Race Report: Kohler Grand Prix
ELKHART LAKE, Wis.—A swing and a miss.
Decisions made with the best of intentions did not work out as planned which resulted in the drivers having a tough day in the cockpit. Adding to the troubles, the team chose a strategy for Tony Kanaan that to truly succeed needed a full course caution and the race ran caution-free for the first time since 2000. However, all information is useful and the team will analyze the data to determine how to improve in the future.
With Kanaan starting 18th, the team used an attack all day strategy—one of the few to do so—which meant four stops and running full rich on fuel. On the first lap he jumped from 18th to 13th which is where he ran until his first pit stop on lap 7 which dropped him back to 21st.
As the leaders pitted seven laps later, he cycled up to seventh before making his next stop on lap 18, which then dropped him back to 19th. He climbed back up to eighth before his third stop on lap 30, he returned to the race in 17th. He was up to 10th before his fourth and final stop on lap 43. He dropped to 15th when he returned to the race and then posted his fastest lap of the race three laps later to take 14th, which is where he finished in the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet.
Kanaan was succinct in his assessment of his race, saying, “We missed on the setup. No excuses. We need to get better.”
Splitting the fuel strategies between the two cars, Matheus ‘Matt’ Leist ran the traditional strategy which was three stops and saving fuel from lap 1 on. Even so, Leist picked up four positions on the first lap to vault from 20th to 16th. He lost a position a few laps later but as the pit stop cycles began he climbed to 15th before his first stop on lap 13. The next stop on lap 27 did not go well and Leist dropped to 20th. He maintained his cool and got back up to P13 before coming in for his final stop on lap 41. He returned to the race in 18th but as the stops cycled out, he finished 15th in his No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet.
"Today was a really tough race,” Leist said afterwards. “We've just been struggling a lot finding the right car setup. We can't quite figure out the best setup for tracks like these [permanent road courses]. All we can do is prepare the best we can for Iowa."
Towards that end, the team heads to Iowa Speedway for a test with Leist on Wednesday.
Defending IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden, who won the pole in his No. 1 Verizon Chevrolet, only lost the lead temporarily during his first pit stop, leading 53 of 55 laps. Second through fifth were the Honda-powered cars of Ryan Hunter-Reay, Scott Dixon, Takuma Sato and Robert Wickens—five different teams finished in the top–five.
The Iowa Corn 300 is scheduled in two weeks and will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network on Sunday, July 8th starting at 2 p.m. ET.