Askew’s fairytale start to the season ended in bizarre fashion. At the 2019 Indy GP, Arrow SPM rookie Marcus Ericsson was the first driver out of the event, crashing halfway through the final turn leading onto the front straight. His rookie replacement, Arrow McLaren SP’s Askew, was the first driver out of the 2020 event, crashing halfway through the final turn leading onto the front straight. After the incident, Askew told NBC he was dizzy and dehydrated, which is worrisome.
Tip of the cap to AMSP’s O’Ward who backed up a decent 12th-place result in Texas with a dogged effort to claim eighth in Indy. He was part of the happy-yellow brigade, stopping four laps before his teammate crashed.
That might have been Marcus Ericsson’s best drive in an IndyCar. The Swede overcame a rough qualifying session to vault from 14th to sixth with the yellow, and was pressing hard to get by Rinus VeeKay in fifth in the closing laps. The No. 8 Honda was always on the move, and its driver appeared to be at one with the machine. If that’s the case, CGR might have another threat to pose to the field.
Heading into Spring Training in February, there was a mild concern A.J. Foyt Racing’s Dalton Kellett might not have the pace to warrant a seat in the series. In his first IndyCar race, the Canadian was clean and unspectacular, and that’s a good thing. Running as high as sixth at one point during a pit stop exchange, Kellett finished 21st, posted a fastest lap that only 0.165s off of teammate Charlie Kimball, and answered any lingering questions as to whether he belongs in IndyCar.
CGR’s Felix Rosenqvist was largely invisible throughout the event. Qualifying ninth was solid, but he fell back to 15th at the start, was among those who suffered on pit lane, and finished 15th, nearly one minute behind teammate Scott Dixon. If there was one positive to consider, it’s the Swede’s crazy approach to launching from his pit stall. On the couple of shots I saw, he must have kicked the No. 10 NTT Data Honda to a 45-degree angle while leaving the box. Nobody cranks the wheel more and points the nose at the race track harder than Felix. It’s highly entertaining.
In showing some decent pace and keeping his nose clean, Kellett did everything that Foyt required of him. Image by Cantrell/Motorsport Images
Interesting to see IndyCar drop its new ‘Race for Equality & Change’ initiative 30 minutes before the start of the GMR Grand Prix. I wouldn’t presume to know if team owners and drivers were briefed in advance, but it was hard to ignore the lack of response from teams and drivers for what could have been met with a wave of support. Granted, they were getting ready for the looming green flag, so there’s that to consider. What tends to happen with such things is a series of quotes are gathered beforehand and included in the release to show support for something new, different, and important. Even the basic announcement in April of 2019 about the new Advanced Frontal Protection device (remember that?) included a driver quote (thanks, Hinch!). A release about fundamentally changing how IndyCar and IMS do business, hire people, support charities, and who will one day race in its series? Nothing, which might not be a good message to send. Even Team Penske, whose owner is behind the formation of the RE&C program, had nothing to offer. Its first tweet, 30 minutes after the announcement was… to try and sell you merchandise.
We've got some awesome merch deals for today's @IndyCar race! 🏁
Autographed diecasts from all three of our #INDYCAR drivers? Yes please. 😍
Zach Veach was the author of the most amazing pass that was never going to stick. Entering Turn 7, he threaded the needle between Conor Daly and James Hinchcliffe before spearing off into the grass. His radio transmission to the Andretti Autosport team of “I am stupid” might be the most honest admission a driver has ever made following a mistake. And for the record, Veach is anything but stupid.
Bit of a surprise to have Dale Coyne Racing rookie Alex Palou, a road racing phenom who I expected to shine on the Indy road course, spend the event mired in anonymity. He climbed from 21st to 11th at one point, got hosed by the caution, lost a lap, and took 19th at the finish line. If the Spaniard needs a pick-me-up, well, hey, he’s only two points behind Alex Rossi in the championship. Sadly, the Rossi-Palou train has a long ride ahead to improve from P23 and P24 in the standings.
His teammate Santino Ferrucci didn’t let a slow pit stop prevent the No. 18 Honda from recording a stable ninth-place result. Remember how Dixon charged in his opening stint and only lost 9 positions in the pits? Ferrucci’s first stop cost him 17 spots! Fell from fourth to 21st, and then dropped to 25th on his first lap out of the pits. Like others, he was aided by the caution, and made the two-stop plan work to his favor.
Placing 16th wasn’t indicative of Max Chilton’s pace at Indy. His Carlin Racing squad, the only single-car effort on the grid, was stout in qualifying where the No. 59 Chevy captured 10th on the grid. The Briton was one of many to rue lost opportunities for a solid finish on Saturday.