Race Preview: IMS Road Course (Race 2)



Posted on 08/10/2023

Race Preview: IMS Road Course (Race 2)

With four races remaining in the INDYCAR championship chase, Chip Ganassi Racing returns to compete in their backyard as the defending Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course winners.

Alex Palou and the No. 10 American Legion team led 54 laps en route to victory lane this past May, where they kicked off a momentous run that included four wins in five races (Indy GP; Detroit; Road America; Mid-Ohio). Palou and the No. 10 team have remained atop the championship standings since that race and now boast an 84-point advantage as they enter the homestretch of the 2023 season.

Scott Dixon, who sits third in the points standings, will look to secure a second career victory at the Indy GP (2020 Race 1). It is set to be another milestone weekend for the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda driver, as he can break a tie with Tony Kanaan and seize the all-time INDYCAR Iron Man record with 319 consecutive starts.

Marcus Ericsson is determined to continue his positive momentum of late at the IMS Road Course and lead a blitz among the top of the field in the points standings.

Meanwhile, Marcus Armstrong will be racing on a familiar track for the first time this season, but in a new look with his No. 11 IU Simon Cancer Center Honda.

Chip Ganassi Racing is in hot pursuit of their 15th INDYCAR championship and their third title in the past four seasons.

They will aim to continue the momentum when they hit the IMS Road Course for the two-day race weekend on August 11-12. Be sure to turn into the 85-lap race on USA and Peacock on Saturday, August 12, at 2:00 p.m. ET.

Alex Palou - No. 10 American Legion Honda

"I'm very excited to get back to racing in Indianapolis. We obviously won at this course back in May and it was an awesome weekend that led to us having a good Month of May and the races afterward with Detroit, Road America and Mid-Ohio. Nashville was a very tough and stressful race, but we made it work and got to the podium. We'll try to get everything on point with it being just a two-day race weekend. But with all the information that we have since May and as comfortable as we are with the car, we'll try to repeat and bring that American Legion Honda to victory lane."

The INDYCAR points leader is back to defend his race win at the IMS Road Course. He has had an abundance of success in road course races this season, winning three of the four events thus far (Indy RC; Road America; Mid-Ohio). Palou, who started in among the first two rows in each of those races, led 74 of the 285 available laps (26%).

He boasts an impressive series-leading average finishing position of 3.5. No driver has ultimately averaged a podium finish across a single season since series reunification in 2008 (Castroneves: 4.0 in 2008).

Scott Dixon - No. 9 PNC Bank Honda 

"This race is always fun to do the doubleheader with NASCAR, especially with some extra friends coming in with Shane van Gisbergen, Brodie Kostecki and Kamui Kobayashi. It will be fun to catch up with them. We’re looking to have a good, smooth weekend. We've had some good cars, but some mistakes in the past on my behalf and with how strategy has shaken out, but our pace has been good. We'll need to start further up this time, and it should be a lot better. Looking forward to the race and we'll go for the win."

Dixon is set to make his 319th consecutive INDYCAR start this weekend, which would place him atop the series’ all-time Iron Man list. His start streak dates back to 2004 (Michigan) – 19 years ago – when he was just 24 years and 10 days old.

Since the beginning of Dixon’s Iron Man streak (318 starts), he has recorded 49 wins, 121 podiums, 179 top-five finishes and 43,532 total laps (5,707 led).

Dixon has navigated his way to four podiums (P2: 2017-19) previously at the IMS Road Course, including a win in the first race of 2020. 

Marcus Ericsson - No. 8 Huski Ice Spritz Honda

"It's always a special feeling going back to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We'll return after what I believe was our best showing at the IMS Road Course this past May where I qualified seventh and finished eighth. We took some positive steps as a team there and obviously with Alex winning the race. So, we have something to build on. Looking forward to getting to the track and seeing all of the Indianapolis fans."

Since joining CGR in 2020, Ericsson has generated a net gain of +48 positions from the start to finish of the eight IMS Road Course races, second-most in the series behind only teammate Scott Dixon (+58). He exhibited his qualifying improvement at the course this past May, securing a personal-best P7 qualifying result at the track (finished P8).

Ericsson’s best all-time finish at IMS Road Course came in the first race of 2022, where he recorded a P4 finish after leading 10 laps. He charged through the field as the race’s second biggest mover after beginning the race from P18. 

Marcus Armstrong - No. 11 IU Simon Cancer Center Honda

"Second race for me at the Indy GP and it will be nice to return to a circuit where I've raced before. It looks like it will be a warm weekend, and everything is compacted into two days, so Friday will be important to be organized and on the front foot from the get-go. I hope for a clean run on Friday so we can improve on what we learned in the last race in May."

Armstrong continues to lead the Rookie of the Year standings with 173 points (31-point advantage) despite only racing in road and street course races. 

In seven of his nine races this year, Armstrong has finished the race in a better position than where he started. He has advanced to compete in the qualifying round of 12 in five races this far but has expressed his goal of moving one step forward to compete in the Firestone Fast 6 for the first time in his rookie INDYCAR season. 

Armstrong will race in a special No. 11 IU Simon Cancer Center Honda this weekend. The center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center in Indiana and one of only 54 in the nation. Visit cancer.iu.edu to learn more about how the team at Indiana University is in the race to beat cancer.