Finally, it’s May in Indianapolis!
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES has staged four races in 2021, the first held on a permanent road course (Barber Motorsports Park), the second on a temporary street circuit (St. Petersburg, Florida) and two same-weekend races on a high-speed oval track (Texas Motor Speedway).
The diversity of the series again will be on full display at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix will be held on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. Following that, IMS crews will quickly convert the facility to its original oval configuration for the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 30. Practice for the “500” begins at 10 a.m. (ET) Tuesday.
In between those two races will be the “500’s” NTT P1 Award qualifying sessions May 22-23, which includes the Fast Nine Shootout to determine the first nine starting positions and the Last Chance Qualifications to see which car-and-driver combinations will start on the 11th and final row – and which competitors will not earn a spot -- in the 33-car “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
But first things first – the GMR Grand Prix.
Twenty-six entries are set for Friday’s two 45-minute practice sessions (9:30 a.m. ET and 1 p.m. ET) along with NTT P1 Award qualifying at 4:30 p.m. ET. Each of these sessions can be viewed live on Peacock Premium, NBC’s streaming service available at www.peacocktv.com for $4.99 per month. NBCSN will replay the three qualifying rounds at 6 p.m. ET.
On Saturday, INDYCAR’s 30-minute warmup is set for 10:45 a.m., with NBC’s broadcast of the 85-lap race beginning at 2 p.m. The INDYCAR Radio Network also will have the call.
The presence of all three Road to Indy divisions will make for a busy IMS weekend. Two races for Indy Lights and three races apiece for Indy Pro 2000 and USF2000 will be spread over Friday and Saturday.
Complete weekend information is available at www.ims.com/PlanAhead.
For now, here are five things to watch for in the GMR Grand Prix:
Other Title Hopefuls Need Indy Resurgence
With the season at its first-quarter pole, several veterans with championship aspirations, including a pair of former series champions, need a lot to go right in the next couple of weeks at IMS.
AJ Foyt Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais (No. 14 ROKiT AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet) needs to forget the recent doubleheader at Texas. Entering the weekend seventh in the standings, his car was knocked into the Turn 2 wall by Newgarden in Race 1 and got collected in the opening-lap accident in Race 2. Finishes of 23rd and 19th dropped him to 14th in the standings, 85 points out of the top spot.
Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi (No. 27 AutoNation/NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda) had almost as bad of a Texas trip. After finishing eighth in Race 1, he, too, was collected in the first-lap crash. He enters this weekend 15th in the standings, 88 points behind Dixon’s leading total.
Two other Andretti Autosport drivers are in a similar points hole. Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28 DHL Honda) and James Hinchcliffe (No. 29 #ShiftToGreen Honda of Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport) are 17th and 19th in the standings, respectively. Like Bourdais, Hunter-Reay is a former series champion.
If these drivers can perform well in Saturday’s race, the “500” awards double points for its finishers.
NTT Indycar Series PR