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Intensity Ramping Up For Second Year of Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis

The Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway found themselves with a hit last May. Any new motorsport event is subject to the usual questions over its potential response from fans and the quality of the racing, and once the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis was in the books, the series and the Speedway had produced a fine addition to the calendar.

This year’s return for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indy should herald more intense competition and memories as Chevy, Honda, and the new aero kits produced by both manufacturers add to the entertainment. If the 2014 race was concentrated on engine vs. engine and driver vs. driver, we now have custom bodywork bringing a third pillar of performance to create an advantage, and with Chevy winning three of the first four races of the year, their Japanese rival will be seeking to repeat the victory they earned last year with Simon Pagenaud.

The Frenchman has switched camps in 2015, and now drives for Roger Penske’s Chevy-powered team, leaving the likes of James Hinchcliffe, Graham Rahal, and the rest of the Honda runners to pursue the top step of the podium. 

“Chevy isn’t going to make it easy on any of us, but I’m confident with the progress Honda has made and I think we’re going to give them a good run for their money,” said Rahal, who will drive the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda in Saturday’s 82-lap race. He currently holds eighth in the Drivers’ championship, and has been Honda’s most consistent performer so far across four road and street course events. 

Coming off a fighting second-place finish at Barber Motorsports Park, the 26-year-old could be one of the drivers to watch once practice starts on Thursday.

“I’m riding a road course high right now, and I think our team ought to be pretty darn good this weekend,” Rahal continued. “If we aren’t, I’ll be pretty disappointed. They put on a great race last year, the track is pretty tremendous—it was probably my favorite road course race, the fans were awesome, and the track gives you a lot of lines to try and make passes. 

“I think we’re going to see a lot of passing, and with the aero kits playing a big part of how we’ll make our lap times, you’re gonna have something to watch there to see how the Chevys and Hondas perform.”

Once the checkered flag waves on Saturday, teams will head home for some rest and return on Monday for the first day of Indianapolis 500 practice. Thanks to some of the deals that have been put in place, a few of the drivers slotted for the “500” will also take part in Saturday’s Grand Prix, which has expanded the entry list.

Andretti Autosport will field Justin Wilson in both races, as will Carpenter Fisher Hartman Racing with JR Hildebrand. Chip Ganassi Racing will run 2014 Grand Prix polesitter Sebastian Saavedra in the road course event and again in the big race.

IndyCar fans will have the opportunity to stroll through the infield to watch most of the “500” drivers compete in a road race on Saturday and come back for oval action on Monday. As Rahal reveals, Indy’s new Month of May tradition has already become part of the Speedway’s allure.

“The GP is one of the races I look forward to the most, and I can’t wait to get going,” he said. “The cool thing about the road race this year is the aero kits give you so many options. You can pick your poison. Do you want to try a low-downforce setup and beat everyone on the straights, or a high-downforce setup and be the best in the infield? What’s the right choice? And you could try one setup for qualifying and one for the race. I have no idea who’s going to get it right, but I can tell you I don’t want to be the one who gets it wrong.”

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