The NTT IndyCar Series will hold its seventh event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course for the GMR Grand Prix on Saturday
Just after the noon hour on Saturday, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will host a historic motorsports doubleheader. The IndyCar GMR Grand Prix will kick off the first of two races on its road course, followed by NASCAR’s Xfinity Series Pennzoil 150. It will be the first time both major motorsports groups will compete on the same day at the same track.
The GMP GP will be the seventh time an IndyCar event has not taken place on the main track at IMS, and in the previous six, Simon Pagenaud (2014-16-19) and Will Power (2015-17-18) are the only drivers to claim road course victories. Both have won races from the pole, Power three times, Pagenaud once.
THE END OF A STREAK, THE END OF AN ERA
Not entered in the GMR Grand Prix is Tony Kanaan. The popular Brazilian driver will only be competing on oval tracks in this, his final season in IndyCar. What that means is his record of consecutive starts in the series will come to an end at 318. The streak began on June 24, 2001, at Portland International Raceway. Scott Dixon will take over the active streak when he takes the green flag on Saturday, giving him 260 when that happens.
LONG TIME OFF, THEN ANOTHER WAIT
The NTT IndyCar Series waited months to get their season started due to the COVID pandemic, and when it finally got back on track in Texas, state restrictions kept them from putting racing back on its calendar. The GMR Grand Prix is taking place nearly a month after Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway, won by Scott Dixon.
THERE’S A FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING
Rookies Oliver Askew, Dalton Kellett, Alex Palou and Rinus VeeKay, along with veteran Sage Karam, will race NTT INDYCAR SERIES cars on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course for the first time this weekend. Askew has two wins (in USF2000) and five total podiums in six races, including podiums in both races last year on his way to the Indy Lights title. VeeKay has four podiums in six races, including a victory last year in Indy Lights.
HERE IS A LOOK AT THE NUMBERS FOR THE GMR GRAND PRIX
RACE NUMBER: No. 2 of a possible 14
WHAT: GMR Grand Prix
WHERE: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
WHEN: Saturday, July 4 (12:08 p.m.)
TV/RADIO: NBC / NBC Sports Gold / Sirius 211, XM 205 / IndyCarRadio.com
TRACK SIZE: 2.439-mile road course / 14 turn (clockwise)
FRONTSTRETCH / BACKSTRETCH: 2,869 feet / 2,677 feet
RACE LENGTH: 80 laps / 195.12 miles
SEATING CAPACITY: No spectators for this event
PREVIOUS WINNER: Simon Pagenaud (Team Penske)
PREVIOUS P1 AWARD WINNER: Felix Rosenqvist (Chip Ganassi Racing)
QUALIFYING RECORD: Will Power (1:07.7044, 129.687 mph, 5/12/17)
OPENED: August 12, 1909
OWNER: Penske Corporation
NICKNAMES: The Brickyard
A.J. Foyt, on IndyCar and NASCAR: “I think having INDYCAR and NASCAR run on the same weekend could be a benefit to both series. I think it might draw some INDYCAR fans to NASCAR and NASCAR fans to INDYCAR.” NOTE: The legendary driver will stay home this weekend and will watch the GP at home. Foyt plans to make the Indy 500 the first race he will attend this year.
Larry Foyt, on IndyCar and NASCAR: “Great opportunity for race fans to have INDYCAR and NASCAR together. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, race fans can’t see them together up close, but it should still be a great weekend of racing on NBC-TV. Fantastic job by Roger Penske, INDYCAR and NASCAR to make this happen, and hopefully, this is just the beginning of more crossover events for fans and our teams. We have had a great deal of history in NASCAR, and I’m looking forward to sharing the track with them this weekend.”
Conor Daly, on racing at Indy without fans: “I was a fan first. I was out there every day of my life, every month of May that I was allowed to get out of school early and go. It was such a part of my life. But we will still obviously be doing our best to put on the best show that we can for everyone at home.”
Simon Pagenaud, on fans: “I think everybody in the series can’t wait to have the fans come back. Luckily that’s going to be at Road America (See story). We don’t have to wait too long. It’s unfortunate it can’t happen in Indy. Obviously, health and safety is first. I think we’re in this position right now.”
Rinus VeeKay, on racing at the historic track: “I am really looking forward to the GMR Grand Prix, finally driving an Indy car at Indy! That’s something really special! I am excited to get to drive again and really get the season started now. We’ve got some really busy weeks coming up. I’m very confident and think we have a strong package for this weekend.”
Josef Newgarden, on IMS: “Indianapolis is such a special place. It’s like my second home, so racing there means a lot to me personally, especially even more so now that Roger (Penske) owns the track. It’s such an honor racing for him, but with this being our first race there since he purchased the track, it just makes it even more great.”
Graham Rahal, on getting back to a regular schedule: “I feel with the work on the simulator and everywhere else that we’ve developed, our team has done a great job and prepared us for this weekend. It’s exciting to get back, and I’m thrilled to be getting going for the next few months. I imagine it will be a lot hotter now than it would have been (racing here) in May. It will test the drivers with everything we’ve had going on, limited-to-no time on track in these cars with the Aeroscreen and everything else. It will be a challenge for us all and the Fifth Third Bank team hopes to rise to the occasion.”
Takuma Sato, on the upcoming crammed schedule: “It’s very important to maximize the potential of five races in three weeks but we need to do our best every weekend, no matter the circumstance. It will be hard for everyone at the team as its consecutive weekends but hopefully, we will be in great shape for every race. I think the biggest challenge of the GMR Grand Prix will be how we deal with just a single practice session before qualifying. It’s a 90-minute session but we don’t have time for analyzing data between sessions and if you need to change a suspension geometry or make some big change then we lose a lot of time. It’s very limited on track time.”
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