Well, what do I say? This year’s GMR Grand Prix was the craziest race I have seen in my time watching IndyCar. With on and off rain and plenty of cautions, Colton Herta pulled through to capture his first win of the 2022 season.
Plenty of IndyCar fans waited anxiously for the series’ first wet race of the aeroscreen era. (Since 2020) Rain presented itself as a possibility at Barber Motorsports Park, two weeks ago, but dissipated by race time. Of course, it’s springtime in Indiana. So there’s bound to be some rain at some point.
As it turns out, Saturday was the day for the skies to open up.
Rain pelted the track just minutes before the already pushed up scheduled start. Which pushed the green flag back about 30 minutes. The race began during a break in the rain, with the track still wet. Which necessitated all teams to start on the Firestone wet tires, their first in-race use since the same race in 2019.
Colton Herta dove into the pits as the water on track started to clear away. This early pit stop, just four laps after green, promoted him from 14th to the lead by Lap 5. The rest of the field followed suit, and the two McLaren cars tucked up behind the young Andretti driver. For about 25 laps or so, the skies stayed dry, but lightning surrounded the track (Trust me, I saw it). The action on track however, was all but dry.
So. Many. Yellows.
That was the average number of laps that ran green until a caution came out. Eight cautions were thrown over what was originally scheduled to be 85 laps, but ended up being timed per IndyCar’s “Two-hour rule.” Which mandates that no road course race can exceed two hours in length. Disregarding whatever way the race was scored, it was a wreck-fest. Championship leader Alex Palou brought out an early caution along with Josef Newgarden and reigning race champion Rinus VeeKay just a few laps later. Later on in the race, when the rain truly picked up, Mclaren teammates Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist came together, as well as Jimmie Johnson and Scott McLaughlin. All of which shook up the championship standings that much more.
Herta Grabs Win for Andretti and Honda
Many around the paddock and online have been wondering when Andretti Autosport, specifically Herta, would turn their raw pace into wins and break the streak of Chevy-powered cars taking the top step on the podium. When asked what it was that put him on the top step of the podium, Herta said “It was really just the call for wets to slicks…The most interesting thing is you never have a car that works in the wet and the dry. It’s just not possible, but it happened today.”
Herta is right. Especially considering that much of the grid is inexperienced driving these cars in the wet, it seemed like Herta and the Andretti crew that built his car had it set up perfectly for every situation.
Strategy also played a huge factor in Herta’s victory. Not only the choice to go back on slicks early on, but the choice to go back onto the wet tires once the rain started pooling on the track won the race for Herta.
Standings after GMR Grand Prix
A crazy race makes for a big time shakeup in the driver’s standings, propelling Will Power, who finished third in the race, to the championship going into the 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500.
2: Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing – 156 points
3: Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske – 152 points
4: Josef Newgarden, Team Penske – 140 points
5: Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing – 133 points
For a full field points rundown, click here.
Takeaways from the GMR Grand Prix
- The aeroscreen actually works in the rain!
- All it takes is one race to completely turn around a championship race.
- Honda-powered cars can win AND dominate races.
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TOP IMAGE: Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment