Jack Hawksworth started on the front row, lead 36 laps and earned the second-fastest lap of the race in the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis on Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Hawksworth made a statement on Friday afternoon by earning his spot on the outside pole during qualifying on the 14-turn, 2.434-mile road course.
Sunday’s 82-lap race was scheduled to begin with a standing start, but disaster struck when the polesitter Sebastian Saavedra stalled on the front stretch creating a scary strt line accident the took out four drivers. After eight laps under caution, the green flag flew and Hawksworth made a great pass to take the lead, his first as an Indycar driver in only his fourth start.
By lap 20, the 23-year-old rookie had a 2.7-second lead. The No. 98 Integrity Energee Drink crew had a great pit stop on lap 27 and by the half-way point of the race, Hawksworth had increased his lead to more than four seconds.
A series of yellow flags came out over the second half of the race, forcing the team to “play the odds” on both tire and fuel strategy. When the checkered flag flew, Hawksworth was seventh, despite having the pace to take home the win.
“Overall the Integrity Energee Drink car was really great,” said Hawksworth. “We got into the lead at the beginning, opened up a gap and we were controlling the race pretty well from what I could see. I felt like we had it all under control and then we got a bit hosed from that yellow.
“The strategy calls were a bit tricky but overall the car was great to drive. The team gave me a great car all day. We certainly deserved, on pace, a better result than what we got there but we gave it our all. We fought back and at least we got the points for seventh place. The pace is there so we’ll come back and try to get after it again.”
The Verizon IndyCar Series now begins preparations for the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500. Teams will work to change setups from road course to oval overnight as the first practice begins on Sunday.
When the green flag drops for the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 25, the BHA/BBM with Curb-Agajanian team will aim to add another win to the history books. The 200-lap race on the legendary 2.5-mile oval will be broadcast live on ABC, with pre-race ceremonies beginning at 11 a.m. ET.