Grosjean’s maiden IndyCar win? What to observe for on the Indy GP

Most individuals could have an eye fixed on the Indianapolis 500 by now with follow beginning subsequent week, however there’s the small matter of one other IndyCar race to go earlier than then.

There’s loads of storylines to get enthusiastic about because the collection races on the Indianapolis highway course this weekend, as drivers and groups look to construct momentum forward of the blue riband occasion later within the month.

We’ve rounded up a few of these themes to be careful for.

Can Grosjean lastly rating a primary win?

Romain Grosjean Honda Indy Grand Prix Of Alabama By Joe Skibinski Referenceimagewithoutwatermark M54968

I’m positive a variety of Grosjean followers can be taking a look at this weekend as a first-rate alternative for Grosjean to attain his first win. He’s been in good kind this season and could be a lot larger than eighth within the championship with out a DNF at Texas.

His personal file on the Indianapolis highway course is stellar from his season at Dale Coyne Racing; he took pole on his debut there – which was his third IndyCar race – in Might final yr, and adopted that up with second within the race. Within the August race, he repeated that consequence.

Nevertheless, there are a few actuality checks to think about now that he’s switched to Andretti. For the reason that pandemic we’ve had two races per yr on the Indy highway course and the order has been wildly completely different for some groups from Might to the later within the yr race.

Andretti did take a podium with Colton Herta final yr, however traditionally it hasn’t been as robust as its rivals within the Might race.

That being stated, Grosjean is determined to take a primary win. Maybe his data from final yr can assist Andretti to tune its set-up to change into a contender.

His followers will simply need to hope that there’s no retaliation from Graham Rahal for a crash at Barber final day trip, a narrative that reveals no signal of going away.

VeeKay gaining momentum

Rinus Veekay Honda Indy Grand Prix Of Alabama By Chris Jones Referenceimagewithoutwatermark M54807

Rinus VeeKay’s journey is well-trodden on these pages, and he enters the race he received final yr – his maiden IndyCar triumph – off the again of a pole and a second-place end at Barber.

“I feel spirits are very excessive,” stated VeeKay this week.

“In fact, we’re coming off a greater begin [to the season] than we did final yr. I feel we all know now we have an excellent automotive right here. We’ve all the time been quick right here since my first-ever race right here.

“I used to be a bit unhappy after the race that I didn’t win final weekend. I feel we had the chance to, and naturally you need to seize it and take it.

“Had a number of dangerous sleeps due to that, however I feel proper now, I’m simply further motivated to go for that win this weekend and defend my win from final yr.”

VeeKay’s inventory is thru the roof as the most effective drivers nonetheless accessible for the 2023 season, and he made quite a lot of revealing feedback in his pre-race press convention.

“There’s undoubtedly after Barber been a lot of curiosity from different groups, and yeah, it’s all about my future,” VeeKay admitted, whereas he additionally confirmed he and Ed Carpenter “had the primary talks” on that matter. Adrian Sussman – recognized for working with Dario Franchitti and Dan Wheldon – is dealing with VeeKay’s discussions.

There are positive to be suitors eager to signal him up and this weekend can be essential to maintain that momentum going.

Rosenqvist wants a break

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Whereas Pato O’Ward’s contract is all however signed, Arrow McLaren SP president Taylor Kiel stated the workforce wanted a much bigger pattern dimension of outcomes earlier than deciding to decide to a brand new deal for Felix Rosenqvist. So actually each race till the tip of the season goes to be excessive stress for Rosenqvist.

We all know how good a driver Rosenqvist is, however he’s struggled – like different AMSP drivers – to extract the utmost from the automotive.

His qualifying – aside from a difficult St Pete opener – reads 1st, 4th and sixth, which is huge in a collection the place qualifying larger up can alleviate most of the technique pitfalls you face in a race.

However a pit lock-up at Texas whereas working on the entrance, the whole lack of the entrance tyres in Lengthy Seaside, and a gasoline miscalculation at Barber have left him sixteenth within the championship.

These points are explainable and clearly the tempo has improved once more from the tip of 2021, however at some stage this workforce as a collective has to start out placing some factors on the board. O’Ward has had a tough begin, too, however his appears like fifth within the championship with a race win on the board.

The Might Indy highway course hasn’t been the kindest to this workforce, however that will make an excellent consequence for the #7 automotive all of the sweeter. Rosenqvist bagged pole for Ganassi right here in 2019, too.

A bounceback for Ilott

Callum Ilott Honda Indy Grand Prix Of Alabama By Joe Skibinski Referenceimagewithoutwatermark M54895

Callum Ilott drove an exceptional weekend proper up till his spin within the race at Barber, which he apologised for afterwards and punished himself within the fitness center the following day due to it.

His Juncos Hollinger workforce delivered a robust automotive and the small outfit in its first full season lastly began to see some tempo – in all probability forward of schedule as nicely, because it appears to later within the yr earlier than it frequently begins difficult for high 10s.

Ilott’s begin at Barber – he went on the within of Flip 1 to go across the exterior of a number of huge names at Flip 2 and run inside the highest 10 – was breathtaking, as was the spin later within the race for different causes.

Indy is a spot the place Juncos’s technical associate Carlin may have loads of information from the final couple of years with a number of races in the course of the pandemic, and Ilott has examined on the circuit earlier than. So he and Juncos can be hoping for an additional robust highway course displaying. Ilott received’t want it for confidence or something like that, however it could be good for Juncos to indicate that it’s bundle on highway programs is constant.

Lundgaard and RLL can return to kind

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Christian Lundgaard took IndyCar by storm when he certified fourth on this observe final summer time.

It’s been a troublesome begin to his full-time profession for Lundgaard, however impacting simply as a lot on that’s the truth that Rahal Letterman Lanigan has actually struggled to ship robust vehicles for its new driver line-up.

The workforce’s talisman Graham Rahal is tenth within the factors with Lundgaard fifteenth and with out a top-10 end to start out the season.

Rahal has been sensible on the Indy GP circuit with tyre administration and Lundgaard’s kind – primarily based on one race – is stellar. It could be good to see a driver that’s so fast get a aggressive race below his belt the place combating for the highest 5 or 10 slightly than 15 is the truth.

Energy main Penske cost

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We went in-depth on Will Energy’s begin to the season with the person himself on The Race final week, which you’ll be able to learn right here.

He’s the one Penske driver with out a win though he’s not completed exterior of the highest 4 this season thus far, so he’s hardly determined for a victory.

Nevertheless, within the 9 IndyCar races held on the Indy highway course he’s been on pole in 5 of them, received 4 and customarily simply been a menace to his rivals. It’s actually certainly one of Penske’s greatest tracks, and Energy received right here final August on the highway course, too.

He seems extraordinarily laid again in the mean time and traditionally that’s when he’s produced a few of his most dominant performances. Hold an eye fixed out for him, double winner in 2022 Josef Newgarden, who might win $1million this weekend, and statistically the collection’ greatest qualifier Scott McLaughlin.

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