Team Penske NTT INDYCAR SERIES Race Report

Track:                  Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Race:                   Indianapolis 500

Date:                   May 30, 2021

No. 2 Shell Fuel Rewards Dallara/Chevrolet – Josef Newgarden

Start: 21st

Finish: 12th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 200/200

Laps Led: 0

Points Position: 6th (-64 pts)

  • Josef Newgarden and the No. 2 Shell Fuel Rewards Chevrolet team moved through the field from their 21st starting position in Sunday’s 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 to earn a 12th-place finish in the race won by former Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves.
  • The race started off with a blistering pace being it slowed by a caution period that provided Newgarden and the No. 2 team with an opportunity to gain valuable track position. Race strategist Tim Cindric was moments away from calling his driver down pit road when the yellow flag was displayed, which allowed Newgarden to pit under the caution period and gain nine positions.
  • The biggest concern for the Shell Fuel Rewards team throughout the afternoon was trying to find the proper balance between aerodynamic and mechanical grip on the Shell Fuel Rewards Chevy. Cindric called for numerous adjustments to the front and rear wings to address the handling issues on the car.
  • The team’s strategy changed late in the race as Cindric called Newgarden in early in the closing pit cycles. At one point, the off-sequence strategy saw Newgarden rise to the fifth position before he slotted in 12th position at the checkered flag.

Quote: “The No. 2 Shell Fuel Rewards Chevrolet was okay today. We just never found a way to balance the handling. It was a constant tinker between aerodynamic and mechanical changes to try and find the right amount of grip. Team Chevy brought good power but fighting either understeer or oversteer makes it hard to properly use it. Congrats to Helio on making history. He was a great teammate and I know he’s been trying for this for a long time.”

No. 3 Pennzoil Dallara/Chevrolet – Scott McLaughlin

Start: 17th

Finish: 20th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 200/200

Laps Led:  0

Points Position:  9th (-105 pts)

  • Scott McLaughlin didn’t secure the finish he wanted behind the wheel of the No. 3 Pennzoil Chevrolet in his maiden Indy 500 drive, but the New Zealand-native posted a 20th-place finish as he earned Rookie of the Year honors for the 2021 Indianapolis 500.
  • After qualifying 17th, McLaughlin jumped to the outside of the field at the drop of the green as he looked to gain several positions. Early on, McLaughlin reported that the No. 3 Chevy needed more front grip and turn. After making a front wing adjustment, McLaughlin said the Pennzoil Chevrolet was “really racy.”
  • A caution as the first pit window opened changed the early complexion of the race as multiple cars pitted under a closed pit and had to serve penalties. McLaughlin was able to make it to pit road once it was open to competitors and he picked up several positions, eventually restarting in ninth place.
  • During the second round of pit stops, McLaughlin lost a little time on pit road as he fell to 12th in the running order. After some encouragement from the team, McLaughlin was ready to make up the ground lost on his next stop.  Unfortunately, the Pennzoil Chevrolet was too fast entering the pits and McLaughlin was forced to serve a drive through penalty. A quick caution flag allowed McLaughlin to remain on the lead lap, but he still fell to 30th in the running order.
  • Following the penalty, the No. 3 team focused on fuel strategy to make up positions on the track. The caution flag that McLaughlin needed to gain ground never materialized as he brought the Pennzoil Chevrolet home in the 20th position.  McLaughlin captured the top rookie honors in the race with Sunday’s result.

Quote: “One mistake, it just eats you. You can’t make mistakes here; it needs to be a perfect day. That’s why experience is so important in this sport. It’s a place that really bits you, especially when you don’t see it coming. I didn’t quite pump my brake pedal up and had a stone-cold set of rotors coming into pit lane. I’m thankful that no one was hurt, as I came in there pretty hot. I’m happy to get rookie of the year, that was the main goal, but I would have liked to have finished higher up with the Pennzoil Chevy. I feel as though I could have been a factor, so it’s a bit of a bittersweet. But for my first Indy 500, to see Helio get his fourth, is tremendous. It was amazing to hear the crowd as I was getting out of the car! After 2020 it was a great 2021.”

No. 12 Verizon 5G Dallara/Chevrolet – Will Power

Start: 32nd

Finish: 30th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 197/200

Laps Led: 0

Points Position:  12th (-120 pts)

  • Will Power and the No. 12 Verizon 5G Chevy team proved to be one of the fastest cars on track in the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500, but troubles on pit lane resulted in a 30th-place finish on Sunday
  • Power’s day began had an unceremonious beginning as the No. 12 Verizon 5G Chevy lost power during the pace laps Once the issue was fixed he was able to rejoin the field in his qualifying position, and he quickly made up ground charging to 25th in the first two laps.
  • Battling for position in the top 25, Power made a scheduled pit stop on lap 34 with the No. 12 suffering from a loose-handling condition. The team went to work on pit road with four fresh Firestone tires, fuel and a wing adjustment on the Verizon 5G Chevy. The caution flag fell as Stefan Wilson spun directly in front of the No. 12 pit stall right after Power completed his stop, which put the Verizon 5G Chevy down a lap. Fortunately, Power was able to take the wave around, which put him back on the lead lap.
  • With just over 50 laps remaining, green flag stops began once again and Power advanced to second place before he visited pit road for a scheduled stop. Unfortunately, Power spun on pit lane as he encountered braking issues. On a final pit stop with 16 laps remaining, Power had to serve a pit road penalty, which put the No. 12 team down by three laps at the conclusion of the race.
  • In the end, the Verizon 5G Chevy was unable to capitalize on the track positioned gained in the race and came home with a 30th-place finish. Power will look for a strong rebound during the Dual in Detroit doubleheader weekend on Belle Isle, June 12-13.

Quote: “I feel like we could have finished in the top five, we were just getting ourselves in that position on the last stop and then the brakes went to the floor unfortunately. I obviously spun trying to stop it and then the next time it just went straight to the floor. So, I mean, we had a good car, just unfortunately we’ll have to have a good look and see what was wrong with those brakes and see what happens. I have to say that all of the guys on the Verizon 5G Chevy team put in so much work this month, and it’s something I appreciate immensely. We’ll get back on track.”

No. 22 Menards Dallara/Chevrolet – Simon Pagenaud

Start: 26th

Finish: 3rd

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 200/200

Laps Led:  3

Points Position:  4th (-47 pts)

  • Simon Pagenaud and the No. 22 Menards Chevrolet team made up ground throughout the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 and made a strong charge for the win before finishing third on Sunday afternoon.
  • Pagenaud began his day from the 26th position and battled handling issues over the first 100 laps of the 500-mile event.
  • An untimely caution flag on lap 35 kept the No. 22 Chevy on track when Pagenaud was scheduled to make his first stop of the race. Looking to avoid running out of fuel, Pagenaud was forced to come in for service when pit lane was closed, and he had to restart the race from the rear of the field.
  • After a series of great pit stops by the Menards Chevy team, Pagenaud entered the top 10 on lap 127 when he gained three positions on a race restart. He eventually made his way up to the top spot but was again forced to pit road for fuel on lap 176.
  • With four laps remaining, Pagenaud made his way up to the fourth position and was charging hard for a podium finish. On the final lap, the Menards Chevy accelerated and claimed the third position when Pagenaud crossed the yard of bricks. Improving to fourth in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship standings, Pagenaud next will see action in the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit, June 12-13.

Quote: ““The Menards Chevy team did an amazing job in the pits. The car was phenomenal all day. Man, we started up front. We were right there at the end. I just want to congratulate him (Helio Castroneves, race winner). What he’s doing is awesome. And he is old. That gives me another 10 years. I think we had the race car to get it done today. Certainly Chevy, amazing job with the engine power, and handling was phenomenal. I was pedal to the metal.”