O’Ward Ready to Fight for the Championship

Photo: Chris Owens, Indycar

Pato O’Ward left no doubt about his plans for the 2021 Indycar season.

“We want to win races. We want to be consistently fighting for podiums, and we want to be there. We want to be contenders every single race weekend.I think in doing so, that’ll put us in a position at the end of the year to fight for the championship. That is the goal. I want to get to Long Beach having a possibility to win the championship,” The Arrow McLaren SP second year driver said on Indycar Content Day yesterday.

O’Ward finished fourth in the season standings in 2020, winning his first career pole at road America. While he has yet to win a race, that will happen this coming season. I have a feeling he will stand on the top step of the podium more than once this year.

O’Ward spent time in the off-season watching his races from 2020, focusing on the races he felt he should have won. His goal this year is to qualify better and to minimize pit errors, which hurt him in a couple of races last season. O’Ward told the media,

“Man, I rewatched every race where we were in contention, both Iowa races, both Gateway races,Road America. Just from things that I learned last year,you qualify up front, you make your life so much easier.Another thing is that pit stops are huge in INDYCAR racing. I lost a lot of my race wins because we didn’t execute in the pits, and that’s huge. I feel like our pace was very, very strong. I think we were very strong in many places that we went to all year.But where we need to push this year, and we may need to make sure if we have a mistake it has to be minimized, is in the pits, and me as a driver just do my job.”

Motivation has never been an issue for O’Ward, but he seems even more determined to succeed this upcoming season.He feels that he and his team are ready to mix it up with the big three of Penske, Ganassi, and Andretti. He does acknowledge it’s a tall order.

“I feel like last year we left a lot of unfinished business. We were close to winning four races, and we didn’t get it done. We didn’t get it done. There were tough pills to swallow,and I felt like that left everyone in the team so hungry. I can see it from the off-season, just how much work has been put into the development of trying to make the cars go faster at the speedway and road courses.Me as a driver, I truly don’t think I’ve ever been fitter, more ready to try and win the thing. I have lots of faith in the team. I have lots of faith in what we can accomplish as a group. It’s going to be ridiculously hard, but it is possible.”

The addition of Juan Pablo Montoya for the Indianapolis 500 should help him as a driver and the team overall, O’Ward believes. He also thinks having gone through a complete Indycar season as ateam and knowing what to expect, will improve their chances of success.

“I think having a year under our belts and the engineers knowing what I like and how I go about things, I think that just helps everyone work better and more efficient. I have lots of faith that all those small guys behind the computer doing all the analysis and the developments of either it can be a road course, street course, superspeedway for drag,aero, whatever it may be, I feel like in this off-season they had a direction and they had more of a clear picture of where they had to work, to work at or see where there was massive improvements to be made.”

The Indianapolis 500 is where O’Ward really wants to improve. Last year the superspeedways were “like driving into a black hole,” he said. He believes the team, with Monotya’s help, will be stronger at the brickyard in 2021.

I am putting O’Ward on my list of title contenders. This is the first of a series on each of the drivers I think has a shot at the Astor Cup in 2021.

9 Indycar Races on NBC

NBC Sports today made their Indycar broadcast schedule ,official. A record nine races will be on NBC, including six of the first eight races. The NBC portion begins at the season opener at Barber Motorsports Park and continues the following weekend. The season finale at Long Beach is slated for NBCSN.

My NBC coverage for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 begins at 11 am Eastern. I assume the race will begin at 12:30 or a little bit later.

Eight broadcasts begin at noon Eastern.

I would prefer the double header at Detroit be moved to NBCSN and Road America and Long Beach replace those two races on NBC. Once again, Roger didn’t return my call.

I’m sure the network is as proud as a Peacock about this schedule.

Here is the schedule with broadcast times:

DateRace/TrackNetworkTime (ET)
Sun., April 18Barber Motorsports ParkNBC3 p.m.
Sun., April 25Streets of St. PetersburgNBC12 p.m.
Sat., May 1Texas Motor Speedway – Race 1NBCSN7 p.m.
Sun., May 2Texas Motor Speedway – Race 2NBCSN5 p.m.
Sat., May 15Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course)NBC2:30 p.m.
Sun., May 30The 105th Indianapolis 500NBC11 a.m.
Sat., June 12Raceway at Belle Isle Park/Detroit – Race 1NBC2 p.m.
Sun., June 13Raceway at Belle Isle Park/Detroit – Race 2NBC12 p.m.
Sun., June 20Road AmericaNBCSN12 p.m.
Sun., July 4Mid-Ohio Sports Car CourseNBC12 p.m.
Sun., July 11Streets of TorontoNBCSN12 p.m.
Sun., Aug. 8Streets of NashvilleNBCSN5:30 p.m.
Sat., Aug. 14Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course)NBCSN12:30 p.m.
Sat., Aug. 21World Wide Technology RacewayNBCSN8 p.m.
Sun., Sept. 12Portland International RacewayNBC3 p.m.
Sun, Sept. 19WeatherTech Raceway Laguna SecaNBC3 p.m.
Sun, Sept. 26Streets of Long BeachNBCSN3 p.m.

Note: dates and networks are subject to change

IMS Hosts Mass Vaccination Site

Indianapolis motor Spoeeway has helped the nation as a training ground during the two world wars. It is now helping to combat the coronavirus as one of three staewide mass vaccination clinics this weekend. It will be a drive through vaccination site. Indiana opened vaccinations to residents 55 and older this morning. The three sites will administer the new johnson and Johnson one dose vaccine.

The release from the Indiana Department of Health:

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Department of Health today announced that it has partnered with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, University of Notre Dame and Ivy Tech Community College to host three mass vaccination clinics to help eligible Hoosiers receive a free COVID-19 vaccine.

In addition, effective today, Hoosiers age 55 and older are now eligible to receive a free vaccine.

“Getting tens of thousands of vaccines in arms in a matter of days is a huge undertaking that requires incredible partnerships,” Governor Eric J. Holcomb said. “We are incredibly grateful to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Notre Dame and Ivy Tech for their willingness to meet this challenge head-on to help save Hoosier lives.”

The mass vaccination clinics will offer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which received its Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA on Saturday. The vaccine requires only one dose and has been shown to be safe and effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths in clinical trials involving nearly 44,000 participants from all races and ethnicities.

“The Johnson & Johnson vaccine gives eligible Hoosiers a safe, effective and convenient way to protect themselves from COVID-19,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG. “Because it requires just one dose, every shot administered represents a Hoosier who can rest easier, knowing their risk of severe illness from this disease has dropped exponentially.”

The Indiana Department of Health has also begun planning for a future mass vaccination clinic in Gary in collaboration with local health officials. Additional mass vaccination sites in other locations will be planned as more vaccine becomes available.

All clinics will require advance registration through https://ourshot.in.gov or by calling 211. Proof of age and residency will be required. The mass vaccination clinics are listed as sites that eligible Hoosiers can select when making an appointment. No walk-ups will be permitted.

Indiana’s Area Agencies on Aging, AARP and nearly 70 libraries around the state also can help Hoosiers schedule their appointments.

The clinic schedules are as follows:


Indianapolis Motor Speedway
4790 W. 16th St., Indianapolis
March 5-7
8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Enter through main gate off 16th Street; participants will remain in their cars for their vaccines.

Ivy Tech Community College
8204 County Road 311, Sellersburg 
March 12-13
8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Participants will remain in their cars for their vaccines.

University of Notre Dame
Compton Family Ice Arena
100 Compton Family Ice Arena, Notre Dame
March 26-27
8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Additional dates may be added to each of the above sites depending on demand and vaccine availability.

A separate advisory with instructions for media interested in covering the clinics will be issued closer to the events.

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit https://ourshot.in.gov.

Grosjean Eager for Chance to Compete

” I think the excitement comes in the fact that in Formula 1, after turn one, you normally know what’s going to be the race result just because you know the pace of the car, Mercedes is going to pull away,maybe the Red Bull is going to be there. Some things can change, but nowhere as much in INDYCAR.”

Romain Grosjean summed up his excitement for joining Indycar as the newest driver in the series. He will drive car 51 for Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing. Grosjean watch more than 18 hours of Indycar races on YouTube over the Christmas holiday.

“Mid-Ohio 2018 I watched recently was Sebastien Bourdais had an issue in qualifying and started back of the field. He came back like a bullet from the gun and finished sixth just behind Scott Dixon. The race was not over. The strategy was the alternative one. He started on the black tire, went for the reds, just came back from the back. That’s not something you’re going to see in Formula 1 unless Mercedes qualified in the back, which never really happens. That was great to see.”

Dale Coyne talked about why the team had interest in Grosjean despite his lack of wins in F1.

“…we’re impressed what he did before he got to Formula 1. He won the GP2 series by 35 points. It was a year that I think nine drivers in that series made it onto Formula 1. It wasn’t a light year. He won six junior categories before that. He’s a winner. Formula 1, it’s difficult to be a winner unless you’re with the top two or three teams. So we’re going to get him over here with the fourth best team and show that he can still be a winner.”

Grosjean likes that in Indycar the driver has more input into the performance of the car.

“Well, this is something I’m very,very much looking forward to. I’ve been watching the races. The way you can follow the car in front of you, the way you can slide the tires, the way you can either try to play with your ‘push to pass’, the fact that the cars in qualifying are within 6/10ths of each other. This is all really exciting.You need to get the details right and so on. I think, yes, as you say, you don’t have the differential you can move, you don’t have the recovery and all the shaping and the braking, the systems you can have in Formula 1.I think the racing, yes, the car a little bit slower, but the racing looks much better from everything I’ve been seeing.”

Grosjean realizes he still has a lot to learn, and he wants to start sending his engineer, Olivier Boisson, data from iRacing to see if he has the right approach.

“I also told him that I can run on iRacing the INDYCAR. I can send him the data so he can see if it’s completely off the reality or not. I can learn the circuits in that aspect.”

The last five years of Foirmula 1 struggles habven’t dampened Grosjean’s enthusiasm for racing. h eis very excited to try a more competitive form of the sport in the United States.

Sports Business Journal Says Indycar Pass Moving to Peacock

The following Tweet from Sports Business Journal confirms something I discussed this morning.

From earlier:

N B C-ya?

https://thepitwindow.blog/2021/01/23/n-b-c-ya/

Follow the link to read the full story. i assume those who purchased Gold last year will receive a notice as to how to proceed.

Sports Business Journal@sbjsbd#BREAKING: Sources say @IndyCar is among the list of sports properties NBC Sports will be transitioning to Peacock Premium, with IndyCar Pass set to move to the streaming service later this year (@A_S12). Free to read: https://sbjsbd.biz/2Y7MVJm

Season Opener Moving to April 18; Shown on NBC

The shift was bound to happen. As reported by other sources last night, The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park has been moved to April 18. The move allows the race to be on NBC rather than NBCSN. Barber is till the season opener and the Firestone Grand Prix of St, Petersburg follows a week later.

The NTT Indycar Series now begins its season with three consecutive weekends and four races. Following St. Pete, the series goes to Texas for a Saturday/Sunday doubleheader May 1 and 2.

Activity begins at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway May 14 with GMR Grand Prix weekend.

End of Schedule Changes?

I wouldn’t count on it. With rumblings that the Olympics will be cancelled, NBC Sports networks will have a lot of time to fill. Like last year, Indycar now has some fallback dates. I doubt that any new races will be added, but Indycar has to do something to stay in public view between the Toronto race on July 11 and the Music City Grand Prix August 8.

Today’s move is the third schedule change and the season hasn’t started. Last year there were six schedule changes.

Race for Equality and Change Taking Proactive Approach

This week’s announcement of Paretta Autosport with technical assistance from Team Penske adds another dimension to the Race for Equality and Change. Paired with Force Indy, which intends to promote African Americans in the sport, the REC is attempting to expand the reach and appeal of Indycar.

Beth Paretta’s experience and her contacts in motorsports is a plus for the new team.

Beth Paretta

Bringing Simona De Silvestro back to the Indianapolis 500 is a great move. De Silvestro has endured all kinds of misfortune at IMS from fire to uncompetitive cars. This might be her best shot at success.

Simona De Silvestro

The next step for the Race fo Equality and Change is to bring other interested teams and individuals. I would love to see Jacki Henricher become involved with Indycar.

Dixon Leads First Test Day

Photos courtesy of Vincent Anderson

Scott Dixon led a Chip Ganassi Racing 1-2-3 in the first day of testing for the 2021 season yesterday. Dixon’s best lap of 52.32 seconds on the Sebring short course was followed by teammates Marcus Ericsson and Alex Palou. Sebastien Bourdais, driving for A. J. Foyt Racing, was fourth on the day.

Marcus Ericsson

Seven time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, preparing for his first Indycar race at Barber in April, completed the most laps of the seven drivers involved Monday, 160. He was last on the speed chart, but tspeed wasn’t his objective. Johnson was there to learn the car.

Jimmie Johnson in his first full Indycar test day.

Today at Sebring Andretti Autosport and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing have their first on track test of the year.

There will be a special announcement at 11 am Eastern today regarding the Race for Equality and Change. The announcement will be streamed on Indycar.com. I’ll be back with a quick announcement summary right after the conference and somje thoughts later today.

Pat Patrick, Car Owner, CART Founder, Dies at 91

Pat Patrick, who began his involvement in Indycar as a team sponsor and became one of the founders of CART, died Tuesday, January 5, at the age of 91 in His home in Phoenix. Patrick’s team won the Indianapolis 500 three times in his twenty seven years of ownership.

In 1967 Patrick’s oil company became a sponsor for Walt Michener’s team. In 1970 he became the co-owner of the team,with Johnny Rutherford driving. Rutherford just missed the pole of the 500 that year by0.01 second to Al Unser. Patrick owned the Indianapolis winning cars of Gordon Johncock in 1973 and 1982, and Emerson Fittipaldi’s victorious machine in 1989. The Wildcat chassis that Johncock put in Victory Lane in 1982 was the last American made car to win the 500. A Patrick car entered the 500 every year from 1970-1995. Patrick’s last entry At IMS was in 1994 with Al Unser, Jr. driving.

In 1979, Patrick and Roger Penske formed Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) and by 1982 the organization sanctioned all Indycar races except for Indianapolis.

Patrick invested in what is now Indy Lights, and he was instrumental in Firestone’s continued involvement in the series.