It was an exciting race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course for the GMR IndyCar Grand Prix. The unpredictable rain was the defining factor for strategy as teams constantly struggled between when to use the wet tires and when to keep the alternate red Firestone tires on.
Race winner Colton Herta started from P14 and took a risky gamble from the beginning of the race choosing to put on a set of alternate red tires before the other drivers. The risky move gave Herta an edge over the competition, but it was his strong performance on track that earned him his first win of the season.
After the race, Herta described the race as the “hardest race” he’s ever done.
“This is the hardest race I think I’ve ever done,” Herta said. “Wet to dry, dry back to wet. Thank you so much for the Hoosiers for sticking around. I know you’re used to this weather, so thank you very much. Love you guys” He said.
Meyer Shank Racing driver Simon Pagenaud secured a second palace podium after starting the race from 20th.
“It was treacherous at the end,” Pagenaud said. “You’ve got to say congrats to Colton because it was really tough to finish the race. We made the right calls on the tires. It was tricky. It was really tricky to decide.”
Conor Daly secured his seventh career top-five finish and expressed how chaotic the race was under the tricky weather conditions.
“I truly don’t think I’ve ever been through anything like that! It was raining, then it was sunny, then it was raining again and then you couldn’t see anything! Once we got off the wet tires at the start and onto the reds, we lost so much grip. It felt like something got on the tire, it was like they had gone off immediately” he said.
“As soon as we put on the next set of reds, we were flying again. I didn’t forget how to drive in the first stint and remember in the second, it was so weird! I really wanted a trophy from here, but this is a great way to start the month. We wanted to rebound here, we knew we had a fast car, had a great qualifying, we executed all weekend, which is exactly what we wanted."
Rookie Callum Illott managed to finish in the top 10 in eighth ahead of former F2 competitor Christain Lundgaard and Scott Dixon.
"It's our best finish so far this year. It was a bit of an up-and-down race. We had to find our feet a little bit at the beginning. I managed to start making way through and had some good running in the mixed conditions. We were kind of a bit late on one of the calls to box for wets” Illott said.
“We dropped a couple of places but managed to make a couple back. I couldn't see anything at the end. It was more about survival and hanging on at that point. There was so much water and spray everywhere.”
“ For the team, for Juncos Holinger, Chevy, and our single-car team, a top-eight result is a big reward in this race. What an amazing result. Let's try and get some more.”
Before the race began, there was an issue with the start time due to lightning in the area. The race started off as a wet race and ended as a timed race with only 75 of the 85 laps completed. Throughout the two-hour race, there were eight caution periods and 10 lead changes.
On the opening lap, Arrow McLaren SP driver Pato O’Ward managed to move from the fifth position to take the lead from Will Power. Herta is the first to pit on lap three and switch to a set of red alternate tires.
Chip Ganassi Racing driver Alex Palou was the first driver to cause a yellow flag to come out when he spun out at Turn 10.
Rookie Callum Illott engaged in an on-track battle with Rinus Veekay on Lap 11 and then six laps later another yellow flag came out as Josef NewGarden was squeezed in between Alexader Rossi and Jack Harvey who both made contact with the Penske driver causing him to spin out at Turn 12.
The battle between Illott and Veekay commenced on lap 21. Illot managed to pass Veekay but the Dutchman spun out and when he reentered onto the track he hit Devlin DeFrancesco.
By lap 29 there is a warning for severe weather on the way and Herta pits on lap 33 for another set of alternate. One lap later, O’Ward pits and is unable to pass Herta on the pit exit. Felix Rosenqvist follows his teammate’s strategy and pits on lap 35 and battles Herta on the pit exit and the Andretti Autosport driver manages to keep the lead.
A fourth yellow comes out for Dalton Kellett as he makes contact with the wall in Turn 6. Meanwhile, Scott Dixon comes into the pits but runs out of fuel and his crew has to push him back to his
The rain started to come down by lap 41 and Rossi pits for a set of wet tires.
O’Ward tries to overtake Herta and spins and makes contact with his teammate Rosenqvist causing the fifth yellow flag of the race.
The green flag comes out on ap 45 and Dixion battles Herta and successfully out laps himself. Three laps later Herta passes Dixon.
On lap 51, Romain Grosjean goes wheel to wheel with Jack Harvey, and the British driver pulls an aggressive move that causes the Andretti Autosport driver to spin out.
Graham Rahal runs into the back of Kyle Kirkwood causing him to have gearbox issues. Rahal later received a penalty for avoidable contact.
On lap 52 the rain began to fall and Juan Pablo Montoya managed to move up to ninth from 20th on lap 56.
By lap 60 the top contenders fighting for the race win pit for alternate reds under a caution caused by Jimmie Johnson. However, most of the contending drivers returned to pit on lap 62 the drivers put on a set of wets except for O’Ward, Scott McLaughlin, and Grosjean, who stayed on the alternate tires.
The last 13 laps of the race were challenging for the drivers who remained on the alternate red slicks. McLaughlin struggled to find grip and spun out and O’Ward also spun out on lap 69.
With one minute and 30 seconds remaining, Montoya’s race was cut short when he made contact with the wall causing the race to end under a yellow.