Pit Stop Competition Matchups Set; Ruoff Mortgage New Sponsor

From Indycar:

INDIANAPOLIS (Wednesday, May 25, 2022) – Thirteen of INDYCAR’s top pit crews will compete for more than $100,000 in prizes as the Ruoff Mortgage Pit Stop Challenge returns to Miller Lite Carb Day on Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The traditional Carb Day competition will be held for the first time since 2019, when the crew of Arrow McLaren SP’s Marcus Ericsson was victorious. Ruoff Mortgage, which serves as the primary partner of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES’ Fastest Seat in Sports, will extend its INDYCAR SERIES involvement by serving as the event’s sponsor.
“What better way to welcome back fans to Miller Lite Carb Day than to bring back the Ruoff Mortgage Pit Stop Challenge,” INDYCAR President Jay Frye said. “NTT INDYCAR SERIES racing is a team sport, and this contest showcases how important pit stops are to helping their team win the Indy 500 on Sunday.”
Participating pit crews – representing seven different teams – qualified for this year’s Ruoff Mortgage Pit Stop Challenge via pit stop performance in NTT INDYCAR SERIES races since the 2021 Indy 500, their ranking in the 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES entrant standings or as a one-off Indianapolis 500 entrant.
Crews will compete head-to-head in single-round eliminations for the first three rounds of the competition in which they are required to change four tires and simulate refueling.
The top three ranked squads – top-seeded No. 2 Team Penske, second seed No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing and third seed No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing – earned byes to the quarterfinals
In the championship round, the last two teams will meet in a best-of-three series, with teams alternating lanes in the first two races.
The winning crew and driver will share a $50,000 bonus, custom-designed rings from Jostens and a variety of other prizes.
First Round (Team listed first has lane choice)
#12 Team Penske (Will Power) vs. #10 Chip Ganassi Racing (Alex Palou)
#5 Arrow McLaren SP (Pato O’Ward) vs. #23 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (Santino Ferrucci)
#26 Andretti Autosport with Curb-Agajanian (Colton Herta) vs. #45 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (Jack Harvey)
#24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (Sage Karam) vs. #7 Arrow McLaren SP (Felix Rosenqvist)
#20 Ed Carpenter Racing (Conor Daly) vs. #28 Andretti Autosport (Romain Grosjean)
Quarterfinals (Team listed first has lane choice unless noted)
Q1: #2 Team Penske (Josef Newgarden) vs. Power/Palou winner
Q2: O’Ward/Ferrucci winner vs. Herta/Harvey winner (Fastest first-round time has lane choice)
Q3: #9 Chip Ganassi Racing (Scott Dixon) vs. Karam/Rosenqvist winner
Q4: #15 Rahal Letterman Racing (Graham Rahal) vs. Daly/Grosjean winner
Semifinals (Fastest quarterfinal time has lane choice)
S1: Q1 winner vs. Q2 winner
S2: Q3 winner vs. Q4 winners
Finals (Best-of-Three Series)S1 winner vs. S2 winner
Team Penske leads the Challenge with a combined 17 wins.
Helio Castroneves is the winningest driver in the competition with eight titles.
Coverage of the Ruoff Mortgage Pit Stop Challenge begins at 2:30 p.m. (ET) and will be available on Peacock Premium. 
 
 

Gainbridge Extends Partnership with the Indianapolis 500

From IMS:

Gainbridge Extends Presenting Sponsorship
of Indianapolis 500 in Multiyear Agreement
  
2023 Indianapolis 500 Presented by Gainbridge Logo Unveiled
INDIANAPOLIS (Wednesday, May 25, 2022) – Gainbridge, an online digital platform offering trusted financial products simplified for the modern age, has reached a multiyear agreement to extend its presenting sponsorship of the Indianapolis 500, the world’s largest single-day sporting event.
“We have enjoyed a tremendous relationship with IMS and Penske Entertainment and are thrilled to extend our sponsorship of the Indianapolis 500,” said Dan Towriss, CEO and president of Group 1001, parent company of Gainbridge.
“This event is so iconic in the world of motorsport and a hallmark to Indianapolis. The parallels between racing and our business, a commitment to success and making every second count, make this the perfect partnership.”
The presenting sponsorship, which began in 2019, provides Gainbridge a key platform for brand recognition and customer acquisition.
“Gainbridge is fully invested in racing as a vehicle for brand growth and understands the unique and global platform the Indianapolis 500 provides,” said Penske Entertainment President & CEO Mark Miles. “We’re excited to continue this mutually productive relationship between two innovative and trusted partners in their space.”
As part of the extended sponsorship announcement, the logo for the 2023 Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge also was unveiled. The logo is a forward-moving representation of the famed oval. The inside of the logo is a black shield, which embodies class and prestige, as well as the track surface, with the words “Indy 500” in the iconic slanted font. Surrounded by the familiar gold of the Wing & Wheel, the logo is the latest iteration of a series that began in 2019 with Gainbridge’s inaugural sponsorship.
The logos celebrate the iconography of the 500-Mile Race. Since 2019, the logo has featured the bricks, the checkered flag, the Pagoda and the winner’s wreath. With the extended Gainbridge sponsorship, there are more icons to come.
Gainbridge invests in strategic partnerships to further its mission, and this extension further cements Gainbridge’s commitment to racing. Gainbridge also is the primary sponsor of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES No. 26 Andretti Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Gainbridge Honda driven by Colton Herta and will continue to be the official annuity and life insurance partner of INDYCAR, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500.
NBC’s live coverage of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge starts at 11 a.m. (ET) Sunday, May 29. Visit ims.com to purchase tickets for the race.
About Gainbridge
Gainbridge is a digital platform that allows you to invest in trusted financial products wherever you are, whenever you want, that are simple, intuitive and backed by smart technology. Gainbridge is part of Group 1001 Insurance Holdings, LLC (“Group 1001”), an insurance holding company in the United States with current combined assets under management of $58 billion as of March 31, 2022. For more information, visit gainbridge.life
 

Palou Leads Ganassi Sweep of Top Three; Kellett Okay after Crash

Alex Palou didn’t get on track until about 40 minutes remained in today’s post-qualifying practice, but he shot immediately to the top of the pylon with a 229.441 lap. he led teammates Scott Dixon and Jimmie Johnson as Chip Ganassi Racing sent a strong message for the rest of the grid prior to Race Day.

Takuma Sato broke up the CGR parade in fourth, followed Marcus Ericsson in a fourth Ganassi car. Ericsson turned the most laps of any of the Ganassi drivers, 38. Palou and Kanaan each made 31 circuits, the team low.

The rest of the top 10:

Josef Newgarden, Conor Daly, Marco Andretti, Sage Karam, and Simon Pagenaud.

The action had a race day intensity, with cars running in packs, sometimes three wide.

The month’s first incident occurred with about 30 minutes left. Dalton Kellett went high in turn 1, spun and hit the wall hard facing the wrong way. The right side of the car lifted but returned to the ground quickly. Kellett was uninjured.

Sato ran the most laps today, 106. Four other drivers, Scott McLaughlin, Christian Lundgaard, and Colton Herta also turned at least 100 laps.

One More Practice, Then We Wait

Monday at IMS:

SCHEDULE (All times local):

11 a.m.-3 p.m.: Public gates open

1-3 p.m.: Open practice

TICKETS: General Admission tickets are $15 for Indy 500 practice days. Children 15 and under are admitted free with paying adult.

PUBLIC GATES OPEN (11 a.m.-3 p.m.): Gate 2, Gate 4, Gate 6S, Gate 7, Gate 7S, Gate 10 and Gate 10A.

PARKING: Free parking for Indianapolis 500 practice is located in N Lot, in the South Carousel Lot for motorcycle parking and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum Lot for ADA parking. Bicycle parking is located outside Gate 1, Gate 6 and Gate 9.

CASHLESS OPERATIONS: All IMS concession stands and merchandise locations are cashless this year. Tap-to-pay phone payments will be accepted, as will credit and debit transactions. Cash-to-Card machines, which convert paper money onto a temporary debit card, will be located throughout the facility. These funds can be spent inside the venue, outside the venue, online or anywhere in the world where Mastercard/Visa debit cards are accepted. Gate locations will accept cash.

This is the last day on track until Carb Day. The two hours should be busy. I will be posting stories each day this week. One will be about the strangest 500 I have ever been to. What is the strangest 500 you have ever attended?

I will have a practice wrap-up this afternoon. Then I get to be a regular human for a few days.

Dixon’s Pole More Than Just a Speed Record

Photo by Kyle McInnes

Scott Dixon won the pole for the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500 with a record pole four lap average of 234.046 mph. It is Dixon’s fifth pole at IMS and second consecutive start at the head of the grid. Those are the facts of this story, but this pole elevates Dixon onto an even higher plane of the Indycar record book than he already occupied.

Dixon now is in second place in three categories, just one away from tying three different legends of the sport. His six championships are one short of A. J. Foyt’s seven titles. He has won 51 races, one less than Mario Andretti, who is in second place on the all- time career list. As of 5:30 pm today Dixon is one Indianapolis 500 pole behind Rick Mears.

We witness greatness every time Dixon takes to the track. I feel privileged to have watched Foyt, Andretti, Mears, and now Dixon.

Quick Thoughts on the Day

The two round format was okay, but i thought the round of twelve took some of the starch out of the Fast Six. I would prefer a return to the Fast Nine.

A better format if the Fast twelve is retained and television windows are available would be an earlier practice, round one around midday, and the final six at 4 pm. Spacing out the sessions would give the engines the needed cooling time.

Going last in the Fast Six continues to be an advantage. The driver knows exactly what he needs to be on the pole.

I was happy to see speed records return. It has been a while. Now Indycar needs to go after the one lap track record.

Has Honda caught up with Chevrolet? The Fast Six had four Hondas and two Chevys.

What a great weekend for Chip Ganassi Racing. The team had all five of their cars in the top twelve, and four of them advanced to the Fast Six. Ed Carpenter Racing had the other two spots in the final round.

Rinus VeeKay starts on the front row for the second straight year. He is going to win this race one day, maybe a week from today.

The record pole average is the second fastest average in Speedway history. The record has stood since 1996.

The provisional grid, which should become official soon.

Dixon’s 234 Lap Tops Final Practice

Scott Dixon turned an unaided lap of 234.042 mph in this afternoon’s last tune-up for Pole qualifying. Ed Carpenter ran the next best time with a 233.624 mph lap.

The 12 drivers took turns running simulated qualifying runs. There were never more than two cars on track at once.

The top six laps were run by Dixon, Carpenter, Rinus VeeKay, Takuma Sato, Jimmie Johnson, and Marcus Ericsson. The twelve cars were separated by 0.28 seconds.

Results:

Qualifying Format

The format for today’s qualifying is two rounds. The break between rounds is to allow the engines to cool down before the final round.

Pole Day- Chilly Temps, Hot Laps

Photo: Can Rinus VeeKay keep his spot on top?

Today’s Schedule

SCHEDULE (all times local):

10 a.m.-6 p.m.: Public gates open

12:30-2 p.m.: Top 12 Practice Peacock

4 p.m.: Top 12 Qualifying NBC, Peacock

5:10 p.m.: Firestone Fast Six Qualifying for NTT P1 Award

5:40 p.m.: NTT P1 Award Presentation

TICKETS: General Admission tickets are $20 for Indianapolis 500 qualifications. Children 15 and under are admitted free with paying adult. Free entry for all military personnel with a valid military ID.

PUBLIC GATES OPEN (10 a.m.-6 p.m.): Gate 1, Gate 2, Gate 3, Gate 4, Gate 6S, Gate 7, Gate 7S, Gate 9, Gate 10 and Gate 10A.

PARKING: Free parking for Indianapolis 500 qualifications is located in Turn 3 and Lot 7 (North 40), in the South Carousel Lot for motorcycle parking and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum Lot and Lot 7 (North 40) for ADA parking. Paid parking is $20 in Gate 1 and $10 in Main Gate, Lot 2, Lot 3G and Lot 3P. Paid ADA parking is $20 in Gate 1 and $10 in Lot 2, Lot 3P and Lot 3G. Bicycle parking is located outside Gate 1, Gate 6 and Gate 9.

The latest from @Indycar_Wxman

Today should be dry and cloudy. The temperature is expected to be in the low 60s for the qualifying runs at 4 pm. Any rain will be light and be gone well before the first practice.

Breaking Down the Fast Twelve

Teams

Ganassi-5

Penske- 1

Carpenter- 2

Coyne- 1

AMSP- 2

Andretti – 1

The group includes the two oldest Indianapolis 500 rookies, Romain Grosjean and Jimmie Johnson. Four time 500 pole winner Scott Dixon and three time polesitter Ed Carpenter are also in the mix.

Jimmie Johnson and Marcus Ericsson are the only two drivers in the final twelve who have not won a pole.

Four former winners representing five 500 victories will run for the pole- Scott Dixon, Takuma Sato, Tony Kanaan, and Will Power.

In this Indycar era of youth, the average age of the Fast Twelve is 40.6 years old. Only three drivers are 25 or younger. The Indianapolis 500 is still a place for experienced drivers.

The practice this morning may not be very busy. In 2021 few cars took advantage of the practice time. Conditions will be very different by qualifying time. Speeds could be even higher than yesterday given the cooler conditions, I’m not sure how much rubber will be put down in the practice period, though.

My picks for the Fast Six-

VeeKay, O’Ward, Rosenqvist, Dixon, Sato, and Carpenter.

Pole winner- VeeKay

I’ll be back after the first practice.