Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc. photo by Dan Peters

Simon Pagenaud Winner of the Race.
Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc. photo by Mark Rotor


Another new tradition at Indianapolis….
story by Dan Peters
Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc. Sports Editor

Unlike Friday, a beautiful, sunny afternoon provided the perfect weather Saturday for the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the reconfigured road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. If you have been to Indy in the month of May in previous years, you had to take a double take when you saw the race cars on track… you may even have said they were going the wrong way down the historic speedway. But rest assured that this is the only weekend they will be going northbound.

Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc. photo by Mark Rotor

Fans enjoyed a day of great racing featuring the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Mazda Road to Indy developmental racing series, placing a singular spotlight on all levels of North American open-wheel racing at the Racing Capital of the World.

Fans enjoyed a day of great racing featuring the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Mazda Road to Indy developmental racing series, placing a singular spotlight on all levels of North American open-wheel racing at the Racing Capital of the World.

Simon Pagenaud headed for a winning day.
Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc. photo by Dan Peters

Simon Pagenaud had just enough fuel left to make history, winning the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis.  "He doesn't like to save fuel, but he did everything we asked him to do today," race strategist Rob Edwards said. Pagenaud, who started fourth in the No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports car, held off Ryan Hunter-Reay by .8906 of a second for his third career Verizon IndyCar Series victory and a charging Helio Castroneves, who was celebrating his 39th birthday, by 1.8244 seconds.

 “Did you hear the number they were asking for? This car’s making fuel, I think, thanks to Honda," said Pagenaud, who will mark his 30th birthday May 18. "The fuel we’re saving is amazing. With the pace it was nerve-racking. I was worried about Helio coming back and I didn’t know what Hunter Reay was doing either, so I just kept working. My lap time was saving fuel, being off throttle. I don’t like racing off throttle. But it worked out."

Ryan Hunter-Reay 28.
Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc. photo by Mark Rotor

"Everybody was doing different strategies, but it was a lot of fun," said Hunter-Reay, who has a victory and pair of runner-up finishes this season. "I would rather not have saved fuel at the end. But the team put us on the right strategy, so thanks to them. I thought maybe we had a shot that time but hopefully we’re saving that last step of the podium for the big race at the end of the month (the Indianapolis 500)."

Castroneves leads the Pack.
Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc. photo by Dan Peters

Castroneves, who turned 39 on Saturday, was leading when he had to pit with 10 laps left. Almost the perfect birthday present, but in the Indy Car Series, a podium finish is like a victory.

This was the first time the IndyCar Series competed on the 14-turn road layout at Indianapolis, where the classic 2.5 mile (4 km) oval course will be the scene of the Indianapolis 500 on May 25.

The start of the 25-car race included a spectacular crash involving pole sitter Sebastian Saavedra as well as rookies Carlos Munoz and Mikhail Aleshin. You could hear the fans gasp after seeing the replay on one of the various video boards around the speedway. No drivers were injured, but Mayor Greg Ballard, who was waving the ceremonial green flag, suffered a soft tissue injury on his arm from flying debris and was treated at the IU Health Infield Medical Center and released.

Ryan Hunter-Reay 28 leads into the turn.
Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc. photo by Dan Peters

Colombia's Saavedra stalled in his grid position when the lights signaled the standing start (
see video below).

Most of the drivers were able to avoid hitting Saavedra, but Colombian Munoz rammed into the left rear of the pole sitter before Russia's Aleshin slammed into the back of Saavedra.

“We just followed protocol of the start. As soon as I released the clutch you went from 11,000 RPMs to 0," Saavedra said. "Very sad because we did an amazing job. The team had very high expectations. When you have the opportunity to be in the front of the pack in this amazing place you want to bring it home. To not even get a chance because of an electrical thing or something (is disappointing)."

Debris from the three cars littered the track, and some of it sailed into the pit area.  All three drivers were able to climb out of their cars under their own power.

Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc. photo by Dan Peters

Hunter-Reay's No. 28 DHL car was starved for fuel after completing 28 laps. Castroneves, who started 10th in the No. 3 Verizon Team Penske car, had plenty of fuel and was closing in the final laps, but couldn't get around Hunter-Reay.

Hunter-Reay finished second, followed by Castroneves, Sebastien Bourdais and Charlie Kimball.  Oriol Servia was leading with five laps to go but had to pit before he ran out of fuel. That handed the lead to Pagenaud, who also was at risk of running short.

It was a competitive race for Indy Cars, with 12 lead changes. Pagenaud inherited the point for the duration on Lap 78 when Oriol Servia had to make a fuel stop. He led Hunter-Reay across the line by 2.8 seconds on Lap 80 and coaxed the Honda-powered car to navigate the final laps without incident or stalling.

Both Hunter-Reay and Pagenaud gained on championship points leader Will Power, who started fifth in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car and placed a season-low eighth. Power (149) leads Hunter-Reay by one point and Pagenaud by six heading into the points-laden Indianapolis 500 on May 25.

IndyCar Series driver James Hinchcliffe was discharged from IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis after being evaluated and having a CT scan of his head and neck.

Hinchcliffe suffered a concussion in Saturday's inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis, and his availability for Indianapolis 500 practice is in doubt.

Hinchcliffe was hit in the head by flying debris, apparently from Justin Wilson's damaged front wing on the lap 57 restart. The cars were approaching turn seven when the incident occurred.  Complaining of head and neck pain, Hinchcliffe was given a CT scan at Methodist Hospital and released.

Andretti Autosport said EJ Viso will fill in for Hinchcliffe as needed.

“I'm a little stiff and sore, and I'd love to be back in the car [on Sunday], but I suppose I should probably let the doctors make that decision,” he said in a statement released by the team.

Coincidentally, Hinchcliffe recently gave an exclusive interview with Autoweek regarding the importance of helmets in IndyCar.  INDYCAR Medical Director Dr. Michael Olinger said Hinchcliffe was diagnosed with a concussion. The driver of the No. 27 United Fiber & Data car for Andretti Autosport will be re-evaluated by Olinger and INDYCAR medical consultants before being cleared to drive.

Ryan Hunter-Reay
The New Tradition…begins

Designed to elevate the Month of May leading into the 98th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on Sunday, May 25, the Grand Prix of Indianapolis brought exciting Verizon IndyCar Series road course action to the Racing Capital of the World in a package that is fun, affordable and family-friendly.

The Grand Prix of Indianapolis was seen live nationwide on ABC.  This was the first time that the IndyCar Series has competed on the IMS road course, which underwent a $5 million reconfiguration that created more passing zones, an improved surface and better racing.

Fans took full advantage of reconfigured seating for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis which provided spectacular sightlines with new spectator mounds and grandstands available in the infield section of the course. With general admission tickets at $25 and children 12 and under admitted free, the Grand Prix of Indianapolis provided a tremendous live entertainment value for the entire family.

"After over eight months of hard work and dedication of the entire Indianapolis Motor Speedway staff, we are thrilled with the reception of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis by the fans and drivers alike," said J. Douglas Boles, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president.  "Our goal was to create a new buzz and excitement at the beginning of May as we build anticipation for the 98th Running of the Indianapolis 500, and we believe that today's race accomplished that goal."

One of the best features for fans at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis was the fourth annual Celebration of Automobiles on Pagoda Plaza showcasing an amazing collection of 130 classic and vintage cars from 1910-1970. Vintage car owners and automotive enthusiasts from around North America have flocked to IMS since 2011 for the Celebration of Automobiles, which pays homage to the rich heritage of automotive development at the track.

Additional fan attractions at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis included an infield Midway featuring the INDYCAR Fan Village and the IMS Kid's Zone.

The track will now go back to the traditional oval layout for the rest of the month, starting Sunday as practice for the Indianapolis begins.

Simon Pagenaud Winner of the Race.
Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc. photo by Mark Rotor

Verizon IndyCar Series
Grand Prix of Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS - Results Saturday of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (4) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 82, Running
2. (3) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 82, Running
3. (10) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 82, Running
4. (7) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 82, Running
5. (23) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Chevy, 82, Running
6. (14) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Chevy, 82, Running
7. (2) Jack Hawksworth, Dallara-Honda, 82, Running
8. (5) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 82, Running
9. (16) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 82, Running
10. (9) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 82, Running
11. (18) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 82, Running
12. (22) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Honda, 82, Running
13. (17) Carlos Huertas, Dallara-Honda, 82, Running
14. (13) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 82, Running
15. (6) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Chevy, 82, Running
16. (8) Juan Pablo Montoya, Dallara-Chevy, 81, Running
17. (15) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
18. (20) Martin Plowman, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
19. (24) Mike Conway, Dallara-Chevy, 58, Mechanical
20.  (11) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 56, Contact
21.  (12) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 50, Contact
22.  (21) Franck Montagny, Dallara-Honda, 47, Contact
23.  (19) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Honda, 0, Contact
24.  (1) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevy, 0, Contact
25.  (25) Mikhail Aleshin, Dallara-Honda, 0, Contact
Race Statistics
Winners average speed:   96.462
Time of Race: 02:04:24.0261
Margin of victory: 0.8906 of a second
Cautions: 4 for 19 laps
Lead changes: 12 among 8 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Hunter-Reay 1-9
Hawksworth 10 - 27
Hunter-Reay 28
Wilson 29 - 30
Hawksworth 31 - 43
Pagenaud 44
Hunter-Reay 45 -51
Wilson 52 - 53
Hunter-Reay 54
Castroneves 55 - 69
Bourdais 70
Servia 71 - 77
Pagenaud 78 - 82

Point Standings:
Power 149, Hunter-Reay 148, Pagenaud 143, Castroneves 102, Dixon 102, Conway 93, Andretti 89, Wilson 87, Kanaan 82, Bourdais 80.

Busy weekend at the Brickyard..
Prior to the main event on Saturday, The USF 2000, Mazda Pro Series and the Indy Lights also ran races on the historic new road course.

Each of those feeder series held races on both Friday and Saturday, giving the fans 2 straight days of racing at the speedway.  On Friday, Owen Will a rookie took the win in race 1 in the USF 2000 with an average speed of 84.006 mph.

In the Mazda Pro Series, Scott Hargrove in the #3 car won with an average speed of 79.225 mph
The Indy Lights race was dominated by Matthew Brabham in the #83 car with a average speed of 94.618 mph.

On Saturday, the same three series held a second race. In the USF 2000 Series, Adrian Starrantino in the #91 car won with an average speed of 92.139 mph.

In the Mazda Pro Series, Scott Hargrove defended his first race win with a average speed of 85.190 mph In the second Indy Lights race, Luiz Razia in the #7 car Razia, started from the pole in the 40 Lap race and never looked back as he led every lap. He outlasted his Schmidt/Peterson Motorsports teammate Jack Harvey as the Brit gave challenge, but came up short.

The duo were the only ones to get podiums in both races this weekend as they’re making a case for the series championship.  Rookie Alex Baron finished third while Brabham and Scott Anderson rounded out the top five.

Mazda Pro Racers in the corner.....

Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc. photo by Dan Peters

2014 Grand Prix of Indianapolis: Race Highlights


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