Friday, July 19, 2024

PREVIEW: 2023 IndyCar Series – Gallagher Grand Prix (Indy RC)

The IndyCar Series returns to the Hoosier State this weekend for the Gallagher Grand Prix on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It’s the series’ third race overall in Indy this season and it’s second on the road course. This weekend also marks the third year of the late July/early August tripleheader at IMS, with NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series action taking place Friday through Sunday.

Last Sunday on the streets of Nashville, Andretti Autosport‘s Kyle Kirkwood captured his second win of both the season and his career, besting the likes of Scott McLaughlin and Alex Palou in what was a relatively tame race in the Music City. Speaking of Palou, the Spaniard extended his championship lead over Josef Newgarden by four points, making the gap 84 between the two drivers. Scott Dixon, McLaughlin, and Marcus Ericsson trail the two frontrunners, sitting in third, fourth, and fifth respectively.

Will Power and Simon Pagenaud have owned the Road Course at Indianapolis since IndyCar started racing on it in 2014, with the former claiming foir victories at the track and the latter owning three. Pagenaud is set to miss his sixth consecutive race following a violent crash caused by a brake failure last month at Mid-Ohio, with Linus Lundqvist occupying the #60 seat for the second weekend in a row. One year ago, Alexander Rossi snapped a losing streak of over three years at IMS, his last before moving to Arrow McLaren over the offseason.

If you love racing, Indianapolis is the place to be this weekend. Read on for all you need to know about Saturday’s Gallagher Grand Prix.

Credit: Tim Holle / Penske Entertainment / Courtesy of IndyCar

A Lap Around the Indianapolis Road Course

Built in 2000 to accommodate Formula 1’s United States Grand Prix, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course measures just under 2.5 miles long. In addition to Formula 1, the road course has hosted MotoGP, autonomous racing, and various other series over the years.

Running clockwise opposite the oval, a lap around the road course begins with a trip down the 5/8 mile frontstretch, before taking drivers into a 90-degree right immediately followed by a long left that makes up Turns 1 and 2. Turn 3 is an arching right-hander which slowly brings drivers back around to another right-hander, the Turn 4, which presents another overtaking opportunity.

Turns 5 and 6 make up the now-infamous chicane that wreaked havoc amongst the NASCAR field in 2021’s NASCAR Cup Series race at the circuit. After the chicane comes the back straight, which splits the IMS infield in two, running just behind the NASCAR Cup Series garages.

The final part of the lap starts with the hard left of Turn 7 before drivers are swung back and forth with Turns 8 and 9. Then, it’s a right back onto the oval with Turns 10 and 11. Turns 12 and 13 slow drivers down before they make their way back onto the frontstretch, while Turn 14 swoops drivers right back to the finish line to complete the 2.439-mile lap.

3 Things to Watch For

Newgarden’s Final Push

With just four races left on the season and an 84-point gap between him and Alex Palou, its time for Josef Newgarden to kick it into gear for a championship push. However, things aren’t looking terrible for the Nashville native, as the remaining races have gone his way in recent years. (Specifically Gateway, where he won last year, and Laguna Seca, where he finished runner-up.)

McLaren Searching for a Strong Weekend

Arrow McLaren returns to their home base in Indy with the potential for a great weekend ahead. While a McLaren driver didn’t win the GMR Grand Prix in May, the team had a great showing with a 2-3-5 finish. Of course, Alexander Rossi won this race last year with Andretti, but someone needs to step up between him, Pato O’Ward, and Felix Rosenqvist in a winless season to date for Mclaren.

Lundqvist Staying Put in the #60

With Simon Pagenaud continuing to recover from a crash in July at Mid-Ohio, Linus Lundqvist will step in for Meyer Shank Racing as a sub for the second race in a row. In his IndyCar debut on Sunday in Nashville, the Swede ran in the top 10 before hitting the wall on Lap 69, ending his race prematurely. A team announcement is set for Friday morning in Indianapolis, likely about the future of the #60, #06 (currently driven by Helio Castroneves), or both. MSR IMSA standout Tom Blomqvist is rumored to be tapped for Castroneves’ seat, with Lundqvist as a possible candidate should the team replace both drivers.

Weekend Schedule and How to Watch

Practice 1: Friday, 8/11 – 9:00 a.m. EST/1:00 p.m. GMT on Peacock/Sky Sports F1

Qualifying: Saturday, 8/11 – 12:30 p.m. EST/4:30 p.m. GMT on Peacock/Sky Sports F1

Practice 2: Friday, 8/11 – 4:00 p.m. EST/9:00 p.m. GMT on Peacock/Sky Sports F1 

Gallagher Grand Prix (85 laps, 207.32 miles): Saturday, 8/12 – 2:00 p.m. EST/6:00 p.m. GMT on USA/Sky Sports F1 (Green flag at 2:30/6:30)

You can find a full list of IndyCar broadcasters outside of the United States and United Kingdom here.

Follow Along with the Action

You can keep tabs on all of the weekend’s action by following @gabe_perrin and @thecheckerflag on Twitter.