Bobby Unser, Three Time 500 Champion, Dies at 87

Note: I am posting this statement from IMS now. I will have my own story up later today.

www.IMS.com Facebook             Indianapolis Motor Speedway Press ReleaseFor Immediate Release Three-Time Indianapolis 500 Winner Bobby Unser Dies at 87INDIANAPOLIS (Monday, May 3, 2021) – Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Unser, one of the most colorful, outspoken and popular drivers in the history of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” died Sunday, May 2 at his New Mexico home. He was 87. Unser won the Indianapolis 500 in 1968, 1975 and 1981. He is one of just 10 drivers to win the “500” at least three times and is a member of numerous motorsports Halls of Fame, including induction into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame in 1990. Unser and Rick Mears are the only drivers to win the “500” in three different decades. He was one of six members of the Unser family to race in the Indianapolis 500. Bobby and his brother Al, a four-time winner, are the only brothers to win the race. Bobby Unser also was renowned and admired for his work in and out of the cockpit before his Indianapolis 500 and INDYCAR driving career started and after it ended. He dominated the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb before he ever turned a lap at Indianapolis, and he was a popular INDYCAR color analyst on national telecasts in the 1980s and 1990s after retiring as a driver. Unser was born Feb. 20, 1934 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the third of four brothers. When he was 1, his family moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico – the city forever associated with the Unser family racing dynasty. In 1949, Unser started racing at Roswell (New Mexico) Speedway. In 1950, he raced at Speedway Park in Albuquerque and won his first championship in Southwestern Modified Stock Cars. After serving in the U.S. Air Force from 1953-55, Unser and his brothers Jerry and Al decided to pursue racing careers in United States Auto Club (USAC) competition. Bobby Unser raced successfully in USAC Sprint Car, Midget and Stock Car competition. He earned seven career USAC Sprint Car feature victories and placed third in the standings in 1965 and 1966. He also won six USAC Stock Car races and three USAC Midget features. Unser’s career in Indy cars started in the end of the 1962 season. He spent three years driving Novi-engined cars for Andy Granatelli, including the No. 6 Hotel Tropicana, Las Vegas Kurtis/Novi roadster in which he qualified 16th and finished 33rd and last as an Indianapolis 500 rookie in 1963. Unser’s day ended after completing just two laps due to an accident. In fact, Unser’s first two career Indy starts gave no indication of his future success. After completing two laps and finishing last as a rookie in 1963, he completed just one lap in 1964 and was credited with 32nd place in the four-wheel-drive No. 9 Studebaker-STP Ferguson/Novi fielded by Granatelli, getting caught in the multi-car accident that claimed the lives of Dave MacDonald and Eddie Sachs. Unser earned his first career top-10 finish at Indy by placing eighth after starting 28th in 1966 for Gordon van Liew’s team. In 1967, he moved to Bob Wilke’s Leader Card team for a four-year stint, which resulted in even greater fortune at Indianapolis and on the USAC Championship Trail. Unser earned his first Indianapolis 500 victory in 1968 in the No. 3 Rislone Eagle/Offy, one of the most iconic and beautiful rear-engine cars in Indianapolis 500 history. His first spot on the Borg-Warner Trophy came after a spirited duel with Joe Leonard in one of Granatelli’s famous STP Lotus cars powered by a Pratt & Whitney helicopter turbine engine. Unser led 118 of the first 191 laps but was running second to Leonard when Leonard’s fuel shaft broke on Lap 192, with Unser powering past for his first “500” victory. Later that year, Unser won the first of his two USAC National Championships, ending the season with five victories and edging Mario Andretti by a scant 11 points. In 1972, Unser earned the first of his two Indianapolis 500 poles during his successful five-year partnership with Dan Gurney’s All American Racers. Speeds skyrocketed that year with the legalization of bolt-on wings to chassis, and no one took better advantage than Unser. His four-lap record qualifying average speed of 195.940 mph in the No. 6 Olsonite Eagle was more than 17 mph faster than Peter Revson’s pole speed from the previous year – the largest year-to-year increase in “500” history. Unser won his second and final USAC National Championship in 1974 after finishing runner-up to Johnny Rutherford in the Indy 500. In 1975, Unser won the Indianapolis 500 for the second time, driving the No. 48 Jorgensen Eagle fielded by Gurney’s team. Unser led only 11 laps, taking the top spot from Rutherford on Lap 165 and holding it until the race was ended by a downpour on Lap 174 of the 200 schedule laps. He drove for Fletcher Racing in 1976 and 1977, returning to Gurney’s All American Racers for one season in 1978. Unser joined Team Penske in 1979 for the start of a three-year stint in which he won 11 races and finished second in the CART standings in 1979 and 1980. But perhaps his most famous race during his Penske tenure was the 1981 Indianapolis 500, which he won from the pole in one of the most controversial and contentious outcomes in the event’s storied history. Unser beat Mario Andretti to the finish by 5.18 seconds in the No. 3 Norton Spirit, but USAC officials ruled Unser passed cars illegally while exiting the pit lane during a caution on Lap 149. Unser was penalized one position, with Andretti elevated to the winner. But after a lengthy protest and appeals process, Unser’s penalty was rescinded, and he was declared the winner of the race Oct. 9, 1981. That victory became the last of Unser’s storied INDYCAR career, as he skipped the 1982 CART season to serve as driver coach for Josele Garza and decided against a planned comeback in 1983 with Patrick Racing. He finished his career with 35 career INDYCAR victories and two championships among his eight top-three finishes in the season points. Unser ended his driving career as one of the greatest performers in the history of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” He produced 10 top-10 finishes in 19 career “500” starts. Unser led in 10 races for a total of 440 laps, still 10th on the all-time list. Unser’s nine front-row starts included poles in 1972 and 1981. His speed in qualifying at the Speedway was exceptional, as he was one of the 12 fastest drivers in 18 of his 19 starts. Fourteen of his 19 starts came from the first three rows. While those statistics are among the greatest in Indy history, Unser produced even more eye-popping numbers at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, nicknamed “Unser Mountain” due to his family’s success in the longtime race in Colorado Springs. Unser won 13 class titles at Pikes Peak and earned “King of the Mountain” honors 10 times during his career as the fastest driver overall up the famed mountain, tops among the racing Unser family that dominated this event. Unser also had a keen engineering mind that always searched for a technical advantage over his rivals. He sometimes would call his crew chief well after midnight with an idea for chassis setup or another technical issue, and his prowess as a test driver was highly regarded because he turned every lap at the car’s limit. Every angle was pursued by Unser when it came to trying to find the edge against his foes. Team owner Jim Hall’s famous Chaparral chassis – the first Indy car with ground-effects aerodynamics underneath the car – got upside-down when Rutherford crashed in 1980 in the CART season finale at Phoenix. Unser learned of a photographer who took pictures of the closely guarded aero channels and tunnels beneath the car, and he obtained the photos, which were used in the development of Team Penske’s 1981 ground-effects chassis. After his driving career ended, Unser combined his vast racing experience and considerable skills as an outspoken raconteur to become a popular broadcaster on ABC, NBC and ESPN INDYCAR telecasts and on IMS Radio Network race broadcasts. The booth trio of play-by-play announcer Paul Page and the opinionated Unser and the erudite Sam Posey – with Unser and Posey’s styles and comments almost always contrasting and often clashing — was one of the most entertaining and popular in INDYCAR television history. Two of Unser’s proudest moments in the TV booth came when he called the finish in 1987 with play-by-play announcer Jim Lampley as his younger brother, Al Unser, earned his record-tying fourth “500” victory and again in 1992 when he and Paul Page called the race when his nephew, Al Unser Jr., won Indy for the first time in the closest “500” finish ever. Unser also was part of the ABC Sports broadcast team that won an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Live Sports Special” for its coverage of the 1989 Indianapolis 500. After his TV career ended, Unser continued to visit IMS every Month of May. In 1998 and 1999, he served as driver coach and assisted with race strategy on the radio for his son Robby Unser during his two starts in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Robby finished fifth and eighth, respectively, in those two starts with his father’s help. Fans always flocked to “Uncle Bobby” to get a picture or autograph, to share their memories or to hear one of Unser’s countless colorful stories about his career and fellow racers. He also savored spending time in the Media Center swapping tales with many veteran journalists every May, as Unser was a tireless ambassador for IMS and the Indianapolis 500 until the end of his life. Unser is survived by his wife, Lisa; sons Bobby Jr. and Robby; and daughters Cindy and Jeri.

Newgarden Halfway to Weekend Sweep

Josef Newgarden led this morning ‘s practice session in the run up to qualifying later this afternoon. Newgarsen edged Alexander Rossi by 0.11 seconds with a lap of 1:00.0622. It is possible the pole speed could under 60 seconds.

After the practice session Newgarden affixed his name to the winner’s monument for the second time in 6 months. There is a good chance his name will completely fill the bottom row of the monolith.

Michael Andretti then announced that Oliver and Sebastian Wheldon will join the Andretti Autosport group as karting drivers. The sons of the late Dan Sheldon both hope to drive in Indycar someday.

Oliver (left) and Sebastian Sheldon with Michael Andretti

Qualifying Groups:

Newgarden Fastest in Friday Practice

Photo: Joe Skibinski, Indycar

Things are back to normal at St. Pete. Josef newgarden and team Penske teammate Will Power ended the lone Friday practice 1-2 on the speed chart. Newgarden’s time of 1:00.8029 was 0.083 seconds faster than Power. Colton Herta was third quick. The top five were within 0.0963 seconds of Newgarden.

The session was red flagged with just a couple minutes to go when Sebastien Bourdais spun. Cars returned to the track with just seconds left, but no one had time to get another completed lap.

Discussing today’s track conditions and the closeness of the times, Newgarden said that the track was “really high grip today.” He believed that the high grip contributed to the close speeds among the top five.

The Day

The crowd got bigger as the day went on. I’m not sure that it reached the 20,000 capacity, but a decent number of people were there. Mask wearing, which was good at first, diminished as more people came.

I didn’t care for waiting until 4:15 for the first appearance by Indycar today. I understand why a practice needed to be cut from the schedule, but an earlier time for your featured series would be better.

Two liveries I really liked- Simon Pagenaud’s Australian Gold.

Indycar photo by Chris Owens

And Alec Palou’s NTT Data. I love the number in a circle.

Indyvar photo by Chris Owens

Notes- Dalton Keller seemed to be having an engine issue. His car sounded very rough entering turn 1.

It was interesting watching Romain Grosjean try different lines through the first turn.

Tomorrow Indycar has practice at 9:45 a6 qualifying at 1:45. Both sessions are live on Peacock. The qualifying will re air on NBCSN at 10 pm Eastern.

ROKiT Sponsorship Gives Boost to Foyt and Bourdais

Images from A, J. Foyt Racing

A friendship that began seven years ago resulted in a major sponsorship for A. J. Foyt Racing. Larry Foyt met Joinathan Kendrick and they stayed in touch. Kendrick, a co-founder of ROKit, a new business incubator, has always been a race fan. He worked for Goodyear Tire’s racing Division as a teenager, and became aware of A. J. Foyt.

Foyt lost long time sponsor ABC Supply after the 2019 season and in 202 struggled to find sponsorship. This new deal brings stability to the team as they look to put together a better year in 2021. All the elements are in place for improvement.

The news release:

WALLER, Texas (March 23, 2021)–AJ Foyt Racing and Sebastien Bourdais will be rockin’ with ROKiT this year!

The global conglomerate ROKiT signed as the primary marketing partner of the No. 14 Chevrolet to be driven by Bourdais in the NTT INDYCAR Series this season. The striking livery design embodies ROKiT’s disruptive approach to challenging conventional business. In addition to branding on the car, the agreement allows for a variety of activation opportunities.  

#14 Sebastien Bourdais, A.J. Foyt Enterprises Chevrolet

Entrepreneur Jonathan Kendrick, ROKiT’s co-founder along with partner John-Paul DeJoria, is utilizing the Foyt team’s iconic heritage to raise brand awareness globally and showcase the company’s broad range of services and products.

Commenting, Jonathan Kendrick said “When I was 17 years old and working for Goodyear Tires racing division, I was aware of AJ Foyt and what an incredibly talented driver he was, so I am hugely excited to have partnered with the legendary AJ Foyt Racing team for the 2021 INDYCAR Series. I’m looking forward to cheering-on the fabulous looking No.14 Chevrolet as it roars around the circuits this year. All our ROKiT companies will be actively involved in this partnership and we wish Larry, Sebastien and all the team at Foyt Racing the very best of luck.”

ROKiT is a new business incubator with a diverse portfolio of companies involved in innovative technology and services including mobile phones, WiFi deployment, beverages, pioneering 3D content production and distribution of movies and music.

The partnership is the evolution of a discussion which began seven years ago when the two companies started exploring opportunities to work together.

Larry Foyt anticipates the new partnership will give his team and the INDYCAR series additional exposure to a younger audience as the team mounts a competitive campaign to vie for victories with 4-time INDYCAR champion Bourdais.

“I met JK several years ago and we have stayed in touch,” said Larry Foyt, team president of AJ Foyt Racing. “He is a true racing enthusiast and it has been great to see him use many forms of motorsport in his growth strategy for ROKiT. We had expressed interest in working together when the time was right, and I must say it feels like everything came into alignment perfectly for this opportunity. I think this partnership will reward ROKiT’s partners and consumers with some exciting programs that take advantage of the great access our team can provide. I’m enthused about our promising testing results, and this is another shot of awesome momentum heading into the season.”

The NTT INDYCAR series opens its 17-race season April 18 at Barber Motorsports Park.

ROKiT on!

Image Courtesy Of A.J. Foyt Racing

Sebring Preview: Derani on Pole

Photo: Michael levitt/Motorsport Images

Pipo Derani will start on pole for the 69th running of the Sebring 12 hour race tomorrow morning. His number 31 Cadillac edged the Acura of Ricky Taylor 0.09 seconds. in LMP1 qualifying. Jimmie Johnson spun in turn 16 coming to the checkered flag of the session. Johnson was not hurt, but the car suffered damage.

In GTLM Antonio Garcia put the number 3 Corvette on the pole. The Corvettes sport shades of silver this weekend. It will be strange not seeing a yellow Corvette in an endurance race.

Antonio Garcia takes the GTLM pole

Indycar Drivers Tune Up for Season

The race will feature a smattering of Indycar drivers. The shrinking IMSA fields mean fewer Indycar drivers than in past years. Ryan Hunter-Reay, who was with the number 55 Mazda last season, does not have a ride since the team cut back to one car for 2021.

Indycar drivers participating are mainly in the DPi class. They are:

01 Cadillac- Scott Dixon

5 Cadillac- Sebastien Bourdais

10 Acura- Alexander Rossi

48 Cadillac- Simon Pagenaud; Jimmie Johnson

60 Acura- Juan Pablo Montoya

The 01 is Chip Ganassi’s entry and the 60 is a Meyer Shank entry.

Former Indycar drivers Oliver Askew and Spencer Pigot are running cars in the LMP3 class.

Indy Lights driver Kyle Kirkwood will drive the number 14 Vasser-Sullivan Lexus in GTD.

TV Schedule: Fire Up Track Pass

While the race begins and ends on NBCSN the middle seven hours are on NBC Track Pass. You can also watch on IMSA TV and I highly recommend listening to Radio LeMans. The broadcast time, all Eastern:

.I hope that unlike the Rolex 24 Hour coverage we don’t have to sit through a Jimmie Johnson interview every 10 minutes. I’d rather watch the racing.

Money Lion First Sponsor for Paretta Autosport

Money Lion is the first associate sponsor for Paretta Autosport, the number 16 car in the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 to be driven by Simona DeSilvestro. The announcement comes on International Women’s day. Sponsorship activation will include several initiatives under Money Lion’s “Women Who Roar” campaign.

The news release:

MoneyLion Launches Its “Women Who Roar” Campaign in Partnership with Paretta Autosport Focused on Leveling the Playing Field for Women Across Finance, Science and Technology

Indianapolis, Ind. (March 8, 2021) -Paretta Autosport and MoneyLion announced today that the financial platform, where hardworking Americans can bank, borrow, save and invest – all within one app, will become the first team sponsor of the No. 16 Chevy-powered INDYCAR at this year’s Indianapolis 500. Paretta is the first female owned, female driven, and female forward race team in the sport.

Paretta Autosport began earlier this year as part of Indycar’s Race for Equality and Change. The team has a technical partnership with Team Penske.

To further the INDYCAR’s “Race for Equality and Change” initiative announced last year, and in honor of International Women’s Day, MoneyLion and Paretta Autosport are also partnering to launch MoneyLion’s “Women Who Roar” campaign to advance financial empowerment, support women’s careers and level the playing field for women across a number of areas in finance, science and technology.

Paretta Autosport will enter the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 30, with 2010 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Simona De Silvestro.

MoneyLion’s “Women Who Roar” campaign features:

  • Play Like a Girl Mentorship Program: MoneyLion and Paretta Autosport have committed to creating a unique Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) mentorship program for nonprofit, Play Like a Girl. This program will connect middle and high school girls with female leaders in the fintech and motorsports industries. It will also include a new “Here Women Roar” female executive leadership chapter of the organization focused on mentoring teenage girls about technology through customized fintech challenges. Not only will the partnership offer students career guidance, but it will bring them on-site to see their mentors in action, broadening their horizons on potential future careers. MoneyLion mentors will also participate in Play Like a Girl’s Women’s Leadership Summit on March 19.
  • “Women Who Roar” LinkedIn Group: Launching on March 16, MoneyLion is creating a space where women in the workforce can have candid conversations about issues such as financial wellness, mentorship and the wage gap.
  • “Women Who Roar” Conversation Series: MoneyLion is also launching a special conversation series, which includes in-depth interviews with eight influential female leaders, starting with Beth Paretta, CEO and Team Principal of Paretta Autosport, and Simona De Silvestro. The “Women Who Roar” series will air on Cheddar.com beginning on March 16 and explores women trailblazers’ career paths and advice for the next generation of female leaders.

“MoneyLion is committed to providing the financial products, educational resources and mentorship that’s much needed to level the playing field for today’s workforce and future generations of female leaders,” said Samantha Roady, MoneyLion Chief Operating Officer. “Beth Paretta has built an incredible, inspiring team with Simona as the driver. We’re proud to support a female-owned and operated business and to shine a light on inspiring women’s professional achievements through our sponsorship. We look forward to working closely with the team to bring ‘Women Who Roar’ to life.”

After decades of progress, COVID-19 lockdowns have forced many working women to stay home, fundamentally challenging their responsibilities as professionals and primary caregivers. For the first time in modern history, women are losing more jobs and have higher unemployment than men – exacerbating the existing wage gap.

“MoneyLion can contribute to the recovery from this she-cession by standing for ‘Women Who Roar,’” said Roady. “This partnership with Paretta is a first step in that wider campaign.”

“We’re thrilled to align with MoneyLion because of our shared ideals,” said Beth Paretta, CEO/team principal of Paretta Autosport. “MoneyLion’s focus on empowering women through improved financial access and literacy is a direct parallel to our mission of helping women advance their careers. We’re pleased that MoneyLion sees the value of our women-forward racing program and greatly look forward to being a part of their ‘Women Who Roar’ campaign.”

Automotive and motorsport executive Beth Paretta has a long history in leadership roles with some of the most respected automotive and performance brands, including FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), Aston Martin and Volkswagen Group. She led successful racing programs and earned three national championships during her tenure at FCA. She is also aboard member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.

“We welcome the support of finance and technology giants like MoneyLion to help us advance our mission to drive diversity and meaningful change for girls and women,” says Dr. Kimberly Clay, founder & CEO, Play Like a Girl. “Building a diverse pipeline of young women in STEM is a major priority for us. We’re thrilled to partner with MoneyLion and Paretta Autosport to support this work and our community.”

To learn more, please visit www.MoneyLion.com, www.ParettaAutosport.com and www.iplaylikeagirl.org.

Media Contacts:
MoneyLion: Iris Leung at pr@moneylion.com; 917.623.5919
Paretta Autosport: Barbara J. Burns at media@parettaautosport.com; 770.329.7134
Play Like a Girl: D. Channing Muller at channing@dcmcommunications.com; 202.744.5228

About MoneyLion
MoneyLion is a mobile banking and financial membership platform that empowers people to take control of their finances. Since its launch in 2013, MoneyLion has engaged with 7.5 million hard-working Americans and has earned its members’ trust by building a full-service digital platform to deliver mobile banking, lending, and investment solutions. From a single app, members can get a 360-degree snapshot of their financial lives and have access to personalized tips and tools to build and improve their credit and achieve everyday savings. MoneyLion is headquartered in New York City, with offices in San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Sioux Falls, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. MoneyLion has achieved various awards of recognition including the 2020 Forbes FinTech 50, Aite group best digital Wealth Management Multi product offering, Finovate Award for Best DigitalBank 2019, Benzinga FinTech Awards winner for Innovation in Personal Finance 2019 and the Webby Awards 2019 People’s Voice Award. For more information, please visit www.moneylion.com or download the app.

About Paretta Autosport
Paretta Autosport is a new team competing in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. With a technical alliance with Team Penske, they will attempt to qualify and compete in the 2021 Indy 500 and beyond. More than racing, Paretta Auto sport is an initiative to encourage and mentor young girls and women to pursue careers in STEM-related fields. The team will incorporate women in key roles: mechanics, engineers, marketing, business operations, and more. Created by female automotive and motorsports executive Beth Paretta, the team is part of the INDYCAR series’ “Race for Equality & Change” initiative.

At Paretta Autosport, the competitive spirit drives us. We work hard and always strive for better: for ourselves, for our team, and for others. For more information, go to www.parettaautosport.com.

About Play Like a Girl
Play Like a Girl!® is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded on the belief that girls provided with the opportunity to play on a team become women with the confidence to stand on their own. We envision a world where the playing field is level and every girl reaches her full potential and are creating programs to leverage the skills girls gain from sport to propel them into competitive, male-dominated careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). We collaborate with schools, corporations and other partner organizations to deliver a coordinated, multi-year program model through which middle school girls experience practical lessons in leadership and engage in hands-on STEM education through the lens of a confidence-building curriculum, while being exposed to inspiring women coaches, mentors and role models. Since its founding in 2004, Play Like a Girl has benefited more than 50,000 girls and women across the world. Learn how you can get involved with this Nashville-based organization at iplaylikeagirl.org, and connect with us on Insta

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.