Race Preview: GMR Grand Prix

Photo: Rinus VeeKay on his way to victory in the 2021 GMR Grand Prix

Today’s Schedule:

All times local

FRIDAY, May 13 (General admission $20)

Paid public parking is available in Lot 1A, Lot 2 and Main Gate parking lots. Motorcycle parking is also available in South Carousel Lot via Gate 2. Paid ADA parking is available in Lot 3P and Lot 2. Parking is $10 on Friday.

Free parking is available in Lot 7 (North 40) and Infield Turn 3.

7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Public Gates Open- pedestrian gates open on Friday, May 13: Gate 1, Gate 2, Gate 4, Gate 6S, Gate 7, Gate 7S, Gate 9, Gate 10 and Gate 10A.
8-8:30 a.m. USF2000 Qualifying
8:45-9:15 a.m. Indy Pro 2000 Qualifying
9:30-10:30 a.m. NTT INDYCAR SERIES Practice 1 (45 minutes) Peacock
10:45-11:30 a.m. Indy Lights Practice 1
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m. USF2000 Race 1
12:45-1:45 p.m. NTT INDYCAR SERIES Practice 2 (45 minutes) Peacock
2-2:30 p.m. Indy Lights Qualifying
2:45-3:35 p.m. Indy Pro 2000 Race 1
4-5:15 p.m. NTT INDYCAR SERIES NTT P1 Award Qualifying Peacock
5:35-6:30 p.m. Indy Lights Race 1 (35 laps or 55 minutes)

Good morning from IMS! It’s great to be back at the Speedway to kick off the fortnight of May with the GMR Grand Prix weekend.

2022 will be the first time since Roger Penske bought the track that the May schedule will operate in mostly normal fashion, with infield viewing and no crowd restrictions or other COVID limitations.

Saturday’s race is the ninth GMR Grand prix, which has been run every year except 2020 two weekends before the Indianapolis 500. In 2020 the race moved to July 4 due to COVID. No fans were allowed inside the track, a policy that continued for the 500 that year.

The race began as a way to bolster track attendance during May for the days leading up to practice for the 500. The event appears to do what it was intended to do- bring fans in on what used to be a sparsely attended opening day of practice.

Team Penske has dominated this race. Will Power has three poles and three wins in this race. Simon Pagenaud has won three times, twice while driving for Penske. Power also has two poles and two wins in the road course race held later in the year. Team Penske drivers have owned this track configuration.

The armor took a big dent in 2021 when Romain Grosjean won the pole and Rinus Veekay won the race. Will things return to normal things year? I’m not so sure. Veekay hopes to back up his pole and third place finish at Barber with another pole and a win.

VeeKay told the media Wednesday,

“…we know we have a very good car here.
We’ve always been fast here since my first-ever race here.
I think I was a little sad after the race that I didn’t win last
weekend. I think we had the opportunity to, and of course
you want to grab it and take it.
Yeah, had a few bad sleeps because of that, but I think
right now, I’m just extra motivated to go for that win this
weekend and defend my win from last year.”

Some other things to look for this weekend:

Honda Catching Up?

Chevrolet power has won all four races this season. Honda is just a tick behind. Will May be the month they close the gap? In spite of being shut out of the winner’s circle, Honda driver Alex Palou leads the points standings. The only Honda wins on th IMS road course belong to Pagenaud when he drove for Schmidt-Peterson and Dixon in 2020.

Will Track Experience Help the Rookies?

Four of the six rookies have driven on the road course in the Road to Indy. Only Tatiana Calderon and Callum Ilott will see the track for the first time. The junior experience may help this rookie class have their best performances of the season.

Grosjean Breakthrough?

Last year Romain Grosjean broke the Penske grip on the pole and led much of the race. He ended the day in second place. I think his first Indycar win will be at this track. I’m not sure whether it will be this weekend or at the end of July.

Power at Texas

I think it is time for Will Power to finally win a race in 2022. he has been hanging around the front all season. A poor qualifying run at Barber probably cost him a victory two weeks ago. Power does not have poor qualifying in the GMR Grand Prix.

I will be back after the first practice.