INDIANAPOLIS May 12—High hopes in the first half of the INDYCAR Grand Prix of Indianapolis were dashed in the second half of the 85-lap race around the 2.439-mile road course of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The race started off well for the ABC Supply team as both Tony Kanaan and Matheus “Matt” Leist made great moves at the start, avoided several out of control cars, and picked up four and six spots respectively before the race was slowed by a full course yellow which ensued.
The race got underway in earnest on lap four and Kanaan, who started on scuffed red (alternate compound) tires was able to move as high as seventh before pitting on lap 21 for a set of new black (primary compound) tires. Leist who had pitted earlier on lap 16, went from the blacks to sticker red tires. The ABC Supply Chevrolets ‘liked’ the red tires more than the blacks so the team’s strategy was to use the blacks early (the first or second stint) and finish the race on the reds.
The strategy seemed to work as with just 30 laps and one more stop to go, Kanaan was in 12th and Leist was 16th and both were looking forward to running sticker reds in their final stint. A full course caution on lap 55 for Josef Newgarden’s spin after contact with Sebastien Bourdais, saw the entire field pit for fuel and tires…nearly all of which were red-rimmed.
Kanaan’s stop was problematic and he went from 11th to 23rd (last), which plummeted spirits but fired up Kanaan who then put on a driving school. In 20 laps, he gained nine spots to finish 14th.
“We actually had a good race going but our pit stops were just not up to par,” Kanaan said afterwards. “All that we gained on the track, we lost in the pits. We need to address that before the next race.”
Leist, who gained a spot on his pit stop (due to Kanaan’s misfortune), continued to gain, moving from 15th to 13th until he was hit. Leist lost four spots with the contact but he never lost his composure. He then found himself battling with his teammate who passed him after 10 laps. Leist was running 16th when he was called to the pits for a splash of fuel on the white flag lap. He placed 20th and his succinct comment summed up his disappointment with the circumstances.
Leist takes on new reds in his final stop.
"Today was a tough race,” the 19-year-old said. “I had a difficult car, dealt with a few issues. Unfortunately, it was not our day again. Onto the next one."
The next one is the big one—the Indianapolis 500 which will be run Sunday, May 27. The teams will be practicing this week in preparation for qualifying next weekend.
Will Power swept the card this weekend, winning the pole and the race for the third time in his career. Second through fifth were Scott Dixon, Robert Wickens, Sebastien Bourdais and Alexander Rossi.