Grosjean joins Dale Coyne Racing for the 2021 IndyCar season

Romain Grosjean is to join Dale Coyne Racing for the 2021 IndyCar season. The French driver will make his debut with the Rick Ware entry and will race in all 13 road and street races.

This heralds a remarkable comeback narrative after being dropped from the Haas F1 team alongside teammate Kevin Magnussen. There were question marks looming as to whether Grosjean may altogether retire from racing after a near-fatal high-speed accident at the Bahrain Grand Prix left him with multiple degree burns, broken ribs and a dented confidence.

“It was never an option,” Grosjean said, concerning any doubts following the Bahrain accident. “I felt like I wanted to go back racing.”

The soon-to-be rookie has no qualms about returning to top tier racing, excited about the prospect of a return to competitiveness.

“What I want is to be happy and enjoy my time in racing,” Grosjean said during his Twitch stream, suggesting there is a pathway to longevity in the American single seater series: “And if I do, I would stay longer for sure. And if things don’t go to plan, I would come back to Europe but I think its going to be great.”

During Dale Coyne Racing’s official press conference Romain stated he had been in early contact with the American outfit: “I got in touch with Dale last year before Imola and I really felt that they were enthusiastic about getting me on board. I’ve been watching the races, the series looks super competitive, the cars look fun to drive.”

Romain Grosjean, Haas (Joao Filipe, DPPI / Haas F1 Media)

Santino Ferrucci, who drove the #18 Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan Honda, left the series for the NASCAR Xfinity Series to compete for Sam Hunt Racing, and Alex Palou, who drove the #55 Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh Honda, left the team to replace Felix Rosenqvist at Chip Ganassi Racing. Grosjean will be teammates with Ed Jones who will replace Ferrucci in the #18 Vasser-Sullivan Honda.

Grosjean will join Alexander Rossi, Marcus Ericsson, Takuma Sato and Sebastien Bourdais as the ex-Formula 1 drivers on the 2021 grid.

Achieving a respectable 10 podiums, 391 career points and a fastest lap in his time in F1, he will be looking to add to his list of achievements, aiming to get up to speed as soon as possible.

On the subject of his injuries Grosjean was in optimistic spirits: “It’s going okay. My left hand is still quite marked but it’s uglier than it is bad I will say. It’s all working well, the left-hand ligament was pulled away so I’ve had surgery.”

He will get his first test in his new machinery on the 22nd February at Barber Motorsport Park. There are reservations whether he will be fully fit by that point but he iterated it is not long away.

“The first test is the 22nd of February. I may not be 100% but [I will be] good enough to do well. By race one I am going to be ready and I’m not going to worry about it. I have been in the gym. It was a difficult call for the doctor but we knew there were more risks of delaying the healing. With the season postponed a little bit it all played into my hand, if I can use the play on words.”

French racing drivers have had a good open wheel record in the United States. Sebastien Bourdais holds the most consecutive IndyCar championships 2004-2007 (4) while Simon Pagenaud is the last European to win the championship in 2016.

With a sporting comeback story such as this, this will hopefully give fans who were still reluctant to follow the IndyCar series more reason than not.

IndyCar Harvest GP Race 2: Will Power wins from pole, survives pressure from Herta

Penske’s Will Power fended off a charging Colton Herta to claim his 39th career IndyCar win from pole position at the Harvest GP, now tied 5th on the all-time IndyCar wins list with the legendary Al Unser. Further down the order, Josef Newgarden finished in 4th to cut the championship deficit to Scott Dixon to just 32 points.

Power pulled a healthy 5-second gap from the rest of the field at the start before pitting from the sticker reds onto the slower, but more durable sticker black tyres.

Alexander Rossi was able to reel Power in during the second stint, coming out just two seconds behind the Australian on the blacks while Power had switched back to the reds.

Rossi slowly caught up to the back of Will Power only to be caught up by Colton Herta – also on the sticker reds – who made short work of his Andretti teammate round the outside of turn 1.

Herta, having never finished second or third, was chasing his fourth IndyCar win, staying within a second of Will Power for the last 10 laps. Unfortunately for Herta, Power was able to use his ‘Push to Pass’ effectively to get a good run out of the final corner. That, alongside having a healthy slipstream from a few backmarkers, was enough to make sure Colton could not have a good enough opportunity into turn 1. This gifted Power his second win of the season and moved him into 4th position in the championship standings.

Alexander Rossi rounded out the top three, taking his 24th career podium, ending in style what has been a miserable season for the most part.

Defending champion Josef Newgarden fell from 9th to 11th on the opening laps, only one spot ahead of his championship rival Scott Dixon. However, he was able to make short work of Ryan Hunter-Reay in front and proceeded to work his way up the grid. He made it up to 5th before the first pit stops, and then was able to undercut the Arrow McLaren SP driver Patricio O’Ward for 4th.

Unfortunately for Newgarden, 4th was where he stayed, unable to make any ground on Alexander Rossi, who remained 10 seconds ahead during the final stages of the race.

His 4th place cuts the deficit to Scott Dixon for the 5th race in a row. What was a 117-point lead leaving race 1 of Gateway has now crumbled to just a 32-point lead going to St Petersburg in 3 weeks’ time. It is staggering to think that in just 5 races Newgarden has carved 85 points out of the points lead, an average of 17 points per pace.

With 54 points on offer, Scott Dixon must finish in 9th place (excluding bonus points) at St Petersburg to secure his 6th championship title.

Scott Dixon is inches away from his 6th IndyCar title – Courtesy of IndyCar Media

Pato O’Ward took 4th ahead of Jack Harvey, he and his Meyer Shank Racing team an ever-present challenger at this circuit and buoyed by the recent investment of Formula 1 owner Liberty Media in its squad.

Behind Harvey, Graham Rahal turned a 10th-placed start into seventh, ahead of a typically methodical if not rapid drive from Dixon.

Making up places in the early phases of the race, he came up short against Ryan Hunter-Reay who contacted the Kiwi going into turn 1, putting a hole into the right-side underwing of his car.

Seemingly unphased by this damage, Dixon claimed 9th by passing Santino Ferrucci and by benefitting from positions gained during the first pit stops.

He ran eighth for the last stint but was unable to overturn Rahal.

Rookie Alex Palou of Dale Coyne and 19th-place starter Simon Pagenaud rounded out the top 10.

The final race of the season at the Firestone Grand Prix of St.Petersburg will crown another champion in either Dixon or Newgarden on October 25.

RACE CLASSIFICATION

1 Will Power Team Penske
2 Colton Herta Andretti Harding
3 Alexander Rossi Andretti Autosport
4 Josef Newgarden Team Penske
5 Patricio O’Ward Arrow McLaren SP
6 Jack Harvey Meyer Shank Racing
7 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan
8 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing
9 Alex Palou Dale Coyne Racing
10 Simon Pagenaud Team Penske
11 Felix Rosenqvist Chip Ganassi Racing
12 Santino Ferrucci Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan
13 James Hinchcliffe Andretti Autosport
14 Takuma Sato Rahal Letterman Lanigan
15 Marcus Ericsson Chip Ganassi Racing
16 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport
17 Rinus Van Kalmthout Ed Carpenter Racing
18 Sebastien Bourdais A.J. Foyt Enterprises
19 Max Chilton Carlin
20 Conor Daly Ed Carpenter Racing
21 Helio Castroneves Arrow McLaren SP
22 Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport
23 Charlie Kimball A.J. Foyt Enterprises
24 Sage Karam Dreyer & Reinbold
25 Dalton Kellett A.J. Foyt Enterprises

Feature Image Courtesy of IndyCar Media

IndyCar Mid-Ohio Preview

The NTT IndyCar Series returns this weekend for its fourth doubleheader with the Honda Indy 200 at Lexington’s Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The undulating twists and turns of the thirteen-corner, 2.2-mile road course has seen the circuit become one of the favourite locations on the calendar for drivers and fans alike.

What’s more, with just five races remaining, it’s up to the few remaining title challengers to step up this weekend if they wish to keep the championship alive.

Scott Dixon heads into this weekend on 416 points, a 96-point advantage over Josef Newgarden, with Patricio O’Ward and Takuma Sato realistically the remaining two contenders, albeit around 150 points behind.

Scott Dixon (Joe Skibinski / IndyCar Media)

Looking Back to 2019 Mid-Ohio and beyond.

The 2019 running was won by current championship leader Dixon in spectacular fashion. The New Zealander had rookie Felix Rosenqvist charging in the closing laps. In the final pass through turn two they had wheel contact. Both cars bobbled, but the drivers kept them straight, which led to a thrilling run to the chequered flag as Dixon drove with tires that had lost their effectiveness.

The margin of victory was 0.0934 seconds, the closest IndyCar finish at Mid-Ohio and third closest on a road course in IndyCar history.

Dixon and Chip Ganassi have proved a dominant force at Mid-Ohio in recent years. ‘Mr Mid-Ohio’ has a staggering six wins at the Sports Car Course, likewise Ganassi have won there 11 times, giving them a vast amount of confidence heading into the weekend.

Other drivers who have enjoyed success at the circuit have been Newgarden, Alexander Rossi and Simon Pagenaud with a win apiece. Alongside them, look out for likes of O’Ward, Jack Harvey, Oliver Askew and Rinus VeeKay who have all had relative success at the track in the junior categories.

Pato O’Ward (Joe Skibinski / IndyCar Media)

What should I look out for this weekend?

Dixon is the bookies favourite to win the IndyCar championship due to his commanding lead. However, the focus on this race will continue to be on his realistic championship rivals to see whether they can make a dent in that points deficit. Out of those only Newgarden has won here before, and he may be the most obvious challenge to the Kiwi.

O’Ward will be coming into the weekend following some magnificent but bittersweet performances having narrowly missed out on a handful of wins this season. The Mexican has been a consistent qualifier and regularly puts himself in the frame to challenge for the win. It’s often been strategic calls that have stripped those opportunities away. He’ll be looking to rectify that here to claim his maiden IndyCar win.

Sato, perhaps coming down from his second Indy 500 win, was in the fight arguably in both races last time out at Gateway. He’s somehow found a run of form that’s put him in his highest championship spot in his career. Although challenging Dixon in the standings is a tough order, to compete well against the likes of two-time champion Newgarden and up-and-coming superstar O’Ward will be all the incentive Sato needs to prove that experience sometimes trumps youth.

Another driver with something to prove this weekend will be Andretti’s Rossi. His crushing performance in the 2018 running race saw him and the team take a dominant victory from pole with an incredible tyre strategy. Rossi has demonstrated that he has the speed and his team have the strategies to come out on top in Mid-Ohio and he’ll be determined to do so again to try and draw himself closer to the top five in the championship, after a season plagued by bad luck.

Rinus VeeKay (Joe Skibinski / IndyCar Media)

In terms of the battle for the coveted ‘Rookie of the Year’ title, VeeKay currently leads that fight, 13th in the standings on 181 points. His closest rivals are Alex Palou on 160 and Askew on 155. All three drivers have enjoyed a mixed bag of success and rotten luck, showing promising qualifying and race pace. VeeKay certainly has the momentum coming into the weekend and will be looking to replicate the win he had at the circuit during his time in the Pro Mazda Championship.

Just a mention about Colton Herta. What a season he’s been having. I wrote about his incredible qualifying performances during my preview for Gateway and touted him as someone to watch out for. He then went on to finish in fourth and sixth across both races of the doubleheader putting him in fifth place in the championship on 250 points. In only his sophomore year in IndyCar he’s certainly proved that he’s a superstar in the making, and now has the consistency to mount a title challenge in the future. I wouldn’t put it past Herta to do something similarly impressive this weekend to try and break into the top four.

Dale Coyne Racing‘s Santino Ferrucci is also on an impressive run of form. A fellow sophomore and a young American ‘hot-shot’, he is easily, like-for-like Colton Herta’s closest rival. After an amazing fourth at the Indy 500, followed by a top ten finish last time out at Gateway, Ferrucci is making somewhat of a name for himself. It wasn’t too long ago that he enjoyed a run of three top ten finishes between IMS and Iowa. He’ll be hoping to draw on his prior experience of racing single-seaters in Europe to try and get a similarly strong result on the Mid-Ohio road course this weekend so that he can impress further.

Finally, keep an eye on Meyer Shank Racing‘s Jack Harvey, aiming to continue what has so far been relatively strong season so far for the British driver. He’s shown glimpses of brilliances with three consecutive top ten finishes (IOWA 1, IOWA 2, INDY) and a strong showing at Gateway before an unfortunate timing with the caution ruined a race where he’d been running in the top 5. He’s currently 14th in the standings, which is by far the highest he has ever been during his time in IndyCar. This weekend he has an opportunity to push for 11th in the standings as Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marcus Ericsson, VeeKay and Harvey are all separated by just 3 points.

IndyCar at Mid-Ohio will be shown live on Sky Sports F1 with qualifying set for 7:30pm (GMT) on Saturday followed by the race at around 8:30pm (GMT) on Sunday.

Indianapolis 500 U-turn, closes doors to fans

The 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 will take place without fans for the first time in its history. This will arguably be the biggest impact “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” has seen since the series of cancellations between 1942 and 1945 during America’s intervention in World War Two.

The US has been significantly effected by the Coronavirus pandemic, and while federal laws try their best to limit the spread of the disease, state laws can take matters into their own hands. It seems this is what has happened.

A few weeks ago, it had been reported that the 500 was to happen with spectator capacity capped at 50%. The speedway then lowered that number to 25%, releasing an 88-page document detailing the safety procedures that were to be implemented.

The seating capacity of the speedway holds upward of 250,000 people. Given this, the upward trajectory of fans would have been close to 62,500 people, not including staff, teams, media and drivers.

The Indiana State Department of Health on Tuesday reported an additional 836 cases and 14 deaths from Coronavirus, bringing the state’s totals to 69,255 cases and 2,794 deaths.

Indiana’s seven-day moving average positivity rate was 7.3% compared to earlier averages of 5%. Therefore, discussions were held between local and state governments and the speedway took the decision to remove the prospect of fans in the speedway so as to mitigate the risk of transmission.

Chris Owens / IndyCar Media

Roger Penske, owner of the circuit, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the U-turn was:

“The toughest business decision I’ve ever made in my life.” “We didn’t buy the Speedway for one year, we bought it for generations to come, and it’s important to our reputation to do the right thing,”

This will be financially devastating, as the circuit makes most of its revenue from the 500 and will inevitably come under economic pressure as a consequence.

Penske continued by saying: “We need to be safe and smart about this, obviously we want full attendance, but we don’t want to jeopardize the health and safety of our fans and the community. We also don’t want to jeopardize the ability to hold a successful race.”

It was clear how the situation would unfold when IU Health, the state’s largest health care system and a partner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, publicly criticised the attendance of fans at the raceway.

“Until we sustain better control of this virus and its spread,” IU iterated, “we strongly encourage IMS to consider an alternative to running the Indy 500 with fans in August.”

This follows a wave of schedule alterations, including the cancellation of Portland, Laguna Seca and the postponement of the Mid-Ohio race scheduled for the weekend of the 8th August, with many races including at Road America and Iowa already holding races with fans in attendance, but at a reduced capacity.

Tim Holle / IndyCar MediaThe 500 is still scheduled to take place from Memorial weekend to August 23rd.

Feature image courtesy of Joe Skibinksi / IndyCar Media

IndyCar cancels Portland and Laguna Seca, adds three doubleheaders

IndyCar has cancelled the 2020 running of the Grand Prix of Portland, due to Oregon state laws on public gatherings that will remain active throughout September. The race, originally scheduled for Sept. 11-13 is the seventh race to be cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement on the official website of The Grand Prix of Portland they said: “We are extremely disappointed and will miss the incredible fans who have supported us […] The safety of our fans, participants, volunteers, staff, partners and media will always remain our top priority.”

In 2019, Portland returned to the IndyCar series after a ten year absence , won by Penske driver Will Power. Unfortunately he will not get a chance to defend his win a year on.

In addition, IndyCar has also cancelled the doubleheader at Laguna Seca in California, making it the eight cancellation on the calendar. IndyCar called the cancellations: “a mutual decision between the series and promoters following close consultation and monitoring of the local situation. The series looks forward to returning to both venues in 2021.”

The 2019 running was won by Colton Herta who dominated from pole position. It was the first year IndyCar had held a race at Laguna Seca for 15 years.

In their place, IndyCar have added doubleheaders to three events already scheduled:

Mid Ohio Sports Car Course, 8th-9th August,

World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, 29th-30th August,

Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 2nd-3rd October,

It will be the third time that IndyCar will have travelled to Indianapolis this season having raced at the IMS earlier in July and later next month for the Indianapolis 500 on August 23rd.

“Our race fans have loved the exciting doubleheader action of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES this year at Road America and Iowa Speedway,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President & CEO Mark Miles said. “We look forward to giving them even more world-class entertainment this season at three of the most exciting racetracks on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES calendar.”

IndyCar is still scheduled to run 14 races this season.

 

[Featured image – Chris Jones / IndyCar Media]

Autosport International Show Gallery 2020

At this years Autosport International Show, there were some pretty iconic cars on display, from all parts of the motorsport world.

The main feature included Seventy Years of Motorsport, and there were some incredibly beautiful cars on display from Le Mans, World Rally Championship, Indycar, British Touring Car Championship, Formula One and Formula E.

All were game changers in their own way.

The decades of the 1950’s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, ’00s, ’10s are all represented.

Away from there, there were other amazing displays. The Le Mans Toyota TS050 from 2018, the car that finally gave Toyota the victory that it has craved for decades, with Sébastien Buemi, Fernando Alonso and Kazuki Nakajima sharing the driving duties.

There was a display of Formula One cars as well.

Below is a group of classic rally cars – Some iconic machinery here, from the seventies, eighties, nineties and two-thousands. Three cars driven by Colin McRae featured as well.

Well, we hope that you have enjoyed this look back to this year’s Autosport International Show, while we wait for the racing season to re-start.

 

All photos courtesy of Warren Nel

IndyCar Texas Preview

IndyCar’s race at Texas Motor Speedway will conclude the run of four races in three weekends in the most intense part of the season. Texas marks the second oval of the season and it is usually one of the more eventful weekends of the year, as well as being one of the most picturesque races as it is held under the floodlights.

The IndyCar paddock comes straight from the Dual in Detroit doubleheader where Josef Newgarden took the win in Race 1 before crashing out of Race 2. Scott Dixon was victorious in Race 2, having crashed in Race 1… they were certainly two of the more eventful races we’ve had so far this season!

The main takeaway from Detroit is that Dixon has finally got his first win of the season, something that he took until Texas to do last year. Another key point to note is that Newgarden heads into this round with a 15-point lead over Alexander Rossi, which is one of the smaller championship leads that he has enjoyed so far this season, thanks to his low score in Race 2 at Detroit.

Credit: Chris Owens/IndyCar

Races at Texas Motor Speedway tend to be highly attritional with large multi-car wrecks a common feature under the lights. Last year, Dixon took his first win of the season here while Simon Pagenaud scored his first podium of 2018 – that shows how different the Frenchman’s situation is this year. Only nine cars finished on the lead lap with extreme tyre blistering playing a key factor in the race, as well as contributing to one or two of the crashes.

Texas is notoriously difficult for rookies with four newbies taking on the course this year. Felix Rosenqvist is in need of a good result, or just a finish, as any more bad results could start to put his future at Chip Ganassi Racing in jeopardy because Chip not a fan of crashers, to put it lightly!

Marcus Ericsson will be hoping to not end in the wall as his predecessor Robert Wickens did here last year, though that was one of Wickens’ more minor scrapes last year. The same goes for Santino Ferrucci and Colton Herta, with all four rookies just wanting to keep it out of the wall, though that is easier said than done!

A return to the ovals means a return to the normal oval qualifying format, which is notably different from that used at the Indy 500. Each driver will get a single run of two laps to set their qualifying time with them running in reverse championship order, meaning returner Charlie Kimball will go first while Newgarden will go last, and theoretically get the best of the track conditions.

There have been three driver changes since the last round and one of them, in particular, was pretty big news. Max Chilton, driver of the #59 Carlin, has made the decision not to compete in any of the four remaining ovals of the season with no precise reason stated in the press release, though the general speculation has been around safety worries due to the way the car was handling at Indianapolis.

Whatever the reason, it was Chilton’s personal decision and is one to be respected, with all the drivers knowing the danger that ovals, in particular, present. After his top ten finish at the 500, Conor Daly will be replacing Chilton at Texas, but it is yet to be announced who will drive the #59 at the remaining ovals of Iowa, Pocono and Gateway.

Conor Daly on the opening day of the Texas weekend. Credit: Chris Owens/IndyCar

The other changes are more minor with Kimball in the #23 Carlin in place of Patricio O’Ward’s #31, though funding concerns for the young Mexican mean it’s not certain that we’ll see him back for Road America. Finally, Ed Carpenter is replacing Ed Jones in the #20 Ed Carpenter Racing entry in their usual switch-around for ovals.

The first practice session took place overnight with Dixon continuing his Detroit form by topping the timing sheet, followed by the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing duo of Takuma Sato and Graham Rahal with Kimball in a surprising fourth. The rest of the timings for this weekend are as follows, with the race in the early hours of Sunday morning for UK viewers.

June 7

Practice 2 – 1:30pm (CDT) / 7:30pm (BST)
Qualifying – 5:45pm / 11:45pm

June 8/9

Race – 7:30pm / 1:30am

Entry List:

# Driver Team
2 Josef Newgarden Team Penske
4 Matheus Leist AJ Foyt Racing
5 James Hinchcliffe Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
7 Marcus Ericsson (R) Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
9 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing
10 Felix Rosenqvist (R) Chip Ganassi Racing
12 Will Power Team Penske
14 Tony Kanaan AJ Foyt Racing
15 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan
18 Sebastien Bourdais Dale Coyne Racing
19 Santino Ferrucci (R) Dale Coyne Racing
20 Ed Carpenter Ed Carpenter Racing
21 Spencer Pigot Ed Carpenter Racing
22 Simon Pagenaud Team Penske
23 Charlie Kimball Carlin
26 Zach Veach Andretti Autosport
27 Alexander Rossi Andretti Autosport
28 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport
30 Takuma Sato Rahal Letterman Lanigan
59 Conor Daly Carlin
88 Colton Herta (R) Harding Steinbrenner
98 Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport

Featured Image Credit: Chris Owens/IndyCar

IndyCar Dual in Detroit Report: Newgarden and Dixon take turns to win it and bin it

The Detroit doubleheader saw two action-packed races with very different outcomes for the main title protagonists in each. Championship leader Josef Newgarden took the win in Race 1 before crashing out of Race 2 while reigning champion did the same thing, just the other way around – taking his first win of the season in Race 2.

Race 1 turned out to only be 43 laps long after it was cut to a 75-minute timed race following weather-induced delays. Race 2 ran to the scheduled 70 laps, but both were equally as dramatic.

Newgarden’s win in Race 1 was never a certainty but the decisive moment for him came under the second caution, caused by Ed Jones sliding out of the race. The #2 was in the pits as the caution came out, perfectly placing him in the lead of the race when it resumed. From there, all he had to do was fend off a sustained attack from Indy 500 runner-up Alexander Rossi… something that’s easier said than done! Even so, Newgarden held firm to take his second win of the season and his first on the streets of Detroit.

Credit: Chris Owens/IndyCar

If everything went Newgarden’s way in Race 1, the second race was to be a different story entirely. This time he qualified on pole but only led for one lap as the early caution that came out for the Turn 3 wreck meant all but six drivers pitted. After that, Newgarden was fighting with Rossi again, with the #27 playing a part in the end of the Penske driver’s race.

James Hinchcliffe exited the pits just ahead of Newgarden and Rossi with the trio fighting for what was effectively the net lead of the race. Three into one at Turn 3 was always going to end in tears, and indeed it did with Newgarden and Hinchcliffe ending in the wall while Rossi managed to continue relatively unscathed. Newgarden was frustrated but accepted his part in the accident, and his championship lead remains intact at 15 points over Rossi.

Dixon’s weekend was the reverse of Newgarden’s with an uncharacteristic mistake ending his first race. The #9 clipped the barriers and was sent into the wall midway through the first race, marking his first DNF since his Texas 2017 crash with Takuma Sato and shocking the paddock.

He recovered in Race 2 in the only way Dixon knows how… winning, in rather dominant fashion. Like Newgarden, the timing of the second caution, this time caused by Spencer Pigot, significantly helped his cause, with Dixon eventually cycling up to a lead he would not relinquish from there on.

Credit: James Black/IndyCar

Rossi’s weekend was more consistent than that of Newgarden or Dixon’s however, he missed out on the one thing he came to Detroit for: a win to make up for his Indy 500 disappointment. The Andretti driver came agonisingly close to the victory in Race 1 before again missing out in Race 2, finishing fifth, though he was lucky to finish at all after the Newgarden/Hinchcliffe incident.

Another lucky driver turned out to be Will Power, which is surprising after the season he’s had! Race 1 was the same old same old with Power’s race ruined by a pit stop error that saw him released with only three wheels on his wagon. Race 2 started in much the same vein with Power stopping on track during the first caution however, this time it was not a disaster and the #12 fought back to a rather miraculous third-place finish.

Holding off Power at the end of Race 2 was rookie Marcus Ericsson who, after an average Race 1, took his first IndyCar podium in the second race. He recovered what would’ve been a dreadful race for the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team after Hinchcliffe’s elimination to take his first podium in over five and a half years!

Credit: Joe Skibinski/IndyCar

Indy 500 champion Simon Pagenaud was significantly less fortunate at Detroit with the Penske driver doing well in Race 1 but then having a pretty disastrous Race 2. He, along with six other drivers, was caught up in the Turn 3 wreck, initiated by contact between Patricio O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist, which all but ended the Frenchman’s race.

Next up on the IndyCar calendar is Texas Motor Speedway in just a few days time to cap off the most intense section of the season.

Race 1 Results:

  1. Josef Newgarden
  2. Alexander Rossi
  3. Takuma Sato
  4. Felix Rosenqvist (R)
  5. Ryan Hunter-Reay
  6. Simon Pagenaud
  7. Graham Rahal
  8. Zach Veach
  9. James Hinchcliffe
  10. Spencer Pigot
  11. Sebastien Bourdais
  12. Colton Herta (R)
  13. Marcus Ericsson (R)
  14. Patricio O’Ward (R)
  15. Tony Kanaan
  16. Marco Andretti
  17. Max Chilton
  18. Will Power
  19. Santino Ferrucci (R)
  20. Ed Jones
  21. Matheus Leist
  22. Scott Dixon

Race 2 Results:

  1. Scott Dixon
  2. Marcus Ericsson (R)
  3. Will Power
  4. Ryan Hunter-Reay
  5. Alexander Rossi
  6. Marco Andretti
  7. Graham Rahal
  8. Zach Veach
  9. Sebastien Bourdais
  10. Santino Ferrucci (R)
  11. Patricio O’Ward (R)
  12. Colton Herta (R)
  13. Takuma Sato
  14. Ed Jones
  15. Max Chilton
  16. Felix Rosenqvist (R)
  17. Simon Pagenaud
  18. James Hinchcliffe
  19. Josef Newgarden
  20. Matheus Leist
  21. Spencer Pigot
  22. Tony Kanaan

Championship Top 5:

  1. Josef Newgarden
  2. Alexander Rossi
  3. Simon Pagenaud
  4. Scott Dixon
  5. Takuma Sato

Featured Image Credit: Chris Owens/IndyCar

IndyCar Dual in Detroit Preview

Fresh from the Indy 500, the IndyCar paddock heads to Detroit for the only doubleheader of the season, known as the ‘Dual in Detroit’. Some drivers are coming off the high of the 500 while others are looking to make amends after a poor performance at the Brickyard. Detroit always promises action with its tight, bumpy nature punishing mistakes very heavily.

Simon Pagenaud will be coming into Detroit on the highest of highs after winning his first Indy 500 from pole to top off an amazing Month of May. The Frenchman has won both of the last two races, however, since the Detroit doubleheader came into the series in 2012, Indy 500 champion has never won either of the races. Pagenaud will be looking to break that curse, though it’s not really something you’d put money on given the amount of media work he’s had to do in the last week and the fact that he hasn’t won around Detroit since 2013, but you never know…

Simon Pagenaud with his dog Norman in New York City during his victory tour after winning the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. Credit: Chris Owens/IndyCar

One driver very much looking to make amends for the 500 is Alexander Rossi. He may have finished second last race but, as he said in his interview after, that’s probably one of the worst places to finish at the Brickyard because of how close you are to victory. At the Indy 500, second really is the first of the losers! Despite never winning at Detroit, his best finish came last year with a third place in Race 1, Rossi always manages to be a factor in the races here, whether that be in a good way or a bad!

Last year, Scott Dixon and Ryan Hunter-Reay shared the honours, after Graham Rahal dominated both races the year before. For Hunter-Reay, his win here last year ended a drought that stretched back to Pocono 2015; this year, he comes into the weekend with a winless streak of only six races, having won the last race of 2018. Dixon has actually got a longer winless streak at eleven, meaning he sits in fifth in the championship, 47 points off leader Pagenaud.

Ryan Hunter-Reay takes a cool dip in the James Scott Memorial Fountain at Belle Isle Park as the winner of Race 2 of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix. Credit: Joe Skibinski/IndyCar

The championship is still young with the two races at Detroit marking races seven and eight. Currently, Indy 500 winner Pagenaud leads the championship, one point ahead of teammate Josef Newgarden with Rossi 22 points off the lead in third. Takuma Sato has rather snuck into the top five, equal with Dixon, 47 points adrift. The standings become slightly more spread out after that with Santino Ferrucci as top rookie in tenth, following his stellar performance at the 500.

Detroit is a return to the street courses after the first oval of the season, but, being a doubleheader, the format is slightly different to normal. The two races are run independently of one another with each having its own two-group qualifying to decide the order. There’s no top twelve group or Fast Six, just the two groups based on practice times. All this means a driver can fail to finish Race 1 but then go onto start well in Race 2, as they don’t decide each other’s grids.

This time it’s a mere 22-car affair, after the 36 strong entry list for the 500. Max Chilton and Patricio O’Ward are back in the field after failing to qualify last time out while Ed Jones switches back to the #20 Ed Carpenter Racing entry after the boss himself ran it at the 500. Other than that, it’s all the regulars in the pack, with Jack Harvey and Ben Hanley not around again until Road America.

Practice gets underway today with the first of the qualifying sessions and Race 1 taking place on Saturday, followed by a very similar schedule on Sunday. The timings for the weekend are as follows:

May 31

Practice 1 – 10:55am (ET) / 3:55pm (BST)
Practice 2 – 2:50pm / 7:50pm

June 1

Qualifying (R1) – 10:45am / 3:45pm
Race 1 – 3:30pm / 8:30pm

June 2

Qualifying (R2) – 10:45am / 3:45pm
Race 2 – 3:30pm / 8:30pm

Entry List:

# Driver Team
2 Josef Newgarden Team Penske
4 Matheus Leist AJ Foyt Racing
5 James Hinchcliffe Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
7 Marcus Ericsson (R) Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
9 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing
10 Felix Rosenqvist (R) Chip Ganassi Racing
12 Will Power Team Penske
14 Tony Kanaan AJ Foyt Racing
15 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan
18 Sebastien Bourdais Dale Coyne Racing
19 Santino Ferrucci (R) Dale Coyne Racing
20 Ed Jones Ed Carpenter Racing
21 Spencer Pigot Ed Carpenter Racing
22 Simon Pagenaud Team Penske
26 Zach Veach Andretti Autosport
27 Alexander Rossi Andretti Autosport
28 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport
30 Takuma Sato Rahal Letterman Lanigan
31 Patricio O’Ward (R) Carlin
59 Max Chilton Carlin
88 Colton Herta (R) Harding Steinbrenner
98 Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport

Featured Image Credit: Joe Skibinski/IndyCar

Indy 500 Report: Pagenaud completes May treble with first 500 win

Simon Pagenaud stunned the field to win his first Indy 500, having already taken pole for the race and the Indianapolis GP win. He becomes the first driver to ever do that sweep of May, after Will Power came close last year. Pagenaud held off 2016 Indy 500 champion Alexander Rossi in a thrilling duel during the last ten laps.

The Frenchman started from pole and dominated the race in a way that we are just not used to seeing at the Indy 500. He led 116 laps, nearly 100 more than anyone else, though it was not all plain sailing. All the Chevrolets were struggling with fuel mileage and none more so than Pagenaud, who had the added disadvantage of being out front in clean air with no one to work with.

If it wasn’t for the fourth and final caution which turned into a red flag, the end of the race could’ve been a very different story fuel-wise. If and buts aside, Pagenaud ran a near faultless race to win his first Indy 500 and Penske’s 18th, writing himself into the history books and taking the championship lead with it. Perhaps his only mistake of the day was stopping his car on the yard of bricks after the race, rather than the more traditional Victory Circle… but he didn’t seem to mind!

Simon Pagenaud celebrates victory with partner Hayley and dog Norman. Credit: Doug Mathews/IndyCar

Chasing Pagenaud all the way to the flag was Rossi, who was going after his second 500 win. Early on in the race the #27 had a small problem with the fuel in his pit stop but it only cost him a second or two, so no one thought much of it at the time. However, when it came to the penultimate stops, that problem became something more major with Rossi losing a significant amount of time, making him a very angry driver.

Once the race was restarted after the third caution, Rossi was on a mission passing whoever he liked, wherever he liked and soon caught up to the leaders. He pushed Pagenaud very hard in the final laps with the leading driver always heavily defending the inside line but, despite Rossi’s best efforts, Pagenaud squeezed pass on Lap 199 and held onto the lead for long enough to cross the line victorious. He was visibly disappointed by the result saying, “nothing else matters here but winning, today will suck for a while.”.

Simon Pagenaud and Alexander Rossi. Credit: Tim Holle/IndyCar

In amongst all that drama, the third-place finisher was nearly forgotten, but 2017 Indy 500 champion Takuma Sato gave the other two a run for their money in the final laps, only dropping back slightly at the very end. The #30 briefly led at two points during the race, though never really had the pace of fellow Honda-runner Rossi. Still, a more than respectable result moves him up to fourth in the championship.

Sebastien Bourdais was one driver who had been comfortably within the lead group until his race came, quite literally, crashing down on Lap 176 when he came together with Graham Rahal and caused the biggest wreck of the day. In taking each other out, the pair created a secondary wreck where drivers behind crashed while reacting to what was going on ahead. Felix Rosenqvist and Zach Veach’s races were ended while Charlie Kimball, Sage Karam and Scott Dixon all managed to carry on.

Graham Rahal’s car is towed away after the wreck. Credit: Walt Kuhn/IndyCar

There were some remarkable near misses to come out of that wreck with rookie Ferrucci coming off best. The #19 dived onto the grass to avoid his teammate Bourdais and the others in the wreck and, where many drivers would’ve backed off, Ferrucci floored it and gained a handful of places. He eventually finished as top rookie in seventh-place, two places better than Robert Wickens managed in his debut Indy 500 last year.

Hinchcliffe also avoided disaster in that Lap 176 wreck, though that wasn’t the only time he avoided something that could’ve been a whole lot worse. After missing out on the race last year, Hinchcliffe’s nightmare nearly repeated itself again this year however, he scrapped into the race by qualifying 32nd. From there, he could only go forwards, threading the needle through that wreck and finishing in a very respectable 11th place.

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammate Marcus Ericsson was less fortunate. He had been running as best rookie until he lost control on pit entry on Lap 138, causing a caution and putting himself two laps down. This year was always going to be a learning experience for the ex-F1 driver, and he proved just that.

That rounds out what was an action-packed Indy 500 with more going on than could ever possibly be mentioning all at once! IndyCar are back in action in just a few days for the Duel in Detroit double-header so watch out for that.

Full Race Results:

  1. Simon Pagenaud
  2. Alexander Rossi
  3. Takuma Sato
  4. Josef Newgarden
  5. Will Power
  6. Ed Carpenter
  7. Santino Ferrucci (R)
  8. Ryan Hunter-Reay
  9. Tony Kanaan
  10. Conor Daly
  11. James Hinchcliffe
  12. James Davison
  13. Ed Jones
  14. Spencer Pigot
  15. Matheus Leist
  16. Pippa Mann
  17. Scott Dixon
  18. Helio Castroneves
  19. Sage Karam
  20. JR Hildebrand
  21. Jack Harvey
  22. Oriol Servia
  23. Marcus Ericsson (R)
  24. Jordan King (R)
  25. Charlie Kimball
  26. Marco Andretti

Non-finishers:

  1. Graham Rahal
  2. Felix Rosenqvist (R)
  3. Zach Veach
  4. Sebastien Bourdais
  5. Kyle Kaiser (R)
  6. Ben Hanley (R)
  7. Colton Herta (R)

Championship Top 5:

  1. Simon Pagenaud
  2. Josef Newgarden
  3. Alexander Rossi
  4. Takuma Sato
  5. Scott Dixon

Featured Image Credit: Chris Owens/IndyCar