Hitting the Apex: Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey

Things are heating up in the IndyCar world this week! ATRL’s Eline Luna takes a look at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca this weekend.

Eline Luna

June 19, 2024

IndyCar heads to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca this weekend for the eighth race of the 2024 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 canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but since the 2021 season, it has been a permanent fixture on the calendar again.

The track is famous for its turns 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.

Colton Herta (left, #26) and Callum Ilott (right, #77) (Chris Jones/Penske Entertainment)

 

Championship Fight

Team Penske’s Will Power took over the lead from Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon after a win at Road America last time out. He leads the championship by only 5 points over Dixon’s teammate Álex Palou. Dixon only managed to finish 21st during the last race which means he’s now 11 points adrift from the lead. Dixon and Palou have each won a race here in the past two editions. 

 

2023 winner, Scott Dixon (Chris Jones/Penske Entertainment)

Driver Changes

Just days prior to the race Arrow McLaren announced Nolan Siegel will replace Théo Pourchaire in the #6 car. Just over a month ago Siegel failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 with Dale Coyne Racing and last time out at Road America he replaced Agustín Canapino for Juncos Hollinger Racing.

The news comes after Nolan Siegel won the 24 Hours of Le Mans last week in the LMP2 class with United Autosports, a team founded and co-owned by McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown.

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:

2023: Scott Dixon

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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