Saturday, May 13, 2023

Morning Warm-Up at the GMR Indy Grand Prix

Welcome to May!

Today is the 44th anniversary of my first-ever trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. While back then it was for Pole Day, today it is for the GMR Grand Prix. It's great to be back in the media center for the first time in four years as I'm covering the event for

There were a lot of surprises in qualifying, most notably Rahal Letterman Lanigan putting two drivers in the Firestone Fast 6, with Christian Lundgaard capturing his first career pole and Jack Harvey notching a much-needed P4 starting spot.

A lot of the usual suspects didn't have such good luck in qualifying, meaning the race could be pretty exciting as drivers hope to use on-track passing and pit strategies to make their way up front. 

Here are a few drivers and storylines I'm keeping my eye on:

Romain Grosjean. After running up front at Texas and posting runner-up finishes the last two races at Long Beach and Barber, the Andretti Autosport driver has shown it's only a matter of time before he finds his way to Victory Lane. While he finished second in his first effort on the road course in 2021, he hasn't performed well since, and today he starts 18th. After only managing the 22nd-fastest lap in morning warm-up, he's got some work to do.

Felix Rosenqvist. The Swede has sat on the pole twice here, so he knows the fast way around, and after a dreadful first two races at St. Pete and Texas, he's rebounded with top 10 finishes the last two races. With Alex Palou (allegedly) moving to Arrow McLaren next season, Rosenqvist is the driver on the spot when it comes to any Silly Season discussions. Sealing the deal and starting a run of good results is much-needed.

(Editor's note: I don't think Palou leaving Ganassi is a done deal. Palou is a generational driver, a "winner" in Chip Ganassi vernacular, and given Ganassi's rivalry with McLaren's Zak Brown, he would love to stick it to him by keeping him. Chip didn't fight so hard last fall to make Palou honor the last year of his contract, he did it to try and show him why he needs to stay.)

Team Penske. All three cars missed the setup big-time in qualifying, with Josef Newgarden, Will Power and Scott McLaughlin qualifying 12th, 13th, and 16th respectively. Pit strategy at Barber gave the win to McLaughlin and put Power on the podium in third, and they will need to do more of the same today.

Colton Herta. Last year Herta started P14 and went on to win the race with a brilliant drive in the wet. He starts 14th again today, but was third-quick in warmup. His career at IMS on both the road course and the oval has always been hit-or-miss, which one is it going to be today?

First-time winner. Nine of the top 11 starters haven't won a race on the Indy Road Course, so there's a good chance we can see a first-time winner. The darkhorse might just be Graham Rahal, who hasn't won in 93 races dating back to when he swept the weekend at Detroit in 2017.


Winner -- Alex Palou

Runner-up -- Marcus Ericsson

Third -- Christian Lundgaard

Enjoy the race!

Photo: Penske Entertainment, Paul Hurley