With the depth of the field that is the NTT IndyCar Series, it doesn’t take much to throw a race into chaos. With rain in the forecast for the sixth Indianapolis Grand Prix, the chances of a chaotic Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway were high, and when it started falling with less than 30 laps to go, it all broke lose.
The wets came out for the first time this season, and things changed in a hurry, leading to a much different Grand Prix than we had seen in the previous five events.
Let’s talk about the podium, and a couple of other items.
Winner: Simon Pagenaud. Going back to Barber last month, Pagenaud has been building momentum towards this weekend. He’s qualified better and looked a lot more aggressive in races. Trailing Scott Dixon by close to 10 seconds with 10 laps left, he stalked Dixon and got around him with the kind of move you save for the last couple of laps. The win is his third in the Grand Prix and he’s quietly pulled himself up to fourth in points. It also breaks a winless streak that had stretched to 21 races going back to the finale at Sonoma in 2017.
Runner-up: Scott Dixon. Dixon is just piling up the points so far this year. While he hasn’t won, he’s had four podiums, has made the Firestone Fast Six in all five races and now stands second in the season standings. He’s doing everything but winning, which has been good enough so far. But what was up with the final restart? Letting the leader get such a big jump is a real issue in this series, and IndyCar needs to do a better job of enforcing that.
Third place: Jack Harvey. Heading into Saturday, Harvey’s best IndyCar finish had been back-to-back 10th-place finishes at St. Pete and COTA earlier this year. But in his 14th career race, it all came together for him as he captured his first podium finish since a runner-up result at Toronto in Indy Lights in 2015. Meyer Shank Racing has been developing steadily over the last couple of years, so could this be the start of better finishes for both Harvey and the team?
Faces in the Top 10. The chaos was really more evident behind the top three finishers, as several drivers and teams posted season or career-best finishes. Matheus Leist finished fourth, and Spencer Pigot (5th) and Ed Jones (6th) gave Ed Carpenter Racing its first two Top 10s of the year. Polesitter Felix Rosenqvist finished a disappointing eighth, but between he and Santino Ferrucci (10th), two rookies finished in the Top 10.
Bad luck. While some drivers had some of their best days of the season, two drivers who have wins under their belts this season went the other direction. Alexander Rossi, who dominated at Long Beach and came in second in points, was a victim of suspension damage as the result of Lap 1, Turn 1 contact and lost four laps making repairs. He came home 22nd. Colton Herta, who became the youngest winner in IndyCar history at Cota in March, was also a victim of contact in Turn 1 on Lap 16 and finished 23rd, giving him finishes of P24 at Barber, and P23 at Long Beach and here at Indy.
There is no on-track action the next two days, but the teams will be back to left-turns only on Tuesday with the start of Indy 500 practice.
Photo credit: John Cote/IndyCar Media