The Greatest Spectacle in Racing: The Indianapolis 500 Preview

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.

Scott Dixon followed by Alex Palou. 500 Practice. Photo Courtesy of Chris Owens.

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.

FRESH FACES

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. Photo Courtesy of Chris Owens.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RACE CLASSIFICATION

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

Feature Image Courtesy of IndyCar Media