INDIANAPOLIS—Will Power made it a clean sweep for Team Penske winning the pole and Race 2 of the INDYCAR Harvest Grand Prix doubleheader at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course Saturday afternoon. Power never relinquished the lead in the caution less race.
For AJ Foyt Racing, frustration was the word of the day—make that the weekend.
The team decided to split the fuel strategy among the three teammates. Sebastien Bourdais went with what turned out to be the most popular two pit stop strategy, opting to save fuel from the start of the 75-lap race.
Bourdais moved from his 21st starting berth into 18th by lap 11 but he was never able to make much headway beyond that position. Problems on both pitstops cost him. However, he had saved enough fuel by his third stint, that he was able to recover a couple of positions he had lost on the last stop. He finished 18th.
“It was a pretty trying weekend,” Bourdais said. “It’s not where we want to be but it’s
just the beginning of the relationship. We’re hoping to build something and prepare as best as possible for next year. In some respects, we achieved that. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us but if it was easy, I may not be here. We have a lot to think about, a lot to go through and analyze and see what may explain what we’ve experienced this weekend.
“Starting from where we started today makes things very difficult but we were on the right strategy with the two-stopper because everyone who had a halfway decent day was on the two stop strategy. Passing was once again extremely difficult. Just a shame we got caught up in some guys’ messes when they tangled and got back on track like Ericsson running off the track and making us lose a couple of positions. We never could recover from that because passing was so difficult. At the end of the day, live and learn. Everybody tried real hard; the mechanics did a great job throwing all the changes that we wanted to try at the car and that was quite a bit all weekend long. We’ll keep working at it and move forward.”
Dalton Kellett and Charlie Kimball did a three-stop strategy, pitting earlier than the two-stoppers and running full rich on all stints because saving fuel wasn’t a concern.
Kimball leads Kellett through the esses.
Kellett and Bourdais started on the black primary tires while Kimball started on the used reds or alternate compound tires.
Starting 24th, Kimball moved up to 17th in the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet by lap nine. However, the switch to blacks on his first stop had him radioing in to strategist Larry Foyt, “Really struggling for grip on the blacks. Foyt told him “Hang in there. Just give us the best you can.”
Kimball did hang in there and one time he was hanging on after an aggressive move by Felix Rosenqvist in Turn 7 saw Kimball taking an escape route on the grass. Kimball went a lap down by the halfway mark, and was never in a position to gain his lap back. He finished 23rd.
“Honestly, kind of a frustrating day,” Kimball said. “We made the decision
strategically to do something different than the 14 and something different than the 41. We started on used alternate Firestones. The pace just wasn’t great. The second stint on our first set of primes (tires) we just really struggled to find lap time, so from yesterday to today we seemed to have gotten a little outside the window. I don’t know if it was weather conditions, track conditions or just the tires we had left after using a little more on yesterday’s race but going for the three stop we had to make really good lap time and we struggled with a little bit during the second stint of the race. But at the end the lap times weren’t bad on the third and fourth stints. We just need to figure out how to make the car better in qualifying so we don’t have to throw Hail Marys.”
Kellett, who was in his final race for the team in 2020, was hoping his two new sets of the alternate compound tires would give him the speed he needed to employ the three stop strategy successfully. Unfortunately, he struggled on the reds and had issues with his brakes on a couple of occasions entering Turn 1. Kellett finished in 25th a lap down.
“Definitely not the way we wanted to end the season for the No. 41 K Line
Insulators USA crew,” Kellett lamented. “We thought we were looking pretty good going into the race with the two new sets of Firestone alternates (tires). When we went to sticker reds, we didn’t quite have the pace and it just seemed like the car couldn’t quite take the extra little bit of aggression to try to get that next few tenths out of it. Had a couple mistakes in (Turn) 1 trying to push the brakes out a little bit deeper but getting front lock up, so that really hurt us having to take the run off road there. At the end of the day we didn’t quite have the pace or the consistency to pull off the strategy that we were trying to go for which was a bummer for the team. I think we’ve worked really hard all season and we’ve definitely made improvements but obviously today showed there’s some work that we have to do. We have to sit down and think really hard over what’s been good about the changes that we’ve made so far and what hasn’t worked and come up with a plan from there.”
Following Will Power across the line were Colton Herta, Alexander Rossi, Josef Newgarden and Pato O’Ward.
The teams have a couple weekends off before heading to the season finale in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Oct. 23-25. The battle for the NTT INDYCAR Series title will be decided between reigning champion Newgarden and Scott Dixon who is the current point leader. Going into the finale, Dixon has a 32 point lead over Newgarden. However, the points will be doubled in the season finale which will make for some interesting outcomes. The race will be broadcast live on NBC on Sunday, Oct. 25 starting at 2:30 p.m. ET.