The widely talked about topic in IndyCar so far in 2022 is the competition level. There is no falling asleep on the couch for 40 laps during a race like in other forms of motorsports. As we head into the GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis on Saturday, 15 or more drivers have a chance to realistically win the race. Later on in the month, 18 or so drivers I feel could win the Indy 500. With Team Penske dominating the first three races and Pato O’Ward securing his first win of the year, I am calling my shot that a first time winner in 2022 gets it done on Saturday afternoon.
The first two drivers that come to mind for wins this weekend are Romain Grosjean and Rinus VeeKay. Obvious choices given VeeKay scored his first career win here a year ago and Grosjean secured his first pole position inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Grosjean comes to Indy in new colors as we know for Andretti Autosport. The second year IndyCar competitor has shown speed all season long with a best finish of 2nd on the streets of Long Beach. VeeKay dominated the last IndyCar at Birmingham before settling for a 3rd place finish. Look for these two to be up front this weekend.
CGR: It is go time for Chip Ganassi Racing in 2022. Alex Palou leads the points after four rounds but is yet to find victory circle. Yes, the points leader has not won a race so far this season, again shows the level of competition has been absolutely crazy throughout the field. Scott Dixon, the greatest driver of the last 25 years, hasn’t finished on the podium yet in 2022 but has recorded top 10s in all four starts. Marcus Ericsson comes into Indy with two consecutive finishes outside the Top 10 on a road course for the first time since his rookie season in 2019. Ericsson has finished in the top 10 in three of his last four outings on the road course. We should see Jimmie Johnson make significant progress this weekend as he makes his third start at IMS.
Jack Harvey: Harvey hasn’t shown the results or speed we thought we might with his move over to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. That changes this weekend. Harvey takes to this track better than any other on the schedule it seems. Harvey has a podium finish here with Meyer Shank Racing. His new team, RLL has shown plenty of pace in their three cars on the road course as well. The Brit started last year's race in May from the 3rd spot.
Conor Daly: He’s got his hot tub in the infield, but will need plenty of work to take a victory dive into it after Saturday's race. Daly led laps here for Dale Coyne and had two good qualifying efforts in 2021 with an 8th and 6th place starting position. Daly had terrible luck in both races last year, being punted in the first turn by Simon Pagenaud and cut the grass in the summer race trying to pass Simon Pagenaud. Daly will need to keep it clean this weekend for a first top 10 of the season.
Helio Castroneves: It’s been a struggle for the four time Indy 500 champion in his return to full time competition in the IndyCar Series. He sits 17th in points heading into the two races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Obviously the 5th Indy 500 is the most important goal for the month, but getting off to a fast start and gaining momentum in the grand prix will go a long way when it comes to the 500.
It just goes to show how difficult this series is. In F1 you usually know what you’re going to get at the end of the day. The strategy that will play out on Saturday puts half the field if not more in play for a win. If it rains or the race stays green, anything can happen.
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