Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500 while Dixon won the first Dual in Detroit race of that weekend and the DXC 600 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Dixon and Power are first and third in the points standings respectively with Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi between them. However, one of the drivers to watch out for in Wisconsin might be Ryan Hunter-Reay.
The 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner finished fourth at Road America in 2016 and has seven top-five finishes out of nine races. Sitting fourth in points, Hunter-Reay will look to capitalize after scoring a victory at the second Dual in Detroit. The 2012 IndyCar champion might be looking really good for a top finish on the 4.048 mile natural terrain road course.
There is a new entry to the field at Road America. Making his Verizon IndyCar Series debut for Juncos Racing is Alfonso Celis Jr. Celis raced for Ricardo Juncos’s Indy Lights team at Barber Motorsports Park and decided to forego the rest of the Indy Lights season and the former Force India Formula One test driver instead decided to focus on IndyCar.
“I am very excited for my first Verizon IndyCar Series race this weekend at Road America,” said Celis in a series release. “We had a great test there last week. I was able to learn a lot about the car and the strong Chevy engine. I am looking forward to getting back in the car on Friday and seeing what we can do this weekend.”
Speaking of Indy Lights, last year’s Road America Indy Lights race winners will be racing this weekend. Matheus Leist and Zachary Claman De Melo will be continuing their respective campaigns for A. J. Foyt Racing (full time) and Dale Coyne Racing (part time).
Although Leist has shown some flashes of brilliance in practice and qualifying, his best result is a 12th at Barber Motorsports Park while Claman De Melo has been fearless at times but has had less luck than Leist in his partial season with an incident at Texas taking the Canadian out of contention from what was certainly a top ten effort.
Practice begins Friday at 11:00 a.m. CDT and resumes at 3:15 p.m. CDT.