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GMR Grand Prix Post Race Report

INDIANAPOLIS (Saturday, May 15, 2021) – The belief always has been there for Rinus VeeKay. Now it has translated into victory.

VeeKay earned his first career NTT INDYCAR SERIES victory Saturday in the GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in his 19th career start. VeeKay drove his No. 21 Sonax/Autogeek Chevrolet to a 4.9510-second victory over NTT P1 Award winner Romain Grosjean in the No. 51 NURTEC ODT Honda.

Alex Palou rounded out the podium finishers in the No. 10 The American Legion Honda.

MEDIA LINKS: Official Race Results | Driver Video Quotes |

Post-Race Video Conference Transcripts: Palou/Grosjean | VeeKay

“I actually thought it, yeah,” the confident VeeKay said when asked if he believed he could win this 85-lap race. “We had an awesome start to the weekend. I knew we had the car; we were so fast. I’m so happy for the team, so thankful. I couldn’t have done it without them.

“A perfect day. It’s amazing, and thank you to all the fans coming out. Getting my first podium here last year and now winning, it’s a dream.”

VeeKay, 20, became the sixth-youngest winner in INDYCAR SERIES history by delivering Ed Carpenter Racing its first victory since Josef Newgarden won in July 2016 at Iowa Speedway. VeeKay also became the first driver ever to win in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and in all three rungs of the Road to Indy ladder series – Indy Lights, Indy Pro 2000 and USF2000.

The victory also continued a remarkable opening five races of the 2021 season, with three first-time series winners – VeeKay, Palou (Barber Motorsports Park) and Pato O’Ward (Texas 2) – for the first time since 2013. There also has been a different winner in each race this season.

2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year VeeKay led 33 laps and averaged 116.096 mph. He took the lead for good on Lap 65 when six-time series champion Scott Dixon made his final pit stop in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, on a different pit strategy than the leaders.

Then VeeKay managed his gap over Grosjean and traffic over the closing 20 laps as very light rain began to spatter the Speedway. The moisture never required a switch to rain tires, but it kept VeeKay and the rest of the 25-driver field atop their respective steering wheels.

VeeKay’s margin over Grosjean was 9.0106 seconds with 10 laps to go. Grosjean, helped by Firestone alternate “red” tires that were three laps fresher than VeeKay’s, sliced that gap nearly in half over the last 10 trips around the 14-turn, 2.439-mile circuit but never threatened VeeKay, who also slowed in his final laps to save enough fuel to finish.

“I was not concerned about the fuel,” VeeKay said. “I just hoped the rain was not going to get worse. I’m standing in Victory Lane!”

This was the first podium finish in open-wheel racing since 2015 at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, with Lotus in Formula One for rookie Grosjean, who joined Dale Coyne Racing with RWR this year after 10 seasons in F1.

“That’s really a good day,” Grosjean said. “I think we’ve done really good work this weekend. We learned at the start of the race, and we were super fast. We were a bit unlucky with the slower cars and traffic, but P2 in my third INDYCAR race is not too bad.”

Fans at IMS serenaded Grosjean with cheers as he was interviewed on pit lane after the race. The Frenchman has gained worldwide acclaim and popularity for his positive attitude after suffering severe burns to his hands last November in a fiery crash at Bahrain that ended his F1 career.

“It’s incredible,” Grosjean said of the crowd. “Bahrain, it was horrible, but for my life it’s been a great experience, and people really are behind me, and I can tell. I can feel it. The support I’m having is incredible. You only see me smiling here in the U.S.”

VeeKay and Grosjean both used the Firestone primary “black” tires for only one stint, but their strategies differed. VeeKay started on primaries from the seventh starting position, while Grosjean led the field to the green flag on alternates from the pole.

That choice allowed Grosjean to rocket to a lead of more than four seconds over Palou before both made their first stops on Lap 25.

Grosjean, who led a race-high 44 laps, regained the lead on Lap 28 after the field cycled through its stops. He made his second stop on Lap 43 and switched to the more durable but less grippy primary tires, handing the lead to Ryan Hunter-Reay, on a different pit strategy in the No. 28 DHL Honda.

VeeKay had made his second stop on Lap 36, with a set of alternate tires. He used the extra grip to pass Grosjean for third in Turn 12 on Lap 44. But it was a decisive move because Hunter-Reay and Dixon were running 1-2, respectively, but on a different pit strategy.

Dutchman VeeKay made his final pit stop on Lap 60, taking alternate tires. Grosjean stopped for the last time on Lap 63, also taking alternate tires, but VeeKay stayed ahead of him in Turn 1 as Grosjean exited pit lane.

Two-time series champion Newgarden finished fourth in the No. 2 Snap-on Tools Team Penske Chevrolet, while Graham Rahal rounded out the top five in the No. 15 Fifth Third Bank Honda.

Dixon kept the championship lead, 176-163, over second place Palou. Dixon finished ninth today after starting 16th.

The next NTT INDYCAR SERIES race is the 105th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 30. Practice on the 2.5-mile oval opens Tuesday, May 18.

Grosjean Stuns Field with NTT P1 Award at GMR Grand Prix

INDIANAPOLIS (Friday, May 14, 2021) – Talk about making an entrance.

Former Formula One driver Romain Grosjean won the NTT P1 Award for the GMR Grand Prix on Friday afternoon on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, making ripples across the motorsports world by earning his first career NTT INDYCAR SERIES pole in just his third start.

Rookie Grosjean turned a top lap of 1 minute, 9.4396 seconds in the No. 51 NURTEC ODT Honda during the Firestone Fast Six final round of qualifying. This was Grosjean’s first open-wheel pole since he claimed the top spot in GP2 — the final ladder series leading into Formula One — in May 2011 at Istanbul, Turkey.

MEDIA LINKS: Official Qualifying Results 

Frenchman Grosjean, 35, came to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES this season with Dale Coyne Racing with RWR after 10 seasons in Formula One. His F1 career ended in a fiery crash last November in Bahrain in which he escaped an inferno with serious burns to his hands, endearing himself to fans around the world with his optimistic spirit during his recovery.

“Amazing,” Grosjean said. “When I saw the (first qualifying) group I was in, I was like, ‘Oh, dear, if we can get out of the first group, we’re going to be OK,’ and we did. That last few laps, we were on it. What a day for us.

“I’m happier than I have been in a very long time.”

Grosjean will lead the 25-car field to the green flag on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course Saturday afternoon. Live coverage of the 85-lap race starts at 2 p.m. (ET) on NBC and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

Two-time series champion Josef Newgarden will join Grosjean on the front row after a top lap of 1:09.5665 in the No. 2 Snap-on Tools Team Penske Chevrolet. It’s Newgarden’s best starting position this season.

Jack Harvey continued his strong start to the season by qualifying third at 1:09.6528 in the No. 60 AutoNation/Sirius XM Honda. Season-opening race winner Alex Palou will start fourth after a lap of 1:09.7118 in the No. 10 The American Legion Honda.

Scott McLaughlin was the second rookie in the Firestone Fast Six, and he will start a season-best fifth after a lap of 1:09.7140 in the No. 3 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet. Conor Daly rounded out the top six at 1:09.8662 in the No. 20 MannKind Chevrolet, also his best qualifying performance this season.

This was the first INDYCAR pole for the Coyne team since 2018, when Sebastien Bourdais took the top spot at Phoenix Raceway.

“When you look at his resume and how great he was before he got into Formula One, and Formula One is such a team performance issue, we knew he could win races and we knew he could win poles,” team owner Dale Coyne said of Grosjean. “He’s proven it today.”

The Firestone Fast Six was almost as noteworthy for the drivers who didn’t make the cut as those who competed for the NTT P1 Award.

Four-time GMR Grand Prix pole winner Will Power didn’t advance to the final round after spinning between Turns 12 and 13 early during the second round of qualifying with a loose-handling No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Chevrolet. 2014 series champion and three-time GMR Grand Prix winner Power will line up 12th, his lowest position in eight career starts in this event.

“At least we’re 12th – that’s better than St. Pete, 20th,” Power said. “It’s so crazy how the car can change so much from session to session. I made a mistake. I’m very frustrated at myself.”

A handful of other series heavyweights didn’t advance from the first round of qualifying, including the top two drivers in the championship standings, Scott Dixon and Pato O’Ward. Dixon will start 16th in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, while O’Ward will line up 18th in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.

Also starting in the back half of the field are 2016 Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner Alexander Rossi (14th), reigning Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato (17th), 2012 series champion and 2014 Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay (19th) and four-time INDYCAR SERIES champion Bourdais (20th).

Five Things to Watch at GMR Grand Prix

INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, May 13, 2021) – Finally, it’s May in Indianapolis!
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES has staged four races in 2021, the first held on a permanent road course (Barber Motorsports Park), the second on a temporary street circuit (St. Petersburg, Florida) and two same-weekend races on a high-speed oval track (Texas Motor Speedway).

The diversity of the series again will be on full display at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix will be held on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. Following that, IMS crews will quickly convert the facility to its original oval configuration for the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 30. Practice for the “500” begins at 10 a.m. (ET) Tuesday.

In between those two races will be the “500’s” NTT P1 Award qualifying sessions May 22-23, which includes the Fast Nine Shootout to determine the first nine starting positions and the Last Chance Qualifications to see which car-and-driver combinations will start on the 11th and final row – and which competitors will not earn a spot — in the 33-car “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

But first things first – the GMR Grand Prix.Twenty-six entries are set for Friday’s two 45-minute practice sessions (9:30 a.m. ET and 1 p.m. ET) along with NTT P1 Award qualifying at 4:30 p.m. ET. Each of these sessions can be viewed live on Peacock Premium, NBC’s streaming service available at 
www.peacocktv.com for $4.99 per month.

NBCSN will replay the three qualifying rounds at 6 p.m. ET.On Saturday, INDYCAR’s 30-minute warmup is set for 10:45 a.m., with NBC’s broadcast of the 85-lap race beginning at 2 p.m.

The INDYCAR Radio Network also will have the call.The presence of all three Road to Indy divisions will make for a busy IMS weekend. Two races for Indy Lights and three races apiece for Indy Pro 2000 and USF2000 will be spread over Friday and Saturday.

Complete weekend information is available at www.ims.com/PlanAhead.For now, here are five things to watch for in the GMR Grand Prix:

Additions to the Entry List

There are two additions to the regular entry list, with Juan Pablo Montoya and Charlie Kimball added for the first of their two races this month.

Montoya will drive the No. 86 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet in his first race with the team. Kimball returns with AJ Foyt Racing in the No. 11 Tresiba Chevrolet.Both drivers have considerable experience, both in the sport and on the IMS road course. Montoya made four starts in the GMR Grand Prix for Team Penske, finishing third in 2015. He also made six starts for the Williams and McLaren teams when Formula One raced on the circuit’s previous design. His best finish was fourth in 2002.

Last year was Kimball’s first season with A.J. Foyt’s team, and he competed in all three races here, finishing 13th in Race 1 of the INDYCAR Harvest GP on Oct. 2. Among his eight starts on this circuit are three consecutive fifth-place finishes for Chip Ganassi Racing (2014-16).


The Favorites

Start with any of the four drivers representing Team Penske’s organization. The team has won seven of the past eight races on the IMS road course, including both races last October.

Team Penske’s Will Power (No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Chevrolet) has won four of the races and five of the poles, including both in the most recent event, the INDYCAR Harvest GP held Oct. 3. He led all 75 laps. Teammate Josef Newgarden (No. 2 Snap-On Team Penske Chevrolet) won the Oct. 2 race.

Team Penske’s other IMS road race winner is Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet), who won from the pole in 2016 and then from the eighth spot in 2019. The Frenchman also won the inaugural event driving for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

NTT INDYCAR SERIES points leader Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing (No. 9 PNC Bank Gow Up Great Honda) is the only other driver to have won an INDYCAR race on the IMS road course, last July in the GMR Grand Prix. Dixon has finished second in this event on three consecutive occasions (2017-19).

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal (No. 15 Fifth Third Bank Honda) has had two second-place finishes on the IMS road course. Felix Rosenqvist (No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet) and Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay (No. 21 Sonax/Autogeek Chevrolet) are the other former IMS road course pole winners in this field. Rosenqvist took the top spot for the GMR Grand Prix in 2019, while VeeKay won the pole for the INDYCAR Harvest GP Race 1 last October.

The Defiant, Young Stars

Undeniably, INDYCAR’s Under-25 Club is gaining in stature this season.

There have been four different race winners this season, and three of them are among INDYCAR’s youngest drivers. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou (No. 10 The American Legion Honda) had only recently turned 24 when he won the season-opening Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst at Barber Motorsports Park on April 18. Andretti Autosport with Curb-Agajanian’s Colton Herta (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda) was a fresh 21 years old when he captured the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on April 25.Pato O’Ward (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet) continued the youth movement by winning the second race of the Texas doubleheader, known as the XPEL 375, on May 2. Four days later, O’Ward turned 22.

Dixon is the other race winner this season, having taken the trophy following the first Texas race, the Genesys 300, on May 1, but his recent birthday put him at a new age level. He is now 40.

VeeKay is another young driver hoping to add his name to the winner’s list this season. The Dutchman turns 21 in September.

These Drivers Deserve a Look, Too

This event marks the first INDYCAR race at IMS for seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson of Chip Ganassi Racing (No. 48 Carvana Chip Ganassi Racing Honda). He has tested an NTT INDYCAR SERIES car on the road course and has experienced his share of success in Indianapolis, but all four of his NASCAR Cup Series race wins occurred on the oval, the most recent in 2012.

Romain Grosjean, who drives the No. 51 NURTEC ODT Honda of Dale Coyne Racing with RWR, spent 10 seasons in Formula One, but the United States Grand Prix at IMS was off F1’s schedule before Grosjean joined the series. Therefore, this will be his debut at the Racing Capital of the World. Like Johnson, he is only competing on the non-ovals this season, which means he won’t compete in the “500.”

The newcomer to Team Penske’s stable is three-time Australian Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin (No. 3 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet), whose IMS experience is comprised of two tests on the oval. He is the only INDYCAR rookie competing on both Speedway circuits this month. His season has been highlighted by a runner-up finish in Race 1 at Texas.Meyer Shank Racing’s Jack Harvey (No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda) is off to a strong start this season, making his presence particularly felt during the Texas doubleheader. He finished seventh in Race 1 and was running fourth in Race 2 when a mechanical issue knocked him out of the race. Harvey’s best INDYCAR finish – third place – happened in the 2019 GMR Grand Prix.

Other Title Hopefuls Need Indy Resurgence

With the season at its first-quarter pole, several veterans with championship aspirations, including a pair of former series champions, need a lot to go right in the next couple of weeks at IMS.AJ Foyt Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais (No. 14 ROKiT AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet) needs to forget the recent doubleheader at Texas. Entering the weekend seventh in the standings, his car was knocked into the Turn 2 wall by Newgarden in Race 1 and got collected in the opening-lap accident in Race 2. Finishes of 23rd and 19th dropped him to 14th in the standings, 85 points out of the top spot.

Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi (No. 27 AutoNation/NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda) had almost as bad of a Texas trip. After finishing eighth in Race 1, he, too, was collected in the first-lap crash. He enters this weekend 15th in the standings, 88 points behind Dixon’s leading total.

Two other Andretti Autosport drivers are in a similar points hole. Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28 DHL Honda) and James Hinchcliffe (No. 29 #ShiftToGreen Honda of Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport) are 17th and 19th in the standings, respectively. Like Bourdais, Hunter-Reay is a former series champion.

If these drivers can perform well in Saturday’s race, the “500” awards double points for its finishers.

GMR Grand Prix Fast Facts

Race weekend: Friday, May 14 – Saturday, May 15

Track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course (clockwise)

Race distance: 85 laps / 207.3 miles

Media links: Entry List (PDF) | Trackside Media Guide (Interactive PDF) | Driver Video Quotes

Push-to-pass parameters: 200 seconds of total time, with a maximum time of 20 seconds per activation.

Firestone tire allotment: Six sets primary, four sets alternate (Note: An seventh set of primary tires is available to any car fielding a rookie driver.)

Twitter: @IMS @IndyCar, #ThisIsMay, #IndyCar

Event website: www.ims.com

INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com

2020 race winner: Scott Dixon (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda)

2020 NTT P1 Award winner: Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet), 1:10.1779, 125.116 mph.

Qualifying lap record: Will Power, 1:07.7044, 129.687 mph, May 12, 2017 (Set in Round 3 of knockout qualifying)

NBC Sports race telecasts: Qualifying, 6 p.m. ET Friday, NBCSN (Same-day delay); GMR Grand Prix, 2 p.m. ET Saturday, NBC (live). Leigh Diffey is the play-by-play announcer for NBC’s coverage of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy.

Peacock Premium Live Streaming: All NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice sessions and qualifying will stream live on Peacock Premium, NBC’s direct-to-consumer livestreaming product.

INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Davey Hamilton. Nick Yeoman and Jake Query are the turn announcers. The GMR Grand Prix will air live on network affiliates, SiriusXM 205, indycar.comindycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app powered by NTT DATA. All NTT INDYCAR SERIES practices and qualifying are available on SiriusXM 205, indycar.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app.

At-track schedule (all times local):

Friday, May 14 (All times are local)

9:30-10:15 a.m. NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice, Peacock Premium

1-1:45 p.m. NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice, Peacock Premium

4:30 p.m. Qualifying for the NTT P1 Award (three rounds of NTT INDYCAR SERIES knockout qualifications), Peacock Premium (Live)

Saturday, May 15

10:45-11:15 a.m. NTT INDYCAR SERIES warmup, Peacock Premium

2 p.m.  NBC on air

2:39 p.m. “Drivers, start your engines”

2:45 p.m. GMR Grand Prix (85 laps/207.3 miles), NBC (Live)

Race Notes:

  • The GMR Grand Prix will be the 10th INDYCAR SERIES event conducted on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course. Scott DixonJosef NewgardenSimon Pagenaud and Will Power are the only drivers to win on the IMS road course. Pagenaud won the GMR Grand Prix in 2014, 2016 and 2019, Power won the GMR Grand Prix in 2015, 2017 and 2018 and the second race of the Harvest Grand Prix doubleheader in 2020. Dixon won the 2020 GMR Grand Prix, while Newgarden won the first race of the 2020 Harvest GP doubleheader.
  • Pagenaud, Power, Felix Rosenqvist and Sebastian Saavedra are the only drivers to have won the pole position in the GMR Grand Prix. Saavedra claimed the pole in 2014, Power in 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2020, Pagenaud in 2016 and Rosenqvist in 2019. Power and Rinus VeeKay won the NTT P1 Award in the Harvest Grand Prix doubleheader last October.
  • Four NTT P1 Award winners have won the GMR Grand Prix from the pole: Power in 2015, 2017 and 2018 and Pagenaud in 2016. Power also won the second Harvest GP race from pole in 2020.
  • Nine drivers have competed in every INDYCAR SERIES race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course – Marco Andretti, Dixon, James HinchcliffeRyan Hunter-Reay, Newgarden, Pagenaud, Power, Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato. All but Andretti are entered this year.
  • Dixon has finished first or second in the last four GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis, including last year’s win – his first on the IMS road course. Dixon, who won at Texas on May 1 for his 51st career win, leads the point standings entering the event for the second straight year.
  • Rookies Romain Grosjean, Jimmie Johnson and Scott McLaughlin will race NTT INDYCAR SERIES cars on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course for the first time this weekend. Johnson is no stranger to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, though. He won the Brickyard 400 – the NASCAR Cup race previously held on the oval — four times.
  • Twenty-three of the drivers entered in the event have competed in INDYCAR races on the IMS road course. Eleven entered drivers have led laps in the GMR Grand Prix: Power 210, Pagenaud 68, Dixon 66, Graham Rahal 36, Newgarden 25, Ryan Hunter-Reay 18, Rosenqvist 15, James Hinchcliffe 4, Alexander Rossi 2, Marcus Ericsson 1 and Jack Harvey.

Starting Line-up for Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway

Tony Kanaan was P1 in practice but will start 23rd. INDYCAR Photo Chris Owens SP Car Driver Name C/E/T1 10 Palou, Alex D/H/F2 12 Power, Will D/C/F3 9 Dixon, Scott D/H/F4 26 Herta, Colton D/H/F5 22 Pagenaud, Simon D/C/F6 60 Harvey, Jack D/H/F7 14 Bourdais, Sebastien D/C/F8 21 VeeKay, Rinus D/C/F9 8 Ericsson, Marcus D/H/F10…

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Five Things To Watch at Genesys 300/XPEL 375 Doubleheader

INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, April 29, 2021) – After staging a race on a permanent road course and another on a temporary street circuit, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES is ready to ramp up the speed with its first oval event of the season this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.Call it a Texas two-step as the Genesys 300 opens the show at 7 p.m. (ET) Saturday followed by the XPEL 375 at 5 p.m. (ET) Sunday. The first race is 212 laps, the second 248 on the 1.5-mile oval. Both races will air live on NBCSN and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon won last year’s event, leading 157 of the 200 laps in the first of three consecutive victories to open his title-winning season. It was the third consecutive year that the Texas winner went on to capture the championship. But Dixon figures to have plenty of challengers in the first doubleheader at Texas since 2011.

These two races also help set the stage for a busy Month of May – two races each at TMS and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, plus NTT P1 Award qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. It’s possible, though unlikely in this competitive sport, that a driver could collect a staggering 274 points this month alone!Given the two-day format at Texas, there is only one practice, a 75-minute session at 12:45 p.m. (ET) Saturday (live on Peacock Premium, NBC’s streaming service). Qualifying is at 4 p.m. (ET) Saturday (live on Peacock and NBCSN), with the starting grid for both races set in the session. Sign up for Peacock Premium at 
www.peacocktv.com for $4.99 per month to get all the INDYCAR action, Indy Lights races and shoulder programming.

Here are five things to look for this weekend in Fort Worth:

Ch-ch-changes

Let’s start with which drivers will be in the 24-car field and which cars they will drive. Two of the more noteworthy additions are former Texas race winners.

Tony Kanaan, who won at the track for Andretti Autosport in 2004, will drive the No. 48 Bryant Honda of Chip Ganassi Racing in the Genesys 300 and the No. 48 American Legion Honda for the Ganassi team in the XPEL 375.2004 series champion Kanaan is sharing the entry this season with seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, who is focusing on the road courses and street circuits. These will be two of Kanaan’s four races this year, the others being the Indianapolis 500 on May 30 and the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 on Aug. 21 at World Wide Technology Raceway.

The other former Texas race winner making his season debut is Ed Carpenter, who in recent years has driven only on the oval tracks. Carpenter will drive the No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet, a seat held in the season’s first two races by Conor Daly. Like last year, Daly has moved to the No. 59 Carlin Chevrolet that Max Chilton usually drives. Chilton will be back in the car for both the GMR Grand Prix at IMS on Saturday, May 15 and the “500.”

Like Johnson, Formula One veteran Romain Grosjean is not competing on the ovals as an INDYCAR newcomer, and his seat in the No. 51 Nurtec ODT Honda of Dale Coyne Racing with RWR will be taken on the ovals by rookie Pietro Fittipaldi. The 24-year-old Brazilian competed in three oval races in his six-race 2018 INDYCAR season cut short by injuries suffered in a World Endurance Championship sports car event in Belgium.

This isn’t the first time Fittipaldi has stood in for Grosjean. He drove the last two races of the 2020 Formula One season for the Haas F1 Team after Grosjean suffered burned hands in a fiery crash at Bahrain.


Former Texas Winners Aplenty

The next important factor to consider is which drivers have enjoyed success on Texas’ 1.5-mile oval. There are six who have won there, the highest number of former winners in an INDYCAR race this season until the “500,” when there could be up to nine.

Dixon dominated last year’s event in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Honda, one of his four wins at the track. Dixon’s other wins came in 2008, 2015 and 2018, which means he has won two of the past three outings and three of the past six. Only Helio Castroneves, who is not in this field, has won four INDYCAR races at Texas.

Team Penske’s Will Power (No. 12 Verizon 5G Chevrolet) has a pair of Texas wins, in 2011 and 2017. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal (No. 15 Fleet Cost & Care Honda) won in 2016 and Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden (No. 2 XPEL Team Penske Chevrolet) won in 2019.


INDYCAR’s Youth Movement

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) is the series points leader as a 24-year-old series sophomore, and a pair of 21-year-olds – Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet) and Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda) – won the NTT P1 Award as pole winner at the season’s first two races. Herta led 197 of the 200 laps in winning last weekend’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Also off to a strong start this season is Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay (No. 21 Sonax/Autogeek Chevrolet). VeeKay, 20, has finished sixth and ninth in the season’s opening races, respectively, good for eighth in the standings.

Here’s an interesting fact about INDYCAR’s youth movement: Herta and VeeKay were 3 years old when Dixon scored his first top-three finish at Texas in the season-ending 2003 race. O’Ward was 4.


Parity on the Podium

The first two races of the INDYCAR season have seen six different drivers earn top-three finishing positions. In fact, the top four finishers in the two races have been represented by eight different drivers.Consequently, the point totals are tighter than normal. Palou leads with 67, but Power and Dixon have 65 and Herta 62. Given the point structure, it is likely that any driver currently in the top nine will be the series leader – at least for a night – with a win Saturday.

Not surprisingly, there is congestion in the middle of the pack, too. Only four points separate fifth from ninth place, and three drivers – AJ Foyt Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais (No. 14 ROKiT AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet), Meyer Shank Racing’s Jack Harvey (No. 60 AutoNation/Sirius XM Honda) and VeeKay — are tied with 51 points. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Ericsson (No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) has 50 points.


Title Hopefuls Need Help

And then there are those especially eager to climb in the standings.

Newgarden (10th place with 47 points), O’Ward (11th with 45), Rahal (13th with 41) and Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi (16th with 31) are ones to watch in this race. Newgarden and Rahal have combined for three wins, with Newgarden third last year and Rahal second in 2012 and 2019.

Rossi has had strong cars at Texas – he finished third in 2018 and was second in 2019 – and is desperate for a good points day after finishing ninth at Barber Motorsports Park and 21st in St. Petersburg, the latter due to his car suffering a flat right front tire in Turn 4 contact with Rahal. A slow start to last season cost Rossi a chance at the championship, and he had vowed to begin better this year. So far it hasn’t happened, but Texas could be his turnaround.

Genesys 300 and XPEL 375 Fast Facts

Race weekend: Saturday, May 1 and Sunday, May 2

Track: Texas Motor Speedway, a 1.5-mile oval

Media links: Genesys 300 Entry List (PDF) | XPEL 375 Entry List (PDF) | Driver Video Quotes

Race distances: Genesys 300212 laps / 318 miles | XPEL 375: 248 laps/372 miles

Firestone tire allotment: Thirteen sets primary to be used during practice, qualifying and the doubleheader races.

Twitter: @TXMotorSpeedway @INDYCAR, #Genesys300, #XPEL375, #INDYCAR

Event website: www.TexasMotorSpeedway.com

INDYCAR website: www.indycar.com

2020 race winner: Scott Dixon, 1:38:37.7648, 175.201 mph (200 laps/300 miles)

2020 NTT P1 Award winner: Josef Newgarden, 48.0578 seconds, 215.740 mph (two laps)

Qualifying record (based on track distance of 1.44 miles)One lap: Charlie Kimball, 23.2730, 222.747 mph, June 9, 2017

NBC Sports race telecasts: Qualifying, 4 p.m. ET Saturday, NBCSN (live); Genesys 300, 7 p.m. ET Saturday, NBCSN (live). XPEL 375, 5 p.m. ET Sunday, NBCSN (live). Leigh Diffey is the play-by-play announcer for NBC’s coverage of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy.Peacock Premium Live Streaming: All NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice sessions and qualifying will stream live on Peacock Premium, NBC’s direct-to-consumer livestreaming product.

INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Davey Hamilton and Nick Yeoman. Jake Query is the turn announcer. The Genesys 300 and XPEL 375 races air live on network affiliates, SiriusXM 205, indycar.comindycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app powered by NTT DATA. All NTT INDYCAR SERIES practices and qualifying are available on SiriusXM 205, indycar.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app.

At-track schedule (All times local/Central Time): 

Saturday, May 1

11:30-11:40 a.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES pit speed limiter practice (two groups/five minutes each)

11:45 a.m.-1 p.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice, Peacock Premium

3 p.m. – Qualifying for the NTT P1 Award (Single car, two laps (Lap 1/Genesys 300; Lap 2/XPEL 375), Peacock Premium (Live)

6 p.m. – NBCSN on air

6:40 p.m. – “Drivers, start your engines”

6:45 p.m. – Genesys 300 (212 laps / 318 miles), NBCSN (Live)

Sunday, May 2

3:30 p.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES install laps

4 p.m. – NBCSN on air

4:10 p.m. – “Drivers, start your engines”

4:15 p.m. – XPEL 375 (248 laps / 372 miles), NBCSN (Live)

Race Notes:

  • The Genesys 300 and XPEL 375 will be the first doubleheader held at Texas since 2011 and the 33rd and 34th races overall, dating to Arie Luyendyk winning the inaugural event in 1997.
  • The Texas INDYCAR SERIES race will be held in May for the first time. The previous 32 races have been run in June since 1997.
  • No driver has competed in every Texas race, but Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan have started 21 races. Both are entered in the Genesys 300 and XPEL 375.
  • Helio Castroneves and Dixon have won four times at Texas Motor Speedway, tied for the most wins by an INDYCAR SERIES driver at the track. Castroneves won in 2004 Race 2, 2006, 2009 and 2013, while Dixon won in 2008, 2015, 2018 and 2020. Six past TMS winners are entered in this year’s race: Kanaan (2004 Race 1), Dixon, Will Power (2011 Race 2 and 2017), Ed Carpenter (2014), Graham Rahal (2016) and Josef Newgarden (2019).
  • Power has won the pole for three of the past eight Texas Motor Speedway races (2013, 2014 and 2015). Other past pole winners entered this year are Dixon (2008), Newgarden (2018 and 2020) and Takuma Sato (2019). Kanaan won a draw to start first for the second of the 2011 doubleheader races but has never won the pole at Texas.
  • Six drivers have won the Texas race from the pole: Sam Hornish Jr. (2001 Race 2), Gil de Ferran (2003 Race 2), Castroneves (2004 Race 2), Tomas Scheckter (2005), Dixon (2008) and Ryan Briscoe (2010).
  • Drivers who have won at Texas have gone on to win the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship nine times, including the last three seasons with Scott Dixon in 2018 and 2020 and Josef Newgarden in 2019. Dixon also won at Texas and the title in 2008 and 2015. Others are: Sam Hornish Jr. (2001 Race 2 and 2002 Race 2), Tony Kanaan (2004 Race 1) and Dario Franchitti (2011 Race 1).
  • Twenty-one drivers entered this weekend have competed in past NTT INDYCAR SERIES events at Texas Motor Speedway. Twelve drivers have led laps at the track: Dixon 674, Power 432, Kanaan 372, James Hinchcliffe 196, Newgarden 162, Ryan Hunter-Reay 136, Carpenter 92, Simon Pagenaud 85, Sato 60, , Rahal 36, Alexander Rossi 10 and Marcus Ericsson 2.
  • One rookie – Scott McLaughlin – is entered. He will make his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES start on an oval this weekend at Texas. Carpenter, Kanaan and Pietro Fittipaldi will make their 2021 season debut this weekend.
  • There have been two winners in two races in 2020 – Alex Palou (Barber) and Colton Herta (St. Petersburg). Since 2012, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES has averaged just under nine different race winners per season, including a record-tying 11 winners in 2014. There were seven different winners in the 14 races of 2020 with an equally tight competition projected for this season.

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Dominant Herta Grabs First 2021 Win
at Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Sunday, April 25, 2021) – Colton Herta put the disappointment of a tough season opener behind him to dominate the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, earning his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES victory of the season.

NTT P1 Award winner Herta led a race-record 97 of 100 laps from the pole in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda to win by 2.4933 seconds over two-time series champion Josef Newgarden in the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet. 2016 series champion Simon Pagenaud finished third in the No. 22 Menards/Australian Gold Team Penske Chevrolet on the 14-turn, 1.8-mile temporary street circuit.

MEDIA LINKSOfficial Results | Driver Video Quotes

Herta’s average speed was 96.552 mph in a race slowed by just three full-course cautions for nine laps. All 24 drivers in the starting field coped with air temperatures in the low 80s and high humidity, sapping every bit of their world-class fitness over one hour, 51 minutes in the cockpit.

“What a great job by everybody,” Herta said. “Sorry, I can barely talk; I’m so winded. I’m so happy we did this, so happy to rebound from Barber and get the momentum going for the season that we need, which is a championship season.”

Front-row starter Jack Harvey ended up fourth in the No. 60 AutoNation/Sirius XM Honda. Six-time and defending series champion Scott Dixon finished fifth in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

The strong finishes for Herta and Newgarden erased memories of a rugged season opener for both last Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park. Herta finished 22nd and Newgarden 23rd in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst after Newgarden spun on the first lap and collected multiple cars, including Herta’s machine.

Barber race winner Alex Palou finished 17th today in the No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda but kept the championship lead, 67-65, over Will Power. 2014 series champion Power rallied from a 20th starting spot to finish eighth in the No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Chevrolet.

Herta, who started the race on the Firestone “red” alternate tires, chose Firestone “black” primary tires on his final pit stop on Lap 67. Newgarden was forced to use the “reds” on his final stop on Lap 67 since he started on “blacks” and used another set of primary tires on his first stop.

It appeared tire strategy would be moot three laps after those final stops, as Herta was on cruise control and led Newgarden by 9.4390 seconds on Lap 70. But rookie Jimmie Johnson spun and clipped the inside wall in Turn 3 with his No. 48 Carvana Chip Ganassi Racing Honda on Lap 73, triggering the second full-course caution and evaporating Herta’s big lead.

On the ensuing restart on Lap 76, Newgarden and his grippier alternate tires made a run at Herta but couldn’t get close enough to pass. But then the No. 18 SealMaster Honda of Ed Jones, the No. 29 Genesys Honda of James Hinchcliffe and the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet of Pato O’Ward made contact in Turn 4 on Lap 79, triggering the final full-course caution on Lap 80.

Two-time defending St. Petersburg race winner Newgarden got another chance to make a run at Herta on the restart on Lap 83, but Herta held him off. Newgarden stayed close to Herta in a gripping, all-American duel for the next 10 laps, but Herta kept his California cool and pulled away gradually for victory over Tennessee titan Newgarden.

“He’s so good around here,” Herta said of Newgarden. “I was nervous because he was on those new red tires. I thought they were going to be better. But they ended up being similar (to the primary tires), so I was able to hold him off.”

Said Newgarden: “We lost a little too much ground on that second stint to capitalize on the reds. Then we had the caution, which almost gifted us another chance. I just didn’t want to overextend myself today. I felt like I had close to an opportunity, but Colton was really good. He was doing a great job on the restarts.

“Congrats to Colton. It’s a great rebound for both of us. I felt bad about what happened last week, so really happy he got back on it today and had a very deserved victory. I wish we could have fought him a bit more. We were just lacking a little bit.”

It was the fourth career victory for Herta, 21, in his third season in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. He matched the INDYCAR SERIES win total of his father, Bryan Herta, who competed from 1994-2006 and now calls race strategy for his son for Andretti Autosport.

“That was awesome,” Herta said. “I love that he’s on my radio.”

The first oval events of the season are next on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule, with a doubleheader next weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. The Genesys 300 is scheduled for 7 p.m. (ET) Saturday, May 1, with the XPEL 375 set for 5 p.m. Sunday, May 2.

NTT P1 Award St. Petersburg Qualifying Report

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Saturday, April 24, 2021) – Colton Herta won the NTT P1 Award for pole position for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Saturday in a qualifying session that featured as much news for who didn’t make the Firestone Fast Six as for who did.

Herta took his first pole of the season and fifth of his NTT INDYCAR SERIES career with a best lap of 1 minute, .3210 of a second in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda. His previous best start at St. Petersburg was third last October, and his last pole came last September at Mid-Ohio.

MEDIA LINKS: Qualifying Results | Driver Video Quotes

“I knew we had a good race car for here and really good qualifying pace from last year,” Herta said. “We just had to get through those first two stages nice and clean. The Gainbridge car was so good today, and everybody did a phenomenal job all weekend up until this point. Really happy for the guys, and hope we have a great race tomorrow.”

This was the second pole at St. Petersburg for the Herta family. Colton’s father, Bryan, who calls race strategy on his radio for Andretti Autosport, earned the top spot for this event in 2005 while driving for the Andretti team.

Jack Harvey will join the younger Herta on the front row of the 100-lap race Sunday (noon ET, NBC and INDYCAR Radio Network) after a best lap of 1:00.5709 in the No. 60 AutoNation/Sirius XM Honda.

Two-time series champion Josef Newgarden will start third after a best lap of 1:00.6078 in the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet. Newgarden led both practices and both qualifying rounds up to the Firestone Fast Six this weekend on the 14-turn, 1.8-mile temporary street circuit.

It will be an all-Team Penske second row, as 2016 series champion Simon Pagenaud will start fourth after a top lap of 1:00.6353 in the No. 22 Menards Australian Gold Team Penske Chevrolet.

St. Petersburg resident and two-time winner of this event Sebastien Bourdais continued the resurgence for AJ Foyt Racing this season by qualifying fifth at 1:01.0017 in the No. 14 ROKiT AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet.

Pato O’Ward, the NTT P1 Award winner last weekend at Barber Motorsports Park, will start sixth after a best lap of 1:01.0799 in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet. O’Ward was the only driver in the Firestone Fast Six to not use the more grippy Firestone alternate “red” tires, instead opting for the primary “black” tires that have less grip but more durability.

Six-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Scott Dixon was eliminated in the second round and will start eighth in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. In a stunning development, nine-time St. Petersburg pole winner Will Power didn’t advance out of the first round and will start 20th in the No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Chevrolet.

Dixon barely made it through to the second session after one of his best laps was nullified in the first session for causing a local yellow that affected another competitor, per INDYCAR’s rules. Dixon spun in Turn 8 earlier in the first session to trigger a local yellow, but he snuck into the second group by grabbing the final available spot on his last lap.

Power’s best lap of 1:01.1140 in the first session was only 10th best in the group and too slow to advance. He brushed the wall on his final flying lap, bending a toe link on his suspension, and spun on a short straightaway approaching the timing line, ending any chance of making the second round.

2014 series champion Power will start from his furthest position ever on this circuit. His previous St. Petersburg low was sixth in 2009.

Race Day will start Sunday with the 30-minute warm-up at 9:05 a.m. (ET), live on Peacock Premium. Live coverage of the 100-lap race starts at noon on NBC and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

News from INDYCAR: Newgarden Rebounds To Lead Opening Practice at St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Friday, April 23, 2021) – Like any great athlete after a tough performance, Josef Newgarden apparently has no mental memory and a lot of muscle memory.

Newgarden rebounded from crashing out on Lap 1 of the season-opening Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst last Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park by leading the opening practice Friday for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

MEDIA LINKS: Practice 1 Results | Driver Video QuotesTwo-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Newgarden posted a top lap of 1 minute, .8029 of a second in the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet in a very competitive session with times bunched together up and down the time sheet. It comes as little surprise Newgarden rallied today, as he has title-winning mettle and knows speed on this 14-turn, 1.8-mile temporary street circuit as well as any driver in the field, with victories in 2019 and 2020.

“I’m not even thinking about it, to be honest, because it’s so early,” Newgarden said of his 23rd-place position in the standings after one race. “As far as points go, it’s not ideal. Obviously, in a perfect world we would have started off with much better points and ideally a win.

“We want to have a solid weekend. It was a shame we just didn’t even really get to be in the race (at Barber). It’s more of a shame when you affect other people’s days, like Colton (Herta), I felt bad about that, amongst others.”

2014 series champion Will Power completed a Team Penske sweep of the top two spots, slotting in second at 1:00.8102 in the No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Chevrolet. Colton Herta, who also was collected in the Lap 1 crash at Barber, rallied to end up third today at 1:00.8348 in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda.

Herta’s teammate Alexander Rossi was fourth at 1:00.8653 in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation Honda. Team Penske ended up with three of the top five spots, as 2016 series champion Simon Pagenaud rounded out the top five at 1:00.8992 in the No. 22 Menards/Australian Gold Team Penske Chevrolet.

“We’ve got something this weekend,” Pagenaud said. “We really do.”

Just .0963 of a second separated the top five drivers under sunny skies and in temperatures in the low 80s. That ultra-competitive trend continued almost all the way to the bottom of the 24-car time sheet, as less than one second separated Newgarden from the 20th-quickest driver, Barber race winner Alex Palou in the No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

“I think the track was really high grip, honestly, more so than what I was expecting,” Newgarden said. “That’s probably what brought the times tighter. Normally when it grips up, we get really close as far as the entire pack.

“Yeah, it’s going to be tough. You got to be on it. Can’t make even the littlest mistake. That can set you back pretty far.”

Scott McLaughlin was quickest of the heralded class of three series rookies this season, eighth at 1:01.0158 in the No. 3 DEX Imaging Team Penske Chevrolet.

There were no incidents during the session despite the tight confines of portions of the street circuit, lined on both sides by concrete walls. Two-time race winner Sebastien Bourdais and rookie Roman Grosjean both overshot corners with no contact while testing the limits, but both were able to continue.

Practice continues at 9:45 a.m. (ET) Saturday, with live coverage on Peacock Premium. Qualifying for the NTT P1 Award is scheduled to start at 1:45 p.m., with live coverage on Peacock Premium and same-day coverage at 10 p.m. on NBCSN.

Live coverage of the 100-lap race starts at noon Sunday on NBC and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

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