Dixon Goes for Sweep and History

Good morning from Road America as we prepare for race 2 of the GMR Grand Prix weekend.  I hope for another race as entertaining as yesterday’s was.

Today’s schedule: (All times Eastern)

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Scott Dixon could become the third driver in Indycar history to win 50 races. He now is within three of tying Mario Andretti for second place on the all time list. Dixon is also looking to win the first four races of the year.  Today could also be just the third time that a driver has swept a doubleheader weekend. Dixon did that in Toronto in 2013 and Graham Rahal won both days in Detroit in 2017.

Another three on the line today is whether Jack Harvey can get his third consecutive front row start. Harvey has started second for the last two races, but his fortunes in the races themselves have turned out well. He is in the second qualifying group today, which increases his chances for the pole.

Questions for the day- Will Conor Daly’s car be ready for qualifying? It was severely damaged in his contact with Pato O’Ward yesterday. Will Josef Newgarden bounce back from the pit bobble that cost him the win yesterday?  Will Team Penske win their fourth pole of the season.

Some fans yesterday respected the social distancing guidelines while many others didn’t seem to care. Road America would have been wise to perhaps sell fewer tickets to this event.  Masks are hit and miss. I did see more people wearing them yesterday. I will talk about this more tomorrow.

Enjoy the race, wash your hands, and wear your mask in public.

Quick Thoughts- GMR Grand Prix Race 1

We could see history tomorrow. Scott Dixon could win his 50th race. Only two other drivers have reached and surpassed that number.

The second half of the race was quite interesting. Newgarden’ s stall in the pits began to turn the race around. The yellows really made for an exciting finish.

What is going on with Team Penske pit stops? They have had problems e every race this year.  They aren’t the only team with pit issues, but the bar is much higher for them. I wonder if the compressed event schedules are contributing to the pit errors.

Drive of the day goes to Alex Palou. The rookie’s podium finish came after starting 14th, having a long pit stop, and making a nice pass on Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Ryan Hunter-Reay and Colton Herta are not being mentioned much, but they are quietly having very good seasons. Herta is third in points and Hunter-Reay is sixth.

Today pretty much ends Alexander Rossi’s title hopes. It was his second straight finish in the twenties.

Conor Daly’s crew has a long night ahead of them repairing his car for tomorrow. Daly may skip qualifying and start last. His accident is the bad part of double headers. My concern is a car getting badly damaged next Friday in the first Iowa race. Would that team be done for the weekend?

After no cautions for two years, today’s race tried to make up for all that lost time. The three cautions came within seven laps of each other.

Turn five saw lots of passing and attempted passing, lots of tire smoke from locked brakes, and several near collisions.

I hoe tomorrow’s race, on NBC, is just as entertaining as today’s race was.

I will have just post tomorrow, in the morning. I will be driving back to Indianapolis as soon as tomorrow’s race is over. Thanks for following along this weekend.

Traditions Smashed: Quick Thoughts on the GMR Grand Prix

Photo: Indycar, James Black

Two traditions of this race went down n flames today- A clean first lap for the first time in race history, and the biggest tradition-the two winners club was intruded upon by Scott Dixon. It was only the second time a Team Penske car did not win.

Five drivers with less than three years of Indycar experience finished in the top 10.Colton Herta finished fourth, Rinus VeeKay came home fifth, Marcus Ericsson was sixth, Pato O’W  and Santino Ferrucci ended up in eighth and ninth. VeeKay started 18th. His 13 spot improvement was second to Simon Pagenaud who moved up 17 positions from 20th to third.

Scott Dixon should have at least 50 career  victories by season’s end. He is now just four behind Mario Andretti for second place.

What is going on with Will Power and pit stops? There have been issues in both races this year.

The yellow for Oliver Askew’s crash hurt Graham Rahal. His two stop strategy was working perfectly until then. It was nice to see Rahal fighting for the win again.

It was a great day for Ed Carpenter Racing. In addition to VeeKay’s fifth place, Conor Daly finished 12th. Daly had been in the top 10 for much of the race. I hope to see more of this kind  of result from the team the rest of the year.

Andretti Autosport  struggled overall for the second straight race. Except for Herta, the rest of the team was not a factor. In Texas Veach was the lone bright spot. They need to turn things around at Road America next week.

Think it’s boring watching Dixon win the first two races? We are watching one of the best ever. As someone who has been lucky enough to watch Foyt, Andretti, Jones, Mears,  and the Unsers, I am telling you Dixon belongs with this group. appreciate him that you can watch someone with his skill.

A few people gathered outside the fence of IMS around 23rd and Georgetown Road to watch the race on the video board and soak in the sounds of the race. It was weird just getting tiny glimpses of the cars, but it was better than sitting at home.

I will be back with a more detailed wrap up later tonight or tomorrow.

Enjoy your holiday. wash your hands and mask up. Thanks for following along this weekend.

 

Tire Choices for GMR Grand Prix

START CAR NO. DRIVER TIRE CHOICE
1 12 Will Power Alternate – Red
2 60 Jack Harvey Alternate – Red
3 88 Colton Herta Alternate – Red
4 15 Graham Rahal Alternate – Red
5 7 Oliver Askew Alternate – Red
6 1 Josef Newgarden Alternate – Red
7 9 Scott Dixon Primary – Black
8 20 Conor Daly Alternate – Red
9 10 Felix Rosenqvist Primary – Black
10 59 Max Chilton Alternate – Red
11 27 Alexander Rossi Alternate – Red
12 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay Alternate – Red
13 5 Pato O’Ward Primary – Black
14 8 Marcus Ericsson Primary – Black
15 18 Santino Ferrucci Alternate – Red
16 45 Spencer Pigot Alternate – Red
17 30 Takuma Sato Primary – Black
18 21 Rinus VeeKay Primary – Black
19 29 James Hinchcliffe Primary – Black
20 22 Simon Pagenaud Primary – Black
21 55 Álex Palou Alternate – Red
22 26 Zach Veach Primary – Black
23 24 Sage Karam Alternate – Red
24 4 Charlie Kimball Primary – Black
25 98 Marco Andretti Primary – Black
26 14 Dalton Kellett Primary – Black

Dixon Fastest in Warm Up: Andretti Cars Struggle

Scott Dixon turned the quickest lap in this morning’s warmup for the GMR Grand Prix. Dixon’s best lap of 1:11.0771 came near the end of the 30 minute session. It was an adventure filled period for several cars. the escape roads in turns 1 and 12 saw a lot of traffic.

Five minutes into the session, Marco Andretti stalled. The issue was a CV joint which also gave the team problems yesterday. Alexander Rossi missed the first 10 minutes of the practice with fuel pressure issues. He finished seventh but complained of the rear of the car being loose.

With about two minutes to go Charlie Kimball slid in turn 10, briefly got into the grass, then got the car straightened out and continued. the track stayed green. Colton Herta had several issues with brakes locking up.

The top five:

Scott Dixon    1:11.0771

Josef Newgarden  1:11.2178

Ryan Hunter-Reay  1:11.2380

Graham Rahal  1:11.4352

Felix Rosenqvist  1:11.4380

Turn 12 could be a trouble spot in the race. The temperature should be at least 10 degrees warmer at race time. Back after the race.

 

It’s Race Day

Happy Fourth of July.

Good morning on Race Day number 2 for the NTT Indycar Series,  Today’s schedule ( All Times Eastern):

9:00 am-9:30  Warm up   NBC Gold

12:00 noon- GMR Grand Prix   NBC

The Starting Lineup:

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Notes

For all NBC’s hype about the historic weekend doubleheader, I just don’t feel it. The lack of fans takes away from the luster and prestige of the two races.

I wish Jimmie Johnson a speedy recovery from COVID-19. Sooner or later the disease was bound to find its way into a racing paddock. No one knows how many races Johnson will miss. He also won’t get to drive in his scheduled Indycar test for Ganassi next week.

Today’s race theme- Youth vs. Experience.

How far can Simon Pagenaud advance from 20th place? If he gets through turn 1, lap 1, unscathed, look for a top 10 from the defending race winner.

I will be back with a brief summary of the warmup, then a race wrap -up later.

 

 

GMR Qualifying- The Kids Are Alright

Photo: Indycar, Chris Jones

Will Power won the pole for tomorrow’s GMR Grand Prix with a brilliant final lap in the Fast Six. he nipped Jack Harvey by 0.188  seconds. Old news. This was Power’s fourth pole in this race. He won the other three times he started on pole. The pole was the 58th of Power’s career, and he is just nine shy of tying Mario Andretti for the most career poles. He will creep even closer by year’s end.

What I want to focus this qualifying report on though is the younger drivers in the series. Overall, they had a great day. I will discuss them after a recap of qualifying.

Round 1, Group 1

The youngsters led the way, grabbing the first four spots to advance. Defending series champion Josef Newgarden struggled to squeeze into the final transfer spot.

Results:

Oliver Askew

Max Chilton

Felix Rosenqvist

Conor Daly

Ryan Hunter-Reay

Josef Newgarden

Round 1, Group 2

This session had a more traditional look with Power leading and more drivers expected to advance filling the next round.

Results:

Will Power

Colton Herta

Scott Dixon

Jack Harvey

Graham Rahal

Alexander Rossi

Round of 12

Half of the drivers in the second round have less than three full years of Indycar experience. It looked as if the fast Six would shape up to be another the great Power vs. Herta pole battles we had last season, but another youngster decided to spoil the fun.

Results:

Oliver Askew

Jack Harvey

Graham Rahal

Colton Herta

Will Power

Josef Newgarden

Fast Six

Jack Harvey came within a whisker of his first career pole. Power nipped him on the final lap as time ran out. The result was Harvey’s second consecutive GMR Grand Prix Fast Six. In 2019 he started third and finished third.

Results:

Will Power      1:10.177

Jack Harvey    1:10.365

Colton Herta

Graham Rahal

Oliver Askew

Josef Newgarden

The Kids

If you were keeping score, half of each of the last two rounds had drivers with less than three years experience. Oliver Askew in his first road course qualifying led two rounds of qualifying and had the fastest lap of 1:09.878 in the second round.

Conor Daly got a rare second round spot for Ed Carpenter Racing and will start 8th tomorrow.

Colton Herta showed last year that he will be a perennial contender.

Jack Harvey loves this track. if he can transfer his success at IMS to the rest of the series, he will be someone fun to watch.

Max Chilton advancing to the second round was nice to see.

Felix rosenqvist had an off day today, but could be a factor tomorrow.

We are witnessing a very quick generational change. These younger drivers are the sport’s future. The current stars have at most three years left. The series will be in very good hands when they leave. We could see a few more surprises this season. The kids are alright.

 

 

 

Qualifying Groups for GMR Grand Prix

Photo- Indycar, Jonathan Ferrey (Getty Images)

Qualifying groups for this afternoon’s knockout rounds and Fast Six:

Qualifying Groups (unofficial)

GROUP 1 GROUP 2
Santino Ferrucci Will Power
Pato O’Ward Marcus Ericsson
Ryan Hunter-Reay Scott Dixon
Felix Rosenqvist Simon Pagenaud
Oliver Askew Spencer Pigot
Josef Newgarden Colton Herta
Marco Andretti Jack Harvey
Takuma Sato Alexander Rossi
Max Chilton Rinus VeeKay
Conor Daly Graham Rahal
Álex Palou Zach Veach
James Hinchcliffe Charlie Kimball
Sage Karam Dalton Kellett

Qualifying can be seen on NBCSN at 4:30 Eastern. The race is at noon tomnorrow on NBC.

Power Quickest in GMR Practice; Good session for Young Guns

It’s probably bad news for the rest of the field. Will Power lead the only practice session for the seventh running of the GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this morning.  Power languished near the back of the pack through the first hour of the 90 minute session, then slowly began moving toward the front, topping the charts with about  15 minutes remaining. He was the only driver to crack the 1:10 mark.

The results:

1 12 Will Power Team Penske 1:09.949 –.—- 30
2 18 Santino Ferrucci Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan 1:10.124 0.1755 21
3 8 Marcus Ericsson Chip Ganassi Racing 1:10.165 0.2161 28
4 5 Pato O’Ward Arrow McLaren SP 1:10.187 0.2387 29
5 9 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing 1:10.205 0.2567 25
6 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport 1:10.285 0.3359 25
7 22 Simon Pagenaud Team Penske 1:10.313 0.3642 27
8 10 Felix Rosenqvist Chip Ganassi Racing 1:10.362 0.4132 29
9 45 Spencer Pigot RLL with Citrone/Buhl Autosport 1:10.363 0.4146 23
10 7 Oliver Askew Arrow McLaren SP 1:10.364 0.4154 30
11 88 Colton Herta Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport 1:10.385 0.4360 17
12 1 Josef Newgarden Team Penske 1:10.386 0.4375 26
13 60 Jack Harvey Meyer Shank Racing 1:10.455 0.5063 24
14 98 Marco Andretti Andretti Herta with Marco & Curb-Agajanian 1:10.486 0.5372 30
15 27 Alexander Rossi Andretti Autosport 1:10.520 0.5717 21
16 30 Takuma Sato Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 1:10.538 0.5894 25
17 21 Rinus VeeKay Ed Carpenter Racing 1:10.606 0.6571 36
18 59 Max Chilton Carlin 1:10.611 0.6627 26
19 15 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 1:10.685 0.7367 31
20 20 Conor Daly Ed Carpenter Racing 1:10.694 0.7448 26
21 26 Zach Veach Andretti Autosport 1:10.709 0.7602 27
22 55 Alex Palou Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh 1:10.886 0.9376 26
23 4 Charlie Kimball AJ Foyt Enterprises 1:10.980 1.0312 25
24 29 James Hinchcliffe Andretti Autosport 1:11.227 1.2783 26
25 14 Dalton Kellett AJ Foyt Enterprises 1:11.448 1.4997 42
26 24 Sage Karam Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 1:11.616 1.

The rookies and younger drivers had some time at the top. Felix Rosenqvist, last byear’s pole sitter, led for a while, as did Pato O’Ward and Marcus Ericsson.

Oliver Askew is the only rookie in the top 10. The biggest surprise in the top 10 is Spencer Pigot in 9th.  His team, Citrone Buhlo in partnership with RLL Racing,  team is making their Indycar debut this weekend.

the practice was stopped twice. Santino Ferrucci bumped Ryan Hunter-Reay around the 45 minute mark. Hunter-Reay was getting his tires up to temperature when Ferrucci tried to pass him pon the inside going into turn 7. Hunter-Reay spun and stalled. Ferrucci received a 5 minute stop and hold penalty for avoidable contact.

With about 30 minutes left, Sage Karam lost power on the access road by turn 12.

Notes

Except for Hunter-Reay, the rest of the Andretti Autosport struggled in the middle of the pack.

A dozen or so fans stood at the ,main gate watching the video board facing the entrance.

It was frustrating hearing the cars but not seeing them. It was still better than nothing.

I have never seen the Speedway look nicer.

A few photos:

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Back tonight after qualifying.