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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

Report: Spencer Pigot out at Ed Carpenter Racing

Joe Skibinski / IndyCar
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Spencer Pigot will not return to Ed Carpenter Racing in 2020, according to a story Thursday by RACER.com.

The 26-year-old Floridian, who won the 2015 Indy Lights championship, is expected to be replaced in the No. 21 Chevrolet by 2019 Indy Lights runner-up Rinus VeeKay.

“I’m appreciative of the opportunity ECR gave me,” Pigot told RACER.com. “I understand the reasons they had to go in a different direction, and wish them all the best.”

In 56 NTT IndyCar Series starts, Pigot has 15 top 10 finishes, with a best finish of second at Iowa in 2018. He finished 14th in the 2019 point standings.

VeeKay, who tested in an Indy car twice for ECR in 2019, has six wins in 18 Indy Lights starts, including a weekend sweep of the final two rounds of the season at Laguna Seca in September.

A representative from ECR told NBC Sports Thursday that the team currently could not comment on any driver rumors as the team currently does not have any drivers under contract for the 2020 season, although it is presumed that owner/driver Carpenter will return to the No. 20 entry for the oval rounds.

NBC Sports will provide updates on the story once more information becomes available.