IndyCar – the Grand Prix of Indianapolis ‘hot and not’ list

Simon Pagenaud took his third win of the season on the Indianapolis road course and we look at the winners and losers from the first event in the ‘Month of May.

The Grand Prix of Indianapolis Hot list

Alexander Rossi

In the opening laps Rossi displayed great skill and maturity. During his battle with Will Power the American looked like the veteran, not the rookie. He forced Power in to a mistake you would have expected from the debutant. Fine he made some silly mistakes through the rest of the race but showed more ability than many of the current US drivers (most with plum drives) have been showing. Marco Andretti – you have been warned.

Simon Pagenaud

The Frenchman is choking the life out of the championship but that is simply because he is completely hooked up and in the zone. The momentum being gained by Pagenaud – and the points tally – is reaching a critical point. His team mates and rivals need to up their game for the sake of the fans.

Check out my article on why Pagenaud is a great driver but fast becoming a marketing disaster for IndyCar.

Conor Daly

It is brilliant to see Dale Coyne being rewarded for putting talent before cash in his driver selections this season. Leading the race, Daly was lapping 3 tenths faster than his rivals on similar tyres and fuel loads. Completely over cooked things on his push to pass allocation and in the process was a sitting duck in the final laps. But he still put forward a very good case in the race for Rookie of the Year. Even more impressive with a duo of former F1 drivers on that list.

James Hinchliffe

Coming back to a circuit that nearly killed you – albeit in a different format – is bravery defined. Then racing beautifully on it and putting your Honda car on the podium where it probably doesn’t deserve to be, even more impressive. Here’s hoping Hinch gets some consistency and a fast, but safe, Indy 500 under his belt.

Graham Rahal

Great comeback and performance after an absolutely draconian penalty for weight infringement. Massively frustrating for the fans that we did not get to see what Rahal could have had for Pagenaud. Salvaging 4th was very impressive but just highlighted how good he could have been if the RLL team had been allowed to keep their 3rd place qualifying position. More on this below.

Menards livery

So it’s not quite the Indy 500 Menard ‘specials’ of old but it certainly got the hairs on the back of your neck on end seeing it at the Brickyard. The in-your-face, luminous yellow was a nice metaphor for Pagenaud’s performances so far this season.

The Grand Prix of Indianapolis Not List

 Juan Pablo Montoya

A rookie mistake on the blend line pit out was completely unacceptable given that it was explicitly raised during the driver briefing. With Pagenaud racing in to the chilly Indiana distance, this mistake put a significant dent in his championship hopes.

The older, wiser Montoya then strung together a strong afternoon but he was compromised by that mistake. His usual aggressive racing pulled him back to 8th but it was another increasingly familiar case of him making life more difficult for himself than needed.

Attendance

Yes everyone is focused on the 500. But here in the heart of IndyCar racing it has to be busier than this. I’d wager the nature of the road course with only 2 serious passing places is most of the reason. The chilly weather probably didn’t help either but the IMS corporation needs to look at some work on the road course to up the entertainment levels.

Weight penalties

A car coming in 2 pounds under weight isn’t going to make a significant difference in performance terms. 0.2 of a pound underweight is a joke. The penalties for Graham Rahal and Josef Newgarden seemed ridiculous and robbed fans of at least 1 significant challenger for the race win.

Will Power

TAG Heuer is promoting the hashtag #DontCrackUnderPressure and it is a good thing Power is not an ambassador. A big rookie mistake when under pressure from an actual rookie (Rossi) summed up Power’s season thus far. For the sake of a better championship going forward, we have to hope Power and his side of the Penske garage get things together.

Josef Newgarden

When both Newgarden and Rahal were sent to the back of the field we had high hopes for them coming through the field. Josef was shown up big time by compatriot Graham Rahal. From the back of the grid Rahal made it to 4th but Newgarden never made it much past 20th position. A long way from the stand out season last year and the fallout from the collapse of the Carpenter Fisher Hartman racing team continues to be felt.

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