INDIANAPOLIS — Following an airborne crash then win by Marcus Ericsson last Sunday on the streets of Nashville, who wins Saturday’s Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix (12:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, INDYCAR Radio Network) this time around at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Who wins this weekend’s race? Find out more below.
Race Day Schedule
8:45-9:15 am: Warmup Peacock
12:25 pm: Cars To Grid
12:36 pm: Invocation
12:38 pm: National Anthem
12:40 pm: Drivers To Cars
12:55 pm: Command
1 pm: Green Flag
Coverage: 12:30 p.m. ET
Green Flag: 1 p.m. ET
Radio: INDYCAR Radio Network
Phone: INDYCAR App
Race Distance: 85 Laps/207.32 Miles
Race: 12 of 16
Track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Who Will Win?
Well, the trends say anyone coming from the top 5 Rows on Saturday will end up celebrating in victory lane on Saturday afternoon. 73% (8-for-11) of the races this season were won by top 10 starters. Furthermore, 21 of the last 25 overall were won by top 10 starters in general. Also, among those 21 winners, 20 of them came from the top 4 Rows at that.
In respect to this track in general, 7 of the 10 races run have seen the winner come from the top 2 Rows including both last October. All 11 winners have started in the top 4 Rows.
Also, starting positions on natural road courses lately have been dominated by top starters. Since 2016, the starting spots for winners on natural road courses have been – 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, 5th and 1st. That’s 34 of the last 35 coming from the top 10 including 19 from the pole and 27 of 34 (79%) from the Fast 6.
The pole winner has won just twice all year, once on a street course and the other in Mid-Ohio. The pole winner did triumph in three of the final five races last season though. Also, the pole winner has finished in the top three in three of the last five races on the season as well as eight top four results in 11 starts during 2021 in general. If you go back to last year, the pole winner has a top five result in 12 of the last 16 races.
5 out of the last 9 races here though have seen the pole winner triumph but 3 of the last 4 winners have come from Row 4.
In respect to that, we can Sharpie the pole winner (Pato O’Ward) in the top five on Saturday, but can also really eliminate anyone coming from 11th on back too for the win. So, lets advance Pato O’Ward, Will Power, Romain Grosjean, Christian Lundgaard, Colton Herta, Alex Palou, Jack Harvey, Conor Daly, Rinus VeeKay and Alexander Rossi.
Now, lets narrow it down even more.
The next trend is, since the new car came out in 2018, the “Big 3” have won 47 of the 59 races run (80-percent). Penske has won 23 times with Ganassi (15) and Andretti (9). But, RLL is next best with four victories while no one else has more than two.
Throw in RLL and you get 51 of 59 races (86%) won by these teams. Also factor in Harding Steinbrenner Racing with the Andretti alliance and you get 49/59 (83%) and 53-for-59 (90%) in these factors.
Only other teams to win are Arrow McLaren SP (twice this year), Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (2018 at Iowa), Dale Coyne Racing (2018 – St. Pete), Ed Carpenter Racing (2021 – GMR Grand Prix) and Meyer Shank Racing (2021 – Indy 500).
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 one of the races on them already this season at Barber. Ganassi then won in the the in Road America with Penske winning at Mid-Ohio after. Andretti Autosport won the other race last year while ECR won other one this year. Scott Dixon won twice in 2020 so did Will Power. Alex Palou is 2-for-4 this season with wins in Barber and Road America.
If you go back to 2019, we’ve had 17 different races on natural road courses with 10 different winners. Power, Dixon and Herta are all the best with three wins a piece. Palou (2) and Newgarden (2) are the only other ones who has more than one.
Ganassi and Penske each have six wins on them. Andretti has scored 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 (2019) and IMS (2021).
Nine of the previous 10 races held on this circuit have been won by drivers who had either won an INDYCAR championship or soon would. Those include four wins by Will Power (No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Chevrolet), three by Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet) and one each by Scott Dixon (No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda of Chip Ganassi Racing) and Josef Newgarden (No. 2 XPEL Team Penske Chevrolet). VeeKay, who will drive the No. 21 Sonax/Autogeek Chevrolet, is the lone non-champion to have won one of the non-oval events.
Power has easily been the circuit’s most dominant driver, capturing five poles and leading 285 laps. In all, 28 drivers have led laps in these INDYCAR races, with Pagenaud and Dixon tied for the second-most laps led with 68 each. Newgarden has led 59 laps, VeeKay 48, Castroneves 46, rookie Romain Grosjean (No. 51 Nurtec ODT Honda of Dale Coyne Racing with RWR) 44 and Graham Rahal (No. 15 One Cure Honda of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing) 41.
So, in saying this, we can really eliminate Grosjean, Lundgaard and Harvey and if you see how much Andretti has struggled on natural road courses this season you can do away with Herta and Rossi too.
That’s half of the top 10.
Can ECR really go back-to-back here?
That leaves the winner down to the front row starters and for O’Ward, the only other three times that he’s qualified on the pole, he didn’t win.
Power is hungry and led every lap here last October.
- 12 Power
- 51 Grosjean
- 10 Palou
- 5 O’Ward
- 8 Ericsson