After a wild and hectic weekend in Nashville that saw Marcus Ericcson launch himself into the air and still finish atop the podium, the NTT IndyCar Series heads to the familiar confines of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the third time as this race replaces the cancelled Grand Prix of Toronto from earlier this year. This race marks five races to go in the 2021 season as the season is quickly winding down to a championship showdown in Long Beach. Scott Dixon's consistent finishes over the last couple of weeks have allowed him to take second place in the championship standings, still racing his Chip Ganassi teammate of Alex Palou. This weekend also marks a doubleheader with the NASCAR Xfinity Series on Saturday afternoon
Track Facts: The current layout of the Grand Prix is a fourteen turn, 2.439 mile road course, inside the confines of the oval layout with nine right and five left-hand turns. The course runs counterclockwise as the 24 car field heads down into turn one, which is the direction of oval turn four. Turn one is a sharp 90 degree right-hand turn that quickly shoots back into the quick left-hander for turn two and enters a sweeping right-hand turn three which leads to another right of turn four. Before heading onto the backstretch known as Hulman Blvd, there is a quick chicane of turns five and six. After going down the back, drivers approach a sharp left-hand turn that will be used as another passing opportunity. Going into quick left and right turns of turns eight, nine, and ten. Coming off of ten, drivers head through turn eleven which leads back onto the oval for another passing opportunity of turn twelve. This section of track has been repurposed for IndyCar/NASCAR use, as it was originally used for Moto GP. Another left-hand turn leads into the final turn, which leads back onto the front stretch.
Championship Standings: Over the past couple of weeks, Alex Palou has been very consistent in his finishes which allowed him to stay a top the championship leaderboard since the Detroit Grand Prix. But six-time champion Scott Dixon has been slowly gaining ground on his teammate of Palou. Which is not surprising since this is how Dixon has operated in his championship formula. Expect solid finishes from both to close out the final stretch of the season as they will both only be separated by a few positions on track.
2020 Event: Paired with the NASCAR Xfinity Series on the same day. The GMR Grand Prix was dominated by the eventual 2020 IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon. Even though Graham Rahal played the strategy game and made it a two-stop race compared to Dixon's three. By using a softer compound tire, Dixon passed Rahal and pulled away to a 19 second lead by the conclusion of the race.
Event Predictions: As stated previously, the championship hunt is heating up between Palou, Dixon, and O'Ward. With those three being closely watched throughout the race, there is a driver making his IndyCar debut with Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan Racing. Christian Lungaard, the rising star in F2 overseas did a test with the team at Barber Motorsports Park earlier this year. He will be the forty second driver to make an appearance this year in the series. But don't forget Romain Grosjean, who scored his first IndyCar podium in his career during the GMR Grand Prix earlier this year. Hopefully learning the lessons to get off the black compound tires earlier in the stint, which probably caused Rinus Veekay to score the win earlier this year. In my opinion, Scott Dixon wins the Indy GP and gets closer to Palou in the closing stretch of the season.
You can watch the Indianapolis Grand Prix Saturday at 12:30 P.M. Est on NBC Sports Network. Be sure to check back with RacingRefresh.com throughout the rest of the IndyCar season.