We got a taste of this last July, and today is the first Indycar/NASCAR doubleheader with fans in attendance. It is probably a good thing for both series to have a showcase weekend together, and it might create some crossover fans. I would like to see a double header on an oval as well. I just hope the two series don’t go the route of the National Hockey league with their outdoor games. The new year’s day game is great but it loses its luster when you add several outdoor events during the season. don’t
Indycars have raced on the IMS road course 10 previous times, including three times last year, and this May. The early years were owned by Team Penske and drivers Simon Pagenaud and Will Power, who each have won the GMR Grand Prix three times. Power also won the Harvest Grand Prix race 2 last fall. Pagenaud’s first win was with Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports.
The entry list has expanded to 28, the biggest field for a race other than the Indianapolis 500 since 2011 at Kentucky. In addition to the regular grid, Cody ware is on the Coyne Ware car 52, Christian Lundgaard takes over the 45 for Rahal Letterman Lanigan, Helio Castroneves returns to the scene of his may triumph in the 06 for Meyer Shank, and R C Enerson will at last put Top Gun Racing’s number 75 on the grid.
Indycar teams get an hour practice mid afternoon before qualifying begins at 7 pm today. Yes the times are strange, but NASCAR seems to have dictated the schedule. Indycar does race Saturday at the decent hour of 1 pm.
It should be a prettier race than last weekend’s marathon Music City Grand Prix. IMS road course races have run the gamut from snoozers to pretty good races. Last year’s Harvest Classic Race 1 was arguably Indycar’s best race on the IMS road course. Some things to look for:
Ganassi Drivers Battle for the Title
Alex Palou leads teammate Scott Dixon by 42 points after last Sunday. While it is significant that Dixon cut into his margin behind Palou, Palou entered the Nashville race 36 points ahead of second place Pato O’Ward. He actually increased his lead over second place. I think he will lose a few more points of his lead this weekend, making for a tense to the wire run over the last four races.
Pato O’Ward still has a shot, but it seems like he has a mediocre race each time he draws close to Palou. I think he will have a better result this week.
In the GMR Grand Prix in May, Palou finished third, Dixon 9th, and O’Ward 15th.
Will Power Return to Form?
Will Power has won on the IMS road course four times and has also won the pole four times. If he is going to get a pole or a win this year, this weekend is probably his best chance. Power also needs to bounce back from a dreadful weekend in Nashville. To help him, I will not predict his success this weekend.
Another First Time Winner?
The odds are good that the NTT Indycar Series will have another first time winner both for the season and for the winner’s career. In may Romain Grosjean won the pole and finished second to Rinus VeeKay. I look for them both to be strong again. VeeKay also won the pole for the Harvest Grand Prix Race 1 last autumn.
Jack Harvey has shown well on the road course, with two second row starts and a podium.
He will qualify well, and I hope he has better luck in the race than in May, where a bad pit stop dropped to near the bottom of the field.
The average age of the three two time 2021 winners is 25.3.
I can’t recall getting this far into the season with no driver having three wins.
I’m hearing talks about bringing Iowa back for 2022. Yes, Please.
It is very appropriate that Indycar and NASCAR race at IMS the weekend following Bob Jenkin’s death. He announced for both series and loved them both.
Parnelli Jones celebrated his 88th birthday yesterday.
I will cover the Indycar practice remotely today, although I will try to get to the track for qualifications. I will be onsite Saturday.