Simon Pagenaud Conor Daly

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway welcomed race fans back to the historic facility for Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix to kick off the Month of May, and those in attendance and those watching from home were not disappointed.

Colton Herta powered through a wet, dry and wild event to score his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES win of 2022 and first victory at IMS. The ever-changing weather conditions challenged the 27-car field in ways it hadn’t seen and created one of the wildest races in recent history.

There’s a lot to unpack from two-hour race on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course, so allow us to shift our minds into fifth gear and unpack the event at the Racing Capital of the World.

Yo-Yo Championship Battle Continues

For the fourth time after five NTT INDYCAR SERIES races this season, there’s a different driver atop the points standings.

With a third-place finish in Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, Will Power catapulted to the top of the drivers’ standings, holding a 14-point lead over defending champion Alex Palou, the points leader entering Indianapolis.

Scott McLaughlin held the points lead for the first two races of the season after scoring his first career NTT INDYCAR SERIES win at St. Petersburg, and Josef Newgarden controlled the standings after winning at Long Beach.

Power, who has finished third twice and fourth three times this season, is leading the NTT INDYCAR SERIES point standings for the first time since 2018 after Belle Isle-2.

“It is (a good points day), and those sort of days you're thinking points when you see Palou out and you see Newgarden out and a couple of the main contenders that you are going to be fighting,” Power said. “You start thinking a little bit that way, yeah.”

Power, who won the series championship in 2014, heads into the double-points Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge with an opportunity to pull away from the field as his main championship rivals faltered on the IMS road course.

Palou and McLaughlin had issues trying to control their car with slick tires on a wet racing surface. Palou finished 18th in the No. 10 The American Legion Honda, and McLaughlin finished 20th in the No. 3 Snap-on Team Penske Chevrolet. Newgarden was involved in a crash on Lap 17 and had to go to the garage for repairs. He finished 25th in the No. 2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet, 15 laps down.

Leaving Barber Motorsports Park, just 10 points separated the top four. Now, Power holds an 18-point advantage over McLaughlin in third and a 30-point advantage over Newgarden in fourth.

One for the Record Books

Often in racing, rain is the great equalizer. It pushes drivers to be the best, penalizes the smallest mistakes and presents many opportunities for passing as drivers come and go on different tire strategies.

On Saturday, the on-and-off weather added another layer to that as the track was constantly changing from dry to wet, or sometimes being a mix of both on different sections of the course.

So, if it felt like passing was at an all-time high during the GMR Grand Prix, you weren’t wrong. There were 471 total on-track passes in Saturday’s race, with 362 being for position.

That smashes the old passing record on the IMS road course of 269 on-track passes and 190 for position that was set last summer in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES race during Brickyard Weekend.

There have only been two on-track days for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES at IMS during the Month of May, but if the GMR Grand Prix is any indication, it’s going to be a good month.

European Rookies Stand Out on IMS Road Course

Callum Ilott and Christian Lundgaard had their best NTT INDYCAR SERIES races to date in the GMR Grand Prix, not only scoring career-best finishes, but their first top 10s ever in their young NTT INDYCAR SERIES careers.

Ilott finished eighth in the No. 77 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet to give the team its best finish in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Lundgaard, meanwhile, placed ninth to best his top finish by two places in the No. 30 Shield Cleansers Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. He was the highest finishing car for the team, as well.

“For the team, for Juncos Hollinger, Chevy and our single-car team, a top-eight result is a big reward in this race,” Ilott said. “What an amazing result. Let’s try and get some more.”

That Ilott and Lundgaard, both former Formula 2 race winners, competed so well on the IMS road course shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. If anything, it should hold as proof of their talent.

The 14-turn, 2.439-mile IMS road course is known for being a very European-style racetrack with a smooth racing surface and curbing. It’s the kind of track British native Ilott and Danish native Lundgaard cut their teeth on and raced on before coming to the United States.

It’s also the track where each driver has the most experience. Ilott’s first NTT INDYCAR SERIES test was on a version of the IMS road course, which used the inner loop instead of the Turns 5-6 chicane, and Lundgaard made his series debut at this track last summer during Brickyard Weekend, starting fourth and finishing 12th.

Clearly, when you put these two drivers on racetracks they’re familiar and comfortable with, they shine brightly. The fact they did so well in tough weather conditions is even more impressive.

Rosenqvist Rebounds for Season-Best Finish

Trouble or bad luck always seems to frequently find Felix Rosenqvist during NTT INDYCAR SERIES races, but the Swedish driver overcame that bad luck to score his best finish of the season in sixth.

After an early-race incident in Turn 1 with teammate Pato O’Ward, Rosenqvist rallied from being one lap down to score his first top-10 finish of 2022.

"That race had so many swings,” he said. “We had a perfect race at the beginning. Everything looked really good, but then on the restart there was contact in front of me, and I couldn't avoid it. On the last stint, we nailed the tire choice, and we went from 18th to sixth in the course of about 10 laps. That was great. Overall, a solid day and great effort by everyone at Arrow McLaren SP."

The result ties Rosenqvist’s best finish for Arrow McLaren SP since he joined the team in 2021 and is just his third top 10 for the team. He also finished sixth at Portland last fall in the No. 7 Vuse Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.

The last time Rosenqvist ran this well was in 2020 when he finished fifth in the Harvest Grand Prix Race 1 on the IMS road course for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Rosenqvist has also proven to be quite the qualifier. He started sixth in Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix, his second consecutive sixth-place starting spot. It was the fourth time in five races this year that he made the Firestone Fast Six in qualifying, too. The only exception is the season opener in St. Petersburg, where he started 21st.

Up Next: Indianapolis 500

The GMR Grand Prix was the kickoff to the Month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and now it’s time to prepare for the 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 29.

But the question begs: Is momentum real, and will the GMR Grand Prix race weekend translate to the historic 2.5-mile oval? It’s possible.

Last year, Rinus VeeKay scored his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES win in the GMR Grand Prix and went on to have a solid Indianapolis 500 performance. He qualified on the front row, led 32 laps and finished a career-best eighth.

Alex Palou started the month by finishing third in the GMR Grand Prix and went on to finish second in the Indy 500, while Pagenaud was sixth on the IMS road course and third in the Indy 500.

An honorable mention goes to Graham Rahal, who kicked off the Month of May by finishing fifth in the GMR Grand Prix and was poised to have a strong result in the Indianapolis 500 until an issue on pit lane resulted in him losing a wheel in Turn 2. Helio Castroneves did not compete in last year’s GMR Grand Prix before going on to win his fourth Indy 500.

And don’t forget: Will Power and Simon Pagenaud swept the Month of May by winning both the GMR Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500 in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

Opening day of Indianapolis 500 practice is Tuesday, May 17, with oval veterans practice opening the day from 9-11 a.m. (ET). Rookie Orientation Program and veteran refreshers are scheduled for 1-3 p.m., and open Indianapolis 500 practice takes place from 3-6 p.m. All on-track action can be seen live on Peacock Premium.