IndyCar is back from its quick breather, meaning the Month of May can start in earnest. We’ve already had the Rookies and Refreshers test along with the first open test, both in preparation for the Indy 500 but before that gets underway, IndyCar go racing at the road course for the Indy GP.
IndyCar were at Barber Motorsports Park last time out with the rain-hit and eventually rescheduled race being won by the championship leader, Josef Newgarden. Newgarden started from pole, in both attempts at the race, and led the vast majority of the laps to take his second win of his title defence. Ryan Hunter-Reay followed the #1 Penske of Newgarden home to be lead Andretti for the first time this season. In fact, that was the first time that Alexander Rossi wasn’t the first Andretti home, with the American finishing down in eleventh. Elsewhere, the Schmidt Peterson duo of James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens finished third and fourth respectively, showing that both have championship potential.
While it was a Chevrolet winner, Honda were, once more, the stronger of the two with Honda locking out positions two through to eight. That performance, and those of the previous three races, has left Honda with a 67-point lead over Chevrolet in the Manufactures Standings.
Last year, the Indy GP was won by the so-far unbelievably unlucky Will Power who was one of only two leaders of the race, Helio Castroneves being the other. Scott Dixon followed Power home in second from Hunter-Reay and the other thus-far unfortunate Penske of Simon Pagenaud. It was a fairly clean and, for IndyCar’s standards, uneventful race last year with the only two retirements coming from mechanical issues for Sebastien Bourdais and Charlie Kimball.
This track has always been a Penske stronghold with the only non-Penske win coming back at the track’s inaugural race in 2014 where Pagenaud, then with Schmidt Peterson, won. That 2014 win is still Honda’s only triumph at the Indy road course to date, a record they’ll be hoping to set straight this weekend.
As with the previous two races, IndyCar is on another street course so usual qualifying procedure applies with the two groups going into the fastest twelve and then the Firestone Fast Six.
There have been quite a number of driver changes since Barber, some scheduled, some not. Pietro Fittipaldi was down to take the wheel of the #19 Dale Coyne however, after his monster, leg-breaking crash at Raidillon during qualifying for the 6 Hours of Spa, he, quite clearly won’t be racing. Dale Coyne have announced that Zachary Claman De Melo will be in the #19 in his place but they are still looking for a replacement for the Indy 500 and Texas. Kyle Kaiser is taking over the solo Juncos from Rene Binder as planned while Castroneves will make his much-awaited return to IndyCar with Penske, fielding his #3 car once more.
As always, predicting anything for the weekend is rather difficult! Given their form at this track so far, you’d expect Penske to be strong but, after the starts both Power and Pagenaud have had, the safe money would have to be on Newgarden. Equally, you can’t count out any of the Andrettis, nor the Chip Ganassis or the Schmidt Petersons so really, it’s anyone’s guess!
Practice and Qualifying will be streamed on IndyCar’s channels as usual and the race can be found on the BT Sport/ESPN channel. The whole Mazda Road to Indy lot will also be there with all of Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000 sessions available to stream in the same place as IndyCar.
The IndyCar timings, in BST, for the weekend are as follows:
Practice 1 – 2:15pm
Practice 2 – 5:30pm
Qualifying – 9:30pm
Final Warmup – 4:15pm
Race – 8:40pm
Featured image courtesy of hondanews.eu