What happened in the GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course this past Saturday is something we don’t normally see.
16 seconds was the margin of victory for Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou over Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward. Prior to the GMR Grand Prix, the average margin of victory was 1.75 seconds with each of the four races being close at the end.
Saturday was a testament to Palou’s dominance throughout the weekend at IMS. Palou finished in the top three during the two practice sessions. Starting in the third position set him up for success in the race with track positioning being so important at the IMS Road Course.
From the beginning, Palou showed his speed on the alternate tires as he passed Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Christian Lundgaard, the polesitter, in Turn 13 on the opening lap.
The race’s only caution took place on Lap 2 with an incident between Dale Coyne Racing’s David Malukas and Sting Ray Robb. The teammates came together at the apex of Turn 7, ending each of their days before they really began.
Palou’s final pit stop came on Lap 60 of 85, putting scuffed primary tires on his No. 10 American Legion Honda. O’Ward’s team decided to put fresh alternate tires on his No. 5 car during their final pit stop, but he was unable to close the gap to Palou.
With his victory, Palou now leads the championship standings by six points over O’Ward. Palou’s victory in the GMR Grand Prix could possibly propel him forward into a successful Indianapolis 500. I think he has a good shot to improve upon his runner-up finish in 2021 and win his maiden Indy 500.
Headed into this week, there are a few drivers that I’m paying extra attention to throughout the four days of practice for the Indy 500, with qualifying on Saturday and Sunday.
Meyer Shank Racing’s Helio Castroneves
How can you not have your eyes on Helio at IMS? The four-time winner of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” is a fan favorite in Indianapolis. With Castroneves getting up there in age, he won’t be racing forever.
Coming off his fourth win in 2021, Castroneves struggled by his standards in 2022 with a seventh-place finish. Throughout 2023 up to this point, he's also struggled, but it seems Helio always is at his best in May. Helio looks to break a tie with Al Unser Sr, A.J. Foyt and Rick Mears for the most Indianapolis 500 victories.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon
How has one of the best drivers in IndyCar history only won this race once in his career? Mistakes by Dixon had cost him dearly as he was set up perfectly in 2022 for his second victory in the 500 before he received a pit road speeding penalty on his last pit stop of the race.
Dixon will look to have a strong showing this year at IMS. Chip Ganassi Racing dominated practice and qualifying here in 2022 and eventually the race with Marcus Ericsson winning.
Arrow McLaren’s Tony Kanaan
Kanaan announced via his Twitter February 15 that the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500 would be his last. In 2022, Kanaan finished third, albeit with Chip Ganassi Racing.
Back at IMS for his last 500, Kanaan is now with Arrow McLaren and will look to finish his historic 22-year career in the Indianapolis 500 with his second victory in the race alongside his victory in 2013.
Practice for the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500 kicks off Tuesday and is followed by practice on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Qualifying for the Indy 500 will take place on Saturday and Sunday with all on-track action being televised on Peacock.