INDYCAR Pre-Race Media: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course Track Trends

TRACK: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2.439-mile, 14-turn road course), DISTANCE: 85 Laps (207.315 Miles)


This will mark the eighth year that the NTT IndyCar Series has raced on the IMS road course, but also the 11th race as they held a doubleheader weekend here last October for the Harvest Grand Prix. Here are some trends to keep an eye out on.

  • 5 out of the last 9 races have seen the pole winner win here.
  • 7 of the 11 races run have seen the winner come from the top 2 Rows including both last October.
  • The top three starters won 9 of the 14 races run last year including 8 of the final 9. They’re 3-for-4 already this season too with Pato O’Ward starting fourth in the last race as the lone exception.
  • All 10 winners have started in the top 4 Rows.
  • 12 of the 14 races last year saw the winner come from a top 10 starting position including 4 of the 4 this season. That comes after all 17 races in 2019 having a top 10 starter win as well as the 2018 season finale.
  • 38 of the last 44 races saw the eventual race winner come from a top 10 starting spot. Simon Pagenaud (23rd) last July in Iowa is the only exception since the 2018 season finale.
  • Starting positions for natural road courses lately (since 2016) 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 7th, 1st, 5th, 2nd, 3rd, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 20th, 1st, 4th, 1st, 8th, 2nd, 8th, 2nd, 1st, 7th, 9th, 7th, 1st, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 1st, 7th,. That’s 32 of the last 36 coming from the top 10 including 18 from the pole and 25 of 36 (78%) from the Fast 6.
  • We’ve seen a 1st lap crash in 7 of the 11 races. The only exceptions are 2017 and again in all 3 events in 2020. A big reason to that is just how tight Turn 1 is and how moves are being made into it to gain spots on track. If you made it past Lap 1, pit strategy follows. We didn’t have a single caution in any of the 2 races in October and just one in May.
  • Since the new car came out in 2018, the “Big 3” have won 43 of the 60 races run (83-percent). Penske has won 22 times with Ganassi (12) and Andretti (9). But, RLL is next best with four victories while no one else has more than three.
  • Throw in RLL and you get 47 of 60 races won by these teams.
  • If you go back to 2016 though, that number stays the same. The “Big 3” have won 69 of 96 races run in that time frame. Throw in RLL and you get 76 of 96


While a road course is a road course, IMS is most comparable though to Barber, Mid-Ohio, Road America, Portland and Laguna Seca. Toronto, Long Beach and St. Pete are street circuits run on city streets. These other road courses are all natural free flowing terrain with some elevation changes. If you’re good at one, you’re more than likely good at the others.

Last year, Penske and Ganassi each won three times on these types of circuits including all three at IMS and then swept the podium in the one race on them already this season at Barber. Andretti Autosport won the other last year. Scott Dixon won twice so did Will Power.

If you go back to 2019, we’ve had 19 different races on natural road courses with 10 different winners. Power, Dixon and Herta are all the best with three wins a piece. No one else has more than one.

Penske and Ganassi have each won five times with Andretti scoring four trips to victory lane on them too. RLL and ECR are the only other teams to have won a natural road course event since 2019 as it came at Barber and here earlier this season.

Team Penske is the team to beat here though with 7 wins in 10 tries including both races in October of last year.

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