Race Report: Gallagher Grand Prix
INDIANAPOLIS (July 30, 2022) -- This too shall pass. Auto racing is a tough sport because it is unforgiving and sometimes downright cruel. But racers - drivers, owners and especially crew members -- are blessed with an innate optimism which serves them well when times get rough.
Dalton Kellett has had some challenging days at the office in the No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet this season but he always seems to find the positives.
Starting 24th and finishing 21st in the Gallagher Grand Prix, Kellett recounted his race and gleaned the positives the race had to offer.
"Moved up from where we started, which was definitely the goal today after a pretty rough qualifying," Kellett said. "Happy we were able to make up some spots in that No. 4 K-Line Team Chevy.
"The track here is always pretty tough to nail the setup down," he continued. "We started the weekend really not in a window where either of us were very happy. We went in two separate directions for (morning) warm-up just trying to figure something out. I think we found something we were happy with, and definitely a lot more pleased with the balance of the car overall during the race. I think the engineers did a great job from where we started the weekend to now.
"As the race played out, we started on blacks which were definitely the slower tire but luckily most of the field was on the blacks to begin with, so we didn't lose too much track position there," the 28-year-old Canadian said. "Got spun around early after tangling with the 48 car with Jimmie (Johnson). No real blame or anything to be mad about there, looks like just a racing incident. He was on the outside, I was trying to hold the inside line, and we touched wheels and I went around. It wasn't anything too egregious on either of our parts. Luckily, the AMR safety crew got us started and we didn't lose a lap, which is great, because that would have ended our day pretty much. So, hats off to them.
"Strategy wise, we were just trying to run as hard as we could initially," he revealed, adding, "and then with that yellow that came out about halfway through, we had to do a pretty long stint in the middle. So, we're saving fuel really aggressively, getting input from the stand on fuel mileage I needed to hit, and I was able to actually pick up the lap time while saving fuel, so that's always the goal. Then had a relatively normal length stint at the end where you could push hard which I was trying to stay ahead of the leaders -- just in case the yellow came out. But once they were close, then we let them by and have their battle. I was able to keep Jimmie behind us at the finish, so it all worked out I guess."
Teammate Kyle Kirkwood had a particularly tough time on the 2.43-mile, 11-turn road course and described his race as "eventful."
After a positive morning warm-up where the No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevrolet showed competitive pace, the team anticipated a competitive race. Indeed, it started off in the right direction with Kirkwood moving up from his 21st grid spot to 17th but a slow stop on lap 15 dropped him to 23rd. An issue getting away on the second stop compounded the trouble but the icing on the cake was getting tagged by Helio Castroneves on lap 49 which sent Kirkwood spinning. He was able to keep it running but the rear of the undertray sustained damage which affected the car's performance. Castroneves was levied a penalty for avoidable contact. The race finished under green so Kirkwood never got the chance to get his lap back and he placed 23rd. Castroneves met him afterwards to apologize for the shunt.
"It was actually a fun race but we were on the wrong strategy," said Kirkwood. "Started off on the red tires which didn't work out for anyone except for Scott McLaughlin, which he went long on them I believe, and we just didn't really have the pace on the black tires. From there we went to an old set of reds because that's all we had left and we used them in practice.
"Very eventful race," he continued. Got hit in turn 9 and that really gave us too much damage to have any pace at all for the rest of the race. Ultimately, it put us a lap down with an extra pit stop due to an issue with the rear right tire from that incident. Unfortunate day, but we've made improvements this weekend, so we'll take the positives from it. That (improvements) was definitely one of them. And we'll go on to Nashville, another street course. Hopefully, fingers crossed, we'll be good there."
Alexander Rossi won his first race since 2019, thus ending a 49-race winless streak. Finishing second through fifth were rookie Christian Lundgaard, who posted his career best finish of the season, Will Power who was trailed by his teammates Scott McLaughlin and Josef Newgarden.
This week the NTT INDYCAR Series heads to Nashville. The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix will be broadcast by NBC on Sunday, August 7th starting at 3 p.m. ET.
Today started off with a unique photo opportunity at the Speedway. The IMS staff gathered INDYCAR's Indianapolis 500 winners and NASCAR's Brickyard 400 winners and one Brickyard 200 road course winner to pose together at the Yard of Bricks. Some past winners drove or flew in just to be part of the photo and enjoy the historic moment.
Standing (L to R): Will Power, Brad Keselowski, Alexander Rossi, Marcus Ericsson, Helio Castroneves, Jeff Gordon, A.J. Foyt, Roger Penske, Mario Andretti, Rick Mears, Jimmie Johnson, A.J. Allmendinger (Brickyard 200 road course), Casey Kahne, Simon Pagenaud. Seated (L to R): Sam Hornish Jr., Ricky Rudd, Arie Luyendyk, Jr., Kyle Bush, Takuma Sato, Dale Jarrett, Bobby Rahal, Kevin Harvick.