Quick Thoughts- GMR Race 2

First, I want to send best wishes to George and Susan Phillips as Susan begins her journey to recover from cancer. This issue hits me hard. I know they will be fine in the end. I’m glad I got to spend some time with them this weekend. they are such great people.

I though history might be made today. There was, but not the history I expected. The youngest front row in history. I’m sure someone has stats on this, but it may have been the youngest top 3 starters in history.

This was a day for the younger generation to shine. Pato O’Ward and Colton Herta on the front row  had less than two full years of experience between them, and third place starter Alex Palou is a rookie. The duel at the end between O’Ward and seconds year driver Felix Rosenqvist was compelling. Rosenqvist has been close to winning before. he nearly nipped Dixon at mid Ohio last year. This is probably the most patient race I’ve sen Rosenqvist drive.

It was an exciting finish to what was mostly a processional race. Two younger drivers, one Honda, one Chevy, battling in the closing laps, made for great drama..  I happened to be in the right spot at the right time at the end to catch the photos in this piece. The main photo is after.

Before:

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Scott Dixon didn’t go four for four on the season, but the Ganassi team did. The pit bobble bug hit Dixon today. His car didn’t seem to have the pace it had Saturday.

Colton Herta missed the pole, but he had his fourth top 10 and third top 5 of the season. Herta is now second in the point standings. Maybe the television crew could talk about him more than they talk about Ferrucci now?

I watched the replay of yesterday’s start. It seemed O’Ward brought the field to the line a little slow. that  usually leads to the cahos that occurred after the green flag. The restarts looked to be at the correct pace.

Alexander rossi finally got the result that everyone had expected to see all season. A series of unfortunate events has seen Rossi finishing at the bottom of the field. Third place must feel like a victory to him.

Charlie Kimball had a good weekend for A. J. Foyt Racing with an 11th on saturday and a 10th yesterday. Kimball could have a decent season. The team is showing more consistency this year.

I’m not sure what Will Power was doing at the start. It’s too bad NTT Indycar Series officials could only issue one penalty.  I think the penalty of going to the rear of the field is too light, especially when it is assessed that early in the race. It allowed Power to go off strategy and take the lead at one point. I think a drive through at least would be more appropriate.

All in all, it was great to be back at a race.

Safety Protocols

I saw a lot of social media concerns about what was seen on television and posts from the track about lack of social distancing and people not wearing masks. From what I observed, masks were not as prevalent as I expected. Some track personnel weren’t even wearing one. I had mine on when i was walking about, but took it off when I was with people I knew to safe. Some people I saw never wore one all weekend.

As for distancing, there were some large groups of people who seemed to be together both days. The track signage said family groups could be together. I assumed that meant living in the same household. Groups were bigger than that. the top of hill in utrn 5, the most popular viewing spot, was pretty packed on Saturday. yesterday the crowd was lighter and more spread out there. I watche d yesterday from turn 7. A decent amount of people, not a huge group by any means, spread out in their groups. Groups gave each other plenty of space.

The track did everything it could as far as signage and PA announcements. track personnel could not police the entire area. What Road America could have done is sell fewer tickets to this event. Compliance was left up to each individual. Sadly, many chose to not follow the protocols. I don’t believe the track is at fault. their efforts were commendable, but as i said, they couldn’t force anyone to follow their guidelines.

I’m interested to see how Iowa handles distancing in their grandstands next weekend. From what i saw, I just don’t see how IMS can hold the 500 next month. There will be more than three times as many people as there were at Road America. I don’t expect to see better compliance than I saw this weekend.

 

 

Dixon Goes for Sweep and History

Good morning from Road America as we prepare for race 2 of the GMR Grand Prix weekend.  I hope for another race as entertaining as yesterday’s was.

Today’s schedule: (All times Eastern)

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Scott Dixon could become the third driver in Indycar history to win 50 races. He now is within three of tying Mario Andretti for second place on the all time list. Dixon is also looking to win the first four races of the year.  Today could also be just the third time that a driver has swept a doubleheader weekend. Dixon did that in Toronto in 2013 and Graham Rahal won both days in Detroit in 2017.

Another three on the line today is whether Jack Harvey can get his third consecutive front row start. Harvey has started second for the last two races, but his fortunes in the races themselves have turned out well. He is in the second qualifying group today, which increases his chances for the pole.

Questions for the day- Will Conor Daly’s car be ready for qualifying? It was severely damaged in his contact with Pato O’Ward yesterday. Will Josef Newgarden bounce back from the pit bobble that cost him the win yesterday?  Will Team Penske win their fourth pole of the season.

Some fans yesterday respected the social distancing guidelines while many others didn’t seem to care. Road America would have been wise to perhaps sell fewer tickets to this event.  Masks are hit and miss. I did see more people wearing them yesterday. I will talk about this more tomorrow.

Enjoy the race, wash your hands, and wear your mask in public.

Quick Thoughts- GMR Grand Prix Race 1

We could see history tomorrow. Scott Dixon could win his 50th race. Only two other drivers have reached and surpassed that number.

The second half of the race was quite interesting. Newgarden’ s stall in the pits began to turn the race around. The yellows really made for an exciting finish.

What is going on with Team Penske pit stops? They have had problems e every race this year.  They aren’t the only team with pit issues, but the bar is much higher for them. I wonder if the compressed event schedules are contributing to the pit errors.

Drive of the day goes to Alex Palou. The rookie’s podium finish came after starting 14th, having a long pit stop, and making a nice pass on Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Ryan Hunter-Reay and Colton Herta are not being mentioned much, but they are quietly having very good seasons. Herta is third in points and Hunter-Reay is sixth.

Today pretty much ends Alexander Rossi’s title hopes. It was his second straight finish in the twenties.

Conor Daly’s crew has a long night ahead of them repairing his car for tomorrow. Daly may skip qualifying and start last. His accident is the bad part of double headers. My concern is a car getting badly damaged next Friday in the first Iowa race. Would that team be done for the weekend?

After no cautions for two years, today’s race tried to make up for all that lost time. The three cautions came within seven laps of each other.

Turn five saw lots of passing and attempted passing, lots of tire smoke from locked brakes, and several near collisions.

I hoe tomorrow’s race, on NBC, is just as entertaining as today’s race was.

I will have just post tomorrow, in the morning. I will be driving back to Indianapolis as soon as tomorrow’s race is over. Thanks for following along this weekend.

Quick Thoughts- GMR Grand Prix Race 1

We could see history tomorrow. Scott Dixon could win his 50th race. Only two other drivers have reached and surpassed that number.

The second half of the race was quite interesting. Newgarden’ s stall in the pits began to turn the race around. The yellows really made for an exciting finish.

What is going on with Team Penske pit stops? They have had problems e every race this year.  They aren’t the only team with pit issues, but the bar is much higher for them.

Drive of the day goes to Alex Palou. A rookie recovering from a long pit stop to finish on the podium is quite a frat. He had a great pass of Ryan Hunter-Reay to get the position.

 

 

Power’s Strong Last Lap Nips Harvey for P1in Practice

With Power did a Will Power thing, laying down his quickest lap on the final lap of practice

He nipped Jack Harvey who looked to lead the session until the final seconds.

Power will lead Group 2 I qualifying this afternoon and Harvey will lead Group 1.

AlexaThe nder Rossi finished eighth in the session.

The top 5-

Power

Harvey

Rosenqvist

Hunter-Reay

Scott Dixon was near the bottom of the charts the entire session.

Notes

Much larger crowd today. Still not an abundance of masks or distancing.

I am having issues uploading photos and data. I apologise for the lack of information.

Still very few vendors on site.

Fuel and tire management will be crucial in today’s race. This is a tough track to undercut on pit strategy.

Back after qualifying.

 

 

Race Day 1 at Road America

Good morning from the remote Road America media center, located five miles from the track in Plymouth. Talk about distancing.

The NTT Indycar Series begins a four races in nine days stretch toiday with the first of two races at Road America. The REV Group Grand Prix begins at 5:15 Eastern time. NBCSN begins their broadcast at 5 pm Eastern.

Today’s schedule: (All Times Eastern)

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Indycar will use the double header qualifying format that is used at Detroit. Practice divides the field into two groups. Each group gets 12 minutes on track. The fastest driver in each group gets a point. The faster of the group leaders is on the pole. On Sunday the order of the groups is reversed.

The 55 laps will require three pit stops. This race will be difficult to run with just two. There have not been any caution laps the last two years.

Spotter’s Guides for today and tomorrow:

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Back later with practice results.

The Day at Road America- New Things, Reunions, A Different Atmosphere

First, it was great to back at a race track. Watching cars speed by was good therapy. What I found even better was getting to see friends I would have seen months ago under normal circumstances. The world was right again for a day. In addition to the changes Road America has made for the fans’ health, there are also physical improvements to the facility.

The main photo is the new viewing terrace on the inside of Canada Corner. This four tier area should relieve some of the congestion on the trail. I tried it for a bit. It presents a nice view of a great corner.

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The biggest structural improvement is to the concession stand near the paddock. The area had been a crowded jumble of people, picnic tables, and golf cart parking confusion. Now, the entrance is elevated, the building remodeled, and carts can’t park right up to the dining area.

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The paddock had a different feel to it. It sat empty until about 4 pm when the transporters began arriving. Seeing the trucks pull in and lineup was exciting. It meant there will be racing tomorrow. The Honda teams are toward turn 14 and the Chevy teams are toward turn 1. Until the transporters arrived, it was sad seeing an empty expanse of concrete that normally is buzzing with activity.

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The crowd was small enough that fans could keep distance from each other. I expect a few more people the next two days. It was a smaller crowd than most days at Road America. Masks seemed to more prevalent this afternoon. I talked to some people who arrived later in the day. They did receive a mask and hand sanitizer. I think I enter a different gate tomorrow.

New Spotter Guides

Indycar has released a spotter’s guide for each race this weekend. The only car changing liveries is the 15 of Graham Rahal.  I will have those posted no later than tomorrow morning.

 

 

Jury Still Out on Crowd Safety

Signs of the times at Road America.. Except for the gift shop not many masks in evidence. Fans entering the track had temperature taken. Did not receive mask or hand sanitizer. I talked to some friends who are camping andIand arrived yesterday. They received a mask and sanitizer upon entry.  There are sanitizer stations at various points. Seems as if there are fewer vendor tents. Maybe more will set up tomorrow