Power on Pole for Race 1

Will Power won another pole, his third of the year, for this afternoon’s race at Mid Ohio. It was an unusual pole in that Power was in the normally slower Group 1. Ryan Hunter-Reay led group 2 and will start second. Power’s time of 1:06.33 was 0.4 seconds better than Hunter-Reay”s time.

Josef Newgarden and Conor Daly make up row 2. Points leader Scott Dixon starts 17th.

The starting line up:

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Hunter-Reay Leads Practice

Ryan Hunter-Reay led the only practice session for the Honda Indy 200 with a time of 1:06.3034. The practice period was the strongest for Andretti Autosport fr vers since the Indianapolis 500. Will Power was second and Alexander Rossi finished third. Points leader Scott Dixon was fourth.

The top seven

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Mid Ohio- Busy Day for Indycar

Good morning from the Mount Vernon media center annex. Six races are on tap today, four for the Road to Indy, one for Mazda MX5 Cup, and the first practice for Indycar, followed by qualifying for the first Indycar raceof the weekend. The 75 lap event is on NBCSN at 5 pm Eastern

Today’s schedule (All Times Eastern)

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Update: Mid Ohio to Allow Fans for Indycar Double Header

Mid Ohio Ticket holders received the following email this afternoon:

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I’m surprised that anyone who has previously purchased a ticket will be allowed in, and that the state did not impose a crowd limit. The Bengals and Browns received a 6, 000 fan limit for their opening games. With no grandstand seats available, that pushes everyone into the infield.

The link to their covid page shows the standard protocols with temperarture checks upon entry an

The track will send additional spectator information Tuesday.

Race Day 2- Dixon Sweep?

Day 2 at Gateway with a different lineup. Can Dixon Sweep the weekend? Will Sato win from the pole? Can Team Penske’s pit strategies work out today?

The good news for some cars involved in yesterday’s fiasco at the start is that they are starting further ahead today.

Quick Thoughts will be up tomorrow morning.

Todays lineup:

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Power, Sato Grab Poles; Some Quick Qualifying Thoughts

Winning the Indianapolis 500 appears to have not affected Takuma Sato. He won the pole for tomorrow’s second Bommarito Automotive Group race and starts fifth in this afternoon’s race.

Power inches closer one more pole closer to Mario Andretti. It’s his second pole of the year.

Why is Sato that much quicker than Graham Rahal?

Simon Pagenaud starting 13th today in one of his better qualifying efforts this year.

Conditons at the track two hours before race time are overcast and windy with a hint of moisture in the air. The temperature has cooled since qualifying.

Dont count out Pato O’Ward as a possible winner today.

The crowd is light and well spread out. Definitely more mask wearing here than at Iowa or Road America.

Back late tonight with thoughts on the race.

The 104th Indianapolis 500- Past and Future Meet Before Empty Stands

Photo: Indycar, Joe Skibinski

It is finally time. The Indianapolis 500 will run Sunday as a very different event than we normally witness. It’s been delayed three months, a safety plan developed, and attendance was limited then done away with. Now the race is set.

The field is mixture of current and future stars of the series. Two rookies start in the first three rows surrounded by long time veterans. The rookie class has done very well this season, and I look for some of them to do quite well Sunday. I think one of the veterans will win, but I expect three rookies in the top ten at the finish.

Here are some things to look at for the 104th running:

Last Rides?

Sunday may be the final 500 for some popular drivers, particularly Helio Castroneves and Fernando Alonso. Castroneves is in the final year of a three year deal to drive in the 500 with Team Penske. With the disbanding of Penske’s IMSA team, Castroneves has nothing secure for next season. he is looking for a full time Indycar ride. Penske said the other day he would not rule Castroneves out for next year. The team looks like it will be pretty full already. Castroneves has been one of the greatest drivers in 500 history with three wins and three second place finishes.

Alonso’s contract with Renault in formula 1 for the next two seasons precludes him from racing in the 500. He has said he will come back after his Renault contract ends, but he will be 42 years old then.

Could Ryan Hunter-Reay be retiring at the end of this year? His contract is believed to be up, and DHL’s sponsorship agreement also ends after this season. Will he come back for Indianapolis one offs?

Watch and enjoy these three drivers Sunday. We don’t know if they’ll be back.

Charging from the Back

Will Power starts 22nd, Simon Pagenaud rolls off 25th, Castroneves starts 28th. despite the poor qualifying runs, look for the three penske drivers to be near the front by the end of the race. Pagenaud has not qualified well all season. He won at iowa after starting last, but this is a different situation.

Watch for the Ed Carpenter and Conor Daly to im prove from their sixth row grid positions. The ECR cars disappointed a bit in qualifying, but they should be good for the race..

Passing

Drivers are saying passing will be difficult and may take four to five laps instead of two or three. Today’s practice might give us a hint. Passes need to be planned and executed wisely. Team penske cars appeared to have little trouble passing cars during the first two days of practice.

Pits- Strategy and Mistakes

We have seen virtually every team have an issue in the pits through the frist six races. The mistakes could be from the delay in starting the seaon and the lack of practice time for crew members. A mistake Sunday could be costly, especially on one the later pit stops.

Will a team gamble on fuel strategy? It depends on how the race plays out with the cautions. How much  will the 58 pounds of the aeroscreen affect fuel mileage and tires?

The Rookies

Rinus VeeKay qualified fourth and Alex Palou starts seventh. VeeKay has improved since his shaky debut in Texas, but I’m not sure what to expect from him here. Driving for Ed carpenter racing is a plus at IMS. He should end up in the top ten.

Palou has been fast, and I am interestef to see how he handles a longer race. He needs flawless pit stops and smart strategy calls.

Pato O’Ward and Oliver Askew start a bit further back than i expected. If they can avoid trouble, look for the Arrow McLaren SP cars to move up steadily during the first half of the race. At Iowa both cars stuck to their plan and were contending.

And the Winner Is…

While Marco Andretti wowed everyone with his dominant pole run, I am going with Scott Dixon to win his second Indianapolis 500. Dixon has been steady all year in winning the first three races to begin the season. He has been quietly quick during practice and qualifying. This team is prepared to go to Victory lane. A win would would put Dixon in a favorable spot to win his sixth championship.

Could Scott Dixon win his second 500 and 50th Indycar race Sunday?

For Rookie of the Year, look for Rinus VeeKay to take the honor. th 19 year old loves the speedway. Carpenter said he has taken to the track quicker than Josef Newgarden did.