Monday, October 2, 2023

DEHARDE: Five Takeaways from the Gallagher GP at Indianapolis

The start of the 2022 Gallagher Grand Prix.
The start of the 2022 Gallagher Grand Prix on the IMS road course. Photo courtesy of James Black/Penske Entertainment

The NTT IndyCar Series’ second visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course provided championship drama, heartache and relief all within 85 laps. Here are five takeaways from that weekend.

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1. The Drought is Over

It had been 1,133 days since Alexander Rossi had last won an IndyCar race. After leading races and having all sorts of bad luck since his last win at Road America in 2019, the California native finally had things go his way to win.

It was the ending to a near-perfect weekend for Rossi. He led Friday’s practice session and qualified second before winning on Saturday. Rossi hadn’t forgotten how to win, but sometimes luck has to go your way.

2. Frustration for Colton Herta

Speaking of luck going your way, that didn’t happen for Colton Herta. While leading around the halfway point in Saturday’s race, the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda went over a curb in Turn 8. That curb damaged the gearbox, causing terminal failure.

Herta is a fast driver, but over the last couple of years he has had almost as much bad luck as his teammate. Whether it was a driveshaft failing last year at Gateway while leaving the pits in a top-five car or crashing while battling for the lead last year at Nashville or crashing while pushing hard before a pit stop at Long Beach this April, there’s a lot of little things that haven’t gone right for the second-generation racer. Saturday was just the latest example.

3. Marcus Ericsson Charges Up From Last

After a technical failure in qualifying, 2022 Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson had to start the Gallagher Grand Prix in last place. From 25th on the grid, Ericsson managed to get into second place early in the race by running long on his first stint.

However, the yellow for Simon Pagenaud’s car being out of fuel undid all of that hard strategic work. Ericsson finished 11th, which was good damage mitigation. However, the Swede lost the championship lead to Will Power.

4. Josef Newgarden was Fine

The big story heading into the Indy road course weekend was whether or not Josef Newgarden would be cleared to drive after his crash at Iowa Speedway the previous week. Newgarden obtained medical clearance on Thursday to practice on Friday. Following a subsequent medical evaluation after Friday practice, Newgarden got clearance to resume all racing activities.

Newgarden started and finished fifth and is 32 points behind Power in the IndyCar standings. It was a rather anonymous day for the Tennessee native, which is probably what he wanted in the first place.

5. En Lundgaard!

Christian Lundgaard got up to speed quickly at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course last year when he qualified fourth on his IndyCar debut. This year, the Danish rookie qualified sixth and finished second for his first IndyCar podium.

Lundgaard leads the Rookie of the Year points battle over David Malukas, Callum Ilott, Devlin DeFrancesco and Kyle Kirkwood.

The next IndyCar race is the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix on the streets of Nashville on Sunday, August 7th. The race will air live on NBC with the broadcast starting at 3:00 p.m. ET.

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