NEWTON, Iowa — After losing three positions in a late pit stop, Romain Grosjean was frustrated late in the day on Saturday Hy-VeeDeals.com 250.
Grosjean entered the pits in eighth place along with the rest of the IndyCar Series field under the warning for Ed Carpenter’s wall contact. The Formula 1 veteran came out of the pits in 11th place and Grosjean went into attack mode after the restart on lap 174.
“I was just thinking about restarting, I’m just going to go really hard and really go for it,” Grosjean told TobyChristie.com.
Grosjean reached sixth place in the final stint of the race but then fell back to his seventh finishing position, his best result since finishing fourth in the race at Road America in June and his best finish in an oval race. .
The Swiss-born Frenchman finished 10th immediately after the restart when Scott McLaughlin slowed down and came to a stop with a loose rear wheel. Grosjean snatched ninth place on lap 175 from Christian Lundgaard and was eighth six laps later. The #28 Andretti Autosport Honda moved into seventh place around Scott Dixon on lap 195 and passed Jimmie Johnson for sixth on lap 232.
Dixon came back around Grosjean for sixth place on lap 242 and Grosjean stayed there until the end of the race, finishing one lap behind eventual race winner Josef Newgarden.
“We had a good race car, I’m proud of the guys,” said Grosjean. “I think there are few things we can try to improve tomorrow. I burned my rear tyres, so the last ten laps I really hung on. I couldn’t really get past Kellett, I lost a lot of space there, but it was great fun.
Grosjean started 10th and was as low as 25th in the 26-car field after his first pit stop on lap 58. After coming back on the lead lap under the warning for Felix Rosenqvist’s wall contact, Grosjean climbed to eighth before the final race warning on lap 164.
Short oval racing has become a massive learning experience for the sophomore IndyCar racer. Grosjean first raced on an oval last year at World Wide Technology Raceway in Gateway and he began to appreciate the intricacies of oval racing in that race, especially the short ovals and the lessons he can teach how to drive a racing car fast.
“Today, when you pass everyone, you feel like the king of the world,” Grosjean said. “And then you hang on and you feel like you’re no good. But short ovals are really fun. Indy 500 is something unique. Texas is the only one like that, I wasn’t a big fan because you can’t really use the high line, and that’s something I love to do.
“I love short ovals because it’s so much fun. There’s a lot going on, there are a few racing lines and the team has done a good job with the car. So I’m happy with what we got today and we have to rest for tomorrow.
Grosjean used a third groove on a restart and went three wide in Turn 4, but said a third groove for Sunday’s Hy-Vee Salute to Farmers 300 will depend on wind direction. A third groove was usable in the first two corners but not in the last two corners at the end of the race.
With as much fun as Grosjean had in Iowa and with Formula 1 racing in France this weekend, Grosjean was candid about who on the F1 grid would have liked to race in Iowa.
“Fernando Alonso, he’s around 40 but he (races) like he’s 20 and Kevin Magnussen would love that.”
Grosjean starts 11th in Sunday’s Hy-Vee Salute to Farmers 300. This race will air live on NBC with the broadcast beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET and the green flag waving half an hour later.