Race Weekend Central

2023 IndyCar GMR Grand Prix of Indianapolis Preview

The Month of May kicks off this weekend as the NTT IndyCar Series tackles the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It will be the ninth running of the GMR Grand Prix of Indianapolis, and a 27-car field is entered.

Colton Herta returns as the defending winner, after he conquered wet conditions and a loose car in the run to the finish last year. The field will include six other drivers who have won an IndyCar race on this circuit. This will also be the last race before practice and qualifying begin next week for the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500.

The 14-turn, 2.439 miles permanent road course is FIA certified and previously hosted Formula 1, sports cars and Moto GP motorcycles before welcoming IndyCar in 2014. Built within the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the layout utilizes parts of the oval’s front stretch and south short chute, as well as Hulman Boulevard, a utility road in the center of the facility. The most unique aspect of the race? The clockwise direction the cars run; reverse what fans will see when the oval opens on May 16.

King of IMS’ Road Course

Any discussion of who to watch in this race starts with 5-time IMS road course winner Will Power. The Team Penske driver has taken his No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet to more wins here than any other driver in the field. Even better, he’s fast, with six poles and if he gets his seventh, that’s not good for his competition. All but one of his wins was from the top starting spot.  

Last Year’s Winner

Do yourself a favor – go watch last year’s GMR Grand Prix. Just do it. Why? Because the race was full of top-notch car control on a wet track with slick Firestone tires. One of the better drives came early from the eventual 2022 winner, Herta, who remarkably took the lead from Pato O’Ward two turns after catching the rear end of his No. 26 Gainbridge Andretti Autosport car from a spin. Pit strategy to go to slick tires first got him out front and he held on later in the rain. He could be a challenger Saturday, but he won’t be the favorite from the Andretti stable.

See also
Inside Indycar: Grand Prix of Indianapolis Jumpstarts May

Is This Grosjean’s Race?

Romain Grosjean is no longer knocking on the door to victory lane in IndyCar, he’s hammering at it. The French driver has two runner-up finishes in a row and led 90 laps this year. And he is heading to a track that featured his break-out IndyCar performance in 2021 when he started from pole and led 44 laps before finishing second (his first of five runner-up finishes). He backed that run with another second in the July race. So, it seems he’s figured something out on this FIA approved circuit. Will the stars finally align for his first IndyCar win?

Pagenaud’s prior spark at Indy

Simon Pagenaud has won on the road course three times, but none of them came with his current team, Meyer-Shank Racing. But he was close. Last year the French driver had his best 2023 finish at this race when he put his No. 60 AutoNation Honda on the podium in second. In 2021, with Jack Harvey, the same car was running in the top five before a bad pit stop relegated him down the order. With no top 10s yet on the year, and teammate Helio Castroneves likewise struggling, the Meyer-Shank team will be on the hunt to put speed and performance together for a race weekend.

Steady Swede

The 2022 Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson is proving that his position in the standings last year was not a fluke related to his double points win in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. Since Detroit in 2021 where he notched his first win, the Swede has finished in the top 10 in 25 of the last 31 races. That’s a staggering feat of consistency. With one win on the year and confidence heading into the Indy 500 as the defending winner, what better way to kickstart his defense campaign than to win the Grand Prix? If not a win, the numbers strongly suggest he’ll get a top 10.

See also
Here Are the 2023 Darlington Throwback Schemes

Wake Up, Ed Carpenter Racing

The 2023 season has been underwhelming for Ed Carpenter’s team. His drivers’ Rinus VeeKay and Conor Daly have not finished in the top 10 yet this year. They are landing in Indy at their boss’ backyard – Carpenter is a Naptown native – with the pressure to make something happen before they hit the IMS oval next week. The good news is both drivers have a history of good performances here – VeeKay took his maiden IndyCar win in 2021 and Conor had a top-five result last year. But if a poor run happens Saturday, then they’ll have to try to correct their season in the biggest race of the year.

Frontstretch Race Prediction:

  1. Romain Grosjean
  2. Will Power
  3. Marcus Ericsson

The NTT IndyCar Series GMR Grand Prix of Indianapolis from Indianapolis Motor Speedway airs this Saturday, May 13, at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock.

About the author

Tom is an IndyCar writer at Frontstretch, joining in March 2023. He also works full-time for the Department of Veterans Affairs History Office and is a lieutenant colonel in the Army National Guard. A native Hoosier, he's followed IndyCar closely since 1991 and calls Fort Wayne home. Follow Tom on Twitter @TomBlackburn42.

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