May doesn’t disappoint. Neither does Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was a May of winners, losers, and things to remember.
The obvious winner of May is Simon Pagenaud. If Will Power swept last year’s May, Simon swept and mopped the month! Starting with the INDYCAR Grand Prix, Simon put on a fantastic show the final 15 laps, making his way through the field in semi-wet conditions. It honestly was beautiful to watch. I rewatched the final laps with my parents, pointing out how while in wet tires, Simon would dive into the wet parts of the front stretch to save his tires. He passed perennial good-kid Matheus Leist and my Ravenclaw Brother Jack Harvey in the first section of turns. Then…he was out of Push 2 Pass as he came for Scott Dixon. My oh my! The pass on the backstretch had the whole crowd erupting! The Indianapolis 500 was a cakewalk for him; he earned the pole during a dramatic qualifying weekend and led a good part of that race while giving the crowd a show of the final lap back-and-forth trade-off with Alexander Rossi. He’s going to be a fantastic Indianapolis 500 Champion, and if the photo of Simon and Norman aren’t on the ticket next year – you can join me in the riot!
The Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Santino Ferrucci also comes away a big winner from May. No one really thought he’d be Rookie of the Year. Easy money would have been on Colton Herta being Rookie of the Year following his fantastic opening races. Someone didn’t tell that to Ferrucci. He was challenging veteran drivers off the pit lane. Ferrucci ended in the Top 10 as the highest finishing rookie, and one of only two rookies who finished the race.
Huge win for Jack Harvey and the MSR team. A podium finish in the INDYCAR Grand Prix, the first podium finish for the team. Great momentum for a team slowly increasing their race commitment to INDYCAR and a great driver.
The final winners are Ed Carpenter and Charlie Kimball. Not for their driving (which they both should receive kudos for that) but for what great ambassadors of the sport they are. Young friends, both young drivers, had amazing interactions with them in May. The drivers were gracious and took time to chat with them, answer questions, and make a memorable interaction. If you want to grow the sport – this is how you do it.
Runners up are the first losers. Scott Dixon had a great race at the INDYCAR Grand Prix. Alexander Rossi put on a great show at the Indianapolis 500. However, neither one had that last moment of magic to pull of a win. Dixon tried, he and Pagenaud played a great game on wet conditions, but ultimately Pagenaud passed him. Rossi pulled amazing passes in the final laps, even after a bad fuel pitstop, but Pagenaud got the last pass – the most important pass. They were second, but in the immortal words of Ricky Bobby: if you ain’t first, you’re last.
Colton Herta has had a no-good very-rotten May. His car suffered a mechanical issue within the first fifteen laps of the INDYCAR Grand Prix. Then it turns out when loading his car on the AMR vehicle, it got damaged even more and Herta’s race was over. Then in the big race, he lost the ability to shift out fifth gear and only ran three laps in the season’s biggest race. Here’s to Colton getting his mojo back.
The other loser is everyone who was hoping for the third OEM to be announced in May. Myself included. Jay Frye teased two big announcements in May. The first was the cockpit protection announcement (more on that in a later blog). The second never happened. So, as I’ve discussed, this is going to push everything back. Hopefully, we get this announcement sooner rather than later.
What Did May Teach Us
1) Never underestimate a calm Frenchman. We had a lovely discussion with one of Simon’s crew who indicated the driver was in a different, calm, headspace. That was before he got pole and before won the 500.
2) Jesus loves INDYCAR, Us, and the IMS. We made some big calls (Simon winning and the race not being delayed by weather) Indy is where we are always right.
3) The pits are a dangerous place, and we should examine making sure we close the pits immediately when there is an incident within them.
Honorable mention goes to my mom. She chose the coldest and windiest track day I ever experienced to come watch practice and qualifications for the INDYCAR Grand Prix and stuck it out.