INDIANAPOLIS — The time has come for Saturday’s Gallagher Grand Prix (12 p.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network). The question now is, who wins?
TRACK: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course (2.439-mile road course), DISTANCE: 85 Laps (207 Miles)
Race Day Schedule
8:15-8:45 a.m. ET: Warmup
11:30 a.m. ET: Brick Walk
11:40 a.m. ET: Driver Intros
12:08 p.m. ET: Grid Formation
12:11 p.m. ET: Invocation
12:12 p.m. ET: Anthem
12:23 p.m. ET: Command
12:30 p.m. ET: Green Flag
In order to figure out who wins, you first have to look at the starting lineup. That’s been a determining factor on who wins on this 2.439-mile road course. 11 of the 12 races on it were won by a top 8 starter. The only one not was Colton Herta in the rain back in May who started 14th in the rain.
It’s not going to rain on Saturday meaning tire strategy on going to wets and slicks and back won’t be a factor. Balancing the right strategy on when to use the reds and black will be which is why I go back to the top 4 Rows trend.
41 of the last 43 (95%) winners on natural road courses (since 2016) have been won by a top 10 starter.
So lets narrow this list down to: Felix Rosenqvist, Alexander Rossi, Pato O’Ward, Josef Newgarden, Will Power, Christian Lundgaard, Alex Palou, Rinus VeeKay, Colton Herta and Conor Daly.
I think we can narrow it down further though too.
34 of 43 (79%) were won from the Fast Six. 7 of the last 8 have been won by the front row (88%) starter including 11 of the last 15 (73%).
3 of the 4 this year alone were won by the 2nd place starter. 4 of the last 5 races in general on the season were won by the 2nd place starter and Josef Newgarden was well on his way to making it 5 straight before his Lap 235 crash last Sunday in Iowa.
The pole winner has only won just once in the last 12 starts dating back to last year’s season finale.
So, I think were starting to look at the drivers starting 2nd-6th which are Rossi, O’Ward, Newgarden, Power and Lundgaard.
Rossi hasn’t won in his last 49 starts. O’Ward says they’ve struggled on these types of tracks. He’s never finished better than 5th here and that’s including his pole last year. Plus he keeps mentioning being aggressive on strategy. He has to win. He has no interest in a top 5. Lundgaard has never won before.
That sets up nicely for Team Penske. They’ve won each of the last 3 return trips to IMS. 2 by Power and 1 by Newgarden.
Josef enters with some adversity from being hospitalized after his Iowa crash. He just passed protocols the last 2 days.
However, remember 2016…