It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The month of May in Indianapolis means one thing; the Indianapolis 500. The Greatest Spectacle in Racing takes place next Sunday, while qualifying will happen this weekend. The ‘500 is the first checkpoint in the Indycar season. Therefore, it is the perfect time to recap what’s happened so far in 2021.
Crashed Cars, Near-Misses and a Maiden Victory
After a delayed start due to the global pandemic, Indycar roared into life on the rollercoaster-like Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama. Reigning champion Scott Dixon came into the race as the driver to beat; however, his young teammate would steal the spotlight. Alex Palou perfected a two-stop strategy to take the checkered flag; first, it was the first win in his career, and it was the first race with new team Chip Ganassi.
The Spaniard broke Mclaren hearts as he denied pole-sitter Pato O’Ward a first win in the championship. Two-time Indycar champion Josef Newgarden caused a massive crash on lap one; that pile-up accounted for several drivers. The podium got rounded out by those two Antipodean veterans.
Team Penske’s Will Power snatched second; meanwhile, Scott Dixon got his campaign off to a solid start with a third place. Rookies Romain Grosjean, Scott Mclaughlin and Jimmie Johnson all made their Indycar debut’s plus they scored points. Round one set the tone; the series quickly moved onto the streets of St. Petersburg for round two.
The All-American Kid Gets Andretti Autosport Back on the Top Step
Colton Herta finally tasted the winner’s champagne after a barren 2020. The Andretti Autosport youngster drove all weekend brilliantly on the Floridian streets to claim the victory. As expected, the race was an attritional affair; Herta stayed calm and patient as he managed the pace-car periods and restarts to perfection. Josef Newgarden enjoyed a bounce-back weekend after sending his Penske machine into the barriers after two corners in Alabama. The Tennesee native harried and chased Herta but to no avail.
Nonetheless, it got his championship kickstarted after a DNF in race one. Penske’s third driver Simon Pagenaud got a much-needed podium to ease the pressure on himself. Briton Jack Harvey shone as he grabbed an exceptional fourth place. Scott Dixon continued to hold the championship lead as the veteran went home with fifth place. He knew his car wasn’t quick enough to win; Dixon took the points and fought another day. Ultimately, the weekend belonged to Herta.
His performance magnified the struggles of the rest of the Andretti drivers. Alex Rossi, James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay finished outside of the top ten. Herta looks like a laid-back, shaggy-haired beach bum; however, he laid down a marker in Florida. He’s not racing for Andretti, just to support someone else’s championship challenge.
The Iceman Stayed Cool In the Texas Heat; Dixon Dominates Race One
We inhabit a world of inevitability. Morning always follows night; rain always follows a sunny afternoon in England, and Mercedes always say that they’re in trouble before winning the first F1 race of the season. Therefore, it surprised no one that Scott Dixon got back to victory lane as he crushed the opposition in Texas. The former Indy 500 winner raced in a league of his own to re-confirm that he is the driver to beat in Indycar. Indycar rookie Scott Mclaughlin impressed everyone as the former Aussie V8 ace broke his oval-racing virginity with a podium finish. Once again, Mclaren’s Pato O’Ward took another podium as he looked comfortable on the tricky Texas track. That performance served as a precursor.
Everyone Remembers Their First Time
Texas Motor Speedway hosted a double-header, the drivers all came back to do it again on Sunday after Dixon’s win on Saturday. This time, one of the younger drivers took home the headlines and winners trophy. After so many close calls, Pato O’Ward finally broke through to snatch his first Indycar win. The former Indy Lights champion and Red Bull rookie looked fast all race; he then pulled off some stunning overtakes to get past Graham Rahal and Josef Newgarden. After taking the lead, O’Ward sprinted home as he left his rivals behind in a cloud of Papaya and Black dust.
Also, it was Mclaren’s first win since returning to Indycar, and in O’Ward, the team has a young superstar. The Mexican now gets a test for the F1 team in Abu Dhabi later this year, although he’s said that his heart belongs in Indycar. Overall, O’Ward looked fearless, fast and relentless on the oval in Texas. Indycar’s got a new superstar to lead the championship around the world.
Veekay Denies Grosjean a Perfect Weekend in Indianapolis
Move over, Max Verstappen; there is another racing sensation from the Netherlands. Rinus Veekay dashed his way to glory in the Indy GP. The young Dutch racer paired great strategy with some daring overtakes to win at the Brickyard. Veekay was the season’s third new winner out of five races. The performance proved too good for pole position man Romain Grosjean.
The ex-F1 racer stunned everyone as he bagged his first pole since 2008. Grosjean led the early stages; sadly for him and his fans, a slow stint on the harder tyre coupled with traffic was his downfall. Nonetheless, as a rookie driver in Indycar, months after escaping THAT crash, Grosjean underlined how fast he is. Grosjean will now take a few weeks off before he returns for the doubleheader in Detroit. The mercurial Frenchman announced himself as a contender for race wins. Alex Palou finished third as three European drivers stepped onto the podium.
Current Championship Standings
|1||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing||176|
|2||Alex Palou||Chip Ganassi Racing||163|
|3||Josef Newgarden||Team Penske||148|
|4||Pato O’Ward||Arrow McLaren SP||146|
|5||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||137|
|6||Rinus Veekay||Ed Carpenter Racing||135|
|7||Simon Pagenaud||Team Penske||130|
|8||Scott McLaughlin||Team Penske||123|
|9||Will Power||Team Penske||118|
|10||Colton Herta||Andretti Autosport||117|
|11||Marcus Ericsson||Chip Ganassi Racing||99|
|12||Takuma Sato||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||98|
|13||Jack Harvey||Meyer Shank Racing||97|
|14||Alexander Rossi||Andretti Autosport||91|
|15||Romain Grosjean||Dale Coyne Racing with RWR||81|
|16||Sebastien Bourdais||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||79|
|17||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport||75|
|18||Felix Rosenqvist||Arrow McLaren SP||71|
|19||Ed Jones||Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan||67|
|20||James Hinchcliffe||Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport||56|