By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
The Month of May” at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is here with the GMR Grand Prix kicking the three-week journey for the NTT IndyCar Series.
A field of 27 drivers will embark on what could be another unpredictable grand prix on the 2.439-mile road course.
Why the unpredictability? Simple answer being weather.
Over the last two years, rain parlayed a key role into the race with Rinus VeeKay (2021) and Colton Herta (2022) conquering the madness.
Although initial weather reports indicated heavy downpour and thunderstorms on race day, it’s improved to where the 85-lap contest could be raced in dry conditions. But no matter what conditions will unravel on Saturday, the grand prix has its unique challenges where drivers must adapt to sudden changes.
Fresh off his victory at Barber Motorsports Park, Scott McLaughlin explained the circuit has it’s various challenges.
“It’s always a mixed-bag race,” said McLaughlin. “Looks like it might rain, might not. Always pretty exciting. Hopefully we put on a good show and start the month off right.”
Wild moments have been paramount over the past decade and perhaps Saturday won’t be any different. Time will tell how the race will unfold, but one thing is certain. Racing at Indianapolis hits different, no matter the layout.
By the Numbers
What: GMR Grand Prix, NTT IndyCar Series Race No. 5 of 17
Where: Indianapolis Motor Speedway – Speedway, IN (Road Course Opened: 2000, first INDYCAR event was 2014)
When: Saturday, May 13
TV/Radio: NBC 3:30 p.m. EST / INDYCAR Radio Network (SiriusXM Channels 85 & 160)
Track Size: 2.439-mile road course
Race Length: 85 laps, 207.32 miles
2022 Race Winner: Colton Herta – No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda (Started 14th, 50 laps led)
Track Qualifying Record: Will Power – No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet (67.7044 seconds, 129.687 mph – May 12, 2017)
From the Driver’s Seat
Marcus Ericsson – No. 8 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
“I think it’s a great way to start the month. To start the month of May out on a road course is in my opinion a perfect way to do it. Usually quite fun race here.
“The track itself is maybe not the most challenging on the calendar, but it produces some good racing, always super close. Early May is usually tricky around here weather-wise. I think it’s a perfect way to start the month of May.”
Colton Herta – No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda
“Before NASCAR came, I really liked eight, nine, ten. Because NASCAR came, they had to put in these big kind of concrete blocks on the inside of the curb.
“You can’t really take as much curb any more. It kind of ruined that section for us.I think the biggest thing is it’s one of the last races where the red tires are the best. It’s a very fast race.
“There is no fuel saving ever. It’s just a flat-out race, which is so enjoyable.”
Last Time in the GMR Grand Prix
The man of the hour was indeed Colton Herta, who used an early strategy to work his way up from the 14th starting spot. With weather being a huge concern, Herta pitted on Lap 3 before everyone else did over the next couple of laps.
Due to such finesse plan, Herta found himself leading the race in which he held on for most of the rainy afternoon in Indiana.
Despite leading 50 laps, Herta had some wild moments in the rain where coming off turns 7-10, it could’ve gone all wrong. With an incredible save, he was able to keep his car from losing control and went on with his day.
While the rain stayed, it didn’t faze Herta who went on to score his only win of the 2022 season.
“I was on the rack stops, and I was shoving so hard to get more wheel, but I couldn’t,” Herta explaining his drive after last year’s race.
“What I think happened is it was drying, but maybe I went out a little bit wider on the entry of the corner than I had been and got that left rear on a damp patch or something. That’s what it felt like because I turned in and it just lost everything immediately.
“I would have been upset if I spun there, but I would have been even more upset because I didn’t know that was for the lead of the race. I thought maybe I was, like, 10th or 11th. Maybe gained a few spots from that, so I had no clue where I was on track. I guess that was one of the only mistakes we made today.”
Weekend Schedule (All Times Eastern)
Friday, May 12
- NTT IndyCar Series Practice No. 1 (9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. – Peacock)
- NTT IndyCar Series Practice No. 2 (1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. – Peacock)
- NTT IndyCar Series Qualifying (4:00 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. – Peacock)
Saturday, May 13
- NTT IndyCar Series Warmup (11:00 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. – Peacock)
- Indy NXT Race (1:00 p.m. – Peacock)
- NTT IndyCar Series: GMR Grand Prix (3:30 p.m. – 85 laps, 207.32 miles – NBC/INDYCAR Radio Network)
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