By: Spencer Neff
May 8, 2019 | 8:29 AM
The month of May is finally here as the NTT IndyCar Series returns to the hallowed grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
On Saturday, the fifth round of the 2019 season will be held on IMS’ road course. It will be the sixth year that the IndyCar Series will contest a race on the venue. Here is a preview for the 85-lap event around the 14-turn, 2.438-mile road course.
What to Watch For
The last time the stars and cars of the NTT IndyCar Series were on track for racing action was four weeks ago. On April 14, the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach was dominated by Alexander Rossi as the California native won his second consecutive battle on the Southern California streets.
Picking up where he left off in 2018, the Andretti Autosport driver led 80 of 85 laps. With the win from pole, Rossi climbed to second in the points standings, 28 markers behind Josef Newgarden.
This year, Rossi will look to improve upon his best results to date at the track, as he started eighth and finished fifth in 2018. As a team, Andretti Autosport will look to improve from their 2018 results at the INDYCAR Grand Prix.
Of their four drivers (Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Zach Veach), only Rossi started and finished in the Top 10.
Rossi and the rest of the field will look to snap Team Penske’s stranglehold on the event. Penske drivers have won the last five IndyCar Grands Prix contested. Simon Pagenaud conquered the inaugural event in 2014 with what is now Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, but since then, Team Penske has dominated.
In 2016, Pagenaud won the race for his third consecutive triumph to begin the season, and later that year, Pagenaud earned his first championship. This weekend, the French driver will look to break a winless streak that dates back to Sonoma in 2017 – a total of 21 races.
Last May, Pagenaud’s teammate Will Power started on the pole and earned his third GP win in four seasons. Power’s win – which was Team Penske’s 200th IndyCar victory – kicked off a dominant month. 15 days later, Power claimed his first Indianapolis 500 victory.
To date, Pagenaud and Power are the only drivers to claim an IndyCar Grand Prix win. Aside from Pagenaud’s 2014 victory (he started 4th), the polesitter has won each IndyCar Grand Prix. Team Penske’s dominance also serves as an interesting contrast to the 2019 season.
In addition to the trio of Power, Pagenaud and Newgarden, a familiar face will return to the fold. Helio Castroneves will return from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Series for the month of May at IMS. Castroneves, who turns 44 this month, is still searching for his first win on the Indianapolis road course.
Despite participating in the Open Tests at Circuit of The Americas in February and at IMS two weeks ago, Castroneves has not run a race since the Indianapolis 500.
The popular veteran has seen success in this race, despite not winning. In five previous starts, he has four Top 10 starts and finished inside the Top Six of each race. In 2016, Castroneves finished runner-up to Pagenaud, his best result to date at the event.
Weekend Schedule Details
On-track action will commence Friday with the first NTT IndyCar Series practice set to begin at 9:10 a.m. Eastern. Later in the day, there will be a final 45-minute practice session – starting at 12:30 p.m. Eastern.
Qualifying for the IndyCar Grand Prix will start at 4:30 p.m. Eastern on Friday, shown live on NBCSN.
On Saturday, there will be a 30-minute warm-up prior to the race, held at 11:15 a.m. Eastern, also shown on NBC Sports Gold. The IndyCar Classic at Circuit of The Americas is the only race to this point that has not featured a morning warmup.
The race day broadcast begins at 3:00 p.m. Eastern on May 11 on NBC. The command to start engines is scheduled for 3:43, with an expected green flag time of 3:50.
While video coverage of the practice sessions will be shown only on NBC Sports Gold’s INDYCAR Pass, fans can catch live action for free by listening to the Advance Auto Parts IndyCar Radio Network. Check out RaceControl.IndyCar.com for radio commentary with live timing and scoring included.
INDYCAR Grand Prix Fast Facts
Race weekend: Friday, May 10 – Saturday, May 11
Track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course (clockwise)
Race distance: 85 laps / 207.315 miles
Push-to-pass parameters: 200 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 20 seconds per activation.
Firestone tire allotment: Seven sets primary, four sets alternate (Note: An eighth set of primary tires is available to any car fielding a rookie driver.)
Twitter: @IMS @IndyCar, #INDYCARGP, #IndyCar
Event website: www.ims.com
INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com
2018 race winner: Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet)
2018 NTT P1 Award winner: Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet), 1:09.8182, 125.761 mph
Qualifying lap record: Will Power, 1:07.7044, 129.687 mph, May 12, 2017 (Set in Round 3 of knockout qualifying)
NBC Sports telecasts: Qualifying, 4:30 p.m. ET Friday, May 10, NBCSN (live); Race, 3 p.m. ET Saturday, May 11, NBC (live). Leigh Diffey will be the play-by-play announcer for NBC’s telecast of the INDYCAR Grand Prix alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Marty Snider, Kevin Lee, Kelli Stavast and Robin Miller are the pit reporters.
Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Anders Krohn. Jake Query, Nick Yeoman and Michael Young are the turn announcers with Dave Furst, Rob Howden and Ryan Myrehn reporting from the pits. The INDYCAR Grand Prix race airs live on network affiliates, Sirius 113, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app powered by NTT DATA. All NTT IndyCar Series practices and qualifying are available onIndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app, with qualifying also airing on Sirius 113 and XM 209
NBC Sports Gold livestreaming: All NTT IndyCar Series practice sessions and qualifying will stream live on INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold, NBC Sports’ direct-to-consumer livestreaming product that will put more INDYCAR programming content at viewers’ fingertips than ever before. In addition, full- broadcast, same-day replays of NTT IndyCar Series races, live streams of Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires races, edited cutdowns of NTT IndyCar Series and Indy Lights races and more will be available.
At-track schedule (all times local):
Friday, May 10
9:10-9:55 a.m. – NTT IndyCar Series practice #1, NBC Sports Gold
12:30-1:15 p.m. – NTT IndyCar Series practice #2, NBC Sports Gold
4:30 p.m. – Qualifying for the NTT P1 Award (three rounds of NTT IndyCar Series knockout qualifications), NBCSN (Live)
Saturday, May 11
11:15-11:45 a.m. – NTT IndyCar Series warmup, NBC Sports Gold
3 p.m. – NBC on air
3:43 p.m. – “Drivers, start your engines”
3:50 p.m. – INDYCAR Grand Prix (85 laps/207.315 miles), NBC
Header image by Shawn Gritzmacher/INDYCAR.
Fast Facts and at-track schedule by Indycar, subject to change.
Open-Wheels coverage of the 2019 month of May at Indianapolis is presented by Driven 2 Save Lives. Driven 2 Save Lives, an entity of the Indiana Donor Network, is a program that utilizes motorsports as a platform to encourage race fans to become organ donors. Currently, there are 114,000 individuals that are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. Register as an organ, tissue, and eye donor at Driven2SaveLives.org/register and follow Driven2SaveLives on Facebook and Twitter.