This weekend sees the NTT IndyCar Series tackle the twisty and bumpy streets of Belle Isle Park island in Detroit for what will be the 30th and final running of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix on the island.
The raceway at Belle Isle Park is a 14-turn temporary street course and is 2.35 miles in length. The IndyCar drivers will race for 70 laps around Belle Isle Park in Sunday’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix (164.5 miles).
Belle Isle is the seventh round of the season with five different race winners in the first six rounds of this year’s championship. Just one week after the Indy 500, race winner Marcus Ericsson comes into the weekend as the points leader.
Belle Isle Park is the perfect way for the Chip Ganassi Racing driver to maintain momentum as Ericsson earned his first IndyCar career win at Belle Isle Park in 2021 in the first of two races.
Fellow Swede Felix Rosenqvist had a scary crash in last year’s race one at Belle Isle when his throttle stuck heading into turn six, accelerating him hard into the tyre wall. He was hospitalized overnight.
Team Penske’s Will Power had led the most laps of the race but while in the lead, he was not able to get his car refired on pit road after the end of a red flag period late on in the race.
Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward, last weekend’s Indy 500 runner up, won the second Belle Isle race in 2021. A.J. Foyt Enterprises’s rookie Kyle Kirkwood won both of last year’s Indy Lights races at Belle Isle with Andretti Autosport.
Santino Ferrucci, after having a strong Indy 500 run and finishing 10th, stands in for Callum Ilott this weekend at Juncos Hollinger Racing, as Ilott was injured in a crash in last weekend’s Indy 500 when he hit the turn two wall.
Rookie Tatiana Calderón returns in her road course and street course only race schedule with A.J. Foyt Enterprises after not partaking in the Indy 500. Calderón’s teammate Dalton Kellett has received a six-position starting grid penalty for Sunday’s race after an unapproved engine change before the start of last weekend’s Indy 500.
Active race winners include three-time winners Hélio Castroneves, who last won in the second race in 2014, and Scott Dixon who last won in the second race in 2019. Castroneves is also the active driver with the most poles with three, with the last coming for the first of two 2014 races.
The weekend comes as Alexander Rossi announced earlier this week that he will join Arrow McLaren SP in 2023 as Kyle Kirkwood returns to Andretti Autosport next season but now at the top level of IndyCar racing.
The NTT IndyCar Series will have a single 45 minute practice session on Friday at 3:30pm ET before an early second 45 practice session on Saturday starting at 8:30am ET. The three round knockout qualifying session returns on Saturday starting at 12:35pm ET.
Sunday will see the 30 minute warm up session starting at 10:15am ET. The green flag for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear flies at 3:45pm ET.
You can watch any of the sessions through your TV network provider or through IndyCar’s own free streaming service IndyCar Live for sessions that are not provided by your TV network. (https://www.indycar.com/ways-to-watch/stream)
Featured Image: Pato O’Ward leading the 2021 Detroit Grand Prix Race 1 (Photo by Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media)
Marcus Ericsson won this Sunday’s Indy 500, capping off Ganassi’s dominant display throughout the Month of May. Ericsson held off Pato O’Ward in a two-lap shootout to win his first Indy 500 and Chip Ganassi’s first Indy 500 win in 10 years on Sunday. He had a three second lead over O’Ward with less than 10 laps to go but Ericsson’s teammate Jimmie Johnson crashed in turn two with six laps to go, bringing out the caution before IndyCar red flagged the race.
In the two-lap shootout that followed, Ericsson snaked around the track before O’Ward dived to the outside of him in turn one on the final lap but was unable to make the pass as Ericsson powered on before the race ended under caution came as Sage Karam crashed as Ericsson entered turn three, securing Ericsson the win.
In victory lane Ericsson said: “I knew the Huski Chocolate car was fast enough, but it was still hard. I had to do everything there at the end to keep him behind. I can’t believe it. I’m so happy.”
Polesitter and Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon had controlled much of the race leading for 95 laps, and seemed set to challenge for his second Indy 500 win at the end but a speeding penalty on his final pit stop devastatingly cost him the chance. Dixon said: “It’s heartbreaking to be honest.”
After leading 95 laps on Sunday and becoming the all-time lap leader at the #Indy500, @scottdixon9 was given a pit speed violation.
This was Ericsson’s third IndyCar career win and his first oval win. it moves him from eighth to first in the points standings after the double points that was on offer. It was only the second time in history that a Swedish driver has won the Indy 500, the first being Kenny Brack in 1999.
Ericsson, nicknamed “The Sneaky Swede”, was under the radar for many but during practice, Ericsson’s car looked very strong and was hooked up to the race track. Ericsson said he was very confident with the car he had and believed he could indeed win this year’s Indy 500.
His Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 winner, ran inside the top five in the latter stages of the race and held onto his third place in the two-lap shootout splitting O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist who finished second and fourth in what was a fantastic showing by the Arrow McLaren SP drivers.
The race was tough as it was a hot race track and was windy throughout the race, making it tricky for the drivers. Turn two proved to be hazardous as usual with many cars crashing into the turn two wall after getting loose and spinning out. Three and four-wide action in the midfield on restarts was common but two wide through any turns closer to the front was rare. Out front, it was the likes of Dixon, Álex Palou, Conor Daly, O’Ward and Rosenqvist who were dictating the pace and managing their fuel consumption to set themselves up for the final stint of the race.
On the opening lap Palou took the lead away from Dixon down the back straightaway and the two Chip Ganassi drivers would swap places in the opening 10 laps in an effort to preserve fuel.
Rinus VeeKay, who arguably had one of the strongest cars in the race, was battling back and forth for second in the opening stint and came out right behind Dixon and Palou after the first round of green flag pit stops on lap 33. VeeKay had got by Dixon on lap 35 for second going into turn three but the leading ECR driver’s race would end early when on lap 38 he got loose in turn two and smashed into the wall before coming to a stop in the grass.
On the lap 47 restart as Palou and Dixon led the field back to green, Takuma Sato, Santino Ferrucci, Rosenqvist and Kanaan went four-wide down the front straightaway with Sato going right around the outside to take sixth place. Dixon took the lead again on the following lap.
During the second round of pit stops on lap 69, the yellow flag came out for rookie Callum Ilott spinning out and crashing in turn two as Palou was making his way to the pits and was forced to drive down pit road despite pit road closing before he had reached the commitment line. Two laps later he had to take emergency service due to running out of fuel and would serve a penalty and go to the rear of the field.
Dixon, Daly and O’Ward would lead the field back to green on lap 78 and on lap 81, Daly, the hometown kid, would take the lead away from Dixon for a lap only for Dixon to take it back a lap later. Ericsson by this point had made his way up to fourth after starting the race in fifth.
Romain Grosjean was the next to fall victim to the turn two wall on lap 106, mirroring VeeKay’s race ending crash. Grosjean had been in the top 20 for the first half of the race.
On the restart O’Ward took the lead off Dixon by passing him on the outside into turn one while Ferrucci went boldly two-wide with Dixon all the way through turn one but backed out before turn two. Dixon would quickly take the lead back.
The next pit stop sequence saw O’Ward jump ahead of Dixon for the lead coming out of the pits with just over 50 laps to go with Arrow McLaren SP teammate Rosenqvist, running as high as fourth in the previous stint, now behind Dixon.
On lap 152, Scott McLaughlin brought out the yellow after smacking into the turn three wall before heading uncontrollably across the track into the turn four wall, nearly colliding with Ed Carpenter in the process.
The next 10 laps saw Dixon and O’Ward duel for the lead, swapping positions several times as they tried to control the race before making their final pit stop. Dixon had pitted from the lead on lap 175 but entered the pits hot and locked up his tyres. His speeding penalty took him out of contention for the win and saw Rosenqvist go from third to what would be the lead of the race when the pit cycle was compete, with Ericsson going from fifth to third and O’Ward holding second.
Ericsson soared past O’Ward with 20 laps to go and with 18 to go, there was Swede on Swede action as Ericsson got by Rosenqvist. A lap later, he had already pulled a three second gap as he flew by the lap traffic.
With 11 to go, Johnson made his final pit stop, officially handing over the lead to Ericsson who had a 3.4 second lead now over second place O’Ward but with six to go on fresh tyres, Johnson spun around in turn two and crashed head on into the wall, the last thing the race leader and his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate wanted to see.
IndyCar red flagged the race in the interest of completing the race under racing conditions. Ericsson was not phased by the situation and in the two-lap shootout held the lead despite O’Ward’s best efforts, to win his first Indy 500.
Dixon would make his way through the field after his penalty to finish 21st while Palou would recover further from his earlier pit penalty to finish 9th. Kanaan worked his way up to the top five in the latter stages and finished an impressive third. Johnson while having started 12th, gradually slipped back through the field as the race went on and was towards the back when he crashed out.
Colton Herta had a race he would want to forget, after going to a backup car on Friday after a scary crash in practice where his car got airborne and ended up upside down, the race proved to be a disaster. His car was extremely loose and on lap 54 nearly went into the wall in the short chute in turns three and four. After going a lap down on lap 104 he would shortly have to retire from the race after experiencing a throttle sensor issue.
It would be Alexander Rossi who would lead the Andretti charge finishing fifth after making three-wide moves to come up through the field from 20th.
Hélio Castroneves may have not have won his fifth Indy 500 but he did patiently work his way up through the field with teammate Simon Pagenaud to finish seventh. Juan Pablo Montoya and his Arrow McLaren SP car proved strong in the race and the two-time Indy 500 winner methodically worked his way up from 30th to finish 11th. Prior to McLaughlin’s crash, Ferrucci had aggressively got up to fifth but would have to settle for 10th.
The next race is the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix on June 5th starting at 3pm ET.
Full race results: 1st. Marcus Ericsson, 2nd. Pato O’Ward, 3rd. Tony Kanaan, 4th. Felix Rosenqvist, 5th. Alexander Rossi, 6th. Conor Daly, 7th. Hélio Castroneves, 8th. Simon Pagenaud, 9th. Álex Palou, 10th. Santino Ferrucci, 11th. Juan Pablo Montoya, 12th. JR Hildebrand, 13th. Josef Newgarden, 14th. Graham Rahal, 15th. Will Power, 16th. David Malukas, 17th. Kyle Kirkwood, 18th. Christian Lundgaard, 19th. Ed Carpenter, 20th. Devlin DeFrancesco, 21st. Scott Dixon, 22nd. Marco Andretti, 23rd. Sage Karam, 24th. Jack Harvey, 25th. Takuma Sato, 26th. Stefan Wilson, 27th. Dalton Kellett, 28th. Jimmie Johnson, 29th. Scott McLaughlin, 30th. Colton Herta, 31st. Romain Grosjean, 32nd. Callum Ilott, 33rd. Rinus VeeKay.
Top 10 in points standings: 1st. Marcus Ericsson (226), 2nd. Pato O’Ward (213), 3rd. Álex Palou (212), 4th. Will Power (202), 5th. Josef Newgarden (174), 6th. Scott Dixon (166), 7th. Scott McLaughlin (162), 8th. Simon Pagenaud (157), 9th. Felix Rosenqvist (154), 10th. Colton Herta (142).
Featured Image: Marcus Ericsson (left) and team owner Chip Ganassi celebrate together in victory lane (Photo by Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment)
Rinus VeeKay set the third fastest qualifying run in Indy 500 history with a 233.655mph average in his Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet at the start of the day going fastest, while Takuma Sato, after having his time deleted for track interference with Marco Andretti, saw him whack the turn two wall but stayed in the throttle and went 12th fastest, securing the final spot for Sunday’s fast 12 qualifying session.
While there would be no bump day as part of this year’s Indy 500, due to only having 33 entries for the 106th running of the Indy 500, day one of qualifying set positions 13 to 33 and decided who would make Sunday’s fast 12 and have a chance at making the fast six and the Indy 500 pole. Multiple attempts to qualify were cut short due to storms with drivers Scott McLaughlin and Josef Newgarden taking to lane one in an attempt to make the fast 12 in time but failed to do so.
VeeKay was the second car to go out for his first qualifying run in favourable conditions as the track was cool and the air thin. He set a blistering first lap of his four-lap qualifying run with a 234.7mph average. Talking to NBC, VeeKay said the car was “very comfortable to drive.”
Sato had his first lap deleted that had put him in the fast 12, after failing to stay off the racing line on his cooldown lap as Marco Andretti came round to begin his run. On the second attempt on lap two, the two-time Indy 500 winner banged square on into the turn two wall but kept his foot in the throttle, barely losing any speed going 12th fastest with a 231.708mph average, knocking out rookie David Malukas from the fast 12. Sato said to NBC: “It’s qualifying, you just keep going.”
The Arrow McLaren SP’s of Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist went second and third fastest, after going out first and fourth in the session.
The Chip Ganassi Racing camp showed impressive speed all around with all five cars making the fast 12. Álex Palou went fourth fastest with a 232.774mph average, despite increasing track temperatures. 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan went fifth fastest while four-time Brickyard 400 winner Jimmie Johnson went sixth fastest with a 232.398mph average in his first ever Indy 500 qualifying session, continuing on from his IndyCar oval success at Texas Motor Speedway. Marcus Ericsson with a track temperature of 107 degrees, 21 degrees hotter than VeeKay’s qualifying run, still managed to go eighth fastest while 2021 pole winner Scott Dixon went 10th fastest.
Three-time Indy 500 pole winner Ed Carpenter went seventh fastest despite the hotter track temperature but was forced to lift going into turn three on his final lap as he reached 241mph. Romain Grosjean, after having a difficult would be the surprise lone Andretti Autosport driver to make the fast 12 going ninth fastest in his first ever Indy 500 qualifying run, while 2018 Indy 500 winner Will Power would be the only Team Penske driver to make the fast 12, going 11th fastest after using every inch of the track to do so.
Overall though, it would prove to be not the best of days for Andretti Autosport and Team Penske. Colton Herta’s engine shut off on his first qualifying run, forcing the team to do a lengthy engine change before sending him back out later in the day where he only managed to qualify 25th. Alexander Rossi was not happy with his race car, describing it to NBC as “horrible”, and qualified 20th. Marco Andretti qualified 23rd and rookie Devlin DeFrancesco qualified 24th.
Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin withdrew his 15th qualifying position to take lane one for a second attempt but with less favourable conditions, the gamble did not pay off and instead qualified 26th. Josef Newgarden was lucky to keep his 14th qualifying position after lightning brought out the yellow flag on his second qualifying run after also using lane one, ending the session early. As a result, he was able to retain his position.
Two-time Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya, in contrast to his Arrow McLaren SP teammates, had a rough qualifying session. Montoya’s car failed pre-qualifying inspection and had to forfeit his first qualifying run. When he did attempt to qualify, he was not on pace saying on the radio the car was “horrible” and “hard to drive”, only qualifying 30th.
Four-time Indy 500 winner Hélio Castroneves, after qualifying eighth last year with Meyer Shank Racing before going on to win the Indy 500, could only manage 27th.
Stefan Wilson was unable to get out to qualify due to engine trouble and consequently will start last for next weekend’s Indy 500.
The full qualifying results are as follows.
Drivers to progress to fast 12: 1st Rinus VeeKay, 2nd Pato O’Ward, 3rd Felix Rosenqvist, 4th Álex Palou, 5th Tony Kanaan, 6th Jimmie Johnson, 7th Ed Carpenter, 8th Marcus Ericsson, 9th Romain Grosjean, 10th Scott Dixon, 11th Will Power, 12th Takuma Sato.
13th to 33rd: 13th David Malukas, 14th Josef Newgarden, 15th Santino Ferrucci, 16th Simon Pagenaud, 17th JR Hildebrand, 18th Conor Daly, 19th Callum Ilott, 20th Alexander Rossi, 21st Graham Rahal, 22nd Sage Karam, 23rd Marco Andretti, 24th Devlin DeFrancesco, 25th Colton Herta, 26th Scott McLaughlin, 27th Hélio Castroneves, 28th Kyle Kirkwood, 29th Dalton Kellett, 30th Juan Pablo Montoya, 31st Christian Lundgaard, 32nd Jack Harvey, 33rd Stefan Wilson.
Featured Image: Rinus VeeKay in his ECR Bitcoin Chevrolet (Photo by Chris Jones/IndyCar Media)
Pato O’Ward on his out lap from his final pit stop, lap 62 of 90, sent it down the outside of leader Rinus VeeKay going into the turn four hairpin, who had led the entire race so far, and drove around the outside of him coming out of the hairpin to go on to win the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.
VeeKay had led the first two thirds of the race, with O’Ward following closely behind the entire way and closed up to VeeKay on their final in-lap on lap 61, to bring the gap down to under a second entering the pits. O’Ward had the final say of the weekend, as while VeeKay had took the pole away from O’Ward in qualifying on Saturday, a fast final pit stop allowed O’Ward to close up to VeeKay on track and use push to pass on him going into turn five and get past on the inside. O’Ward would lead the rest of the race.
Álex Palou sneaked into second place via the final pit stop cycle and would hang onto O’Ward for the remainder of the race, only being less than two seconds behind, but would never close up to O’Ward. VeeKay would fall off the leaders pace falling back to 11 seconds but would hold off Will Power to claim the final podium stop.
O’Ward talking in victory lane about his move on Palou said: “I knew if I had the opportunity, it would have been right then and there. Once we did that, it was cruise to Victory Lane.” O’Ward is also trying to negotiate a better contract deal with Arrow McLaren SP. The race victory is sure to help O’Ward in doing so.
Will Power had a remarkable recovery of a race after qualifying 19th to bring the Verizon Chevy home in fourth place. Power had been playing the long game and had taken good care of his tyres, allowing him to methodically work his way through the field. Scott Dixon as expected, quietly worked his from 13th all the way to fifth place by the end of the race.
The race like previous editions, was a battle between the two stop and the three stop strategies. Josef Newgarden, Colton Herta, Romain Grosjean and Marcus Ericsson were the front runners trying to make the three stop strategy work, pitting as early as lap 11 compared to the race leaders on the two stop strategy pitting around lap 30.
The viability of the three stop strategy would end on lap 33 however when Callum Ilott, battling with Helio Castroneves for 13th place, on the outside overshot turn seven and went for a spin, ending up stuck in the gravel trap, bringing out the full course yellow.
The three stoppers were forced to pit under the caution to stay competitive with the two stoppers and would have to come from the back to try to gain as many positions as possible by the end. Herta and Newgarden were the fast chargers for the first few laps until Herta would leave Newgarden behind who was getting stuck in traffic while Herta would work his way inside the top 10. The final pit stop cycle saw Herta find a new gear. While Newgarden stagnated in the midfield in 14th place, Herta made a hard charge all the way up to 7th, often by divebombing down the inside of cars in turn 16.
Being overly ambitious, Herta on lap 74, came from far back and sent it down the inside of McLaughlin in the turn four hairpin only to run out of space due to a turning McLaughlin, and ended up spinning out off McLaughlin’s left rear tyre and went for a full 360 degree spin before getting it going again. Herta would fall back to 10th place as a result.
On lap 40, Helio Castroneves took out Jimmie Johnson in turn nine, after getting way too hot into the sequence of corners and collected and spun out an unsuspecting Johnson. Castroneves was only told to give the place back by race control.
Romain Grosjean would get into a scrap with Graham Rahal in the closing laps. After reporting that Rahal was cutting him off in the turn four and five hairpin, he went down the inside of Rahal again, and side swiped Rahal aggressively twice coming out of turn five while failing to take the position.
Rahal immediately came on the radio and said “This guy is a punk. He hit me on purpose”. On the final lap, Rahal would begin running out of fuel, allowing Grosjean to slip past him for 7th place in turn five after all. Rahal would finish 8th.
The race results see O’Ward move from ninth to fifth in the championship standings while Palou takes over the championship lead from Newgarden who dropped to third in the standings, with his Penske teammate McLaughlin holding down second.
The upcoming races sees the Month of May really get under way for the NTT IndyCar Series with the GMR Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the 14th May and the double-points paying 106th running of the Indianapolis 500 on the 29th May.
Full race results: (1st) Pato O’Ward, (2nd) Álex Palou, (3rd) Rinus VeeKay, (4th) Will Power, (5th) Scott Dixon, (6th) Scott McLaughlin, (7th) Romain Grosjean, (8th) Graham Rahal, (9th) Alexander Rossi, (10th) Colton Herta, (11th) Simon Pagenaud, (12th) Marcus Ericsson, (13th) Takuma Sato, (14th) Josef Newgarden, (15th) Christian Lundgaard, (16th) Felix Rosenqvist, (17th) Devlin DeFrancesco, (18th) Jack Harvey, (19th) Conor Daly, (20th) David Malukas, (21st) Hélio Castroneves, (22nd) Kyle Kirkwood, (23rd) Dalton Kellett, (24th) Jimmie Johnson, (25th) Callum Ilott, (26th) Tatiana Calderón.
Top 10 in points standings: 1st Álex Palou (144), 2nd Scott McLaughlin (141), 3rd Josef Newgarden (135), 4th Will Power (134), 5th Pato O’Ward (114), 6th Scott Dixon (113), 7th Rinus VeeKay (106), 8th Romain Grosjean (101), 9th Marcus Ericsson (84), 10th Graham Rahal (84).
Featured Image: Pato O’Ward celebrating his first Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama win (Photo by Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media)
Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus Veekay followed up topping practice two by bagging his second career pole at Barber Motorsports Park out doing Arrow McLaren SP, Ganassi, Penske and Andretti. VeeKay’s blistering final lap of a 1:06.2507 prevented Pato O’Ward from going back to back for pole position. O’Ward qualified second with a 1:06.4003 but said to NBC that a mistake in one corner cost him pole.
VeeKay speaking to NBC about his feelings towards tomorrow’s race said his “confidence is high”. The last time VeeKay put his ECR Chevrolet on pole, was at the Indianapolis Road Course in 2020, a race track he won at in 2021 after managing to pass Romain Grosjean, scoring his first IndyCar Series win.
Álex Palou and Scott McLaughlin qualified third and fourth respectively, both of whom were consistently the fastest drivers out of their respective team camps heading into qualifying after two practice sessions.
From a smashed up Andretti Honda in practice only three hours before after overcorrecting and colliding with the turn 17 guard rail, Alexander Rossi made the Firestone fast six and qualified an impressive fifth place. Rossi’s car had been pushed hurriedly out of the paddock with him already in the car to even make qualifying. Felix Rosenqvist qualified sixth making McLaren SP the only team to have more than one car in the fast six on a day where Andretti and Ganassi were expected to make up the majority of the field in the session.
What contributed to the shuffling up of drivers who made up the fast 12 and the fast six, was a series of red flags that ended the earlier qualifying sessions with time to spare, cancelling out any hot laps drivers were currently on. In round one, group two rookie David Malukas brought out the red flag with less than a minute to go after getting loose coming over the hill into turn 15 and instead went off the track and collided with the outside guard rail.
Even more unfortunate was when Marcus Ericsson got beached in the turn nine gravel trap at the very end of the fast 12 session, ending many driver’s flying laps. Colton Herta who had been at the top of the board for much of the session until late on, instead had to settle for 10th place after having gone out for his final hot lap later than he expected it. Talking to NBC, Herta said “Ericsson ruined it for us”. Ericsson was 9th before being relegated to 12th in the session for bringing out the red flag.
Newgarden and Grosjean faced the same fate, instead qualifying seventh and eighth. Grosjean was expected to be making a run for pole for tomorrow’s race and had been hitting the top of the board throughout qualifying, while it was anticipated that Newgarden, the three-time Barber winner, would make the top five.
British rookie Callum Ilott and Juncos Hollinger Racing would have a breakout day qualifying 11th. Ilott had also been on a quicker lap when the red flag came out but said to NBC that he was very happy to have qualified as well as they had.
A major upset in round one, group one saw Scott Dixon only manage seventh in the session and Will Power, the four-time Barber pole sitter who was fighting understeer in the car, only manage an 11th place. Dixon and Power will start 13th and 19th for tomorrow’s race.
Meyer Shank Racing had a challenging qualifying session. Hélio Castroneves while not making it out of round one, group two, finishing in eighth place, would also go for a spin coming out of turn nine after lighting up the rears on a flying lap at the end of the session, and ended up facing backwards on the inside grass patch. Teammate Simon Pagenaud only managed 12th in the session. Castroneves and Pagenaud will start 16th and 24th respectively.
The full qualifying order: Rinus VeeKay (1st), Pato O’Ward (2nd), Álex Palou (3rd), Scott McLaughlin (4th), Alexander Rossi (5th), Felix Rosenqvist (6th), Josef Newgarden (7th), Romain Grosjean (8th), Graham Rahal (9th), Colton Herta (10th), Callum Ilott (11th), Marcus Ericsson (12th), Scott Dixon (13th), Christian Lundgaard (14th), Jack Harvey (15th), Hélio Castroneves (16th), Takuma Sato (17th), David Malukas (18th), Will Power (19th), Devlin DeFrancesco (20th), Kyle Kirkwood (21st), Conor Daly (22nd), Dalton Kellett (23rd), Simon Pagenaud (24th), Tatiana Calderón (25th), and Jimmie Johnson (26th).
ECR’s Rinus Veekay and McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward will lead the field to green at 12:15 Central Time tomorrow for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.
Featured Image: Rinus VeeKay celebrating with the NTT P1 Award (Photo by Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media)
Josef Newgarden beat teammate Scott McLaughlin to the line in a drag race at Texas Motor Speedway to get Team Penske’s 600th win for The Captain in the XPEL 375. Scott McLaughlin was stuck behind lap traffic on the final lap allowing Newgarden to set up a run to the line coming off turn four. McLaughlin led over 170 laps of the race, Newgarden led just three but beat McLaughlin by 0.67 of a second. Talking to NBC post-race, Newgarden said he had been “sliding off turn three and four every lap.”
Jimmie Johnson charged through the field like Superman coming from 18th to finish sixth. On lap 185 he got ahead of five-time Texas winner Scott Dixon before dueling with Indy 500 champion Simon Pagenaud with ten to go to take fifth place. Talking to NBC post-race, Johnson said “What a special day, this was a lot of fun.”
From the start McLaughlin was fast, taking the lead away from Felix Rosenqvist going into turn one on lap two. By lap 75, McLaughlin had built up a 12 second lead over now second place Newgarden but the gap was halved due to lap traffic.
A big crash on lap 131 brought out the caution after rookie Devlin DeFrancesco tried to make it three wide going into turn three after getting a run on Graham Rahal and Hélio Castroneves, and had dipped his left side wheels onto the apron before losing grip and washing up into Rahal sending him flying into Castroneves. All three were wrecked. Rahal had started dead last but had worked his way up to 11th before the incident.
On the restart it was a Penske one, two, three, in McLaughlin, Newgarden, and Will Power, followed by Chip Ganassi’s Dixon and Marcus Ericsson. With 100 laps to go, thing began to get wild. On a restart on lap 151, Newgarden took the lead away from McLaughlin before taking it back two laps later. Rinus VeeKay sent his Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet around the outside of everyone going from sixth to the lead by lap 159.
With one scheduled pit stop left to go it became a 220mph chess match with some drivers racing to the front before slowing the pace down while others backed off to make sure they hit their fuel number. On lap 161, Power did a power move by getting two for one in turn one to take the lead, only to have it taken off him by Ericsson a few laps later.
The final 40 laps saw McLaughlin leading with Newgarden following closely in his tracks, with both pulling a tiny gap to Ericsson, VeeKay and Power. With 19 laps to go, McLaughlin was let loose but could not create a large gap to Newgarden. With two laps to go, lap traffic was waiting ahead for McLaughlin, and a Newgarden storm was coming. Newgarden closed the gap. On the final lap going into turn three, McLaughlin was stuck behind lap traffic and chose not to send it but Newgarden in cleaner air got a huge run and sent it round the outside of McLaughlin in turns three and four and out dragged him to the line.
Newgarden was presented with six 100 dollar bills by Roger Penske in victory lane as a reward for earning him his 600th win. Ericsson would finish third, with Power, Dixon, and Johnson making up fourth, fifth and sixth.
While it was a stellar day for Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing overall, it was a disaster of a day for Andretti Autosport and Arrow McLaren SP. Alexander Rossi brought out the first caution of the day on lap 12 for being slow on the apron and had to retire the car due to a technical issue. Just over a 100 laps into the race, Romain Grosjean would retire after his engine began puffing smoke. DeFrancesco before crashing out of the race, had also pushed up into Takuma Sato in turns one and two, with Sato making contact with the outside wall. Colton Herta had been running in the top half of the field but had a slow final pit stop after the team had issues with the front left tyre. Herta would fight on and earn a 12th place finish.
For McLaren SP’s Rosenqvist, after losing the lead, he fell back to fourth before falling further down the field in the first half of the race after overshooting his pit box on a stop. On lap 140, Rosenqvist came down pit road after experiencing mechanical issues with the car and had to retire. On the same pit stop where Rosenqvist overshot his pit box, Pato O’Ward hit one of his crew members as he pulled into his pit box and did some front wing damage as a result. O’Ward had been running as high as third but would come home 15th.
It was a tough day day for the rookies in the race. Just past the 110 lap mark, Kyle Kirkwood lost grip coming out of turn four racing on the outside of fellow rookie DeFrancesco and went backwards into the outside wall. Earlier in the race, Kirkwood had gone from 23rd to 9th on a fresh set of Firestone tyres. With 17 to go, Christian Lundgaard, with leader McLaughlin close behind, pushed up into the outside wall coming off turn four and damaged his front wing. Callum Ilott was at the end of the lap traffic on the final lap. David Malukas was the highest finishing rookie in 11th place.
Full finishing order: Josef Newgarden (1st), Scott McLaughlin (2nd), Marcus Ericsson (3rd), Will Power (4th), Scott Dixon (5th), Jimmie Johnson (6th), Álex Palou (7th), Simon Pagenaud (8th), Santino Ferrucci (9th), Rinus VeeKay (10th), David Malukas (11th), Colton Herta (12th), Ed Carpenter (13th), JR Hildebrand (14th), Pato O’Ward (15th), Callum Ilott (16th), Dalton Kellett (17th), Conor Daly (18th), Christian Lundgaard (19th), Takuma Sato (20th), Felix Rosenqvist (21st), Graham Rahal (22nd), Hélio Castroneves (23rd), Devlin DeFrancesco (24th), Kyle Kirkwood (25th), Romain Grosjean (26th), Alexander Rossi (27th).
Top 10 in points standings: 1st Scott McLaughlin (97), 2nd Will Power (69), 3rd Álex Palou (67), 4th Josef Newgarden (65), 5th Marcus Ericsson (58), 6th Scott Dixon (55), 7th Rinus VeeKay (50), 8th Colton Herta (50), 9th Simon Pagenaud (39), 10th Romain Grosjean (35).
Featured Image: Josef Newgarden celebrating in victory lane with six-shooters (Photo by Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment)
Arrow McLaren SP’s Felix Rosenqvist took his second IndyCar career pole and first oval pole at Texas Motor Speedway for tomorrow’s XPEL 375 below a hot midday sun. The fight for pole proved to be incredibly tight as the top five were separated by less than one tenth of a second. Rosenqvist managed a two-lap average of 221.110 mph and was one of the first drivers to take to the track in what was single car qualifying. The debate was whether the increasing temperatures would offset the building rubber on the race track as the session went on.
Points leader Scott McLaughlin nearly stole the pole away from Rosenqvist as the final car after his first lap was in range but fell just short with a 221.096mph two-lap average placing him second. Halfway through the session, Dale Coyne Racing’s Takuma Sato had a very impressive run with a 221.094mph run, claiming third. Pole master Will Power earned a fourth place with five-time Texas winner Scott Dixon claiming fifth.
Last year’s winner and Arrow McLaren teammate Pato O’Ward managed a solid 10th place with a run of 220.579mph while reigning IndyCar champion Alex Palou came just behind him with a run of 220.571mph. Oval newcomer Romain Grosjean managed a very respectable 13th with a run of 220.412mph, with it only being his second IndyCar oval race weekend and his first with Andretti Autosport. Simon Pagenaud, who had been fastest in practice one, was only 15th fastest with a run of 220.768mph while teammate Hélio Castroneves qualified sixth a two-lap average of 220.768mph.
Seventeenth place was the first of the rookies, Devlin DeFrancesco, with a run of 219.888mph. Close behind was IndyCar oval rookie Jimmie Johnson, managing a highly impressive 18th place with a two-lap average of 219.866mph. While he is a seven-time Texas Motor Speedway winner in the NASCAR Cup Series, this is his very first oval IndyCar race weekend. Johnson has continued to make progress after being 22nd in practice one. RLL did not have a good day, with 2016 Texas winner Graham Rahal having downforce issues, coming in last with a run of 218.410mph with teammates Jack Harvey and Christian Lundgaard qualifying 24th and 25th.
Full qualifying order: Felix Rosenqvist (1st), Scott McLaughlin (2nd), Takuma Sato (3rd), Will Power (4th), Scott Dixon (5th), Hélio Castroneves (6th), Josef Newgarden (7th), Rinus Veekay (8th), Colton Herta (9th), Pato O’Ward (10th), Álex Palou (11th), Alexander Rossi (12th), Romain Grosjean (13th), Marcus Ericsson (14th), Simon Pagenaud (15th), Conor Daly (16th), Devlin DeFrancesco (17th), Jimmie Johnson (18th), David Malukas (19th), Callum Ilott (20th), Ed Carpenter (21st), Dalton Kellett (22nd), Kyle Kirkwood (23rd), Jack Harvey (24th), Christian Lundgaard (25th), JR Hildebrand (26th), and Graham Rahal (27th).
The green flag for the XPEL 375 at Texas Motor Speedway flies at 11:45am CT (16:45pm GMT) today.
Featured Image: Felix Rosenqvist (Photo by Chris Jones/IndyCar Media)
It’s here. The ‘Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ is just around the corner as the eyes of the world descend on Indianapolis. A race that is etched into motorsport folklore with unbridled, full-throttle, commitment, and speed. We are, of course, talking about the Indy 500!
May is an incredible month of racing with the Monaco GP on May 23 before Indy 500 on May 30, although the latter is more like a two-week event as practice and qualifying start the week before the intense 500-mile, 200-lap race.
In fact, qualifying is set to take place across both Saturday and Sunday, beginning with the general shootout with the ‘Fast Six’ on the final day.
We also return to some form of normality, with the Indy 500 returning to its rightful place at the end of May – following last year’s postponed event that took place in the middle of August. Unlike last year, we will also have spectators with 135,000 in attendance, a whopping 40% capacity!
DRIVERS! DRIVERS EVERYWHERE!
This season truly has been one to remember. The 2021 campaign has had five race winners in five races with three of those being first-time winners in Alex Palou, Patricio O’Ward, and Rinus VeeKay.
Current championship leader Scott Dixon and Colton Herta won the other two races and the six-time champion will indeed be pushing for his second Indy 500 win having last achieved it in 2008.
The last seven winners are all present this year including Tony Kanaan, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi, Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, Juan Pablo Montoya, and defending 500′ winner Takuma Sato. Both Sato and Montoya head into this race seeking an incredible third win which would put them tied fourth on the all-time winners list alongside the likes of Bobby Unser and Dario Franchetti.
Three-time winner Helio Castroneves also returns to the Brickyard. A win would put him tied first on the all-time list alongside A.J.Foyt, Al Unser Jr, and Rick Mears.
While the veterans of the sport all bring swathes of experience to the event, it’s the younger drivers who will certainly share the spotlight.
Rinus VeeKay won last time out at the IMS in a spectacular display of racecraft, cutting his way through the field to beat pole-sitter, Romain Grosjean, to the chequered flag. Last year, the Dutchman qualified inside the ‘Fast Six’ on his first attempt at the Brickyard, setting one of the fastest speeds ever seen at the 500′ in the process.
Alongside him in last year’s Fast Six’ was Alex Palou, who likely caught the attention of his current outfit Chip Ganassi with his performance that weekend. Heading into this weekend second in the championship, Palou has an incredible opportunity to capitalise on the double points on offer.
Graham Rahal was one of the fastest in the pre-season test at the Brickyard and showed a similar pace in this week’s practice. The American driver has shown some incredible pace this year putting in two top-five finishes at the double-header in Texas.
There really are contenders everywhere you look. With Patricio O’Ward. Colton Herta, Alexander Rossi, Josef Newgarden, Jack Harvey, Conor Daly, and Scott McLaughlin also looking incredibly sharp coming into qualifying.
As ever, we welcome a host of fresh faces to the 500′. Among these are rookies Pietro Fittipaldi and RC Enerson and veterans Pablo Montoya, Tony Kanaan, Santino Ferucci, Stefan Wilson, Ed Carpenter, and JR Hildebrand.
Marco Andretti returns with Andretti. He was last year’s pole-sitter and will be looking to repeat that feat this weekend.
Simona De Silvestro also makes her Indy 500 comeback with the all-female Paretta Autosport outfit. This marks De Silvestro’s first run since the 2015 edition of the race. The Swiss driver has made hints that she could make further IndyCar outings with Paretta in the future.
Both Romain Grosjean and Jimmie Johnson will not be taking part this weekend with both set to return at the Detriot GP.
HONDA VS CHEVY?
So far in practice, there doesn’t seem to be an overall advantage in what is set to be an incredibly competitive battle. Will Power with Penske Chevrolet topped Tuesday practice while Scott Dixon’s Chip Ganassi Honda topped Wednesday.
Honda, and Chevy have three wins apiece in six attempts. While the only oval comparison we can make this year at Texas was slightly skewed due to qualifying being canceled with the championship standings used to set the grid for the race. Both races were one by an Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet and Chip Ganassi Honda.
This race truly could be anyones for the taking.
YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS THIS.
Thursday, May 20
5-11pm (BST): Indy 500 Practice
Friday, May 21
5-11:00pm (BST): Indy 500 Practice
Saturday, May 22
6-7:00pm (BST): Indy 500 Qualifying
Sunday, May 23
6-7.30pm (BST): Last Chance Qualifying
7.30-9.30pm (BST): Fast Nine Qualifying
Friday, May 28 3-5:00pm (BST): Final indy 500 Practice
Sunday, May 30 4:30/4:45 (BST): Indy 500 Race Start
Sunday saw Arrow McLaren SP’s Patricio O’Ward clinch victory at the Texas Motor Speedway, his first IndyCar win – and with it, a chance to drive at the F1 Young Drivers Test in Abu Dhabi.
O’Ward had been in incredible form all weekend, coming off the back of a podium at the Genesys300. With 50 laps to go, O’Ward looked set to take the lead of the race when teammate Felix Rosenqvist brought out the final caution following a pitstop in which his right rear tyre failed to attach.
However, Josef Newgarden could not have timed the undercut better. He was in pit-road as the caution was brought out and emerged ahead of Scott Dixon, Graham Rahal, and O’Ward who had been battling all evening.
On the restart, Newgarden made it past Takuma Sato who was still yet to pit, however so too did his nearest rivals. Behind them, O’Ward made quick work of Graham Rahal to move up to second.
Newgarden failed to pull away from the attacking group and came under relentless pressure but it was with 20 Laps to go where the race was won. O’Ward, with steely determination, kept the accelerator planted into Turn 3 and seized the lead of the race.
O’Ward, who prior to this had come second on three occasions, finally broke the duck as he charged on to take the chequered flag, 1.5s ahead of Josef Newgarden.
Pato becomes the first Mexican to win in the American series since Adrian Fernandez at the Auto Club Speedway, 2004. Additionally, this marks McLaren’s first win since their return to IndyCar and the first since Johnny Rutherford at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, 1979.
As an extra reward, McLaren CEO Zak Brown will give O’Ward an opportunity to drive for the McLaren F1 Team at the post-season, Abu Dhabi Young Drivers Test.
Graham Rahal had been in the mix all race pulling off some audacious moves and benefitting massively during the earlier caution brought on by Meyer Shank driver Jack Harvey. Havey had been running in the top five, even overtaking IndyCar champion Will Power in the process until a wheel-bearing failure forced the car into the pits – leaving oil all over the road.
Rahal and Power, who had pitted earlier were able to jump a number of cars – including Newgarden – as the field collectively pitted under yellow. The Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver found himself in fifth. Despite both drivers being taken by O’Ward on the restart, Rahal fought bravely against Scott Dixon who had led from pole.
During the final pit stop and caution which was brought out by Felix Rosenqvist, Dixon held on to his advantage over Rahal. But back on track Rahal eventually cleared the Genesys300 winner to take his first podium of the season.
Colton Herta had a brilliant race – starting way down the field after an unfortunate brake issue forced him to retire from the Genesys300. Herta made great use of the undercut pulling off a great move on Simon Pagenaud to take fifth.
Alex Palou, who had started on the front row lost a lot of position after Jack Harvey’s caution. Like yesterday, the Spaniard never looked like he was going to trouble his six-time champion teammate. Despite finishing in seventh, it rounds off a decent weekend for the Barber Motorsport Park winner who finished inside the top ten in both races.
Scott McLaughlin followed up his maiden podium with an eighth-place, well ahead of Rinus VeeKay and Ryan Hunter-Reay, who rounded out the top-10.
Power had been in the battle at the front, but having dropped back slightly by the time of the final restart, but came off worst in the three-wide battle as Herta passed Pagenaud.
The Australian was pushed wide onto the high side and crucially – into the slippery ‘PJ1’ section. The Penske driver veered uncontrollably wide, hitting the barrier and finished down in 13th behind Ed Carpenter and Marcus Ericsson.
Takuma Sato, who decided to try the overcut came up short. After briefly leading after the final pit stops he eventually would eventually fall down to 14th
However, the most dramatic moment of the race came during Lap 1 in the form of a horrendous seven-car pile-up. As the field concertinaed, Pietro Fittipaldi was caught out by the late braking of AJ Foyt’s Sebastien Bourdais. His Dayle Coyne entry sent both drivers into a spin collecting: Ed Jones, Alexander Rossi, Dalton Kellett, Tony Kanaan, and Conor Daly in the process. Daly found himself upside down in a scary moment for the Carlin driver but was left relatively unscathed.
Scott Dixon leaves Texas with the lead of the championship while Patricio O’Ward sits 22 points behind. Alex Palou has slipped to third while Newgarden continues his relentless charge up to fourth.
IndyCar gets back underway at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the 15th May for the GMR Grand Prix.
To some, the incredible form of Scott Dixon is nothing of a surprise. After winning at Texas, Indianapolis, and Road America he sealed his 49th career win, three behind IndyCar and Formula 1 legend Mario Andretti who stands at second on the all-time list. This will be his 18th consecutive season in American open-wheel racing with a win on his quest to achieve his sixth championship title.
Dixon proved his class on the restart of the season, finishing 4.411 seconds clear of rival Simon Pagenaud at Texas Motor Speedway where he led 157 of the 200 laps. What immediately followed was another dominant win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, winning by over 20 seconds over Graham Rahal. Finally, a win at Road America gave him his third consecutive win, with seemingly no let-up in sight.
Since then, we have had three more races: one other at Road America, and two at Iowa Speedway. Despite starting 17th in both races, Dixon rose to an incredible second and fifth place to solidify his lead at the top of the standings
How has Dixon done this? A mixture of raw pace, consistency, experience, and well-executed strategy calls. Interestingly, despite not starting anywhere higher than the third row of the grid five of the last six races he has finished on the podium four times, a testament to how good his race strategy and decision-making skills are.
However, all three Penske drivers are firmly in the hunt. Simon Pagenaud, Will Power and Josef Newgarden will be looking to stop Scott Dixon’s momentum heading into the second half of the season.
Dixon says that he is in impeccable form, in an interview he states:
“For me right now, I’m physically stronger,” he said. “Mentally, I’m in a better place than ever.”
Bad news for his competitors, but great news for race fans.
Safety is Key
A significant moment in IndyCar history was the implementation of the Aeroscreen, designed by RedBull Advanced Technologies. The engineering consultancy of the championship-winning Formula 1 team proposed the concept in 2016 only to be rejected for the Halo device.
The device improves the design of the Halo in a significant way. The polycarbonate ballistic windscreen protects the driver from any debris that would otherwise bypass the titanium frame. Additionally, the windscreen can withstand a hit from a 2lb (0.9kg) object at a speed of 220 mph (354kmh). Thus, pieces of a car, that for any reason, rise to meet the cockpit of a competitor are very unlikely to reach the driver inside, and we now have evidence to back this up.
During lap 144 at the Iowa Speedway, a botched pitstop left Will Power’s car with a loose left front wheel. Subsequently on lap 157 Power understeered into the wall, breaking the front suspension, and sending one of his tyres over the car itself. Luckily, the tyre deflected off the windscreen and away from the driver. Power heaped praise on the effectiveness of the Aeroscreen following the race:
“Man, I can’t thank IndyCar enough for everything they’ve done safety-wise with the Aeroscreen and halo inside the Aeroscreen,” he said. “You just saw Colton Herta go over the top of someone, and they’ve just done a tremendous job. It’s better than any other series that have invented something like it. Just a very good job,”
The crash he was referring to involved Colton Herta on lap 157. Due to a confusion during an aborted restart he accelerated into the back of Rinus Veekay. Horrifically, Herta can be seen being thrown into the air above Veekay. Luckily, the Aeroscreen kept the Dutchman safe as Herta’s car lands on top of him.
Without the Aeroscreen it is highly likely that both these incidents could have resulted in serious injuries for all the drivers involved.
The Aeroscreen, while still criticised for things such as overheating the drivers in the cockpits, is a positive contribution to safety in motorsport and certainly here to stay.
McLaren’s Rise to Prominence
Two years ago, McLaren were struggling in Formula One with a series of reliability issues with their Honda powertrain and a car that did not meet the team’s expectations. A disastrous campaign resulted in them losing two-time champion Fernando Alonso. However, it forced them to embark on a fundamental restructuring process that would lead them back to the front of motorsport.
Since then, it has been a remarkable turnaround for the team, with two podiums and two fastest laps to its name in Formula One this year. McLaren also have been racing in IndyCar alongside Schmidt Arrow Peterson, rebranded as Arrow McLaren SP. This seems to have been a partnership made in heaven with a serious of impressive drives from both Patricio O’Ward and Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew.
An impressive race at Road America saw Patricio O’Ward score his first pole position, but unfortunately lose the win to Chip Ganassi star Felix Rosenqvist on the final lap of the race. Not too long after at Iowa Speedway both Arrow McLaren Chevrolets were among the fastest cars in the field even if the results for both cars did not reflect their outright pace.
Rookie Oliver Askew impressed with his first podium in Race 1 and an impressive sixth after a late stint on fresher tyres. Meanwhile, it was a case of what might have been for O’Ward.
After making some impressive overtakes using the high line he gained five positions, eventually hunting down race leader Josef Newgarden for the win. Unfortunately, a slow pitstop cost O’Ward the lead lap and ultimately the race win. He finished in 12th, arguably an undeserved result for such an impressive drive.
Oliver Askew now sits at the top of the Rookie of the Year standings (115 points) while his teammate is firmly in the championship hunt, sitting in fourth (162 points). Though, after narrowly losing two race wins, O’Ward may feel that he should be sitting in second place only below Scott Dixon in the standings had results gone his way. Pato remains cautiously optimistic about the team’s chances this year:
“We want to win races, be a contender in the championship,” he says. “Everyone is pushing the same way as I am, with the same amount of energy and motivation. We have a great group of engineers and the car has felt good everywhere we’ve been.