IndyCar Indy GP Report: Pagenaud masters the rain in hectic race

Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud has ended his winless streak in the most exciting fashion possible, passing defending champion Scott Dixon on the penultimate lap to take his first win since 2017’s season finale at Sonoma. The Frenchman was certainly an unexpected winner, but Jack Harvey’s third was equally as remarkable.

Pagenaud started the race in eighth and was only making very steady progress until the rain started falling, and from there on in he excelled. With seventeen laps to go Pagenaud embarked on his charge, first passing the duelling Spencer Pigot and Ed Jones before moving onto the then third-placed Matheus Leist. The Brazilian was unable to fend off Pagenaud who then set his sights on Harvey in second, and race leader Dixon.

He dispensed with Harvey with relative ease, however in doing so he used up the last of his Push to Pass. It didn’t take long for the #22 to catch Dixon but, with no P2P, getting through on the #9 was always going to be tough. It didn’t look like he was going to be able to do it but, on the penultimate lap, Dixon made an uncharacteristic mistake, running wide and giving Pagenaud all the opportunity he needed to take the lead and with it his ‘sweetest win ever’, one which catapults him into fourth in the championship.

Dixon was the more consistent of the two over the race, leading the most laps of anyone at 39. The #9 took the lead from teammate Felix Rosenqvist after the first restart, passing both Harvey and Rosenqvist in one corner and forming a comfortable lead for there. Rosenqvist had no such luck and was unable to convert his first pole into anything meaningful.

Josef Newgarden, James Hinchcliffe and Patricio O’Ward all looked to be minorly threatening mid-race but their hopes on the alternate strategy were dashed by the increasing rain, causing the strategies to merge as they all pitted for rain tyres. Once the rain had set in, Dixon held firm in the lead, though was unable to match Pagenaud’s blistering pace, conceding the race lead but moving to within six points of Newgarden’s championship lead.

Credit: Doug Mathews/IndyCar

Newgarden himself had a troublesome race with any hopes of a good result ruined first by the rain and then by a penalty for an uncontrolled tyre when he was changing to the wets. That penalty dropped the championship leader to the back of the pack, and he was only able to recover to fifteenth from there, salvaging something out of what could’ve been a complete disaster.

Speaking of disasters, Alexander Rossi’s race was doomed from the get-go when he got hit from behind by O’Ward, sending the #27 into the inside wall on the main straight and damaging his right-rear suspension. O’Ward took a drive-thru penalty while Rossi went four laps down due to the repairs; the incident was partially a legacy of Rossi’s poor qualifying as starting down in the pack is always a risk, but that result couldn’t have been much worse for the American’s title challenge.

Away from the title contenders, part-timer Harvey finished third to take his first ever IndyCar podium, much to the delight of his Meyer Shank with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsport team. Harvey took second at the first turn having qualified third and looked set to finish there once the rain came but, like so many others, he could do nothing to stop Pagenaud’s charge, meaning he had to settle for third.

The podium (L-R) Scott Dixon, Simon Pagenaud, Jack Harvey. Credit: Chris Jones/IndyCar

Harvey’s SPM teammates, however, both had days to forget. Marcus Ericsson caused the first caution by losing the rear of his car at Turn 14 and hitting the wall, breaking his right-rear suspension and bringing a premature end to his first race at Indianapolis.

Hinchcliffe’s race unravelled in the carnage that was the first restart; Colton Herta had already been spun around by Harvey when Hinchcliffe tagged Ryan Hunter-Reay, spinning the Andretti and landing the #5 with a drive-thru penalty.

Leist almost got a surprise podium but instead finished fourth, which was still by far the best result for A.J. Foyt for what seems like years. Teammate Tony Kanaan tried his luck by switching to the wets first, a call that proved to be just a bit too early meaning he finished well down the order.

Matheus Leist celebrating with his team after his fourth-place finish. Credit: Chris Jones/IndyCar

Next up for IndyCar is the big one, the 103rd Running of the Indy 500. The action starts with qualifying on the 18th and 19th May when we will find out who will make the race and who will get bumped.

Full Race Results:

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

DNF – Colton Herta (R) (collision), Marcus Ericsson (R) (crash)

Championship Top 5:

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

Featured Image Credit: Joe Skibinski/IndyCar

IndyCar Indianapolis GP Preview

After nearly a month off track, it’s finally time for another IndyCar race, this time at the most famous track on the calendar. The Indianapolis GP acts as a prelude to the rather more famous Indy 500, with the circuit race being the first major event of the Month of May.

It seems like a long time ago, but the winner last time out was Alexander Rossi who dominated Long Beach for the second year running to take Andretti Autosport’s 200th IndyCar win. His win never looked in danger with no one else even close to challenging him however, it is not Rossi who comes into this round leading the championship.

That honour goes to Long Beach runner-up Josef Newgarden, who has been the most consistent driver in the first four races of the season with one win and two podiums. Each of the first four races have been won by different drivers with Newgarden taking the glory at St Petersburg followed by Colton Herta at the Circuit of the Americas, Takuma Sato at Barber Motorsports Park and, most recently, Rossi at Long Beach.

2019 Long Beach podium (L-R) Josef Newgarden, Alexander Rossi, Scott Dixon. Credit: Chris Owens/IndyCar

Coming into the Indy GP, Newgarden and Rossi are the ones who should be in with a good chance of becoming the first repeat winner of the season, but there are plenty of other drivers in the field who will be doing everything they can to stop that from happening.

Included in that is defending Indy GP winner Will Power, who would be delighted if he could have the same fortunes this May as he did last year. Penske were the ones getting their 200th win at the Indy GP in 2018 after Power broke a pretty awful run of form to take the win first at the GP and then at the 500.

Whoever finds themselves in Victory Lane this year will be hoping to emulate Power’s double-win, because there’s no race they want to win more than the Indy 500!

The form book does look to be swaying in Power’s favour; the Penske driver has won the Indy GP three times in the past four years while Penske themselves have won the race four years in a row. Power has also had a similarly dreadful start to the season as he did in 2018, however, there’s no saying that history will repeat itself and there are plenty of other contenders in the mix.

Defending champion Scott Dixon is in the hunt for his first win of the season while Penske’s third driver, Simon Pagenaud, is after his first podium since Toronto 2018, while his future at the team is being continually called into question.

Unlike in previous years, there is only one addition to the grid for this race. Helio Castroneves returns to IndyCar in the build-up to what could be his final attempt at the Indy 500 after it all ended in the barriers last season. He will be piloting the #3 Penske, bringing their total back up to four cars for the next two races.

The Indy GP if often an unpredictable one but the stakes are obviously higher than in most races as all the drivers know how important it is to get their Month of May off to the best possible start.

All three series of the Road to Indy are also back in action this weekend after around two months off track. One thing to note about this weekend is that it is a two-day event with the race held on Saturday afternoon, rather than Sunday. The timings for this weekend are as follows:

May 10

Practice 1 – 9:10am (EDT) / 2:10pm (BST)
Practice 2 – 12:30pm / 5:30pm
Qualifying – 4:35pm / 9:35pm

May 11

Final Warmup – 11:15am / 4:15pm
Race – 3:40pm / 8:40pm

Entry List:

# Driver Team
2 Josef Newgarden Team Penske
3 Helio Castroneves 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
60 Jack Harvey Meyer Shank Racing/Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
88 Colton Herta (R) Harding Steinbrenner
98 Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport

Featured Image Credit: Joe Skibinski/IndyCar