What to know ahead of IndyCar XPEL Grand Prix weekend at Elkhart Lake’s Road America

What to know ahead of IndyCar XPEL Grand Prix weekend at Elkhart Lake's Road America

Back-to-back Indianapolis 500 winner Josef Newgarden, two-time Road America winner Alex Palou and Scott Dixon, a winner of two races this season, headline the field of drivers coming to Wisconsin this week for the XPEL Grand Prix on Sunday at Road America.

If you want to go to the event — or watch it on TV — here are some important tips:

What is Road America?

Road America is Wisconsin’s largest racetrack, an internationally known 4-mile road course on 640 acres near Elkhart Lake in rural Sheboygan County.

In addition to IndyCar, Road America hosts a major event for IMSA sports cars (Aug. 1-4), several vintage weekends and the SCCA National Championship Runoffs in 2024 plus a full schedule of club events and track days.

The main entrance is off Hwy. 67, less than 5 miles north of downtown Plymouth and 3 miles southeast of Elkhart Lake.

What is the NTT IndyCar Series?

Open-wheel, open cockpit cars that race in the Indianapolis 500 have been run at other tracks around the country and internationally on large ovals such as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, street courses in cities such as Detroit, road courses such as Road America and short ovals such as the Milwaukee Mile. This season the schedule includes 17 races, including two doubleheader weekends, plus one non-points race.

The sport has had various governing bodies over the years. IndyCar is the latest. The NTT IndyCar series has raced at Road America since 2016 following CART and Champ Car from 1982-2007.

The sanctioning body also runs Indy NXT, a steppingstone series that runs in conjunction with most NTT IndyCar Series races.

Alex Palou is all smiles in victory lane after winning the 2023 Sonsio Grand Prix for his second NTT IndyCar Series victory at Road America.

How much do tickets cost for IndyCar weekend at Road America?

Admission is $40 Thursday, $50 Friday, $85 Saturday and $90 Sunday, or $195 for the weekend. Anyone 16 and under gets in for free with a paid adult admission. Paddock admission is included.

Tickets can be purchased online and printed at home or are available at the gate.

Can fans bring their own food and beverages to Road America?

Carry-ins are permitted.

Concession stands offer a wide variety of choices, as well.

Where’s the best place to watch Indy cars at Road America?

The beauty of Road America is the ability for spectators to move around the grounds and watch from various places within what management affectionally calls “America’s National Park of Speed.”

Although there are bleachers near the start-finish line, more popular spectator areas include Turn 5, a 90-degree left at the bottom of a long hill, and Canada Corner (Turn 12).

Within the past few years, more areas have been opened up at the Carousel (Turn 9-10), a long right-hand sweeper, and the Kink, the high-speed right that follows it.

What is the weekend schedule for the IndyCar XPEL Grand Prix at Road America?

Some support series are on track Thursday for practice.

Activity Friday includes a driver autograph session at 12:30 and the first round of IndyCar practice at 3 p.m., as well as practice and qualifying for support series.

Saturday is highlighted by IndyCar Series practice at 10 a.m. and qualifying at 2:15 p.m., as well as another autograph session at 4 p.m.

On Sunday, the green flag for the XPEL Grand Prix is scheduled for 2:38 p.m. after a warmup at 11:15 a.m. Radical Cup, USF Pro 2000 and Indy NXT also are scheduled to race.

Is there anything else for race fans in the area?

Road America is the title sponsor of a race for the regional IRA Sprint Series set for Saturday at the Plymouth Dirt Track on the Sheboygan County Fairgrounds. IndyCar drivers Graham Rahal, Pietro Fittipaldi and Christian Lundgaard are scheduled to participate in an autograph session from 5-6 p.m. at Plymouth.

The track is offering shuttle service from Gate 4 at 4 p.m.

How long is an IndyCar race at Road America?

The XPEL Grand Prix is scheduled for 55 laps (220.770 miles). Depending on cautions, that should take a little less than two hours.

Are practice, qualifying and the race from Road America on television or streaming?

The race is on NBC (Channel 4 in Milwaukee), as well as the Peacock streaming service. Practice and qualifying stream on Peacock.

The IndyCar Radio Network will provide audio coverage of all sessions via SiriusXM Channel 160 and the IndyCar app.

Who are the favorites at Road America?

Josef Newgarden, the winner of the 2023 and ’24 Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day weekend, has won twice at Road America (2018, 2022), had a third victory slip away due to a parts failure and was second in 2017 and ’23. He also has started Chevrolet-powered Team Penske cars from the pole three times.

Alex Palou won at Road America in 2021 and ’23 and in both of those seasons went on to win the series championship. While Palou’s victories have come with Chip Ganassi Racing, a powerhouse Honda team, he also scored impressive finishes of third and seventh for Dale Coyne Racing in the 2020 doubleheader before he hit the big time.

Six-time series champion Scott Dixon was the first two-time Road America winner (2017, 2020 Race 1) and comes in as the championship leader. Dixon won a chaotic race Sunday on the streets of Detroit – following a victory on the streets of Long Beach, California, in April – and leads Palou atop the standings.

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: IndyCar weekend at Elkhart Lake Wisconsin's Road America: What to know


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