GMR Grand Prix Wrap-Up

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There have now been five NTT IndyCar Series races in the young season, and there have been five race winners among four teams. Three of the winners are first-time winners. Today, it was Rinus VeeKay joining the club of IndyCar race-winners.

It’s always good to see a driver earn their first victory, rather than backing into it. VeeKay certainly did not back into this victory. He earned it with some great on-track passing and some nifty pit work by his crew.

It was good to see Ed Carpenter get to savor a victory as a car-owner in his hometown and at the track his family once owned. It was also special to see the reaction of VeeKay’s parents. They seemed to be happier than he was. And make no mistake – VeeKay was very excited to be standing in Victory Lane at Indianapolis.

As excited as VeeKay was, you had to feel for Romain Grosjean. He was the pole-sitter in only his third race of the season (due to not racing the oval at Texas), and he finished second. I happened to be standing behind Grosjean’s pit when he made his first pit stop.

After being slowed by a battle with Takuma Sato, Grosjean came in for his second stop. He came out just in front of Veekay, who was on hot tires. It didn’t take long for VeeKay to get past Grosjean and that was effectively the winning pass.

Grosjean led forty-four laps of the scheduled eighty-five, but VeeKay led the second-most with thirty-three. As impressive as it is that Rinus VeeKay won in his sophomore IndyCar season, Romain Grosjean finished second and landed on the podium as well as earning the pole in only his third IndyCar race. When you think of where his racing career was just six months ago, you have to be happy for him.

Those two drivers were the class of the field, from two of the smaller teams in the paddock – Ed Carpenter Racing and Dale Coyne Racing. The highest finishers of the “big teams’” were Alex Palou finishing third for Chip Ganassi and Josef Newgarden earning a fourth place finish for Team Penske. Graham Rahal rounded out the Top-Five for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

The head-scratcher of the day was what happened to the Andretti Autosport cars? Alexander Rossi had the best day of all of the Andretti drivers, starting fourteenth and finishing seventh. The next best drive of Michael Andretti’s four car team was the beleaguered Ryan Hunter-Reay, who started nineteenth and finished twelfth. Colton Herta finished a very lackluster thirteenth. The struggles for James Hinchcliffe continue, as the popular Canadian started twenty-second and finished eighteenth.

Below are some photos that Susan took after the race. This will do it for us today, but I will have my usual Random Thoughts article on Monday, while continuing to post every remaining day in the Month of May. Thanks to those who followed along here and on Twitter. I will be back up here (by myself) next Friday for Fast Friday practice and both days of Indianapolis 500 qualifying.

George Phillips

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grosjean press

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rinus press

6 Responses to “GMR Grand Prix Wrap-Up”

  1. Jim Gray Says:

    It was a good day and one of the best Indy GP’s. While I like most of the Team Penske drivers, having another one just run away from the field would have made for another boring race.

  2. Talón de Brea Says:

    Very tough luck for Daly and Harvey, but that’s racing. Congratulations to VeeKay (and Ed) and Grosjean.

    I’m so glad for the two of you that you got to attend, together.

    Question for you, George, and for your readers: Is there some known philosophy on the part of INDYCAR and Firestone (a great partner) dictating that lap time / performance differentials imperceptible to the spectator justify running tires that shred intentionally, markedly narrowing the driveable groove (which is definitely perceptible to the spectator)? Is it time to reassess this approach and make tires with a wider performance window?

    I suppose I could understand accepting the marbles in the course of a heated tire war, but does the presumed effort to inject tire-related tactical challenges into the equation sufficiently justify severely impairing the racing surface? In short, why are the *#@% marbles tolerated?

    • Bruce B Says:

      I was once told if you can’t figure out a situation like this, simply follow the money. Since there’ s not a current tire war it’s just a cheaper made tire, hence they wear out sooner.

  3. Oliver W. Says:

    I agree with you that since RP moved off the pit wall, Penske seems to have lost that final one percent. I could see Harvey, Grosjean taking a win this year while maybe the first Penske victory will be McLaughlin. Three more possible first timers.

    I do wonder if Power will complete his two year contract with all these small but important mistakes which a driver of his experience should be able to avoid. Have you heard the one about a Dutchman, a Frenchman and a Spaniard. There is a real changing of the guard happening and I feel a number of names will not be on the grid in 2022. If RP can sort the oval racing everything would be rosey!
    Great race.

  4. George – just wanted to say thanks for all of your great coverage and analysis. I always look forward to it.

  5. Five different winners so far this season and three maiden wins! I was sorry Grosjean didn’t win, but Rinus scoring his first was exciting. Thanks for the up close and personal photos, Susan.

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