It's make or break time for the IndyCar Series as the teams converge on World Wide Technology Raceway, also known as Gateway Motorsports Park, in Madison, Ill. for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500. The last oval on the calendar, WWT Raceway is the third race from the finish line for the season, and it is from here, not far from from St. Louis and the "Gateway to the West," that the series will turn westward for the final two stops on the calendar at Portland (on Sept. 4) and Laguna Seca (on Sept. 11).
Josef Newgarden became a three-time winner at the track the last time the IndyCar Series visited WWT Raceway, in 2021, and he will be hoping to find a bit of that magic again as he tries to chase down his Team Penske teammate and the championship points leader, Will Power. Between them, Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon and Marcus Ericsson will be looking to keep Power either in their sights or in their mirrors as there is little margin for error at this point. CGR's Alex Palou -- the defending series champion -- can, however, afford to leave points on the table at this point in the season.
It's possible that any of those drivers may see their championship hopes either vanish or be severely hampered under the lights at tricky fast WWT Raceway.
How to watch the IndyCar Big Machine Music City Grand Prix
- Date: Saturday, Aug. 20
- Location: 1.25-mile (2.01-kilometer) oval; World Wide Technology Raceway; Madison, Ill.
- Time: 6 p.m. ET
- TV: USA Network
- Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
What to expect
WWT Raceway is a track that seems to have borrowed a little bit from here and a little bit from there. The egg-shaped layout will remind some of the "Lady in Black," Darlington Raceway, or even Twin-Ring Motegi in Japan. Turns 1 and 2 are said to remind drivers of the same two turns at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, with 11 degrees of banking, but Turns 3 and 4 are more like 3 and 4 at Phoenix International Raceway, with 9 degrees of banking.
The front straight is long and drivers will be tempted to drag race each other into Turn 1. When the NASCAR Cup Series was here in June, a distinct line developed in the middle of the track but the cars were able to race each other three-wide pretty much all over. Expect Jimmie Johnson to show the way in practice and prove that there is a high line just off the wall, then watch to see who wants to join him up there.