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Wednesday Wonderings – Champions And Chaos At Indianapolis

Penske Porsches domitated the return to Indy Photo: Wayne Riegle

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Once the celebration of IMSA’s return to Indianapolis was over, it was time to get down to business for the penultimate race of the 2023 season.

When the checkered flag was unfurled, the series was set up for a storyline filled week next month for the GTP championship at the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

As 48 teams took to the 14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course last Sunday, everyone had one goal in mind — holding that checkered flag.

Here are three hot takes following the Battle on the Bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.


BMW Leads the GTD Field in to turn one at Indianapolis (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

Paul Miller Racing, Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow clinched the Grand Touring Daytona (GTD) team and driver titles, all but assuring that BMW takes manufacturer honors. While BMW and Paul Miller Racing did not tally a victory at Indianapolis, it was  another pivotal podium finish, their seventh on a season that has seen them score five class wins.

Dominance has been seen across all forms of motorsports with Paul Miller Racing being no exception to this situation. In fact, the team attempted to go the distance and run the seasonlong table like Formula 1’s Max Verstappen. However, Gar Robinson found his chance to sweep the season in LMP3 come to an end just like the Red Bull’s F1 duo last Sunday at the Singapore Grand Prix.

The No. 74 Riley Ligier JS P320 came home second behind the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08. Nevertheless, Robinson, who has teamed with Felipe Fraga and Josh Burdon throughout the season, virtually clinched the title, only needing to start the season finale to seal his second LMP3 championship in three seasons.

Just like Robinson, the GTD Pro division has been dominated this year by Jack Hawksworth, Ben Barnicoat and the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3. All they will need to do is take the green flag to wrap up the season championship at Road Atlanta in October. They have been nothing short of sensationally consistent this season, finishing on the podium in nine of 10 races, including a pair of wins.

Chaos and Calamity

Chaos in turn one at Indy sends the GTP field scattering (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

Even though the next full moon is not for another two weeks, it seemed like one may have been hanging over the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last Sunday.

It all started on the first lap in Turn 1. The chaos began early with a three wide start that saw the No. 01 Cadillac Racing and the No. 24 BMW GTPs tangling, sending the Cadillac nose first into traffic. The first car to find the yellow nose was the bad luck ridden No. 60 of Meyer-Shank Racing. All cars would continue but the No. 01 and No. 60 would sustain significant damage that hampered their speed the rest of the day.

Calamity was not limited to GTP either. Likewise, battle for the GTD win was only settled when the No. 57 Mercedes took a shot at the No. 78 Lamborghini in what seemed to be a little payback, at least in the eyes of driver Philip Ellis after an earlier coming together that saw Loris Spinelli move ahead of the Mercedes.

And just think, next year, Indianapolis hosts a six hour endurance race. The field barely made past Lap 1. Will there be enough “endurance” to survive the 2.49 mile course?

Know the Rules

The No. 31 Cadillac knew the rules better than the Penske Drivers and leads on the restart at Indianapolis Photo: Stephen Conley | TPF

The No. 31 Cadillac knew the rules better than the Penske Drivers and leads on the restart at Indianapolis (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

Leading nearly 75 percent of the 113 laps at the track Nick Tandy referred to as their “home track” because the boss owns it, Penske Porsche 963’s came home 1-2 at Indianapolis in what seemed to be an easy drive. Then again, the next time they come back, they might understand the rulebook a little better, or at least better than the next guy.

That other guy this time was someone that likes to read the rulebook at Action Express and understand the overtaking rule during a class split. While the Penske Porsches seemed to be napping, the No. 31 Whelen Cadillac of Pipo Derani saw an opportunity to jump on the gas and make the two easiest passes of his car and go on to grab the top spot using the rulebook to their benefit.

This caused more of a stir and dance than stepping in a fire ant pile without shoes.

As the Penske team defended their drivers and interpreted the rules their own way, IMSA officials had the rulebook. In the end, after nearly 20 minutes of riding under a full course yellow, the No. 31 would win out and hold the lead for the restart which was short lived as the once again dominating Porsches would retake the lead late and claim the war.

If it races, I'll write about it, talk about it or shoot it with a camera. I began pursuing a career in motorsports journalism immediately after attending college at Kent State University. I have hosted multiple Motorsports talk shows, worked in Country Music radio, and now i spend every day on the air in the morning with 1300 and 100.9 WMVO and in the afternoons watching the roadways around Central Ohio for 93.7 WQIO. The excitement and the fans make everything I put out there worth while, it's been an exciting 15 years having covered everything from the Daytona 500 to the Rolex 24 and you can find me at pretty much any event run at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. What I like to bring is a look behind the scenes, a look at what and who makes the sport grow. From the guy that welds pieces back at the shop to the host in the tv booth. Everyone has a story and I like to tell it. My main focus here at TPF is looking at the men and women behind the microphone and cameras. My life long goal is to become a member of MRN or PRN Radio and bring the races to you. I hope that what I share now is enjoyable and gives you a unique look in to the world of motorsports. See you at a track soon

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