Pruett’s Slowing Lap: Indy GP Edition
How the hell do we put the season to date in context?
It opened at Barber with Pato O’Ward taking his first pole and Alex Palou capturing his first win. Then Colton Herta took pole and the victory at St. Pete. Rain scuttled the Texas doubles qualifying, and with seemingly barred passes in the first race, Dixon left pole, but fellow rookie Scott McLaughlin gave him the firm close to second in his first oval race. .
Dixon came back from pole due to the championship lead at Texas 2 and appeared to be on the way to a shutout, but O’Ward chased everyone in sight and proved that passing was indeed an option if you were ready to take risks and catch. stirs and glides at 220 mph. So O’Ward won, turned 22 days later, competed in the GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis on a high, and found his team missed the one-mile setup window and struggled all weekend. -end while Romain Grosjean brought the racing world to tears after taking pole.
And if that wasn’t enough, Ed Carpenter Racing, a team that has been somewhat adrift since Josef Newgarden’s loss to Team Penske in 2017, saw Conor Daly deliver like never before in qualifying to take P6, just ahead of VeeKay . And instead of Daly making his way to the end of the lead and winning in front of the home crowd, he got run over in the first round and his teammate broke the internet in Holland while leading home a merry Grosjean.
Oh, and Newgarden knocked out a ton of cars in the first race and had a terrible start to the year, but pulled from 23rd to fourth in the standings. Behind him, the bowling ball impression of Pietro Fittipaldi in Texas 2 ensured that some of the series’ most popular pilots were buried in the championship.
Plus, Jimmie Johnson and the fun Carvana commercials! And young pilots on the rise! And we haven’t run the Indy 500 yet … man, I can think of a few seasons that lacked as much change and excitement as the first 27 days of the 2021 season.
Dixon did well to recover from a bad qualifying pass at the Indy GP to return to ninth place and maintain his lead in the championship (176 points). Leaving Texas, he held 22 points over second-placed O’Ward, but P2 was taken over by teammate Alex Palou (163), who is 23 points behind.
O’Ward’s rough Indy GP saw Newgarden also squeeze third in points (148) as the winner of Texas 2 fell to fourth (146 points).
Graham Rahal took fifth place (137) while GP winner Rinus VeeKay was the big driver, dropping from 11th to sixth (135). Simon Pagenaud was sixth after Texas 2 and is now seventh (130), his rookie teammate Scott McLaughlin is unchanged in eighth (123) and his teammate Will Power did the same, remaining ninth (118). The biggest fall went to Colton Herta, who fell from seventh to tenth (117).
And outside the top 10, Jack Harvey – once fifth – is now 13th, Alexander Rossi has gone from 15th to 14th, Sébastien Bourdais has gone from 14th to 16th, Ryan Hunter-Reay has exchanged 19th for 17th and Felix Rosenqvist abandoned the 16th for the 18th.
Since it’s always interesting to know which teams are in a strong position in the championship when entering the Indy 500, here are your top 10 entries:
Party 18th and 22nd, Mr. Hinchcliffe was definitely at the race, but it was certainly not in the race.
ANVIL DE CARTOON
There was no Golden Bowling Ball worthy driver at the Indy GP, but Cartoon Anvil knocked out two of the Firestone Fast Sixes as Conor Daly got “ Pagen-o’d ” in the first lap, turn 1 (since ‘Sato’d’ became a thing, it can be universally applied to all pilots), and Jack Harvey was robbed by a double anvil strike on the same lap.
* Ages of the five winners so far this season: 24, 21, 21 (at the time of victory), 40 and 20. Add the ages of Palou, Herta, Dixon, O’Ward, and VeeKay together and divide by five and you get 25.2. Subtract Dixon, and the average age of four of the five winners is 21.5 years. Is it the lowest among all the major professional racing series?
* Five races and Team Penske has exhausted the left and right sides of the podium with five visits so far. But no luck reaching the top step. The last time this happened? That would be in 2013, when a seven-race drought was ended by winning Helio Castroneves in Texas.
* Between Charlie Kimball’s RaceWithInsulin.com Foyt race and Conor Daly’s NeedleFreeInsulin.com ECR car, did the GMR GP run the world’s first race between duels of type 1 diabetes delivery devices?
* Similar topic: Has anyone noticed the carshop.com sponsorship on Team Penske cars and the giant carshop.com banner on the inner deck? I imagine the Ganassi team had an order “No pictures of Honda Carvana # 48 under this bridge” to make sure there is no confusion between car buying services on the internet. .
* A reminder of how IndyCar became competitive was offered by Arrow McLaren SP. They were everywhere on round 1. Nowhere on round 2. Close to everywhere on round 3. Everywhere on round 4. And nowhere on round 5. One of the key themes of their progression through the grid was consistency, and well although this is still a work in progress, it would not be surprising to see one or more AMSP riders doing the Fast Nine in qualifying this weekend.
* By staying with AMSP, is Felix Rosenqvist paying the price for having a different chassis setup preference than his teammate O’Ward? There is no blame here on the team; It’s a pretty common story in racing for a new driver to take longer than the veteran of the team to find their engineering comfort zone. Still, it’s obvious that what O’Ward requires to go fast on the road and on the road doesn’t match Rosenqvist’s needs behind the wheel. His frankness after a discouraging run for 17th place shed some light on the matter: “It was a really bad race. We just haven’t had the rhythm this weekend, and without it you don’t have the tools to move forward. We need fundamental changes on that side of the road courses, but we are pushing and doing all we can to find that solution.
* Your 2018 Indy Lights Finalist, 2000 Indy Lights Champion, 2018 Indy Lights Champion and 2019 Indy Lights Finalist have won the last four races. We can safely take away any arguments regarding the change of cars from Road To Indy and the general approach to building the stars of the next generation IndyCar, right?
* Dixon remains the only rider to finish in the top 10 in every race, but just squeaked with a ninth at Indy. Everyone else has at least one bad finish affecting their position in the championship.
* Best combined effort of the season for Ed Jones and No.18 Dale Coyne Racing with the Vasser Sullivan Honda team, albeit during the first quarter of the race. Starting ninth, Jones was quick over the Reds, reaching third before his first pit stop. But the transition to the primaries coincided with a significant drop in pace and difficulties in overtaking the slower drivers on the way to a disappointing 14th. His teammate Grosjean taking pole and finishing second only highlighted the different fortunes under the DCR tent.
* To make matters worse, Grosjean, who skipped both ovals in Texas – compared to Jones, who did all five laps – dropped from 21st to 15th in the standings while Jones slipped from 18th to 19th.
* Despite a report indicating that the entire # 8 Honda crew of Marcus Ericsson had been changed upon entering the GP, only one rear tire changer was new to the rotation.
* News of Max Chilton’s withdrawal from the weekend came 30 minutes before the start of Practice 1. At least one very talented and available driver, who was on the track with a helmet and seat ready to go, said that his outreach to the team had not been answered. RACER has learned that the team are hoping Chilton will arrive at some point and drive the car, and are ready to go last if he misses the track action on Friday. If it weren’t for the terrible start to the No.59 Chevrolet season, history would be no problem. But with the No.59 shared by Chilton and Conor Daly occupying the 24th and last spot in contestants’ points, the team arrived at Indy outside of the Leaders Circle’s $ 1 million threshold. By missing the GMR GP, the distance to the safe zone – P22 – was widened.
* Speaking of the Leaders Circle, there is a close battle for 22nd place between CGR’s # 48 Honda in 21st (59 points) and Andretti’s # 29 Honda in 22nd (56). The first on the wrong side is the # 4 Foyt Chevy (48), and the 24th, Carlin’s # 59 Chevy is in bad shape (31).
* For those who watched the qualifiers live on Peacock, Will Power has confirmed that his vocabulary includes words starting with the letter “M” and the letter “F”. He also knows how to use them together in a very fun way, for those who are not easily offended.
* It’s hard to say what Mike Shank and Jim Meyer did to make the universe angry with their team, but Saturday’s podium performance which was killed by a wheel gun failure in the pit lane and a A flat tire moments later was not the end of their misery. It continued on Sunday at the Meyer Shank Racing home track in Mid-Ohio, where their No.60 Acura ARX-0f IMSA DPi entry had … a slow pit stop, was knocked out on the way out from the pit lane, and if that oddly familiar scenario wasn’t enough, the timing of the yellows meant teams had to save a ton of fuel to get to the finish. Fifth in the class of six, MSR pilot Olivier Pla did a few laps to refuel and finished last. The races can sometimes be cruel.