Hondas outnumbered Chevrolets in the Firestone fast six four to two, but Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden with the clock having run out, beat Takuma Sato’s time by one tenth of a second to take his 16th IndyCar Series career pole and earn back to back poles at Belle Isle Park in Detroit with a lap time of 1.15.2153.
Speaking to NBC’s Marty Snider, Newgarden said: “I was about hitting the wall every lap, or every corner I should say. That was a good pole.”
Newgarden was the sole Penske driver to make the Firestone fast six and becomes the seventh different pole winner in seven races so far in this year’s championship. Newgarden said the bigger challenge for them is to convert the pole into a win on Sunday, something they have yet to do at Belle Isle although he did win the first of two 2019 races after starting second.
The fast six was all about the smaller teams as all four of the Daly Coyne Racing and Meyer Shank Racing cars made the fast six. Rookie David Malukas continued his strong performance for Dale Coyne Racing from practice to top the opening session of qualifying in group two and topped the charts again halfway through the fast 12 session with a time that put in him in the fast six for the very first time.
In the fast six, Malukas on a flying lap lost the back end in turn five and had to back out but still set a fast lap later to qualify sixth being only three tenth off fifth place Pato O’Ward. Speaking to NBC, Malukas said: “What an amazing car.”
His Dale Coyne Racing teammate Takuma Sato qualified second after an impressive run when he went to the top with a 1.15.3 with just over a minute to go in the fast six before Newgarden went faster in the final moments.
The two Meyer Shank racing cars will make up the second row with Simon Pagenaud qualifying third and Hélio Castroneves qualifying fourth.
Round one of qualifying did not go so well for Newgarden’s teammate Will Power who missed out on the fast 12 by three tenths, qualifying 16th . On one of his flying laps, he was unintentionally disrupted by the wake of Álex Palou’s car. Palou also failed to make it out of the opening session, only qualifying 18th. Power, known as the pole master, said to NBC he has still yet to figure out a way to get it done in qualifying at Belle Isle but is optimistic about his chances of getting to the front in the race once again like last year.
The disappointment continues for McLaren SP’s Felix Rosenqvist at Belle Isle as he blocked Jimmie Johnson coming out of the pits when Johnson was on a flying lap and was consequently penalized by being parked and had his time disallowed. He will now start 26th.
The fast 12 saw drivers experimenting between the primary and alternate tires as rubber was getting laid down fast and with grip lasting only for three laps on the alternate red tyres, it was uncertain which tyre compound was better to qualify with. Pagenaud topped the chart midway through the session on the primary black tyre with a 1.15.4 before Newgarden went second on sticker reds, only one tenth of Pagenaud’s time.
Qualifying had been going well for Andretti Autosport with three of their four cars making the fast 12, with Devlin DeFrancesco just missing out, but things suddenly went downhill for them. With less than five minutes to go, Alexander Rossi, who topped second practice, was 12th in the session while Colton Herta was seventh.
The bottom six including Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Marcus Ericsson and Scott Dixon were all on faster flying laps than the leaders as the track became increasingly rubbered in but then Romain Grosjean slapped the wall coming out of turn 12, and broke a toe link that caused his car to veer to the right before violently spinning around into the concrete wall in the final turn bringing out the red flag and ending the session, and consequently stopping his Andretti teammates from being able to progress into the fast six. A frustrated Grosjean said afterwards: “We sucked.”
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)
This Sunday the IndyCar Series will compete in what many say is the biggest race on the planet, the Indianapolis 500. Thirty-three drivers are set to go racing over 240mph around the 2.5 mile oval to try to be a winner of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
With just nine degrees of banking in each corner and insane speeds, the track demands great respect from the drivers. One small off-line mistake or one move too late could see a driver’s race over in a flash.
The 106th running of the event will see the 2008 Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon lead the field to green after producing the fastest pole speed in Indy 500 history with a four-lap average of 234.046mph. He is accompanied by Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Álex Palou and Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay on the front row, who collectively make it the fastest qualified front row in Indy 500 history.
The drivers will race around the oval for 200 laps, being 500 miles in length, with a minimum of five pit stops. The weather forecast for the Indy 500 is for it to be sunny with a high of 84 degrees Fahrenheit making it a slick racetrack, and with light to moderate winds, making it no easy challenge for the drivers to overcome.
The green flag for the 106th running of the Indy 500 will be at 12:45pm ET. The full race day schedule is as follows.
10:30am ET – Cars to the grid
11:47am ET – Driver introductions
12:18pm ET – Indy 500 pre-race ceremonies
12:29pm ET – “Drivers to your cars”
12:38pm ET – Command to Start Engines
12:45pm ET – The 106th running of the Indianapolis 500
Hélio Castroneves, who is starting from 27th, will be the first driver in the history of the race to be going for a fifth Indy 500 win to be the winningest Indy 500 driver in history after winning the 2021 Indy 500.
There are seven Indy 500 rookies in the field including Chip Ganassi Racing’s Jimmie Johnson and Andretti Autosport’s Romain Grosjean. Both drivers have been impressive throughout the Month of May and made last Sunday’s fast 12 qualifying session. Grosjean will start 9th and Johnson will start 12th.
Carb Day on Friday was the final practice session for the Indy 500 and just like qualifying, the Chip Ganassi Racing squad were at the top of the charts with 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan with the fastest time, followed by Marcus Ericsson in second and Scott Dixon in fourth. Dale Coyne Racing’s with RWR’s Takuma Sato, the two-time Indy 500 winner, went third fastest.
Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta has had to go to a backup car after crashing in turn one and getting airborne and landing upside down before making secondary contact with the turn two wall in the session. The driver has been cleared to race and will start 25th.
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)
This week, the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series championship gets underway in St. Petersburg, Florida. The 2022 roster of drivers includes no less than six rookies, and 20 veteran full-time drivers in total, making it the largest full-time field of competitors in IndyCar for a decade.
IndyCar never fails to disappoint, with a diverse array of tracks from across the United States and drivers from all over the world, to a traditional points based system where all positions count, oh and not to mention it has one of the most welcoming fanbases you’ll find in motorsports; there’s every reason to watch IndyCar this season whether you’re a veteran or rookie yourself. Let’s get you up to speed with what’s new for IndyCar in 2022.