Hitting the Apex: Gallagher Grand Prix

W’re back in Indy! ATRL’s Eline Luna takes a look at Indy road course race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend.

Eline Luna

August 11, 2023

For the third time this season IndyCar races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But, not on the oval, they’re racing on a road course at the complex instead.

It’s a special weekend as IMS hosts 4 different series on track. IndyNXT races on Friday evening while IndyCar races on Saturday evening. The NASCAR Xfinity Series races right after the IndyCar race on Saturday and the NASCAR Cup Series races on Sunday.

James Black/Penske Entertainment

Built in 1909, Indianapolis Motor Speedway is over 100 years old. Although it has seen a major change over the years. Originally the racing surface consisted of crushed stone sprayed with tar. However this was quickly changed to bricks which is also why the track is sometimes referred to as ‘The Brickyard’.

However in 1939 the track was resurfaced again to asphalt, only leaving a small stroke of bricks. That line of bricks remains part of the track that drivers will race over this weekend.

Since 2014 IndyCar has raced on this configuration of the circuit 12 times, the race this weekend being the 13th. The race is run on a slightly different layout than when Formula 1 raced at the venue. However, drivers describe the track as feeling quite European in its style. Which might help drivers such as rookie Marcus Armstrong perform well at the track.

The track is technical and doesn’t create many overtaking opportunities. Racing at the track is mainly characterized by high speeds and big braking points. And also a smooth surfaces which is not always the case on IndyCar road courses.

What to Watch Out For

2022 Indy Lights (now IndyNXT) Champion Linus Lundqvist finally made his IndyCar debut last weekend with Meyer Shank Racing. The Swede managed to advance to the top 12 qualifying session during his first weekend. He ran a good race until he unfortunately crashed out late into the race. 

Linus Lundqvist during his IndyCar debut last weekend – Chris Jones/Penske Entertainment

Lap 1, Turn 1 is always a tricky one. It’s rare that every driver manages to go through their cleanly. The same is the case for turn 1 on restarts.

Will Power and Team Penske, Power has 5 victories at the track. While Team Penske, the team he races for, has taken 8 victories out of 12 races at the track.

Championship Fight

Alex Palou continues to lead the championship with a significant gap over Josef Newgarden. Last race Palou was lucky to catch a late race caution which meant he didn’t have to refuel near the end of the race. 

It meant he finished in third, right ahead of Josef Newgarden. And with that extended his championship lead to 84 points with 4 races to go.

Track Information

  • Race Length: 85 Laps/207.32 Miles
  • Turns: 14
  • Track Length: 2.439 Miles
  • Most Wins: Will Power (5)
  • Race lap record: 1:09.3888 (Josef Newgarden, 2017)

Past IMS Road Course winners:

2023: Álex Palou (R1)

2022: Colton Herta (R1) Alexander Rossi (R2)

2021: Rinus VeeKay (R1) Will Power (R2)

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eline follows a variety of motorsports from Formula E to IMSA to Nascar to WEC. They hope to study Mechanical Engineering to work in motorsports one day.

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