Race Weekend Central

2020 GMR Grand Prix: What We Learned From IndyCar At Indianapolis

The 2020 GMR Grand Prix was the NTT IndyCar Series’ first road course in the 2020 IndyCar season, and the race itself had a few twists and turns. Saturday’s (July 4) event saw Scott Dixon make some career history by taking the checkered flag by a 20-second margin, breaking a Team Penske streak in the process.

But don’t forget the multiple cars that got hung up on pit lane, the one driver who apparently is cursed by something, and the couple of people who drove on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway infield. And that’s before we talk about the triple-digit temperatures inside the car on the holiday.

Here’s what we learned from the 2020 GMR Grand Prix:

1. Scott Dixon didn’t just dominate—he made IndyCar history

You’d think that with everything Scott Dixon has accomplished, at some point he’d run out of things to do. Not so, as he crossed off multiple lines in the record book on Saturday.

By winning the 2020 GMR Grand Prix, the New Zealander earned his first career win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course (after three consecutive runner-up finishes). It was also the first time he’s ever started an IndyCar season with back-to-back victories.

But that’s not all. He also became IndyCar’s active leader in consecutive starts, surpassing his old teammate Tony Kanaan. His 48th victory put him one step closer to becoming second on the all-time wins list. And he was the first non-Team Penske driver to win the Grand Prix since 2014. That’s a pretty awesome day at the office! Dixon may be celebrating his 20th season in IndyCar, but he’s not anywhere close to done yet.

2. What does Alexander Rossi have to do to catch a break?

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Alexander Rossi must have angered the IndyCar gods. It’s baffling to look at what happened to him in the 2020 GMR Grand Prix, especially when added to what happened to him in last month’s 2020 Genesys 300. Absolutely nothing has gone right for Rossi, who’s normally one of the best drivers in the entire series.

He’s now dead last in championship points among full-time drivers; he’s tied with Kanaan, who’s only running a handful of events, and everyone else behind Rossi is also not running a complete schedule. That is an absolute shock, and it’s more frustrating when you take into account that none of this has anything to do with him. Last time out it was an ECR issue and penalties; this time it was another technical problem that made the No. 27 one of only three cars not to finish the race. He deserves much better than he’s getting.

One can only imagine how incensed Rossi is right now, and if he doesn’t make a big impact at Road America next week, he’ll wind up looking to win races instead of win his first IndyCar championship.

3. Will Power vs. Simon Pagenaud and Penske’s weird day

What an odd day the 2020 GMR Grand Prix was for Team Penske. Roger Penske’s crew entered Saturday as the clear favorites, and that’s not what happened at all. Even more surprising was that how they finished resembled largely the opposite of how they started.

Defending race winner Simon Pagenaud had a horrendous qualifying, yet fought his way through the field for third place. It’s fantastic how Pagenaud made lemonade out of lemons. Conversely, Will Power looked like he was on rails when he earned yet another pole position for the GMR Grand Prix, and his day went in the tank thanks to the No. 12 stalling on pit lane and the sole caution of the day.

The Pagenaud part is the least surprising given what he did last year, but still not necessarily expected. Nobody could have predicted that Power would have the misfortune he did. Certainly the idea of a Team Penske driver not winning this race after five years of victories was a massive shock. But that’s why the NTT IndyCar Series is such an incredible production—it’s always competitive.

The 2020 IndyCar season continues Saturday, July 11 with the REV Group Grand Prix Road America Race 1 from Road America. The race airs at 5:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

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