Quick Thoughts- REV Group Grand Prix

Update on Marti- she is vastly improved today. Thank you to everyone for all the good wishes. They mean a lot to us.

I have never seen a race at Road America that good. There were battles all through the field, the lead was in contention all day, yellows figured into the strategy, and another crazy dramatic finish. I don’t know what people want from a race or a series, but if Indycar isn’t it, I can’t think of what would be. This season has been outstanding so far.

A Team Penske driver has lost a race in the closing laps in three consecutive races. I can’t recall that ever happening. All tough self inflicted losses too. Hard to believe this team has just two poles and just eight podium spots this season. In a year with so many different winners,it is hard to believe a driver from this team isn’t one of them.

Romain Grosjean has qualified well all year, but his racing has been a bit overlooked. He is aggressive but clean, and not afraid to mix it up with the established drivers. I really like the way he drives. It is a shame that he will not win Rookie of the Year because of the three races he sat out. He deserves it on performance.

Josef Newgarden sits fourth in the standings, but at 88 points behind he will have a difficult time winning the championship.

Once again, Scott Dixon manages a decent finish. He ends up fourth and is third in points, just 53 behind his teammate Alex Palou.

Palou has led seven of the nine races this season. He is back n top of the standings after a one week stay in second.

Kevin Magnussen and Cody Ware had good debuts. Magnussen did a great job maintaining the lead after the restart until his engine issue. Ware drove around quietly and stayed out of trouble all day. I hope we get to see more of him now that he has had a taste of Indycar.

It is hard to believe a Chip Ganassi Racing driver not named Scott Dixon is tied for the most victories this season and is leading the points.

Oliver Askew did a great job subbing for Rinus VeeKay in the 21 Ed Carpenter car. Askew finished 12th in only his second race of the year. He had more time in the car this week than the 10 minutes he had driving for Arrow last week. the extra time seems to have paid off.

Colton Herta looked like a championship, contender early in the year, but he has faded late in races. Today was a nice comeback to finish second, where he started.

Now, about NBC- a 90 minute pre race show is a bit much, but a five minute post race show is shameful, all because you had to rush to a nascar race at a new venue for them? In a city that Indycar will return to in August? The cut away is especially infuriating after a race as great as this one. We needed to see an interview with Josef Newgarden at the very least.

Today’s post race cutaway by NBC was another slap in the face by the network which claims to love Indycar. After missing the beginning of both races last week, the shabby treatment continues. They are likely the leading contender to keep Indycar because no one else is interested. That is another story and is sad. But if NBC wants to keep the Indianapolis 500, they need to step up their game for the entire season.

Thanks for following along this weekend, and again many thanks for all the good wishes. I will have a follow up tomorrow.

The Race We Needed

Photo by Karl Zemlin, Indycar

We needed to have the 500 Mile Race, and we needed to have the race that happened. It was one of the best 500s ever- one of top three I have witnessed. Many eyes were on Indianapolis yesterday with the pandemic slowing. It was a test to see if a large crowd could safely gather without any health issues. We will know in two weeks. We got what we needed.

I thought history would be made yesterday at the Indianapolis 500. I didn’t think it would the history that happened. Helio Castroneves won his fourth Indianapolis 500, joining an exclusive club of three other legends, A.J,. Foyt, Al Unser, Sr., and Rick Mears. Castroneves won the race in a thrilling down the stretch duel with Alex Palou, a 24 year old from Spain who won his first Indycar race just two months ago.

The 105th 500 had so many layers, and it played out almost perfectly. There was youth vs. veteran, pit performance, one off drivers vs. regulars, and just darn good racing.

The Over 40 Group vs. The 20s Crowd

The final margin of victory. 0.04928 seconds, sums up the difference between the two groups. The top ten has five drivers at least 35 years old, and five drivers aged 26 or younger. The veteran won this round, but the race easily could have gone to a youngster. The young guns led the majority of the 200 laps.

Photo by Matt Fraver, Indycar

Pitfalls

It was safer to be on the track than in the pits yesterday.

Of the 15 penalties assessed during the race, 14 were for pit violations. There were three spins on pit lane, Stefan Wilson’s spin knocked him out of the race. Will Power’s spin was just one part of arguably his worst career day ever. Simona De Silvestro’s spin cost her a credible run in Paretta Autosport’s debut.

The worst uit error may have cost Graham Rahal a shot at victory. A loose left rear tire came off as he was on the exit lane in turn 2, putting him into the outside wall. The loose tire hit Conor Daly’s car, effectively removing another contender from a chance at victory.

Pole winner Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi also had early pit problems when their cars stalled after refueling. Dixon recovered to finish 17th, and Rossi ended up in 29th.

One Offs

Drivers who aren’t series regulars took five of the top ten spots in yesterday’s race. Helio Castroneves, Ed Carpenter, Santino Ferrucci, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Tony Kanaan, all had top 10 finishes. None had competed in more than two 2021 races before Sunday. Castroneves is the first non regular driver to win the race since 2011, when Dan Wheldon won in a one off effort. I don’t think we are seeing the start of a trend of Indy “specialists,” but these experienced drivers returning to the race sure helped the racing.

Photo by Chris Owens, Indycar

Some Last Words

From my observations and based on comments from some other people present yesterday, the 135,000 fans limit was exceeded. From my seat in G Stand the Southeast Vista looked packed, and the Southwest Vista looked pretty full as well. I hope we hear how many people actually attended, but at 135,000, there should have been more space in the stands, and there should not have been the traffic issues after the race.

After the race my group usually leaves the speedway at the first open gate. I walked all the way to gate 1, wanting to linger at he track as long as possible. After 2020, I will never again take my time at IMS for granted. I felt the need to spend as many stolen moments there as I could. The 106th Indianapolis 500 is just 363 days away. I can’t wait.

Carb Day-Looking for a Dry Window

Today’s Schedule:

Gates Open 8:00am 2:00pm

Indianapolis 500 Practice 11:00am 1:00pm

Gates open

1,3,4, 2(credentials only), 6N, 6S, 7, 7S, 10A, 11A

Stands open

Northwest vista and deck, Paddock and penthouse. A penthouse, B penthouse, E and penthouse, Southeast Vista, Tower Terrace. NOTE; Most stands are only partially open.

Watching the skies is the name of the game as scattered showers are expected through most of the day. Indycar hopes to get at least one hour of practice completed today.

My race preview will be posted within the hour. Have a great Carb Day.

1981: Controversial Third Win for Bobby Unser

The decade of the 80s could arguably be called the decade of multiple winners. Only in 1983, 1985, and 1986 did the Indianapolis 500 produce a single time winner. Every other race had a winner that had either won before or would go on to win the race again.

Johnny Rutherford set the tone in 1980 with his third victory. The starting grid for 1981 included three multiple winners and two other former winners. A repeat champion was a distinct possibility.

The 1981 program had a three page article celebrating Rutherford’s win the year before, making him the fourth driver with at least three wins. A. J. Foyt had won his fourth 500 in 1977.

A Pennzoil ad may have been the first ad I had seen which included a driver’s wife.

The program noted the 70th anniversary of the first race in 1911, featuring a photo of the inaugural race’s last survivor, Ed Towers.

The 1941 race also received recognition on it’s 40th anniversary. It was the past race before racing was suspended because of World War II, and it was nearly the last Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

Generations

The starting grid feature four second generation drivers, Geoff Brabham, Gary and Tony Bettenhausen, and Pancho Carter. Also starting was Bob Lazier, father of future winner Buddy Lazier. The second generation would expand in the soon as Al Unser Jr. and Michael Andretti joined the ranks and competed against their fathers.

The Race

On his way to victory, Bobby Unser pitted under a caution flatg. As he exited the pits, he appeared to blend into the field incorrectly, passing 11 cars and getting an advantageous position, which allowed Unser to beat Mario Andretti to the checkered flag.

Bobby Unser after qualifying on the pole.

The official results the next morning showed Andretti as the winner. Unser was penalized a lap for passing under the yellow. An appeals committee returned the win to Unser but fined him $10,000.

Unser’s third win gave the Unser brothers three wins each in the 500. Al would break the tie six years later, and Al’s son, Al, Jr., would add two more wins to the family total in the 90s.

The following year saw Gordon Johncock win his second Indianapolis 500. For the third in a row the race saw a multiple winner. There were more to come in the decade, with a future multiple winner, emerson fittipaldi, getting his first win in 1989.

NTT, Indycar Extend Title Agreement

Indycar and NTT have extended their title sponsorship agreement. This is great news to kick off the 10 biggest days of the season with qualifying and the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500. The agreement calls for enhanced data, and more information during the race on the giant video board on the back of the pagoda.

The official press release:

NTT and INDYCAR Extend Entitlement Partnership, Welcome Fans Back to the Indy 500 with Smart Venue Operations
at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
NTT and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES set to enhance the Indy 500 viewing experience by powering real-time, data-driven technology at “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”
INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, May 20, 2021) – NTT is continuing its multi-tiered partnership with INDYCAR, signing a multi-year extension as the entitlement sponsor of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. In doing so, NTT will continue to deliver the smart technology backbone that will enhance the race experience for INDYCAR fans attending the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 – and from wherever else they may be watching – on Sunday, May 30 at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Technology from NTT will further enable the return of fans to the iconic race after last year’s event was postponed until August and held without fans on-site due to COVID-19 precautions. This year, additional solutions and services will help bring the race to life for those in attendance, as well as the millions of fans following the race around the world. NTT, a global technology and business solutions provider and Fortune Global 500 company, became the title sponsor of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES at the start of the 2019 season and has extended this agreement, and its Official Technology Partner status with INDYCAR, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis 500 and the NASCAR Brickyard Weekend.
“With world-class technology and innovation, NTT has helped take the INDYCAR SERIES to the next level,” said Roger Penske, Founder and Chairman, Penske Corporation. “Over the first two years as entitlement sponsor of the series, the dedicated team at NTT has helped INDYCAR become more efficient and effective through smart technologies. As our sport continues to grow by connecting with a new generation of fans, NTT helps take us down new roads by creating more engaging experiences through our shared digital platforms. We thank NTT for the long-term commitment to the INDYCAR SERIES and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and we look forward to driving the future of our sport forward, together.”
NTT remains committed to accelerating the future of smart communities and has developed an enhanced digital experience powered by real-time, data-driven insights, analytics and machine learning that will enable race fans to enjoy the “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” like never before across multiple channels and environments. At this year’s Indianapolis 500, fans will experience a whole new level of engagement, whether they plan to be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) in person, or to soak in all of the excitement from the comfort of their homes through an amplified, virtual experience.
“With no spectators at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for last year’s Indianapolis 500, due to the pandemic, we were set a new challenge – to think outside of the box in terms of leveraging our technology to bring the race to fans at home,” said Simon Walsh, Chief Executive Officer, NTT Ltd. Americas. “Enhancing the viewing experience and creating the next generation of INDYCAR followers – wherever they are – is a critical objective for INDYCAR and NTT, and we look forward to continuing our work with INDYCAR and the broader Penske Corporation and serving as a trusted partner to help the organization continue their digital transformation and achieve their ambitions.”
“The past year has significantly changed the way people engage with sports. NTT is helping INDYCAR adapt by creating new ways for fans to engage and connect through digital,” said Bob Pryor, Chief Executive Officer, NTT DATA Services. “We’re excited to enhance the enjoyment and experience of motorsports for more fans. As the digital partner of choice for our clients, NTT DATA is proud to grow with INDYCAR and help fans enjoy their racing experiences—on and off the track.”
The key to this unique fan experience is NTT Smart Solutions . The secure, distributed platform captures data via sensors and micro data centers in designated areas through video and sound. The platform also integrates historical data sources, such as traffic, weather and social media to leverage cognitive analytics, learn regular patterns and detect and alert operations teams to the presence of abnormal ones. Dynamic visual environments featuring the most exciting data-led content and storylines are enabled by machine learning and AI to bring the race to life for fans both at IMS and off site.
New features and enhancements this year include: NTT Smart Venue: AI-enabled optical detection technologies, combined with real-time entry gate flow rate data, give the IMS operations and security teams better visibility into current and possible scenarios, enabling them to see a bigger, more real-time picture of the venue that includes visitor and vehicle traffic flow and congestion, social distancing, etc. These enhancements will allow the event teams to optimize their resources in real time with faster, more data-driven decision making to focus their resources on areas where race attendees can benefit the most. At-gate IMS personnel also now have mobile POS capabilities at their fingertips for digital ticketing and parking transactions – all to help manage the event venue more safely and efficiently, providing a more positive and consistent experience for attendees at the world’s largest sports venue, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
INDYCAR Data Experience: Powered by NTT, fans can now engage with more race and driver data than ever before via multiple channels, including the INDYCAR Mobile App , the IMS Media Wall (a 100-foot wide, high-resolution LED data display on the Pagoda) and more as they engage with real-time, data-driven racing insights powered by NTT. The multiple track views stay up to date with real-time leaderboards and provide access to more exciting, easily shareable data and stats coming off of more than 140 different data points from each car and the track itself. Among other events highlighted by the data experience will be a live race view of all competitors, biggest movers, featured head-to-head battles, race team and pit stop performance impact, as well as highlighted race events such as the green flag, yellow flags and the checkered flag.
INDYCAR Mobile App: Powered by NTT DATA, fans can now enjoy an enhanced user experience and virtually ride along with their favorite driver athletes and teams as they tear down the course at 200+ mph. With additional live, in-car cameras and new video feeds, users can see up to five drivers from a first-person perspective. In addition, fans this year will also get to enjoy live streaming and a more integrated INDYCAR Fantasy League and e-commerce experience. Global usage of the mobile app continues to expand, with usage during live racing events continuing to grow. The free app is available for year-round use around the world via download from the iOS App Store or Google Play.NTT’s proprietary Smart Solutions consumes, analyzes and transforms massive amounts of data (supporting an organization’s full data lifecycle) to deliver valuable insights driving technology-enabled business outcomes and helping organizations like INDYCAR further along their digital transformations. NTT Smart Solutions can be applied in a multitude of environments, whether a sports venue, like Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a city, like Las Vegas, a national landmark, like Chicago’s Navy Pier, or a major transportation center such as Edmonton International Airport. NTT is committed to developing and delivering disruptive technology that helps solve challenges and deliver the best outcomes for its clients.
About NTT

NTT believes in resolving social issues through our business operations by applying technology for good. We help clients accelerate growth and innovate for current and new business models. Our services include digital business consulting, technology and managed services for cybersecurity, applications, workplace, cloud, data center and networks, all supported by our deep industry expertise and innovation. As a top 5 global technology and business solutions provider, our diverse teams operate in 80+ countries and regions and deliver services to over 190 of them. We serve over 80% of Fortune Global 100 companies and thousands of other clients and communities around the world. For more information on NTT, visit www.global.ntt.
About NTT Ltd. NTT Ltd. is a leading, global technology services company. To help our clients achieve their digital transformation goals, we use our global capabilities, expertise, and full-stack technology services delivered through our integrated services platform. As their long-term strategic partner, we help them enhance customer and employee experience, transform their cloud strategy, modernize their networks and strengthen their cybersecurity. And across their transformation priorities, we automate their business processes and IT, drawing insights and analytics from their core business data. As a global ICT provider, we employ more than 50,000 people across 57 countries, trading in 73 countries and delivering services in over 200 countries and regions. Together we enable the connected future. Visit us at hello.global.ntt.
About NTT DATA

NTT DATA – a part of NTT Group – is a trusted global innovator of IT and business services headquartered in Tokyo. We help clients transform through consulting, industry solutions, business process services, digital & IT modernization and managed services. NTT DATA enables them, as well as society, to move confidently into the digital future. We are committed to our clients’ long-term success and combine global reach with local client attention to serve them in over 50 countries around the globe. Visit us at nttdata.com.