Event Coverage: 2017 IndyCar Grand Prix
It’s May! That can only mean two things: flowers blooming and racecars racing. Well I don't know about you, but I don't see any pansies above. That’s right, the world famous Month of May is upon us again, and MotoIQ is back to cover The Indianapolis Grand Prix, Indy 500 qualifying, and the 101st Indy 500.
As has become tradition, the Month of May starts with the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. In an effort to bring some new excitement to May, IndyCar decided to use the infield road course to kick off the May festivities. Now in its fourth year, the Indy GP has become a fan friendly prequel to the 500. Let’s dive into the early season stories, shall we?
If you’re looking for Fernando Alonso in this space, sorry, but you’re a week early. During the Indy GP, Alonso was in his home country racing Formula 1, but by the time you read this, he will have officially passed his rookie orientation and turned his first few practice sessions. No, Alonso is not running for AJ Foyt, but that Coyote logo is badass.
As for season news, the top handful of drivers are mostly unsurprising. Defending series champion Simon Pagenaud picked up right where he left off in 2016, already at the top of the points standings after 4 rounds. He hasn’t always been the quickest driver, but luck, good strategy, and consistency have been his friend. Pagenaud has yet to finish out of the top 5 in 2017 and thus comes into the 5th round of the season with an 18 point lead in the championship.
Scott Dixon sits second, another driver riding on consistency and steady results. He too has yet to finish out of the top 5, one of his best starts to the season. However unlike Pagenaud (who finally nabbed his first oval win at Phoenix 2 weeks ago), Dixon still has a big fat goose egg in the win column for 2017. The fact that he is doing so well is a minor miracle: not only did his Chip Ganassi team lose its Target sponsorship in the off-season, but Ganassi also switched to Honda. Dixon has battled above the learning curve and put on a quiet, but successful season so far. The 2015 Indy 500 polesitter
would love to notch a win before going into 500 mode.
Josef Newgarden is in 3rd, with a stunning win at Barber Motorsports Park in just his 3rd race with Team Penske, proving he is ready to handle the pressure of being in one of IndyCar’s fastest seats. Newgarden replaced the venerable Juan Pablo Montoya when Penske snapped Newgarden up from Ed Carpenter Racing, giving Penske the top four drivers in points at the end of 2016.