Drivers eager to begin Month of May with INDYCAR Grand Prix

Photo: IndyCar
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When it launched in 2014, the race now called the INDYCAR Grand Prix was somewhat of a gamble. Would adding an event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway barely two weeks prior to the Indianapolis 500 impact the bigger event? Would it serve as an effective lead into “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing?”

According to the drivers, the event has been a flying success. “I love the GP of Indy,” said Conor Daly, native of nearby Noblesville and driver of the No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet for A.J. Foyt Racing. “I think it’s an awesome way to kick off the Month of May. It’s a home race, so it means a lot to me and we came very close to being on the podium last year, so I hope to be in contention again this year.”

James Hinchcliffe, driver of the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, finished third in this race last year and acknowledged that the Grand Prix has been a welcomed addition to the schedule. “The INDYCAR Grand Prix was our first podium of 2016 and it would be great to repeat that. The GP has been such a fun addition to the month of May the last couple years, and like we said, the results were there last year. So with the momentum that we’ve got in the No. 5 Arrow car, and still holding on to a top-five position in points, we’re just hoping for another strong weekend,” he explained.

Scott Dixon, who will again sport NTT Data colors on his No. 9 Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing this weekend, added that running the road course at the Speedway spices things up and gives onlookers something different to watch at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “I like the idea of getting another race in to start the month of May before the Indianapolis 500,” said the four-time champion. “I think having a road course and then, of course, the oval race really gives race fans a good sampling of a few of the different disciplines we have to tackle as INDYCAR drivers.”

In its brief three-year history, two drivers have separated themselves at the event. The first is Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud, who has won two of the three grands prix held. This includes a dominant performance at last year’s event, one in which he led 57 of 82 laps and was only demoted from the lead by pit stop sequences and drivers going off strategy.

Simon Pagenaud dominated the 2016 INDYCAR Grand Prix. Photo: IndyCar

“I was fortunate enough to win two of the last three (grands prix) events there. We are hoping to execute again and there’s nothing like the crowd at Indy and there’s so much excitement all over the city during the month,” Pagenaud said of his history at the event.

The other driver who has separated himself has done so by being the only driver to finish in the top five at all three previous INDYCAR Grands Prix. That driver is none other than…Charlie Kimball. The man piloting the No. 83 Tresiba Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing has finished fifth in every INDYCAR Grand Prix, and even qualified on the front row for last year’s race.

“It’s my favorite time of year, May in Indianapolis,” Kimball asserted. “I’m ready to move into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and continue working toward our goals on track. It’s no secret we’ve had a rough start to the season, so this is our chance to turn things around. The Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team had a super-solid race car last year, starting from the front row, so we’ll be taking what we can learn from that and seeing where we can improve.”

Saturday’s INDYCAR Grand Prix of Indianapolis rolls off at 3:30 p.m.

Follow Kyle Lavigne.

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, points

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

POINTS: Standings after Rolex 24 at Daytona l Michelin Endurance Cup standings l Daytona endurance points

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.