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Five things to watch for in Indy Grand Prix

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It’s been a long month since the IndyCar series rolled out of California and the Streets of Long Beach on April 14 and now it’s time to tackle the fourth different twisty track of the season with the IndyCar Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

This will mark the third time in 2019 that the series has visited a permanent road course and all bets are off as to who will win.

Live coverage from Indianapolis begins Friday at 9 a.m. ET with Practice 1 exclusively on NBC Sports Gold’s IndyCar Pass, followed by Practice 2 at 12:30 p.m. ET. Coverage continues with qualifying live on NBCSN and INDYCAR Pass on Friday at 4:30 p.m. ET. IndyCar Pass will stream warm-up on Saturday at 11:15 a.m. ET prior to race coverage on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.

In five editions of this race, there have been only two winners, but neither Will Power nor Simon Pagenaud have taken the checkers yet in 2019. In fact, four races have produced four different winners.

  1. Power and Pagenaud have been equally matched in this race with top-10s in all but one event and three top-fives apiece. Power has an average finish of 6.0 with Pagenaud sitting at 7.8, so this week’s race within the race will be of who finishes better.
  2. In one of only two IndyCar starts last year, Helio Castroneves finished sixth and kept a perfect record of top-10s in this race alive. In fact, sixth is the worst he’s finished on this track. Castroneves is the only perfect driver in the Indy GP.
  3. Scott Dixon comes close to being perfect in regard to top-10s. After finishing 15th in his first attempt in 2014, he posted back-to-back top-10s the next two years. He was even better in the last two starts with runner-up finishes to Will Power in 2017 and 2018. Winless so far in 2019, Can Dixon become the first driver other than Power or Pagenaud to win this race and the fifth different winner of the season?
  4. If Dixon fails to win, the odds are certainly in his favor to finish among the top five. Dating back to last year’s second-place finish in this race, Dixon has finished fifth or better in all but this year’s Circuit of the Americas race.
  5. Points leader Josef Newgarden is the only driver this year with a perfect record of top-fives and he has finished better than he started every week – coming from as far back as 16th at Barber Motorsports Park. No matter where he qualifies, expect Newgarden to challenge for the lead.

More than 100 hours of IndyCar action begins this weekend with live coverage of the Grand Prix from Indianapolis Motor Speedway at 3 p.m. on NBC. This will be the first NTT IndyCar race to be broadcast on NBC.

NBC Sports’ month-long coverage from Indianapolis includes extensive practice, qualifying and race programming across NBC, NBCSN, NBCSports.com and NBC Sports Gold’s INDYCAR Pass.

Watch the Indy 500 on May 26 on NBC

Five things to watch for in Bommarito Auto Group 500 at Gateway

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There have been five different winners in the last five weeks of the NTT IndyCar season and driver that kicked off that streak in Elkhart Lake is in desperate need of a victory to help close the points gap to the leader. After being involved in the Lap 1 accident at Pocono Raceway last week, Alexander Rossi sits 35 points behind Josef Newgarden. Rossi’s two victories this season have come on road courses.

This week’s Bommarito Auto Group 500 the World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway is the third race on this track since IndyCar first revisited it in 2017. Newgarden took the checkers in 2017; Will Power grabbed the glory last year. Gateway also hosted races from 2001-2003.

Here are some of the storylines to watch this Sunday:

  1. For most of the drivers in the field, this will mark only their third time to race at Gateway, but two drivers were around in 2003 when IndyCar visited this track previously. Scott Dixon finished 15th in that race. He found the handle when Indy returned in 2017 to finish second and then third last year. Tony Kanaan was second in 2003; unfortunately he went the other direction and has not scored a top-10 at Gateway since.
  2. If one is looking for perfection on this track type, Simon Pagenaud is the only driver to sweep the top 10 on ovals in the past two years. In his last 10 starts on them, he has garnered an average finish of 5.2; his last five attempts have been sixth or better including a win in this year’s Indy 500. Pagenaud finished third at Gateway in 2017 and was fourth last year.
  3. The top two drivers in the points standings should also challenge for a top-five this week. Rossi was perfect alongside Pagenaud on ovals until his accident last week at Pocono with a sweep of the top 10 and seven top-fives in his last nine races. Newgarden also has nine top-10s and a worst of 13th on ovals in the past two years.
  4. Don’t count Dixon out of the points battle yet. While he currently sits 52 points out of first, Dixon is the hottest driver on the circuit with a current streak of five top-fives to his credit including his victory at Mid-Ohio two weeks ago. His oval record is a little spottier with two runner-up finishes and two 17th-place finishes in the last four races.
  5. Last week’s first-lap carnage ended Rossi’s top-10 streak at seven, but one other driver was able to sneak through and extend his. Graham Rahal will vie for his ninth consecutive top-10 this week, but that success is questionable in light of his Gateway record. Rahal finished 12th in 2017 and was barely able to crack the top 10 in 10th last year.

See More: IndyCar championship contenders seeing fortunes rise and drop

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