After four rounds of racing in 2021, the NTT IndyCar Series has returned home to Indianapolis.
Teams and drivers will get a taste of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday and Saturday with the GMR Grand Prix on the infield road course. This will be the tenth IndyCar race on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn course. The inaugural event in 2014 was won by Simon Pagenaud, who has since gone on to win this race two other times, while also winning the Indianapolis 500 and a series championship.
This race has been dominated by drivers that have qualified near the front of the field. Five of the nine races here have been won from pole position, and six of the nine have been won by a driver starting on the front row. Nobody has dominated this particular race course quite like Will Power, though.
Power has won this race four times and is the most recent race winner here. The Team Penske driver has also earned five poles here, and led a total of 285 laps. To put that into perspective, no other driver has led more than 68 laps. Power also became the first driver to sweep the Month of May in 2018 when he won the GP race and the Indianapolis 500.
Another driver to keep an eye on this weekend is Graham Rahal. Though he has not yet won this race, he has come close on more than one occasion. The RLL Racing driver has two runner-up finishes here, and has the third-best average finishing position, behind Power and Scott Dixon. Rahal has improved 64 spots in his last eight starts, from starting position to finishing position.
Andretti Autosport has had plenty of success on the famed oval in recent years, but they have yet to find victory lane on the road course. Alexander Rossi finished on the podium in both of the races last October, but he has only led a total of two laps here in seven starts. Ryan Hunter-Reay has also had trouble here. His last five finishes are 18th, 17th, 13th, 19th, and 16th respectively.
After a dismal 2020 season, Rossi said that this year would be “championship or bust” but things haven’t gone according to plan through the first four races. The popular American driver sits 15th in the standings heading into this weekend, which is right at his 14.5 average finishing position this season. Two of his teammates, Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe, are 20th and 21st respectively. Colton Herta is the only driver to find success so far this season but even he is 10th in the standings. They will aim to break through this weekend in an effort to build momentum for the rest of the month.
Scott Dixon is currently the championship points leader, with a 22-point edge over Pato O’Ward. Dixon’s teammate, Alex Palou, sits in third place with Newgarden and Rahal rounding out the top five. Team Penske has won seven of the nine races on the IMS road course. Oddly enough, they have yet to find victory lane this season with any of their four drivers. The last time Penske went five races into a season without a win was during the 2013 campaign.
The first 45-minute practice session will begin at 9:30 AM on Friday. The afternoon practice session begins at 1 PM. Qualifying will begin at 4:30 on Friday with each session being live streamed on Peacock. On Saturday, the 30-minute warmup session begins at 10:45 and will also air on Peacock. Race coverage on Saturday begins at 2:00 on the IndyCar Radio Network and 2:30 on NBC.