Hitting the Apex: Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey

The 2023 season is nearly wrapped up! ATRL’s Eline Luna takes a look at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca this weekend for the season finisher.

Eline Luna

September 9, 2023

IndyCar heads to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca this weekend for the last race of the 2023 season. The series raced at the track from 1983 to 2004 (as CART and ChampCar) and eventually returned to the track in 2019. The 2020 race was cancelled due to the Covid, but since the 2021 season it has been a permanent fixture on the calendar again.

The track is famous for its turn 8 and 8a, more commonly referred to as ‘The Corkscrew’. The Corkscrew is a one-of-a-kind turn in motorsports – ask any driver and they will talk about the turn with great appreciation. The Corkscrew drops 59 feet in only 450 feet of track length. It has been the host of many great overtakes and likely will also be this weekend.

James Black/Penske Entertainment

Laguna Seca is perhaps best-known for hosting one of the most legendary moments in CART history. In 1996 on the final lap of the Monterey Grand Prix, Alex Zanardi pulled off a risky move. He passed Bryan Herta on the inside through The Corkscrew but slid across the track over the curbs into the dirt. He narrowly missed a collision and somehow made the pass stick to win the last race of the season.

James Black/Penske Entertainment

Championship Fight

The fight for the championship is over as Alex Palou took the title in dominant fashion at Portland. Palou is the first driver since Sebastien Bourdais to claim the title with one race to spare. Bourdais claimed the Champ Car championship back in 2007 in the penultimate race. 

However, the rookie championship remains undecided, Marcus Armstrong leads Augustino Canapino by 26 points. While the other rookies are out of contention already. Armstrong is strong in his lead despite being the only rookie to miss all of the oval races this season.

 

2023 Championship winner Alex Palou after Portland – James Black/Penske Entertainment

Track Information

  • Race Length: 95 Laps | 212.61 Miles
  • Turns: 11
  • Track Length: 2.238 miles (3.602 km) 
  • Most Wins: Bobby Rahal (4)
  • Race lap record: 1:10.148 (Alex Zanardi 1996, CART)

Past Laguna Seca winners:

2022: Alex Palou

2021: Colton Herta 

2019: Colton Herta

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eline follows a variety of motorsports from Formula E to IMSA to Nascar to WEC. They hope to study Mechanical Engineering to work in motorsports one day.

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