2022 Indy 500 Report

Kiwi driver Scott Dixon began the Indianapolis 500, which was his 20th consecutive Indy 500, from pole position for the fifth time in his career. He set the fastest pole position winning time in history in the qualifying session last weekend. Dixon last won the famous race in 2008, after starting on pole for the first time, and was looking to improve his Indy 500 pole-to-win conversion rate, which has been relatively poor by his high standards.

Team Penske’s line-up for the race featured both Australia’s Will Power, who came into the race as the Drivers’ Championship leader and started from the middle of the fourth row and New Zealand’s Scott McLaughlin, who took his first IndyCar win at the first round of the season and started the Indy 500 for just the second time. Brazilian driver Hélio Castroneves, who was looking to win the race for a record fifth time, started next to McLaughlin. The grid also included 10-time Formula One podium-sitter Romain Grosjean and seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, who were both making their Indy 500 debuts.

Dixon got a good start to the race and spent the early stages tactically trading the lead with one of his Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Alex Palou. The other Chip Ganassi Racing Driver in the field, Marcus Ericsson, had a quiet start to the race but managed to stay in and amongst the battle for the victory.

Rinus VeeKay, who was also running towards the front of the field, crashed out dramatically and became the first driver to retire from the race on the 33rd lap. British rookie Callum Illott had a big crash on the 69th lap, whilst Romain Grosjean suffered a similar accident at the same turn on the 106th lap. Alex Palou was forced to pit under a caution, which led him to receive a penalty.

Kiwi Scott McLaughlin had a big crash, which caused him to slide across the track, at turn three on the 150th lap. His fellow New Zealander Scott Dixon received a drive-through penalty that signalled the end of his challenge for the win, after speeding when making his final pit stop with just 24 laps remaining.

That meant that with just 10 laps remaining, Dixon’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Marcus Ericsson led the race, with Pato O’Ward in second. Ericsson looked to be cruising towards the win, with a three-second lead, before Jimmie Johnson suffered a dramatic crash that caused the race to be red-flagged with just five laps remaining. A two-lap shootout decided the race it went green again. O’Ward challenged Ericsson in the closing stages, with the Mexican driver managing to get side-by-side with the Swede, but Ericsson managed to hold on to win the Indy 500.

Ericsson, who has now won three IndyCar races, becomes just the second Swedish driver to win the race. Dixon broke the record for the most laps led at the Indy 500, but his race ended in heartbreak after a clumsy incident. The race, which awards double points in the championship, means Ericsson now leads the Drivers’ Championship, with O’Ward in second. Australia’s Will Power, who previously led the standings, finished the race in 15th. The next round of the season takes place in Detroit in just a week’s time.

Looking back at the 2022 IndyCar season-opener highlights race on 9Go, with Scott McLaughlin as the race winner for Team Penske

I just had the chance to watch a bit of the IndyCar highlights today on 9Go, where I took a few shots of Sunday’s season-opener round (Monday morning here) that was held from a street circuit in St Petersburg, Florida.

Hats off through a fantastic drive from Kiwi & 3 x Supercars Champion Scott McLaughlin, who sealed his first IndyCar race win for the No.3 Penske Chevy, during Race 1 of 17 in the new season. Not only he dominated final practice and qualifying, where he started from pole but also on race day, having fended off a fiercely competitive battle against reigning champion Alex Palou in the No.10 Ganassi Honda, who hails from Spain.

And once he got into the podium/victory lane, we loved how he reached out to those back in Australia during the post-race interview, where they are experiencing a tough time right now with the ongoing floods over in Queensland and New South Wales. He also mentioned how he missed seeing his parents by his side from Cambridge, NZ, who were unable to attend his races or see their son in person right now for over two years due to COVID. Glad to see them chat once again via facetime, as McLaughlin not only hopes to bring home the famous Indy 500 in late May but also the series’ title.

Great race to reflect with Australia’s own Leigh Diffey calling the shots for NBC Sports, which is the host commentary feed we get for IndyCar globally.

This series is moving onto an oval layout now at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth for Round 2 of 17, as the next race will be on Monday, March 21 (Sunday, March 20 over in the USA) at 3-4 am AEDT via paid streaming service on Stan Sport. You can either try out Stan Sport on a seven-day free trial or pay $20 a month on top of the basic Stan package. Otherwise, 9Go will be back airing highlights of Race 2 from Texas free of charge at 2-3 pm on Thursday, March 24.

IndyCar returns on free-to-air in Australia for the first time in 15 years, but only through one-hour highlights on 9Go

It’s been a long time coming since an American motorsports series such as IndyCar were last shown on Free to Air in Australia in 2008 on the Seven Network, after these open-wheelers no longer race on the streets of Surfers Paradise in Gold Coast, Queensland.

There was also every race in Champ Car/IndyCar back then for the North American races other than the Gold Coast, having been tape-delayed on Tuesday mornings at 12 am/1 am either on Nine or Ten. Although both networks did cover the annual Indianapolis 500 race live through the 1990s and early 2000s.

Fifteen years on, the Nine Network brought it back this time as one-hour highlights of every race on Thursday 2-3 pm via their digital channel 9Go. It comes after their subscription streaming partner, Stan Sport, who recently snatched the Australian IndyCar TV rights off Fox Sports/Kayo, will air every practice, qualifying, and race, live without ads and on-demand.

And fans will not have to wait long now to subscribe and tune in to Stan Sport for tomorrow’s season-opener at a Street Circuit in St. Petersburg, Florida, 4 am AEDT.

We would’ve loved to see Nine simulcast the annual Indy 500 live with Stan Sport on 9Gem in late May, but then not many people here will stay up all night & watch it in the early hours of Monday AM. The only way Nine will air an IndyCar race live is if the IndyCars return for a weekend racing here like they did in the past, but someone local has to promote it where none of them are willing to take this step forward any time soon.

For now, it’s great to hear fellow Aussie Leigh Diffey commentating for host broadcaster NBC Sports throughout the 2022 IndyCar season, including the Indianapolis 500, both on Stan Sport and 9Go.

Thoughts on Stan Sport who just expanded their motorsports content into two-wheel racing

It looks like Stan Sport is increasing their motorsports content when they’re now into the two-wheel world of motorcycle racing, in addition to a catalogue of four-wheel offerings through IndyCar, ARG SpeedSeries, Formula E, World Rally Championship and World Endurance Championship.

They will be streaming every race live, ad-free and on-demand of the Australian Superbike Championships plus two other Motorcross series, such as the brand new ProMx competition being held here domestically and the FIM Motorcross World Championship.

There’s no word yet on whether the Australian Superbike Championship will get some free-to-air treatment like the ARG SpeedSeries, with one race live and the rest being one-hour highlight shows on 9Gem.

However, SBS is expected to be the free-to-air partner of the ProMx competition in an announcement next week, where their agreement with Motorcycling Australia began last year, according to motoonline.com.au. It’s a little strange here since Nine owns Stan, when some of the Stan Sport content they own is being simulcast via their free-to-air channels either on the Nine Network or 9Gem.

It would be great if Nine can have a 1-3 pm Sunday time-filler by showing a mix of motorsport disciplines before Sunday Afternoon football of NRL, having lost the Netball rights recently to Fox Sports/Kayo. But then it’s second-tier sports content which is why the possible Stan Sport & SBS media partnership with ProMX is understandable.

Lots of motorsport competition between the networks is heating up there, as we’ll wait and see what Stan Sport/Nine and Fox Sports has to offer when it comes to the next Formula 1 TV rights renewal for the Australian market later this year.

When it will start?

  • FIM Motorcross Championship, Sunday February 20 from Matterley Basin in Winchester, England
  • Australian Superbike Championship, Friday to Sunday on February 25-27 from Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit in Victoria
  • ProMX Championship, Sunday March 27 from Wonthaggi, Victoria

Thoughts on Stan Sport acquiring IndyCar, World Rally Championship & World Endurance Championship rights that will begin in 2022

Can’t believe this when Stan Sport is going way faster next year that goes from athletic sports such as Rugby Union, Tennis & Soccer to motor sports like IndyCar, World Rallying & World Endurance Championship.

This is going to be intense competition up against the likes of Foxtel, who currently covers Formula 1, Supercars, MotoGP & Superbikes, which does tell why race fans would have to fork out a few different subscription services if they wish to watch every premium racing competition just like the soccer.

While Stan will offer the whole lot of IndyCar, World Rallying and Endurance sportscars through every session live without ads, there are several reports about Foxtel’s successful renewal of Formula 1 from 2023 but nothing official came out at this stage.

There significant changes to the new MotoGP contract from next year, however, with Foxtel & Kayo acquiring the exclusive content to every race that includes the possibility of Seven or SBS airing the Australian Round live as Network 10 will no longer air motorcycle racing after covering them for 25 years.

Ten still has a season left in their current Formula 1 contact with Foxtel where they’ll get to air a live race at home for the first time in two years due to COVID, but if Foxtel officially renews Formula 1 for another five years then don’t expect Ten to stay on as it’s best if they get the whole lot like they did with the A-League, Socceroos & Matildas rather than having to keep sharing with Foxtel.

For now, it’s great to see Nine as a whole media organisation return into Motorsports & show it only on Stan but hopefully they can get them back on their free to air channel at least for the Australian GP & a couple of selected races if they can steal the Formula 1 content away from Foxtel which is unlikely at this stage but we’ll wait and see in the next few months.