Who wins Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network) my take with who’s on the podium and top 5

INDIANAPOLIS — The lineup is set for Saturday’s 10th annual GMR Grand Prix (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network). Now, who wins?

 7 drivers in an 8-race span won here on the 2.439-mile road course layout. Will we get a 8th on Saturday?

Since 2020 (22 races) which was the debut of the Aeroscreen, Team Penske has 9 wins on these types of tracks. They have the most Indy road course wins (8) as well. However, they’re also 1-for-4 over the last two years here and haven’t won this particular event since 2019. At that time, this was their 5th straight win in the race. They’re 0-for-3 since.

Does that make the Andretti Autosport camp the favorites then? They started 0-for-11 here, before sweeping both events a year ago. They’ve also won the third most times (4) in this span (Aeroscreen era) with only Penske’s 9 and Chip Ganassi Racing (7) with more.

Only the McLaren win last year at Barber by Pato O’Ward and Ed Carpenter Racing on the Indy Road Course (2021) are the only other teams to have won on a natural road course during the Aeroscreen era.

They’re also dominating the podiums too. Between Penske (21), Ganassi (18) and Andretti (156, they’ve combined to have taken 55 of the 66 podiums chances (83%) in this span. Dale Coyne Racing is next best with four, followed by ECR (3), McLaren (2) and RLL (2).

For Indy in particular, Penske has the most podiums scored here with 14. They had 8 in the pre Aeroscreen era and 6 since (2020 and beyond). Andretti Autosport and Chip Ganassi Racing have actually swapped roles in dominance here though.

From 2014 through 2019, Ganassi had 3 podiums on the road course compared to Andretti’s two. Since the Aeroscreen came on the cars, Andretti has since netted 6 podiums (7 races), tied with Penske for most in this span, in comparison to Ganassi’s two in the same 7 races.

RLL has 3 podiums here as fourth best.

Podium Finishes on IMS Road Course (39 spots)

Penske 14

Andretti 8

Ganassi 5

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 3

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 3

Meyer Shank Racing 2

Ed Carpenter Racing 2

Dale Coyne Racing 2

Also, qualifying is everything here. 12 of the 13 races on this layout were won by a top 8 starter. The only one not was Colton Herta in the rain back in May of last year, who started 14th in the rain.

In fact, 4 of the last 6 races here were won via a front row starter but 3 of those 4 were from the second placed starter though. Just once in the last 8 races here has the pole sitter actually won. They were 4-for-5 (all 4 consecutively) prior.

Also, the last four opening weekend road course races here were won from Row 4 (8, 7th, 7th) and Row 7 (14th) too respectively.

It’s not just here that track position at the start is so key. It’s natural road courses in general.

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, 5th, 1st, 2nd, 1st and 1st, 2nd, 14th, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 1st, 11th and 4th. That’s 43 of the last 47 (91.4%) coming from the top 10 including 22 from the pole and 36 of 47 (77%) from the Fast 6.

Since 2020, the year the Aeroscreen debuted, 13 of the 22 races (59%) have been won via a front row starter including 9 of the last 12 (75%) and 5 of the 8 (63%) last year. 16 of the 22 (72.7%) were won from a Fast Six starter while 20 of the last 22 (90.9%) from the top 10.

If you fail to get out of the first round on Saturday, you basically have no shot at a win. You also have a very little shot at a podium too. Out of the 39 combined podium trophies up for grabs here (counting the summer races), 33 of them were taken by top 10 starters (85%). In fact, the summer race has seen podium finishers of only starters from the top 4 Rows to where at least in the first race, it has opened up plays to see someone come from behind in 2 of the last 3 years.

Podium Starters Of Spring Race Since 2014:

2014: 4th, 3rd, 10th

2015: 1st, 17th, 4th

2016: 1st, 13th, 3rd

2017: 1st, 4th, 8th

2018: 1st, 18th, 2nd

2019: 8th, 2nd, 3rd

2020 (July): 7th, 4th, 20th

2021: 7th, 1st, 4th

2022: 14th, 20th, 1st

Podium Finishers Of 2nd Race Weekend Here

2020 Race 1 (October): 2nd, 8th, 1st

2020 Race 2 (October): 1st, 2nd, 3rd

2021: 2nd, 3rd, 5th

2022: 2nd, 6th, 4th

3 of the 4 races this season were won by the fourth-place starter too.

My Picks

  1. 15 Rahal – RLL has had the best cars this weekend and he starts in the money row in Row 4.
  2. 45 Lundgaard – He’s been the second best car in both practices and finishes there on Saturday.
  3. 10 Palou – Was third and first in practice and starts third.
  4. 11 Armstrong – I think the rookie surprises some on Saturday for his first career top five.
  5. 9 Dixon – He just finds way to get top fives.

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