The month of May is finally upon us, and that means it’s time for the NTT IndyCar Series to be back home again in Indiana for the Indianapolis 500. But while practice and qualifying for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing is no longer an all-month affair, Indianapolis Motor Speedway has still come alive with multiple test sessions in the past few weeks, and more importantly, will host racing action this Saturday with the return of the IndyCar Grand Prix.
Years after Formula 1 left IMS’ road course behind, the track was slightly reconfigured for a second IndyCar race to kick off May festivities at one of the world’s most iconic racetracks. It wasn’t the first time that an IndyCar-sanctioned series had run the road course, as Indy Lights ran as an F1 support event from 2005 to 2007 (with Marco Andretti the inaugural winner), but to some, it marked a dramatic shift in the month and the buildup to the 500. But five years after its inaugural running in 2014, the IndyCar Grand Prix is firmly entrenched as one of the series’ most recognizable events.
Simon Pagenaud won that inaugural running for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, but the event has since been dominated by Team Penske. Will Power became the first three-time winner of the race when he took the checkered flag last May, adding to previous victories in 2015 and 2017, and later that month became the first driver to win both the IndyCar Grand Prix and Indianapolis 500 in the same season. He and Pagenaud remain the only drivers to win this race, as Pagenaud added a second victory in 2016.
Team Penske also sits atop the incoming IndyCar standings, with 2017 series champion Josef Newgarden boasting a healthy 28-point advantage over former Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi. However, Newgarden has yet to crack the top 10 in this race in five tries; Rossi, meanwhile, has improved on his previous finish every time he’s run this course, with a career-best fifth place last year. Defending champion Scott Dixon sits third in points, just five back of Rossi, and will look to finally win his first race on the road course after placing second in each of the past two years.
May also means the return of Helio Castroneves to IndyCar action, as the Team Penske legend runs both races at IMS alongside his IMSA commitments. With finishes of third, sixth, second, fifth, and sixth, not to mention his team’s domination of this race, the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner is a safe bet for a podium finish in his first start of the season.
The Down and Dirty Show Powered By Polaris RZR will be on site for the IndyCar Grand Prix with exclusive interviews, race coverage, and more building up to Saturday’s race. Stay tuned for more content all weekend long!