INDIANAPOLIS—By all assessments, the GMR Grand Prix weekend was a tough one for A.J. Foyt’s team but after Saturday’s race, A.J. said, “At least we were able to roll them into the garage.”
Sebastien Bourdais started 20th and found himself even further back by the time he got through the chaos as the field funneled into Turn 1. A couple cars came together towards the front of the group which sent everyone in the back scurrying looking for holes.
For Bourdais, it may have felt like déjà vu but, unlike the XPEL 375 in Texas where he and Dalton Kellett were eliminated in a seven-car melee before they reached the starting line, Bourdais managed to avoid getting hit. Teammates Kellett in the K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet and Charlie Kimball, making the first of two starts in the No. 11 Tresiba Chevrolet, also got through.
It turned out to be the only caution period of the race which went non-stop for the remaining 82 laps of the 85-lapper once the green flag flew again..
Bourdais pitted early—on lap 10—to switch from the primary black tires to the red alternates as did his teammate Kellett during his first scheduled stop on lap 15. Kimball took on a different strategy, using a new set of black primaries for his second stint. Each driver made three fuel stops with stints being about 20 to 25 laps each. Kimball only took on sticker red alternate tires during his last stop on Lap 64. When the checkered flag flew after 85 laps, Bourdais was 19th, Kellett was 20th and Kimball was 22nd.
The drivers remained positive in their outlooks and post-race remarks as noted below.
Bourdais said: “Disappointing weekend for the 14 ROKiT Chevrolet with A.J. Foyt Racing. Obviously, we didn’t have the qualifying that we wanted. Started twentieth, on top of it, got bottled up at the start, picked the outside and that’s where all the chaos ended up so lost a bunch of positions. Pace wasn’t great but it wasn’t really bad during the race. Then at the end we were fighting for 15, 16, 17 something around there and made a small mistake coming out of the pits, crossed the exit line (prematurely) and got a drive-through (penalty) for it. That put us right back where we started pretty much, finished 19th. So onwards and upwards and hopefully we got that out of the way and can get a better day for the 500.”
Dalton Kellett commented, “The first race for the “Month of May” is all wrapped up. P20 for the No. 4 K-Line Chevy. Not exactly where we wanted to end up. The balance was okay but as the track rubbered up and the stints went on, we were struggling with more and more understeer so just trying to adapt to that and use our tools to keep on top of the tires. Our consistency was better and we were making moves from where we started so that was good. It’s always an exciting race here, the first lap action is pretty fun. We didn’t really get any yellows [after the first one]. Once we got out in clean air and running by myself, I was trying to be consistent hitting my marks and making sure we were on our fuel number. I think I learned some valuable stuff and I’m looking forward to coming back in a couple of days and going the other way.”
Kimball praised his brand new pit crew for their solid pit stops. (LAT USA Photo)
Charlie Kimball noted: “Tough day for the No. 11 Tresiba Chevrolet but we accomplished all our goals. Not the result we wanted but at the same time we ran almost all the laps and we had three really clean pitstops. This is a crew that hasn’t worked together until this weekend and hadn’t done any over-the-wall stops until warmup this morning. So the fact that they were able to get three really good stops in anger during the race was a really good thing. It lays a very solid foundation as we head into the week of practice for the Indianapolis 500. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with Sebastien and Dalton and adding JR to the mix as well.
Larry Foyt summed up by saying, “Tough weekend for the whole A.J. Foyt Racing team. From the time we unloaded we didn’t have pace and struggled to find a setup that suited all our guys. The good thing is all the cars finished. So now we just need to look at the data and see what we’re missing here and keep working on it because we know we’re going to have more races at this track and we really want to figure it out. We’ve a lot of work to do.”
Rinus Veekay won the race for his first triumph in NTT INDYCAR Series competition. Pole winner Romain Grosjean finished second. Rounding out the top five were Alex Palou, Josef Newgarden and Graham Rahal.
The next race on the schedule is the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 which will be aired on NBC on Sunday, May 30th starting at 11 a.m. ET. Qualifying for the 500 takes place next weekend with grid positions 10 through 30 set on Saturday. Sunday features last chance qualifying for positions 31 through 33 and sets the grid positions for the Fast Nine.