The NTT INDYCAR SERIES is back to street course racing, which means Romain Grosjean is back to being in the conversation for his first series victory.
From start to nearly finish this season, Grosjean has been as strong as any driver in the 27-car field in the road and street races, winning a pair of NTT P1 Awards for being the fastest qualifier in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and the Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix at Barber Motorsports Park. However, the 37-year-old Andretti Autosport driver has not won yet on race day, mostly due to not catching a break at the key moments.
In St. Petersburg, Grosjean took late-race contact from Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin, an incident that knocked them both into the Turn 4 tire barrier while dueling for the lead. Grosjean finished 18th. The driver of the No. 28 DHL Honda finished second in succession in the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach and at Barber Motorsports Park. He’s more than eager to take the next step.
Maybe the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear, the 37th race of Grosjean’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES career, will allow for that. Certainly, the nine-turn, 1.7-mile circuit will provide its share of challenges for the field, but Grosjean, who will start third, is poised for a good run. Now, he needs things to fall his way for a change in the 100-lap race (3 p.m. ET, NBC, Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network).
“I’ll tell you one thing, if there’s one day where you need to be lucky at the end of the day, it’s tomorrow,” Grosjean said with a smile. “A lot’s going to happen, and it’s being in the right time at the right place. Hopefully we get lucky, which hasn’t been our strength this year. Maybe we get it now.”
Grosjean might have earned his fourth career series pole Saturday had he not clipped the wall in the Turn 5-6 complex on what was to be his best lap of the Firestone Fast Six session. But when his car tripped the timing line, he stood at 1 minute, 2.2896 seconds, four-tenths of a second behind pole winner Alex Palou in the No. 10 Ridgeline Lubricants Honda of Chip Ganassi Racing.
“Small mistake,” Grosjean called it. “(The car) pushed, and I hit the wall. It cost me a bit of time, but we have a good car.
“We’ve been fast, and my teammates are very fast, as well. Yeah, that was a bit of a slide. But in the race a lot is going to happen, so I’m excited for tomorrow and hopefully (win).”
Certainly, Grosjean figures to be in the mix. The 90 laps he has led this season rank fourth among all drivers – that’s 12.3 percent of the laps this season -- and he keeps knocking on victory’s door, with five career second-place finishes and another third-place finish mixed in. Now, it’s time to win.