Race Weekend Central

2023 IndyCar Gallagher Grand Prix Preview

A second visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course for the Gallagher Grand Prix is up next for the NTT IndyCar Series. For the fourth time, the weekend event is part of Roger Penske’s doubleheader with NASCAR as the two top tiers of American motorsport share the same track in the only format of its kind. 

The road course is no stranger to the IndyCar drivers, as the laps and circuit are the same as what was ran in May for the GMR Grand Prix, but later summer conditions and various rubber compounds between Firestone and NASCAR’s Goodyear tires add different challenges for the teams. 

Alex Palou took the win in May when IndyCar was last there, his first in what was a sizzling summer stretch for him. However it’s not a guarantee that he will show up to be the driver to beat, as no winning effort in May has been able to repeat when visiting the second time around. 

The May Race

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Palou had yet to put his foot on the competition when he took the victory in May. It was his first win of the year and only his second after winning the championship in 2021, his first year with CGR. Since then, he has been dominating, winning three more races, in a row in fact, and still finishing no worse than eighth all year (just pause for a moment…some drivers would do anything for a top ten, this guy hasn’t finished outside of it!). 

But does he repeat this weekend? It’s possible. The No. 10 has been so good on permanent road courses, with three wins and a fifth at the four events so far. And as already mentioned, his worst finish on a twisty track of any sort is eighth at St. Pete – he must have had an off day or something back then.

Expect him to be on the front row and be in contention. 

Lundgaard Looking For Win 2

Since his first IndyCar race which was at this event in 2021, Christian Lundgaard has been adept at handling the FIA Grade One circuit. He earned the pole in May, led 13 laps and placed fourth, his second straight top five there. Now he comes in with a victory on his record at Toronto several weeks ago, and a newfound confidence that his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team can compete. 

Streaks In Jeopardy

As mentioned earlier this week, there are five drivers looking for a victory this weekend to ensure multi-year winning streaks continue. Out of those handful, Will Power has the best record at the Indy GP road course. He is looking for his sixth win at the track which would also extend his consecutive seasons with at least one victory to 17. In May, his path to glory was quickly disrupted after contact with Kyle Kirkwood after the only restart which sent him off track and mired him deep in the field. 

Also, defending winner Alexander Rossi will hope to build on his third place finish in May and be the first Arrow McLaren car in victory lane in 2023.

Newgarden Needs To Better Palou

For the next four races, the storyline for the championship will be whether Josef Newgarden can finish better than leader Palou at any track. This weekend our Frontstretch team has Palou with the edge. The previous weekend it was an unknown on who would be better as the Nashville Grand Prix has been so unpredictable. But Palou came out with a finish blessed by the racing gods, taking advantage of two late yellows to stretch his fuel and finish one spot in front of Newgarden and gaining four valuable points on him in the process. 

Newgarden obviously can’t win this thing if he doesn’t perform better than Palou. Right now that’s the challenge because even in races that seem to go against the Spaniard – i.e. Nashville and previously Toronto with a damaged front wing – Palou is able to pull off a great result. All Team Penske can do is ensure they can win at every race and maximize the impact on the points chase that way. Otherwise, Palou will breeze into California in September and enjoy some fried chicken with the Astor Cup sitting next to him. 

The 2022 Indy NXT Champion Returns

Linus Lundqvist had been without an IndyCar race opportunity throughout the year. Luckily he was able to test and the results must have been rewarding as Meyer Shank Racing will bring him back for his second straight race to fill-in for the healing Simon Pagenaud. 

The rookie did well on the circuit nicknamed “Crashville” last weekend. He even qualified in the top 12 and was on a strategy that looked like a possible top 10 result until crashing late. It will be interesting to see how he does on the expansive IMS road course with its more forgiving turns and run-off space compared to those in Nashville. 

In his four races in Indy NXT (then called Lights) at IMS, he won twice and grabbed two fifth places. 

PeopleReady Force For Good Challenge

This has been a fun chase to still watch and discuss through the year. With the last street course complete, that leaves the challengers for this prize limited to Kirkwood, Marcus Ericsson, Lundgaard and Palou. For the first three on this list, they need two wins – on a road course and oval – to cash the check. Palou just needs a win at Gateway, but more on that in a couple weeks time. 

As mentioned above, look for Lundgaard to perform. But if any of those three needing a road course win take the trophy Saturday, then Gateway will mean $1 million is on the line for two drivers instead of one. 

Frontstretch Predictions

Well, well, well. Would you look at that? At Nashville, Frontstretch went with Kirkwood to win, and he did. But is there confidence this will maintain for this weekend’s IMS Grand Prix? Absolutely not.

  1. Palou – duh. He won in May, and he’s going to be the first to sweep the Indy road course events in a year. Kudos.
  2. Newgarden – he finishes second, and can’t wait to whoop the field at Gateway.
  3. Lundgaard – leads a lot but somehow gets outdone by the Spaniard, which the whole field has all year. Don’t worry.

The 2023 Gallagher Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will kick off on Saturday, Aug. 12 at 2 PM ET on USA Network 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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