|PHOTO: Dalton Kellett via Twitter|
Dalton Kellett finished last for the 4th time in his NTT IndyCar Series career in Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway when his #4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet crashed out of the race after completing 34 of 75 laps in the time-shortened event.
The finish was Kellett’s first since Long Beach, two races ago.
In the one race in between his last-place finish at Long Beach and this one at Indianapolis, Kellett started and finished a quiet 23rd at Laguna Seca, bringing home a clean car for A.J. Foyt Racing.
Fresh off her last-place finish in the previous round at Barber, Tatiana Calderon was the slowest car in Indy's first practice, two seconds behind leader Alex Palou and two-tenths behind teammate Kellett, who was 26th. Speeds generally picked up in the second session, though this time it was Jimmie Johnson who was at the bottom of the charts, almost exactly two seconds behind leader Pato O’Ward. In qualifying, Will Power surged to his 64th career pole, and it was once again Johnson at the back, the lone starter on row 14 for the GMR Grand Prix. Foyt teammates Kellett and Calderon were 26th and 25th, respectively.
At the start of the race, Calderon and Johnson were side-by-side as Kellett gained a couple positions; Johnson soon was able to clear Calderon. However, there was a flurry of activity in the back of the running order. Colton Herta and Takuma Sato pitted on Lap 2; Christian Lundgaard pitted on Lap 3 and assumed the last position in the running order. All three stopped for dry tires, as the race had been started under a declared “wet” condition by IndyCar but some drivers felt that a dry tire would be more suitable for the conditions. The rest of the field pitted on Laps 4 and 5, and defending series champion Alex Palou stalled after an off-track excursion on his out lap, causing a caution.
Palou was the only entry a lap down until Lap 16, when Josef Newgarden had contact with Sato, Alexander Rossi and Jack Harvey all in quick succession, spinning off the track and puncturing both rear tires. He required a tow back to the garage area and NBC’s Leigh Diffey even declared Newgarden out of the race, seemingly putting the last-place battle to rest. However, ten laps later, Newgarden re-entered the race. Since the car had two flat tires, Newgarden required a tow back to the pits. However, safety procedure prevents cars from being towed with drivers inside of them. Since Newgarden’s car was not terminally damaged, IndyCar made an exception and allowed Newgarden’s crew to make necessary repairs and have him return to the race.
Newgarden plodded along until Lap 35, when Kellett lost control of his car in a quick left-right combo of corners and skidded along the wet grass, eventually contacting the outside wall and ending his race. It was a bittersweet turn of events for Kellett, who even earned a call from the broadcast booth in the early portions of the race for making some aggressive moves.
It was a tough scene for A.J. Foyt Racing, which saw Kellett finish last at Long Beach and then Calderon finish last at Barber before the mishap at Indy. It didn’t get better for them throughout the course of the event. Kyle Kirkwood, who ran as high as second near the midpoint of the race, finished 26th when Graham Rahal sent it deep into a corner and spun the #14 car, causing gearbox problems that proved to be the end of Kirkwood’s race. Newgarden rounded out the Bottom Three, fifteen laps down and still running at the finish. The third crash victim of the day was Juan Pablo Montoya, driving in the month of May for a third Arrow McLaren SP entry, who got in the grass and into the wall with about two minutes left in the race (IndyCar switched to a timer when they determined that the 85 laps would not be hit within the series’ two-hour time limit) and finished 24th.
Obviously a mistake on my part cost us yesterday. Can’t change that but I can appreciate the experience gained from a hard lesson. We had moved up and raced well to that point.— Dalton Kellett (@Dalton_Kellett) May 15, 2022
Big props to the 4 crew for being fast on their feet for the late call to pit for slicks! #INDYCAR pic.twitter.com/O74i7bKrwC
THE BOTTOM THREE
27) #4-Dalton Kellett / 34 laps / crash
26) #14-Kyle Kirkwood / 53 laps / crash
25) #2-Josef Newgarden / 60 laps / running
2022 LASTCAR NTT INDYCAR SERIES MANUFACTURERS CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (3)
2nd) Honda (2)
2022 LASTCAR NTT INDYCAR SERIES OWNERS CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) A.J. Foyt Racing (3)
2nd) Andretti Autosport, Dale Coyne Racing (1)
2022 LASTCAR NTT INDYCAR SERIES DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP