By Steve Wittich
The National Anthem was performed by a virtual collection of Big Machine Label Group artists, including Sheryl Crow, Lady A, Brantley Gilbert and others.
The command to start engines was given at two minutes past noon, by Pike High School graduate and Indiana governor
Of note, unlike at Texas Motor Speedway, the engineers/technicians form Chevrolet and Honda, were on the grid and plugged into their twin-turbo V6 engines.
When the cars were fired, the ambient temperature was 89F and the track temperature was 122F. Indianapolis Motor Speedway was bathed in hazy sunshine.
The No. 15 of Graham Rahal and No. 9 of Scott Dixon did not immediately fire, but they were quickly started and joined the grid in their original starting positions.
On the parade lap, Kellett let his crew know that he was not able to get a drink.
The front row of Will Power and Jack Harvey got the green flag, the third time by the flag stand.
Power got a great start, while Harvey was slow to get going. Rahal got a great start and it appeared that Rahal might have made front wing to rear wheel contact with Harvey when he tried to get by him.
Everybody made it through the first laps cleanly.
The running order at the end of the first lap was: 12 60 15 88 1 9 7 20 28 59 27 18 8 45 10 5 21 30 55 22 29 24 98 26 4 14
On the second lap, Daly was able to move past Askew for seventh.
As the crossed the line to start Lap 3, Power’s lead over Harvey was 0.9 seconds. Last year’s winner Pagenaud, was only able to gain one spot from his 20th starting spot.
Spencer Pigot, who started 16th had moved up to 11th by Lap 5. Alex Palou, who started 21st had moved up to 18th.
The lead to start Lap 5 was still under one second.
Race control announced that an incident between Karam and Hinchcliffe was being reviewed. Karam had to give up the position for exceeding track limits while overtaking.
On Lap 5, VeeKay came to pit road.
Up front, on Lap 7, the top four of Power, Harvey, Rahal and Herta were all running nose-to-tail. They had a 2-second advantage over fifth place Newgarden.
Coming to pit road early on Lap 8 were Andretti, O’Ward, and Hinchcliffe. On the next lap Pagenaud and Kimball pitted. Pagenaud went from blacks to reds.
On lap 10, the Chip Ganassi Racing duo Dixon and Rosenqvist pitted, getting off their blacks and going to reds.
On his second laps on reds, VeeKay set the quickest lap of the race to that point.
On Lap 11, Ericsson, Rossi, Palou and Sato are on pit road. Up front Power’s lead was 1.5 seconds. On the next lap, it was Veach pitting.
The drivers up front were running laps at 72.8 seconds, while the driers who had pitted were running laps in the high 71 second range.
On lap 14, Dixon turns the quickest lap of the race to that point – that has to make the leaders think about their strategies.
At lap 15, Josef Newgarden bailed on the two stop strategy and came to pit road.
Up front, the lead for Power over Harvey was 1.2 seconds. Harvey’s crew was asking him to keep up with Power and save fuel at the same time.
On Lap 16, Herta, Chilton and Hunter Reay pitted.
Drivers that had yet to pit were: Power, Harvey, Rahal, Daly, Askew, Pigot, Ferrucci, Karam and Kellett.
On Lap 17, Power and Askew bail on the two stop strategy. Harvey follows them to pit road.
That passed the lead over to Rahal, who was 11.5 seconds ahead of Daly. Rahal, who has a new strategist in Neil Fife, is told that he’s doing a great job. On Lap 20, Rahal turns his quickest lap of the race.
On lap 20, Karam pits, leaving only Rahal, Daly, Pigot, Ferrucci and Kellett as the drivers who had not pitted.
Lap 22 and Pigot gets by Daly for second, but is now 14.7 seconds adrift of his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing teammate.
The top 10 for the drivers who have pitted is Power, Newgarden, Harvey, Herta, Dixon, VeeKay, Rossi, O’Ward, and Ericsson.
That early pit stop appears to have worked out well for VeeKay.
At lap 25, the top 10 are Rahal, Pigot, Daly, Ferrucci (who have not stopped), Power, Newgarden, Harvey, Dixon, Herta and VeeKay.
On lap 26 Rahal, Pigot, Daly and Ferrucci all come to pit road. The Dale Coyne Racing With Vasser-Sullivan crew has a problem with the right rear wheel and the stop is slow.
Rahal comes out in fourth place only 9.2 seconds behind Power.
The running order after all cars have pitted is: Power, Newgarden, Harvey, Rahal, Dixon, Herta, VeeKay, Rossi, O’Ward, Ericsson, Askew, Rosenqvist, Pagenaud, Chilton, Hinchcliffe, Andretti, Pigot, Hunter-Reay, Daly, Palou, Kimball, Veach, Sato, Karam, Ferrucci, and Kellett.
On lap 29, Power’s lead over his teammate Newgarden is 5.1 seconds. Harvey is in third, 2.8 seconds behind Newgarden.
At this point in the race the only drivers in the top 10 on Blacks are Rahal and Dixon.
On Lap 31, Pagenaud, VeeKay and Hinchcliffe are the first drivers to make their second pit stops.
Rahal, on blacks, has now fallen 13.6 seconds behind Power and is complaining about his rear tires burning off already.
On the next lap, Rosenqvist, Andretti, O’Ward, Kimball and Karam come to pit road.
On lap 33, Dixon, Herta and Hunter-Reay make their second stops. Up front, the lead is 4.5 seconds.
On lap 34, it’s Rossi and Ericsson that pit. Ericsson stop was slow as it appeared that they had issues with fueling.
On Lap 38, the caution came out, for Oliver Askew, who got oversteer in the final turn. He couldn’t catch it and made hard contact with the left rear against the SAFER Barrier in oval Turn 1.
The Arrow McLaren SP rookie was able to get out of the car under his own power. He was checked, released and cleared to drive.
Oliver Askew told NBC’s Dave Burns:
“I’m OK, but a little bit dizzy and a little dehydrated. Super unfortunate. It’s unacceptable to have a result like this. I need to check the data… now watching the replay. I lost the rear of the car. The rears were starting to go away, and it caught me off guard. I need to apologize to the guys.”
The highest running driver who had made his second stop at this point was Scott Dixon.
On Lap 38, the pits opened for everybody. Pitting are Power, Newgarden, Chilton, Harvey, Veach and Sato.
The running order coming to the green flag is: Rahal, Pigot, Daly, Dixon, Herta, VeeKay, Rossi, Ferrucci, Pagenaud, O’Ward, Hinchcliffe, Andretti, Ericsson, Power, Newgarden, Harvey, Chilton, Sato, Veach, Kellett, Hunter-Reay, Kimball, Rosenqvist, Palou, Karam and Askew (out).
On the restart, Rossi was slow on track falling back through the field, reporting that he has a misfire. Rossi comes to pit road and gets out of his car.
Alexander Rossi told NBC’s Marty Snider:
“We just lost power when we started getting going. It’s potentially a fuel pressure issue. We’ve had a couple of those gremlins throughout the weekend. This AutoNation Andretti Autosport Honda was good… we thought we’d be fighting for a top five.
“It sucks, but at least we have two doubleheaders the next two weeks. We will need to have to go hard to capitalize.”
Rahal led his teammate Pigot through the first corner and started to pull away.
On lap 42, Daly falls behind Dixon and Herta falling into the clutches of teammate VeeKay. The Dutchman passes the American into Turn 1.
On lap 45, the top 10 were Rahal, Pigot, Dixon, Herta, VeeKay, Daly, Pagenaud, O’Ward, Hinchcliffe and Ferrucci.
On the next lap, Dixon moves to second and puts pressure on Rahal for the lead.
Rahal comes on the radio to tell his crew that he can’t keep Dixon behind him. He lets him go and ask for a fuel number to hit. Dixon immediately starts to stretch his lead.
On Lap 50, Dixon’s lead is 3.9 seconds over Rahal, who is struggling with pace on the Blacks.
Rahal has one second over Pigot, who has Herta and VeeKay putting immense pressure on him.
Power, who restarted 14th was only running 11th on Lap 53
Daly comes to pit road on Lap 53 for second and final stop.
Rahal came to pit road for his second and final stop on Lap 54. He was over 10 seconds behind Dixon. Pagenaud also comes to pit road. Rahal goes from Blacks to used Reds. Ferrucci also pits.
Dixon covers Rahal, coming to pit lane on lap 55. VeeKay, from fourth also pits. O’Ward, Power, Harvey and Andretti also pit. Power stalls the No. 12, the crew has to go get him as he’d rolled two pit stalls ahead, and falls down the order.
That passes the lead to Pigot, who pits at the same time as Herta. That passes the lead over to Ericsson, who still needs to pit.
Ericsson and Sato pit on Lap 57. Newgarden assumes the lead, followed by Hinchcliffe and Veach. Hinchcliffe, Kellett and Chilton make their final stops on the next lap.
Newgarden and Veach are the only two cars that need to make their final stops.
Dixon in third has a 12.35 second advantage over Rahal, who has his teammate Pigot 1.5 seconds behind him.
Pigot is in the effective final spot on the podium, but is facing pressure from Pagenaud, Herta and VeeKay.
On Lap 61 Newgarden pits, passing the lead over to Veach, who is the only driver to not make his final stop.
In the battle for the final spot on the podium, both Pagenaud and Herta get by Pigot.
On Lap 62, Veach finally pits, passing the lead over to Dixon. Dixon’s lead over Rahal is an insurmountable 13.5 seconds. Pagenaud is third, 4.4 seconds behind Rahal. He has 1.5 seconds over Herta and 2.5 seconds over VeeKay.
Mike Hull is on the radio telling Dixon that the gap is the same and that the laps times are the same. At this point in the race, Ericsson, in sixth is quickest car on track. He should have a good chance to catch VeeKay, who is on the less preferred black tires.
Pigot’s freefall continues as he drops down to 13th place, complaining of engine issues. His last lap time was six seconds slower than the leader.
A lap 64 incident between Palou and Andretti was under review. Palou was penalized one position for avoidable contact.
Mike Hull tells Dixon on the radio that his fuel number is good.
On lap 69, Ferrucci gets past Daly for ninth. The quickest drivers on track are Rahal, Pagenaud and Ericsson.
Ericsson is starting to put pressure on VeeKay for fifth with 10 laps remaining.
With eight laps left, Pagenaud has caught Rahal and starts to put pressure on him for second. Behind them, Herta is working hard to hold off VeeKay and Ericsson.
With seven laps remaining the lead for Dixon is 18 seconds.
Further back in the field, Daly is struggling to hold off Sato, Hinchcliffe and Veach for the 10th place.
With six laps to go, VeeKay has to get defensive against Ericsson. The last thing Ericsson needs to do is cause a caution, which would hurt his teammate.
With five laps remaining, Rahal has one second over Pagenaud.
With four laps left, Veach misses his braking point in Turn 7 and drops a spot are going through the grass.
With 3 laps left, Newgarden is working hard to hold off O’Ward for 7th.
Dixon gets the white flag with a 19.82 second lead over Rahal. The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver is fighting furiously with Pagenaud for second place. Rahal is able to hold him off.
Dixon: That was well done guys and girls. Thank you so much!
Hull: You’re the first guy to get to go up on Penske’s new lift.
Unofficial results of the GMR Grand Prix
|1||9||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing||Honda||80 Laps|
|2||15||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||Honda||19.9469|
|3||22||Simon Pagenaud||Team Penske||Chevy||20.5642|
|4||88||Colton Herta||Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport||Honda||25.0882|
|5||21||Rinus VeeKay||Ed Carpenter Racing||Chevy||25.6361|
|6||8||Marcus Ericsson||Chip Ganassi Racing||Honda||25.7133|
|7||1||Josef Newgarden||Team Penske||Chevy||31.8973|
|8||5||Pato O’Ward||Arrow McLaren SP||Chevy||33.8363|
|9||18||Santino Ferrucci||Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan||Honda||43.0469|
|10||30||Takuma Sato||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||Honda||44.8913|
|11||29||James Hinchcliffe||Andretti Autosport||Honda||46.1674|
|12||20||Conor Daly||Ed Carpenter Racing||Chevy||49.9774|
|13||28||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport||Honda||50.4892|
|14||26||Zach Veach||Andretti Autosport||Honda||52.2172|
|15||10||Felix Rosenqvist||Chip Ganassi Racing||Honda||56.6884|
|17||60||Jack Harvey||Meyer Shank Racing||Honda||63.8457|
|18||4||Charlie Kimball||AJ Foyt Enterprises||Chevy||65.5192|
|19||55||Alex Palou||Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh||Honda||66.4782|
|20||12||Will Power||Team Penske||Chevy||71.6129|
|21||14||Dalton Kellett||AJ Foyt Enterprises||Chevy||– 1 LAPS|
|22||98||Marco Andretti||Andretti Herta with Marco & Curb-Agajanian||Honda||– 1 LAPS|
|23||24||Sage Karam||Dreyer & Reinbold Racing||Chevy||– 1 LAPS|
|24||45||Spencer Pigot||RLL with Citrone/Buhl Autosport||Honda||– 2 LAPS|
|25||27||Alexander Rossi||Andretti Autosport||Honda||– 22 LAPS|
|26||7||Oliver Askew||Arrow McLaren SP||Chevy||-46 LAPS|
Back with more later!