If April showers bring may flowers, IndyCar officials must be staring at their watches waiting for the month to end. Saturday’s Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana at NOLA Motorsports Park is being described as one of the worst IndyCar races in recent memory, and they have the rain to thank for the negative analysis.
Canada’s James Hinchcliffe drove to a victory under caution Sunday, but the results may have been different had the race been able to run under normal conditions. Hinchcliffe, who started the race from 16th position, pitted on lap 13 and stayed out when the rest of the field pitted under caution on lap 33, sending him to the front of the pack for the restart. From there, he never had to defend his position for more than two laps thanks to multiple crash-induced caution flags.
The track, while mostly dry, had collected standing water in certain parts, making for treacherous conditions throughout the short 47-lap race. Gabby Chaves, James Jakes, Jack Hawksworth, Stefano Coletti, Sage Karam, Carlos Huertas and more all spun, crashed or went off the track at some point Sunday.
Team Chevy’s Helio Castroneves, who drove to an unlikely podium position Sunday, stuck up for his fellow drivers following the race.
“The track was dry, but in two areas it was a river (with) water running,” Castroneves told USA Today. “When we’re passing around those areas, even on the straightaway, you don’t have to do anything (to lose control), just not even turn. The car was about to take off; it was like ice.
“So for those people that don’t understand, we’re trying our best to keep the car on the pavement. But our cars are not supposed to be in those conditions.”
The worst wreck of the day came when Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud was edged off of the track while trying to pass Ryan Hunter-Reay on the outside. Pagenaud, unable to regain control of his car on the wet grass, came careening through the middle of the track and collected Hunter-Reay and Sebastien Bourdais.
IndyCar is hoping the next race of the season, the Grand Prix of Long Beach, runs a little smoother than this past weekend’s event at NOLA. The tight Long Beach course could mean more trouble, but the drivers, fans and officials will be pulling for a caution-free race come next Sunday.