Team Penske NTT INDYCAR SERIES Race Report

Track:                  Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course

Race:                   Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix

Date:                   August 14, 2021

No. 2 XPEL Dallara/Chevrolet – Josef Newgarden

Start: 20th

Finish: 8th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 85/85

Laps Led: 2

Points Position: 4th (-55 pts)

  • Starting Saturday’s Big Machine Spiked Coolers from the 20th position was not what Josef Newgarden envisioned when he arrived at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for this weekend’s tripleheader with the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and NASCAR. However, he was the biggest mover in the 85-lap event as he carved his No. 2 XPEL Chevrolet through the field for an eighth-place finish.
  • A frustrated Newgarden finished Friday’s qualifying session with the 14th-fastest lap of the session, but he also knew that a six-position grid penalty was forthcoming for an engine change after last weekend’s race in Nashville.
  • Led by Newgarden and race strategist Tim Cindric, the No. 2 Chevrolet team developed their usual solid strategy to make up ground and attack the race. That strategy, along with a fast car, allowed Newgarden to methodically work his way up the scoring pylon throughout the race.
  • As he began to move his way into the top 10, Newgarden briefly grabbed the lead of the race at lap 65 before relinquishing the top spot as he made his way to pit road. Newgarden’s rise through the competitive field plateaued just after entering the top 10 as he crossed the finish line in the eighth position.

Quote: Finishing eighth today was not what we were dreaming of, but a pretty good result after having to start 20th. There was some chaos to avoid in the beginning after thinking I was going to get sideswiped by several cars on the start. I felt like I had to save the car for later in the race and that put us back a little bit. After that we just started marching forward and finally got into the top 10 and finished eighth. Again, a pretty good day for us. It was a fun race with XPEL and Team Chevy, and we moved forward in points a bit so that is great.”

No. 3 CarShop Dallara/Chevrolet – Scott McLaughlin

Start: 21st

Finish: 23rd

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 85/85

Laps Led:  0

Points Position:  13th (-202)

  • Scott McLaughlin and the No 3 CarShop Chevrolet team finished 23rd in Sunday’s Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) Road Course following an exciting 85-lap race.
  • For just the second time in his young NTT INDYCAR SERIES career, McLaughlin entered the weekend with first-hand knowledge of the racing surface. The New Zealand ace qualified fifth and finished eighth in May’s GMR Grand Prix on the IMS road course, giving him plenty of confidence heading into the weekend.
  • After starting from the 21st position, McLaughlin was penalized one position for shortcutting the course after he launched his No. 3 Chevrolet over the track curbing early on. It took McLaughlin several laps to find his rhythm again, but he began to click off some fast lap times as the race progressed.
  • With just a handful of laps remaining and McLaughlin pushing for a top-15 finish, the three-time Australian Supercars champion was penalized again for avoidable contact on the No. 21 car driven by Rinus VeeKay. Asa result, McLaughlin crossed the finish line in the 23rd position.
  • McLaughlin and the No. 3 Chevrolet team is ranked 13th in the driver standings following Saturday’s result. They will return to action next Saturday in the Bommarito 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway.

Quote: “The Carshop Chevrolet was reasonably quick today, we just lacked a little bit of track position today. That is on us though. We have to qualify better to find ourselves a bit more in the mix. We made a mistake towards the end of the race when we were in slightly better position than where we finished. We are headed back to an oval next week and I am looking forward to taking another crack at that to see what we have. A disappointing day, but also a good learning day.”

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

Start: 2nd

Finish: 1st

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 85/85

Laps Led:  56

Points Position:  9th (-137)

  • After a dominating performance and leading 56 of the 85-lap race, Will Power and the No. 12 Verizon 5G team crossed the yard of bricks in first place to secure the Australian’s first victory of the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season.
  • Power began his day from the front row of the Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix after qualifying second on Saturday and barely missing the pole position.
  • After a quick early pit stop, Power took over the race lead on lap 21 and another fast stop by the No. 12 Verizon 5G team helped Power get back to the front as he seized the lead again on lap 42.
  • With 18-laps remaining, the Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix saw its first full-field caution of the afternoon followed by another yellow flag with eight laps remaining. Both restarts saw the No. 12 Verizon 5G Chevrolet pull away from the field in a commanding fashion.
  • Holding off the other 27 competitors, Power secured his sixth win at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway and his fifth win on the IMS Road Course. This triumph marks Power’s 40th career INDYCAR win, along with his 14th year in a row posting at least one series victory. 

Quote: “I can’t begin to tell you what it means to win these days. When you are in your 40s and still kicking butt, it’s awesome. You can’t doubt yourself; you just have to keep digging. I wasn’t feeling safe until there was literally one to go. The misfortunes we’ve had at times have been a struggle it’s a tough series. There are many, many components that have to be right. Everyone has to do their job perfectly and that’s what we did today. Winning is important for Verizon and for Roger Penske, especially here. Very, very happy.”

No. 22 Menards Dallara/Chevrolet – Simon Pagenaud

Start: 12th

Finish: 16th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 85/85

Laps Led:  7

Points Position:  8th (-120)

  • Simon Pagenaud and No. 22 Menards Chevrolet team started from the 12th position in the Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. Despite a solid effort from the team, late-race cautions saw the No. 22 fall to 16th when the checkered flag flew over the Brickyard.
  • Pagenaud began his day strong as he advanced the No. 22 Menards Chevrolet two positions into the top 10 on the opening lap of the 85-lap event.
  • The strategy for the Frenchman after he worked his way inside the top 10 was to produce solid long runs to gain track position throughout the afternoon. By lap 18, Pagenaud took over the second position and then he captured the race lead on lap 39.
  • With strategy set for the race, unfortunately the caution flag fell over the speedway with Pagenaud running eighth and 18 laps remaining as the No. 22 Chevy ran on the primary black Firestone tires. On the race restart, the Menards machine was shuffled behind the cars on the red Firestone tires that provided more grip through the turns for the short run.
  • Pagenaud will return to the cockpit of the No. 22 Menards Chevrolet next weekend as the NTT INYDCAR SERIES returns to oval racing next week at World Wide Technology Raceway. 

Quote: “It was a good day today that turned bad on the last stint. Unfortunately, our tire strategy of being on black, primary tires on the last stint was a problem on the restarts late in the race. Obviously, you want to be on the red, alternate tires for restarts and the last stint was when we saw the safety car. It’s kind of the same bad luck we’ve been having lately but hopefully it will turn around in St. Louis. It’s an oval that I really love, but really disappointed today. I thought we had a something for the top seven and 16th is not where we wanted to end up. The Menards Chevy team gave it all they had today and I’m proud of that.”