Romain Grosjean will win a race on the IMS road course next year. His 2021 statistics show he figured this track out very quickly- a pole, two second place finishes, and a third place starting spot. He is just seven points behind Scott McLaughlin for Rookie of the Year despite missing three races. I think Grosjean will end up winning the honor. He has performed better than McLaughlin most of the year.
Alexander Rossi’s fourth place finish was his best of the year. he was heading for a top five last eek in Nashville when he tangled with Pato O’Ward. Rossi finished fifth at Mid Ohio before the break, so he could have had three top fives in a row. I look for him to finish the season strong and maybe win one of the last four races.
O’Ward’s inconsistency will cost him the title. he seems to be good one race and bad the next. It will take a strong consistent run to win the title. We have yet to see that from him or the AMSP team.
How long has it been since the season champion won just twice? We may see that this year. There have been nine different winners in 12 races with just four races to go, and no one has won more than twice. I have a feeling we will at least tie the season record of 11 different winners, which leaves little margin for a third win by Palou or anyone else.
Sharing the Track
The Indycar/NASCAR shared weekend is a fine idea on paper, and IMS is one of less than a handful of tracks where it would work. But a new mindset needs to come into play on the scheduling.
Currently, this is NASCAR’s weekend at IMS. This weekend should be treated like baseball’s All Star Game, where both series get equal billing, and the home alternates each year.. I felt Indycar was treated as the lowest ranked series yesterday, going first before the minor league XFinity Series.
I think XFinity needs to return to Lucas Oil Raceway for a Friday night race and leave IMS to the two major series. NASCAR and Indycar should take turns being the Sunday feature race. It won’t be NASCAR’s weekend and it won’t be Indycar’s weekend. It will be a truly shared weekend. Obviously, both races would be on the road course.
It appears Roger Penske wants the Indianapolis 500 to be the only oval event at IMS. I applaud him for this appropriate stance.
The NTT Indycar Series moves to World Wide Technology Raceway next weekend for the final oval of 2021. It will also be the last race I cover in person this year.
Will Power in victory lane at the IMS road course. It’s a step back toward normalcy. Power won the Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix today, his first win in ten months. Gis 40th career win puts him two wins behind Michael Andretti on the all time career list. Power won for the fifth time at the IMS road course.
Tire strategy was key today. Power took the lead after the first round of opit stops. Pole sitter Pato O’Ward started on reds while most everyone else began the race on the primary tires. O’Ward switched to blacks on the first stop and power took on the faster red tires. He passed O’Ward and ran away from the field, building a lead of more than eight seconds over O’Ward and then Colton Herta.
The race was a mostly processional affair, with a couple of interesting battles in the field. Passing seemed difficult. After a caution filled race last Sunday, today saw the yellow flag come out just twice, the first time on lap 67. Alex Palou brought ourt the first caution when his engine let go. The DNF tightened the points race significantly. he now leads O’Ward by just 21 points. Rinus Veekay spun with assistance a few laps later and stalled, forcing another yellow.
Power is the ninth different winner in 2021. The series is just two different winners shy of the record 11 different winners with four races left.
Alex Palou had everything going his way. He was ahead of his three closest pursuers in the championship and he was less than twenty laps away from padding his lead. Then it was all gone in a puff of smoke.
Christian Lundgaard impressed this weekend. The 20 year old drove a good race, even getting the lead during a pit stop cycle. he finished 12th. I hope we see him again before the season ends.
Top Gun Racing and R C Enerson completed just 16 laps today, but the team did get to race for the first time. They have obtained some sponsorship, and plan to be at Gateway next weekend. I thought it was quite an accomplishment for them to get to do a qualifying run for the 500. they have come a long way.
Scott Dixon matched his worst finish of the year, 17th. Ironically both have been at IMS.
Palou’s poor finish hurt some, but with the days his closest competitors had, it didn’t hurt as much as it could have. His advantage is that O’Ward and Dixon keep swapping second and third, while Newgarden makes only minimal gains and has three drivers to overtake.
The crowd was decent today, although the place didn’t have a true race day vibe.
IMS had a beautiful tribute to Bob Jenkins on the video boards before the race.
I will be back tomorrow with some more thoughts on this weekend’s format tomorrow. Thanks for following along these past two days.
Photo: Pato O’Ward on his way to the pole. Photo by Kyle McInnes
Today’s NTT Series Indycar Race at the IMS road course, the Big machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix, could set many firsts. Pato O’Ward looks to be 2021’s first three time winner. To do that he will have to win from the pole for the first time in his career. Will Power seeks his first win of the season from the outside of the first row.
This track generally produces the winner from the first two rows, although I am not giving Chrisyian Lungaard much of a chance in his first Indycar start. Romain Grosjean won the pole and finished second in May could also get his first career win today.
So close. Will Power was so close to earning his first pole position of 2021, but Pato O’Ward nipped him at the line by 0.0067 of a second. O’Ward’s third pole of the year came at an opportune time for the driver third in the standings. Points leader Alex Palou qualified sixth and other title contenders Scott Dixon rolls off 26th and Josef Newgarden starts 20th. Dixon was penalized for spinning and affecting other drivers’ laps, and Newgarden has a six place penalty for an engine change to serve.
All three rounds of the shortened qualifying format produced drama as several drivers traded the top spot. But the star of the day was Christian Lundgaard, the Danish F2 driver in the RLL Hy Vee number 45 this weekend. Lundgaard impressed in the practice session, and he dazzled in qualifying, making it to the final round and leading the fast Twelve for a bit. He will start fourth. No matter how his race turns out, his weekend is already a success.
Colton Herta’s string of front row starts ends at four. He qualified fifth.
Romain Grosjean missed his second consecutive pole on the IMS Road course by just 27 thousandths of a second. He starts third.
.Ed Carpenter Racing had its best road course qualifying in a while. Conor Daly starts eighth and Rinus VeeKay ninth.
Newgarden and Dixon start in a part of the grid where there is usually trouble in the first turn. If they get through that, it will be interesting to see how far they advance wht strategy they use.
Points leader Alex Palou had the fastest lap in the only practice before qualifying begins tonight at 7 pm for the Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix. Palou’s lap of 1:10.883 was 0.023 seconds faster than Rinus VeeKay, winner of May’s GMR Grand prix on the IMS road course. VeeKay also won the pole for race 1 of last fall’s Harvest Grand Prix.
Pato O’Ward, Jack Harvey, and Josef Newgarden rounded out the top five. Newgarden will have a ix place grid penalty for the race due to an unapproved engine change following the Music City Grand Prix.
The big surprise of the session was Christian Lundgaard, driving for Rahal Letterman Laniqan Racing. The Danish F2 driver was seventh in his first Indycar session, jus 0.030 seconds behind Will Power.
The practice round also saw Colton Herta, who has started on the front row for the last four races, struggle. He had a lockup, overshot turn one, aned had his car stall leaving the pits. Herta was 26th on the time chart, only completing 16 laps.
Qualifying this evening is the same format used in Detroit. The normal first round is followed bay a round of 12 to determine the pole. NBCSN will broadcast qualifying live
The top 12:
I’ll be back later tonight with a qualifying wrapup. Going out to buy spikes for my cooler. I want to look fashionable tomorrow.
We got a taste of this last July, and today is the first Indycar/NASCAR doubleheader with fans in attendance. It is probably a good thing for both series to have a showcase weekend together, and it might create some crossover fans. I would like to see a double header on an oval as well. I just hope the two series don’t go the route of the National Hockey league with their outdoor games. The new year’s day game is great but it loses its luster when you add several outdoor events during the season. don’t
Indycars have raced on the IMS road course 10 previous times, including three times last year, and this May. The early years were owned by Team Penske and drivers Simon Pagenaud and Will Power, who each have won the GMR Grand Prix three times. Power also won the Harvest Grand Prix race 2 last fall. Pagenaud’s first win was with Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports.
The entry list has expanded to 28, the biggest field for a race other than the Indianapolis 500 since 2011 at Kentucky. In addition to the regular grid, Cody ware is on the Coyne Ware car 52, Christian Lundgaard takes over the 45 for Rahal Letterman Lanigan, Helio Castroneves returns to the scene of his may triumph in the 06 for Meyer Shank, and R C Enerson will at last put Top Gun Racing’s number 75 on the grid.
Indycar teams get an hour practice mid afternoon before qualifying begins at 7 pm today. Yes the times are strange, but NASCAR seems to have dictated the schedule. Indycar does race Saturday at the decent hour of 1 pm.
It should be a prettier race than last weekend’s marathon Music City Grand Prix. IMS road course races have run the gamut from snoozers to pretty good races. Last year’s Harvest Classic Race 1 was arguably Indycar’s best race on the IMS road course. Some things to look for:
Ganassi Drivers Battle for the Title
Alex Palou leads teammate Scott Dixon by 42 points after last Sunday. While it is significant that Dixon cut into his margin behind Palou, Palou entered the Nashville race 36 points ahead of second place Pato O’Ward. He actually increased his lead over second place. I think he will lose a few more points of his lead this weekend, making for a tense to the wire run over the last four races.
Pato O’Ward still has a shot, but it seems like he has a mediocre race each time he draws close to Palou. I think he will have a better result this week.
In the GMR Grand Prix in May, Palou finished third, Dixon 9th, and O’Ward 15th.
Will Power Return to Form?
Will Power has won on the IMS road course four times and has also won the pole four times. If he is going to get a pole or a win this year, this weekend is probably his best chance. Power also needs to bounce back from a dreadful weekend in Nashville. To help him, I will not predict his success this weekend.
Another First Time Winner?
The odds are good that the NTT Indycar Series will have another first time winner both for the season and for the winner’s career. In may Romain Grosjean won the pole and finished second to Rinus VeeKay. I look for them both to be strong again. VeeKay also won the pole for the Harvest Grand Prix Race 1 last autumn.
Jack Harvey has shown well on the road course, with two second row starts and a podium.
He will qualify well, and I hope he has better luck in the race than in May, where a bad pit stop dropped to near the bottom of the field.
The average age of the three two time 2021 winners is 25.3.
I can’t recall getting this far into the season with no driver having three wins.
I’m hearing talks about bringing Iowa back for 2022. Yes, Please.
It is very appropriate that Indycar and NASCAR race at IMS the weekend following Bob Jenkin’s death. He announced for both series and loved them both.
Parnelli Jones celebrated his 88th birthday yesterday.
I will cover the Indycar practice remotely today, although I will try to get to the track for qualifications. I will be onsite Saturday.
Race weekend: Friday, Aug. 13 – Saturday, Aug. 14 Track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course (clockwise) Race distance: 85 laps / 207.3 miles
Push-to-pass parameters: 200 seconds of total time, with a maximum time of 20 seconds per activation. Firestone tire allotment: Five sets primary, four sets alternate (Note: A sixth set of primary tires is available to any car fielding a rookie driver.)
Twitter: @IMS @INDYCAR, #TheBrickyard #INDYCAR Event website: http://www.ims.com INDYCAR website: http://www.IndyCar.com 2020 race winners (Harvest Grand Prix doubleheader): Josef Newgarden (No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet) and Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet) 2020 NTT P1 Award winners (Harvest Grand Prix doubleheader): Rinus VeeKay (No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet), 1:09.6903, 125.992 mph; Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet), 1:08.9767, 127.295 mph. Qualifying lap record: Will Power, 1:07.7044, 129.687 mph, May 12, 2017 (Set in Round 3 of knockout qualifying) NBCSN telecasts: Qualifying, 7 p.m. ET Friday, NBCSN (live) and Peacock Premium; Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix, 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday, NBCSN (live). Leigh Diffey is the play-by-play announcer for NBC’s coverage of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Kevin Lee and Marty Snider will be the pit reporters. Peacock Premium Live Streaming: All NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice sessions and qualifying will stream live on Peacock Premium, NBC’s direct-to-consumer livestreaming product. INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Davey Hamilton. Chris Denari, Jake Query, Nick Yeoman and Michael Young are the turn announcers. Brad Gillie, Brett McMillan and Ryan Myrehn will report from the pits. The Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix will air live on network affiliates, SiriusXM 138 and Sirius XM 205, indycar.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app powered by NTT DATA. All NTT INDYCAR SERIES practices and qualifying are available on SiriusXM 205, indycar.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app.
At-track schedule (all times local):
Friday, Aug. 13 (All times are local) 3-4 p.m.: NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice, Peacock Premium 7-7:50 p.m.: Qualifying for the NTT P1 Award (two rounds knockout qualifications/10 minutes each), NBCSN and Peacock Premium (Live)
Saturday, Aug. 14 8:45-9:15 a.m.: NTT INDYCAR SERIES warmup, Peacock Premium 12:30 p.m.: NBCSN on air 12:55 p.m.: “Drivers, start your engines” 1 p.m.: Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix (85 laps/207.3 miles), NBCSN (Live) Championship facts: Alex Palou leads the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship with five races to go for the first time in his INDYCAR SERIES career. Palou has led the point standings after seven of the 11 races this season. Since the first INDYCAR SERIES race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course in 2014, the winning driver has won the INDYCAR SERIES championship twice: Simon Pagenaud in 2016 and Scott Dixon (2020-Race 1). Key championship point statistic: Since 2008, the championship leader with five races to go has gone on to win the championship seven times. Those drivers were: Scott Dixon (2008, 2018 and 2020), Dario Franchitti (2011), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2012), Simon Pagenaud (2016)and Josef Newgarden (2019). Point differential: The 42 points that separate Alex Palou and Scott Dixon is the seventh closest point margin since 2008. Entering this season, the average lead with five races to go since 2008 was 43.9 points.
Race Notes: There have been eight different winners in 11 NTT INDYCAR SERIES races this season. Alex Palou (Barber Motorsports Park, Road America), Colton Herta (Streets of St. Petersburg), Scott Dixon (Texas Motor Speedway-1), Pato O’Ward (Texas Motor Speedway-2, Raceway at Belle Isle Park-2), Rinus VeeKay (Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course-1), Helio Castroneves (Indianapolis 500), Marcus Ericsson (Raceway at Belle Isle Park-1, Streets of Nashville) and Josef Newgarden (Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course) have all won in 2021. The modern record (1946-present) for most different winners in a season is 11 in 2000, 2001 and 2014. There have been eight different winners in the last 10 NTT INDYCAR SERIES races (Alex Palou, Colton Herta, Scott Dixon, Pato O’Ward, Rinus VeeKay, Helio Castroneves, Marcus Ericsson and Josef Newgarden) The only repeat winners in that stretch are O’Ward (Texas-2 and Raceway at Belle Isle Park-2) and Ericsson (Raceway at Belle Isle Park-1 and Streets of Nashville) The Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix will be the 11th INDYCAR SERIES event conducted on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course. Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power and Rinus VeeKay are the only drivers to win on the IMS road course. Pagenaud won the GMR Grand Prix in 2014, 2016 and 2019, Power won the GMR Grand Prix in 2015, 2017 and 2018 and the second race of the Harvest Grand Prix doubleheader in 2020. Dixon won the 2020 GMR Grand Prix, Newgarden won the first race of the 2020 Harvest GP doubleheader and VeeKay won the GMR Grand Prix in May. The 28 cars entered in the Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix is the largest field of cars entered in a non-Indianapolis 500 INDYCAR SERIES race since 29 cars started at Kentucky Speedway in 2011. Romain Grosjean, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, Felix Rosenqvist and Sebastian Saavedra have won the pole position in the GMR Grand Prix. Saavedra claimed thepole in 2014, Power in 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2020, Pagenaud in 2016, Rosenqvist in2019 and Grosjean in May of this year. Power and Rinus VeeKay won the NTT P1 Award in the Harvest Grand Prix doubleheader last October. Four NTT P1 Award winners have won the GMR Grand Prix from the pole: Will Power in 2015, 2017 and 2018 and Simon Pagenaud in 2016. Power also won the second Harvest GP race from pole in 2020. Eight drivers have competed in every INDYCAR SERIES race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course – Scott Dixon, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato. All are entered this weekend. Scott Dixon has finished first or second in four of his last seven starts on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. Six rookies — RC Enerson, Romain Grosjean, Jimmie Johnson, Christian Lundgaard, Scott McLaughlin and Cody Ware — are entered this weekend. Enerson will be making his first start of 2021, while Lundgaard will be making his INDYCAR SERIES debut. Ware will be attempting to compete in both the NTT INDYCAR SERIES race on Saturday and NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday. Twenty-five of the 28 drivers entered in the event have competed in INDYCAR SERIES races on the IMS road course. Fifteen entered drivers have led laps in INDYCAR SERIES races: Will Power 285, Scott Dixon 69, Simon Pagenaud 68, Josef Newgarden 59, Rinus VeeKay 48, Romain Grosjean 44, Graham Rahal 41, Colton Herta 29, Ryan Hunter-Reay 22, Felix Rosenqvist 16, James Hinchcliffe 4, Alexander Rossi 2, Marcus Ericsson 1, Jack Harvey 1 and Alex Palou 1.
Last weekend/s Music City Grand Prix boasted the largest non Indianapolis 500 grid since 2013. This weekend’s Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix is even bigger with 28 cars entered. Cod Ware is again in the 52 for Dale Coyne with Rick Ware Racing , and Helio Castroneves is back in the 06 for Meyer Shank Racing, RLL runs the 45 again, but F2 driver Christian Lundgaard replaces Santino Ferrucci. Top Gun Racing with R C Enerson looks to finally make their Indycar debut Saturday.