|Race weekend: Friday, June 18 – Sunday, June 20 |
Track: Road America, a 4.014-mile, 14-turn permanent road course (clockwise), in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
Race distance: 55 laps / 220.77 miles
Media links: Entry List | Driver Video Quotes | Pre-Event Video Conference Transcript (Dixon and Pagenaud)
Push-to-pass parameters: 200 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 20 seconds per activation.
Firestone tire allotment: Seven sets primary, four sets alternate for use during the race weekend. One additional set of primary tires may be used by teams fielding a rookie driver. Teams must use one set of primary and one set of new (sticker) alternate tires for at least two laps in the race.
Twitter: @RoadAmerica @IndyCar, #REVGROUPGP, #IndyCar Event website: www.roadamerica.com INDYCAR website: www.indycar.com
2020 race winners: Scott Dixon (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) and Felix Rosenqvist (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda)
2020 pole winners Josef Newgarden (No. 1 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet), 1 minute, 45.5191 seconds, 136.964 mph and Pato O’Ward (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet), 1:44.8971, 137.758 mph
Qualifying record: Dario Franchitti, 1:39.866, 145.924 mph, Aug. 19, 2000
NBC Sports telecasts: Qualifying: Midnight ET Saturday, NBCSN (taped); Race: Noon ET Sunday, NBCSN (live). Kevin Lee will serve as the lead announcer for NBCSN’s REV Group Grand Prix telecast alongside analyst Townsend Bell. 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 analysts Davey Hamilton and Nick Yeoman. Jake Query and Michael Young are the turn announcers with Ryan Myrehn and Joel Sebastianelli in the pit lane. The REV Group Grand Prix will air live on network affiliates, SiriusXM 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 Eastern Time):
Friday, June 18 5 – 5:45 p.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES Practice 1, Peacock Premium
Saturday, June 19 11:10 – 11:55 a.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES Practice 2, Peacock Premium 2:30 – 3:45 p.m. – Qualifying for the NTT P1 Award (Three rounds of knockout qualifying), Peacock Premium/NBCSN (Taped, midnight, June 20) 5:30 – 6 p.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES Final Practice, Peacock Premium Sunday, June 20 12:05 p.m. – Driver introductions 12:38 p.m. – Command to start engines 12:45 p.m. – REV Group Grand Prix (55 laps/220.77miles), NBCSN (live)
Race notes: · There have been seven different winners in eight NTT INDYCAR SERIES races this season. Alex Palou (Barber Motorsports Park), 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) and Marcus Ericsson (Raceway at Belle Isle Park-1) have all won in 2021. The modern era record (1946-2021) for most different winners in a season is 11 in 2000, 2001 and 2014. · There have been nine different winners in the last 10 NTT INDYCAR SERIES races (Will Power, Josef Newgarden, Alex Palou, Colton Herta, Scott Dixon, Pato O’Ward, Rinus VeeKay, Helio Castroneves and Marcus Ericsson) The only repeat winner in that stretch is O’Ward (Texas-2, 2021 and Belle Isle-2, 2021). ·
The REV Group Grand Prix will be the 32nd INDYCAR event conducted at Road America since it hosted its first INDYCAR event in 1982. · Sebastien Bourdais, Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden, Will Power and Alexander Rossi are the only entered drivers who have won an INDYCAR race at Road America. Rossi won in 2019, Newgarden won in 2018, Dixon won in 2017 and the first race of 2020’s doubleheader. Power won in the INDYCAR SERIES return in 2016 – the first race at the track since 2007 when Bourdais won at Road America. Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi have the most wins by an INDYCAR driver at the track (three). ·
Twenty drivers entered this weekend have previously raced in INDYCAR SERIES events at Road America. Nine of those drivers have led laps at the track (Sebastien Bourdais 92, Josef Newgarden 91, Will Power 60, Alexander Rossi 54, Pato O’Ward 43, Scott Dixon 42, Graham Rahal 5, Marcus Ericsson 2 and Simon Pagenaud 2).
Eight drivers have won the Road America race from the pole: Mario Andretti (1983, 1984 and 1987), Danny Sullivan (1989), Paul Tracy (1993), Jacques Villeneuve (1995), Bruno Junqueira (2003), Sebastien Bourdais (2007), Will Power (2016) and Josef Newgarden (2018). ·
Drivers who have won at Road America have gone on to win the INDYCAR championship six times in the same season: Mario Andretti (1984), Michael Andretti (1991), Jacques Villeneuve (1995), Alex Zanardi (1997), Cristiano da Matta (2002) and Sebastien Bourdais (2007) and Scott Dixon (2020). ·
Team Penske has won five times at Road America (1989, 1992, 1993, 2016 and 2018) and is one of three current teams with wins at the track. Chip Ganassi Racing has also won five times at Road America (1997, 2001, 2017, 2020-Race 1 and 2020-Race 2), while Andretti Autosport won its first race in 2019. Newman/Haas Racing won a record 10 times at Road America. ·
Rookies Romain Grosjean, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Magnussen, Scott McLaughlin and Cody Ware will race an NTT INDYCAR SERIES car at Road America for the first time this weekend. Magnussen and Ware will make their series debuts.
Times listed are Central Time. Broadcast times assume the Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament ends on time. Be aware of channel shifts
Rinus VeeKay after winning the GMR Grand Prix
Rinus VeeKay suffered an injury to his clavicle during a training ride Monday. He is undergoing treatment and is hoping to be able to drive at Road America this weekend.
Statement from his Twitter account:
It’s been talked about for awhile, and finally Cody Ware will get his chance to drive in an Indycar race. The announcement from Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing:
Plainfield, IL (June 15, 2021) – NASCAR driver Cody Ware will be making his NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut this weekend at Road America with Dale Coyne Racing with RWR aboard the team’s No. 52 Nurtec ODT (rimegepant) entry.
Ware, who drives full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series for Rick Ware Racing (RWR), got his first taste of an Indy car earlier this year during a test day with the team at Sebring International Raceway. He also turned his first laps at Road America two weeks ago as part of a rookie test day.
“To be a part of an NTT INDYCAR SERIES race is such an honor, and a surreal experience for me. I never would’ve thought that I would ever go down the open wheel route for a multitude of reasons,” expressed Ware. “But thanks to RWR, Dale Coyne Racing, and Biohaven / Nurtec ODT I am getting an opportunity to compete at the highest level of open wheel motorsport in the US. Road America is an ideal place to make my debut and I am so excited to learn and soak it all in. Having two great teammates such as Romain Grosjean and Ed Jones will help take some of the edge off the learning curve if only a little.”
In addition to his time in the NASCAR Cup and the Xfinity Series this season, Ware finished fourth in the LMP2 Class at the 24 Hours of Daytona earlier this year. The 25-year-old driver has a diverse racing pedigree, taking home rookie of the year honors in the 2014 Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America series and claiming the 2019/2020 LMP2 Asian Le Mans Championship.
“What started as a 3-4 race sponsorship to roll out a marketing program for BioHaven and Nurtec ODT (rimegepant) in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, turned into a full-season sponsorship commitment with the No. 51 Honda,” shared Rick Ware, Owner of Rick Ware Racing and co-entrant, Dale Coyne Racing with RWR. “Thanks to their continued partnership, we’re excited to add a few races for the No. 52 entry, starting with Road America this weekend.”
Cody Ware will take to the track on Friday, June 18 for his first official NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice session. The REV Group Grand Prix goes green at 11:45am local time on Sunday, June 20, 2021.
Photo by Joe Skibinski, Indycar
No one should be surprised at what Pato O’Ward is doing this season. We knew he was an exceptional talent when he began his Indycar career. I have to wonder how much better he would be if he had not lost his original Carlin ride and missed part of a season in Japan. I’m glad he is in Indycar and I hope the sirens of F1 don’t draw him away.
O’Ward’s weekend- a pole, a third place, a win after starting 16th, 88 points, and the new points leader. Not bad.
Josef Newgarden, Will Power, and Team Penske now know how Charlie Brown feels when Lucy pulls the football away. Saturday was not Power’s fault, but the fault of a questionable call race control. Yesterday Newgarden got caught out by the yellows and had to finish the race on the alternate tires- a big ask to go 25 laps with the reds on this track. What a frustrating weekend for them.
O’Ward broke the streak of seven different winners in seven races. His second win of the season gives him the tie breaker should the championship end in a tie. Usually the series champion has at least three wins in a season.
Is There Still a Big Three?
Indycar fans are used to referring to the Big Three- Penske, Ganassi, and Andretti, but is that changing? Penske has just one pole and no wins, Andretti one win and one pole, and Ganassi has two wins and one pole. Arrow McLaren SP has two poles and two victories. We either have a Big Four or a Big Two. For now, I don’t think we can say Big Three.
Before his spin on lap 54 I thought Jimmie Johnson was having his best drive of the year. He passed cars on track with confident moves and was keeping pace.
Romain Grosjean’s reaction to his brake fire left me with a lump in my throat. I’m sure he never wanted to be in another burning car.
Scott Dixon leaves Detroit with the same points deficit to the leader he had going into the weekend, but he is now third instead of second in the standings.
I don’t think I have ever seen a snoozer of a race turn into a good race as quickly as I did yesterday.
Santino Ferruci had two top ten finishes this weekend. Yesterday’s was especially noteworthy since he destroyed his primary car in qualifying and drove a backup car in the race. The car got to the grid about two minutes before the command to start engines.
An annoying trend that needs to stop now-The PA announcer in the past has called drivers to their cars for years. I guess it is to build excitement for the start of the race. I have always found it unnecessary to announce but it never bothered me until the last few races when celebrities began assuming the task. Really? Next we will see celebrity drivers of the trucks that take the drivers around the tracks during driver introductions. Having celebrities at the races is great, but having menial tasks like saying “Driver to your cars” is a little much.
I will be back later with a full weekend wrap up. thanks again for following along this weekend.
Photo of yesterday’s race start by Joe Skibinski
Askew Replaces His Replacement
Late last night Arrow McLaren SP named Oliver Askew to replace Felix Rosenqvist in the 7 car for Race 2. Rosenqvist was injured in a frightening crash in yesterday’s race. His injuries are not life threatening.
Askew drove the 7 last year, but did not complete the season. He suffered a concussion in a crash at the Indianapolis 500 last August and after a couple of poor performances, he left the team. Askew has driven in IMSA, driving in the LMP3 class.
Going for Eight
Today’s race could produce a record eighth different winner in the first eight races of the season. I find it ironic that a Team Penske driver could set the record. the team usually has at least three wins by this point in the year.
A Scott Dixon win would tie him with Mario Andretti with 52 career victories.
The Qualifying Format
I like the qualifying format for this race. I assume if another road course double header happens, this format will be used again. I think it is fairer than the fastest driver of two groups concept because all drivers in effect get a chance to compete for the pole.
Palou Needs a Better Day
Points leader Alex Palou needs to have a better day than he had yesterday or his points lead could disappear. He will likely start higher than last, but he has been stuck in the middle of the pack all weekend.
Yesterday Was Wild, Let’s Do It Again
I hope for another good race, minus a crash which injures a driver. A less controversial finish would be nice too. The current aero package continues to be very racy on road and street courses.
I will be heading back to Indy immediately after the race. Look for my thoughts on Race 2 Monday. Thanks for following along this weekend.
Photo of Marcus Ericsson by Chris Owens, Indycar
Let’s begin at the end. The red flag with six laps go was uncalled for. A yellow would have worked. The race may or may not have restarted. I don’t believe in throwing a red flag just so a race can finish under green. Fans are not entitled to a green finish, and drivers accept that sometimes a race finishes under caution.
Congratulations to Marcus Ericsson on his first Indycar victory. He joins Kenny Brack and Felix Rosenqvist as drivers from Sweden who have won at least one Indycar race. Ericsson is the fourth first time winner this season as Indycar continues its streak of a different winner every race. Will the string be broken tomorrow?
Will Power was furious after the race, as well he should have been. His best drive of the year was wasted. I thought he would come out strong today to make up for his showing in the Indianapolis 500. I thought he was motivated today. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him win the pole and lead every lap tomorrow. Look up his interview with Kevin Lee on NBC Sports. I haven’t seen him this angry since Loudon.
Alex Palou retains the points lead by 15 points over Pato O’Ward. Scott Dixon is 26 points behind. Palou started last and finished 15th.
All three of Chip Ganassi Racing’s full time drivers have won a race this year, while Team Penske is still looking for its first victory in 2021. Penske drivers were having one of their better days of the year today until the red flags quashed their strategy.
Today’s race was probably the best one I have seen at Belle Isle. There was lots of passing, different pit strategies, and end of race drama.
Late news from on Felix Rosenqvist from Dr. Billows:
“Evaluation revealed no life or limb threatening injuries, he remains awake and alert, he will be observed overnight prior to discharge from the hospital”
Rosenqvist’s crash was one of the scariest I have seen. The statement implies that he has not been cleared to drive tomorrow. I’m not sure if the car will be ready.
Takuma Sato ,Graham Rahal, and Santino Ferrucci of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing had outstanding drives today, finishing 4th, 5th, and 6th, respectively. Sato started 16th, Rahal 20th, and Ferrucci 21st. It was the team’s best day of the season.
Today was the first race of 2021 where Team Penske cars looked to have a winning race pace. Simon Pagenaud looked to be on a winning path until the red flag, and Josef Newgarden looked to be in line for a top five finish as well. It seems strange that this team has not won a race yet this year. Today was just the second time in 2021 a Penske driver was not on the podium.
Penske VP Bud Denker said on Friday afternoon that about 1,000 tickets remained for today’s race and around 1,400 were still available for Sunday. Thge crowd is limted because of the number of grandstands the organizers could get in place given the original capacity limits which were later expanded.
The IMSA race begins at 5pm. It is a 2 hour race.
The weather for Saturday in Detroit will be similar to yesterday. According to my weather app, there is a 32% chance of rain at 3 pm. Rain tire strategy could come into play mid race.
The new qualifying format for Detroit adds a Fast Twelve for the pole. The fastest car in each group does not receive a point as in the past. Only the pole winner gets a bonus point. Will Power said in the post practice press conference that he might choose Group 1 today because of the time of the qualifying round. Indy Lights has race 3 qualifying before Indycar is on track. Power’s reasoning is that since you only need to be one of the fastest six cars in your group, it doesn’t matter. The order of the groups switches tomorrow.
I’ll be back with a brief post qualifying report around noon.
Photo by Matt Fraver, Indycar
Will Power had the quickest time in the only practice session for the Chevrolet Grand Prix of Detroit this afternoon. Sébastien Bourdais looked as if he would lead the 75 minute period, but Power’s final lap put him on top.
The three rookies all had on track issues.Jimmie Johnson spun into the tires in turn 3 and Scott McLaughlin spun in turn 5 just moments later.Romain Grosjeqn spun but kept the carrunning and returned the track later in the session.
Power talked about the heat today, where the track temperature reached 120 degrees.
“Yeah, it’s very hot out there,” Power said. “It’s just a physical track. You kind of hold your breath because there’s just so much commitment. I feel all right. The car is in a really good window. I was happy to get a lap in there at the end, with some guys backing up and such.”
It was a good showing for Chevrolet in their home race as cars powered by the Detroit made engine took the top three spots. Honda and Chevy each had five cars in the top ten.
Points leader Alex Palou was mired in mid pack most of the session. Palou has a six place grid penalty for tomorrow’s race, so a high qualifying spot is crucial for him.
Qualifying begins at 11 am EDT tomorrow.