By Dylan Reynolds, The Open Wheel
The INDYCAR season continues this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the Verizon IndyCar Series INDYCAR Grand Prix and the Indy Lights Royal Purple Synthetic Oil Grand Prix of Indianapolis supporting the Lupus Foundation of America. The Open Wheel will be on-site covering the action all weekend so stay tuned to this site and our Twitter page @openwh33l for all of the latest news.
Photo by Matt Griffith/The Open Wheel
Indy Lights Preview: Royal Purple Synthetic Oil Grand Prix of Indianapolis supporting the Lupus Foundation of America (Entry List), Race 1 – Friday, May 11, 2018 1:30PM (ET) & Race 2 – Saturday, May 12, 2018 1:15PM (ET) – Nico Jamin and eventual series champion Kyle Kaiser were the winners on the road course at IMS last year in Race 1 and Race 2. Of the returning favorites, Santi Urrutia finished P2 in Race 2 last year but Colton Herta struggled in all three races at IMS last year. Championship leader Patricio O’Ward didn’t race in this event last year but won both races in Pro Mazda in 2016 and Andretti Autosport has won two of the last three Lights races on the IMS road course. Ryan Norman had a couple solid finishes in this event last year and could be in for a good weekend. Aaron Telitz has a long way to go to get back into the championship race but is coming off his first finish of the season in Race 2 at Barber and did get a P6 in Race 1 last year (in the much bigger 14 car field). There will be only seven cars this weekend after Juncos Racing’s announcement that Alfonso Celis will move up to their Verizon IndyCar Series program at Road America. My pick to win: Patricio O’Ward (x2)
Verizon IndyCar Series Preview: INDYCAR Grand Prix, Saturday May 12, 2018 3:30PM (ET) ABC – The big news of the weekend is the return of Helio Castroneves to the Verizon IndyCar Series, fresh off his IMSA win at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for Team Penske. Previous driver experience shows two former INDYCAR Grand Prix winners in the field in Simon Pagenaud (2) and Will Power (2). The active Top 5 in laps led on the IMS road course are Power (126), Pagenaud (63), Castroneves (46), Ryan Hunter-Reay (18) and James Hinchcliffe (5). Team Penske’s Power and Pagenaud have won the last two races. Looking at the box scores 2017 and 2016, Pagenaud and Castroneves are the only drivers to earn Top 5 finishes in each of the last two years. If that’s expanded to the Top 10, those two are joined by Dixon, Hunter-Reay, Rahal, and Rossi. My pick to win: Helio Castroneves – This is a bold choice considering it’s his first race of the season in a car he hasn’t raced, but my gut feeling is Helio Castroneves is about to have a huge Month of May. Helio has done well in this race in the past and there’s no reason to think that success can’t carry over as he’ll have one of the best cars in the field and he’s still had plenty of racing experience this year in IMSA. He’s always a fast qualifier, including a pole position last week at Mid-Ohio, and you know he’s likely to end up in the Firestone Fast 6 this weekend. I have a hunch that he grabs the win this weekend to build a bunch of momentum and storylines before attempting to win his fourth Indianapolis 500 Mile Race later this month.
My fantasy.indycar.com picks: Helio Castroneves, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Graham Rahal, Spencer Pigot – You know my thoughts on Castroneves. Hunter-Reay and Rahal each have podium finishes in this race in the past and always run well on the circuit. They’ve each raced well this season and should end up with great finishes. Pigot is only $15 this week and has finished P9 and P11 in this race in the last two years.