Grosjean’s First Indycar Test: ‘Felt Like Home’

Photo: Romain Grosjean getting ready for his first run in an Indycar. Joe Skibinski, Indycar

Tuesday Romain Grosjean got his first taste of Indycar as Dale Coyne Racing joined four other teams at Barber Motorsports Park in a preseason test. Barber is the site of the NTT Indycar Series opening race on April 18.Overall, he was happy with the day. This was Grosjean’s first time in a race car since his November accident in the Formula 1 race in Bahrain.

The ,main differences Grosjean noticed between Formula 1 and Indycar were the mechanical grip and the lack of power steering.

“I discovered the joy of not having a power steering wheel, and I don’t regret all those hours in the gym, but maybe I’ll do some more just in case,” Grosjean told the media.

“But I observed that the mechanical grip of the car is pretty outstanding and therefore you can try different lines in the corner and you can actually make it smooth in the way you want it.”

Grosjean had no issue with the aeroscreen.

Overall, he felt yesterday was a good learning day. He even learned something from his spin in turn 1.

“…basically I just went too fast in. When I was on the brake I also picked up the throttle which you do in high speed, but because it’s a mechanica ldiff it does open the diff when you do that, and therefore it makes the car lose, whereas in Formula 1 it would actually stabilize the car, so I would say it was a learning experience and then I didn’t do it anymore, and it was better.”

Grosjean’s next test day will be at Laguna Seca. it’s a track he looks forward to driving since he drove it on a video game when he was tounger.

Other teams testing today were Ed Carpenter racing in their first test of the year; Team Penske, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, and A. J. Foyt Racing.

Who Was Fastest?

I have seen two different speed charts from yesterday. On One, Rinus VeeKay had the quick time. I learned that this chart was for times with drivers using push to pass. The other chart, without push to pass, had Sebastien Bourdais at the top. Grosjean was the slowest on both charts, as expected. He was, however, within a second of the leader on both sets.

Fans Allowed in May at IMS. Who Gets to Go?

Indianapolis Motor Speedway will welcome fans for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 May 30. The number allowed is still a work in progress. With the race still htree months away, time is on the speedway’s side. Positive rates and deaths from COVID-19 are declining in Indiana, and today the state opened vaccine eligibility to people aged 60-64.

The consensus from what i hacve heard is that 50% capacity will be the target. The NCAA men’s basketball tournament, which will take place mainly in Indianapolis, will allow 25% of capacity attendance. That number is a bit deceiving, since team members, game support personnel, and invited team guests- approximately 420 per game-count towards the 25%. I estimate that leaves room for about 1,700- 1,900 fans per session, depending on the venue.

If IMS follows this capacity pattern, there could be possibly 75,000 or a bit more watching the race in person. The question is who gets to go and who doesn’t? The 2020 race ran without fans, although plans were made to accommodate some spectators. The track ultimately decided to keep the stands closed. Last year, IMS gave fans a choice to keep their tickets or defer them to 2021. They could offer that option again.

My feeling is I missed one race, and I don’t want to miss two in a row. I’m sure many fans feel the same way. I don’t envy the speedway’s position. The question of how many and which fans to let in coukl be a public relations nightmare.I have a couple of suggestions. Of course IMS has not listened to me in the past. Maybe this time?

Survey fans and offer the deferral option again. This will give those fans who still don’t feel comfortable attending the option of waiting another year. The track will have an idea of how many want to attend.

Fans who have held reserved seats for several years should have priority.

Limit general admission and employ the eight foot circles as Iowa did at their races last summer. The circles worked well at Iowa, and the hill accommodated quite a few fans.

I trust Doug Boles and Roger Penske will come up with a fair plan. They have more latitude than they had last year, and pandemic restrictions will probably be a bit looser by May.

Carvana Unveils Livery for Jimmie Johnson’s Car

Photo from @Carvana

Today is turning out to be a big day for cars numbered 48. Earlier Tony Kanaan announced his full time ride in the Brazilian Stock car series. Now, Kanaan’s other 48, the Chip Ganassi racing Indycar, revealed its new livery for the 2021 season. This is actually the livery for Jimmie Johnson, who will drive the car on the road and street courses.

It’s a nice livery, although it looks like a derivative of AMSP’s cars. In some light the trim looks orange. I think it is really a yellow. It might take a race to get used to the distinction between Johnson. O’Ward, and Rosenqvist. The blue deflector in front of the rear wheel should help fans to distinguish this car from the AMSP cars.

The car debuts at the NTT Indycar Series opener March 18 at Barber Motorsports Park.

Kanaan To Race Stock Cars in Brazil

Tony Kanaan will not be sitting around waiting for the Indycar oval races. On Sunday, he announced a full time ride in the Brazilian stock car series. According to a schedule I found, the season has 10 races beginning March 28. There is one race a month through december. none of the dates conflict with Indycar’s oval schedule, where Kanaan will drive for Chip Ganassi Racing. He is driving the oval part of the schedule in the 48 car Jimmie Joh nson will pilot on the road and street courses.

Kanaan will also participate in Tony Stewart’s new SRX series.

Kanaan’s stock car also carries the number 48 with Texaco sponsorship.. Former Formula 1 and Indycar driver rubens Barrichello is involved in the project.

Sato Reveals Borg- Warner Trophy Image

In an online show on IMS.com, 2020 Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato got his first look at his second likeness on the Borg-Warner trophy. Sato is a two time winner of the race. He first won in 2017 and finished third in 2019.The race is 100 days from today.

The 30 minute program featured segments with Doug Boles and Rahal Letterman team owners Mike lanigan and Bobby Rahal. Last year was Rahal’s second win as a car owner. He also won the 2004 race with Buddy Rice driving. The third team owner, David Letterman, appeared in a prerecorded video.

The full program is available for viewing on YouTube.

A Good Sign for 500 Fans?

The NCAA this morning announced that the NCCA men’s basketball tournament games will allow 25% capacity at the games, which be played entirely in Indianapolis. The tournament will take place at several venues in Indianapolis as well as at Purdue and Indiana University. The 25% includes the teams and game personnel, which narrows the actual number of fans at each arena. As I am writing this, Purdue just announced 12-13% capacity for the tournament games.

The positive part is that this may signal some good news for fan attendance at the Indianapolis 500. Marion County has been the most restrictive county in Indiana at times, but this allowance may be a great sign for May.

Capstone Returns for Six Races with Andretti and Hinchcliffe

Photo from Andretti Autosport

Andretti Autosport completed the sponsor package for James Hinchcliffe today. Their news release:

02.18.21

Andretti Autosport has announced today that the team will again join forces with Steinbrenner Racing to field the NTT INDYCAR SERIES entry piloted by James Hinchcliffe. Recognizable partner Capstone Turbine Corporation (www.capstoneturbine.com) (NASDAQ: CPST), the world’s leading clean technology manufacturer of microturbine energy systems, will return with their #ShiftToGreen campaign as the primary partner on the No. 29 Honda for six races in the upcoming 2021 NTT INDYCAR® SERIES season. Paired with Genesys, who was previously announced to primary 10 races with Hinchcliffe, today’s sponsorship confirmation further rounds out the season for the fan-favorite driver.

“We are looking forward to continuing to expand the winning relationship with Capstone Turbine and helping them grow green energy brand awareness by assisting them with new B2B introductions and expanding current relationships with other sponsors that are Capstone end users,” stated Michael Andretti, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Andretti Autosport. “We’re also pleased to welcome George and the Steinbrenner Racing team back into the Andretti fold. We’ll be working together on this entry for Hinchcliffe this year, as well as the Indy Lights car for Devlin DeFrancesco.”

The 2021 season will be Hinchcliffe’s 11th year competing in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and his fifth in the Andretti Autosport stable. In his 145 starts, he has recorded six wins, one pole, 32 top-five finishes and has led a total of 781 laps. “I’m really excited to be joined up with Capstone for a handful of races in 2021,” said Hinchcliffe. “Working with a company that is essentially trying to save the world is such a cool experience. I think the need for green energy is very apparent and it’s something that affects and helps everyone. Being a part of educating people on what we can do better and how we can be better is something that’s really exciting. Obviously, the goal is to win and the best way to raise awareness is to get the #ShiftToGreen Honda into victory lane and tell people about what we’re trying to do. It’s also great to be working with George and Steinbrenner Racing. They’ve only been together a short while, but the results have come already and that speaks to the people in that organization, so I’m really happy to be in the Andretti Steinbrenner program”

“The Mayor of Hinchtown will now add Grand Marshal to the Capstone World to his resume. When he is not driving at 240 miles per hour on an INDYCAR circuit, James will be helping Capstone educate fans on the types of alternative energy sources that are accelerating the global shift to green energy,” stated Darren Jamison, Capstone’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “The energy landscape is changing, and we are excited to have James both behind the wheel and as our brand ambassador. The valuable business relationships we have developed with the support of George Steinbrenner IV and Michael Andretti offers Capstone a platform to reach the racing community and help more companies save money and lower their carbon footprint.”

The Capstone green and white livery made its NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut in 2019 on the streets of Toronto with Colton Herta and Harding Steinbrenner Racing and continued through the season finale at WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca where Herta scored a victory from pole position. In 2020, the Herta sponsorship extended the relationship between Andretti Autosport and Capstone Turbine, which began at Texas Motor Speedway during the month of May in 2019 with driver Alexander Rossi who was the first INDYCAR driver to put Capstone Turbine on the podium with a second-place finish.

“We are very happy to continue our partnership with Capstone,” said George Michael Steinbrenner IV, owner, Steinbrenner Racing. “It has been a great journey taking this partnership from a single race sponsorship in 2019 to a strong and sustainable pact. Working with Capstone has opened our team to a world of green energy initiatives that we continue to seek to bring to the INDYCAR paddock.”

“Being able to continue into our fifth season partnered with Andretti Autosport feels like we’re keeping the family together,” added Steinbrenner. “It looks a bit different this year, but we are greatly looking forward to working with a great driver and human in James Hinchcliffe as well as continuing to maintain our success on and off the track.”

Capstone Turbine will serve as the primary partner on the No. 29 Honda at Texas Motor Speedway (Race 2), the INDYCAR Grand Prix, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the streets of Nashville, Portland International Raceway, and the season finale race on streets of Long Beach.

Music City Grand Prix Ticket Sales; Some Indycar Notes

Correction: In my post about the entry list for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500, I left out the Paretta team with Simona DeSilvestro driving. I have updated the post. Thanks to reader Matthew for bringing this to my attention. If yoyu missed the story, here is the link:

https://thepitwindow.blog/2021/02/15/500-field-update-how-many-beyond-33/

The Music City Grand Prix begins ticket sales next Tuesday, February 23. there is a lot of buzz about this new race on the Indycar schedule. Their website does not list prices as of yet. there several choices of three day packages. Follow them on Twitter if you haven’t done so.

Andretti Empire Expands and Looks for More

Andretti Autosport has partnered with Michel Jourdain in a touring car entry in the Mexican Super Copa Series. The partnership makes Andretti a part of seven different racing platforms. The organization has cars in Indycar, Indy Lights, Formule E, IMSA Prototype Challenge, Australian Supercars, Extreme E, and Super Copa.

Michael Andretti said they are also exploring the new LMDh formula which begins in 2023. The prototype formula is a car that can race in both IMSA and WEC. This class is wide open for right now with at least three manufactyurers committed to the new spec.

Alonso Released, Should Be Ready to Start Season

Fernando Alonso has been released from the hospital following surgery for a fractured jaw. Alonso sustained the injury in a bicycle accident while training for his return to Formula 1 this year. He will finish recuperating at home and expects to be ready for the first formula 1 race in Bahrain. The delayed start to the season has helped him have time to recover.

US Grand Prix Returning to IMS?

Formula 1 continues to seek expansion to a a second race in the United States. Except for 2020 the series has raced at Circuit of the Americas every year since 2012. Formula 1 held the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway from 2000-2007. It was widely assumed that Miami would host a second race, but according to Stefano Domeicali, F!’s CEO, they are ;looking at other venues. He said that “Indianapolis is in the equation.”

When Roger Penske bought IMS, he expressed the desire to host Formula 1 again.

I am taking a wait and see approach. Formula1 and its teams are notorious for mentioning possibilities just to play different entities against each other. The one advantage IMS has going for it is Penske. Stay tuned.

Bob Jenkins Reduces May Role as He Battles Brain Cancer

Photo: Chris Owens, Indycar

Bob Jenkins, longtime broadcaster at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, shared on Doug Boles’ new show “by the Bricks’ that he has brain cancer. The video is linked below. He begins talking about how he discovered the cancer around the 19:45 mark. The entire video is worth watching.

I have seen two very important people in my fight cancer, and I have a friend who is fighting it now. I know what Bob has ahead of him and I wish him the best.

I have copied two Tweets. The first has an address where you can send a card to Bob. The second has the link to the video. Please keep Bob in your thoughts.

500 Field Update- How Many Beyond 33?

We are just 104 days from the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500, and the entry list for the race stands 29 confirmed cars and drivers. This is a great number for this time, and while bumping is not guaranteed yet, it seems more possible then it ever did in 2021. Here is a rundown of who has committed:

Chevrolet

Team Penske (4)-Josef Newgarden, Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, Scott McLaughlin

A. J. Foyt Racing (3)- Sebastien Bourdais, Dalton Kellett, Charlie Kimball

Carlin Racing (1)- Max Chilton

Arrow McLaren SP (3)- Pato O’Ward, Felix Rosenqvist, Juan Pablo Montoya

Ed Carpenter Racing (3) – Ed Carpenter, Rinus VeeKay, Conor Daly

Paretta (1)- Simona De Silcvestro

Honda

Andretti Autosport (5)-Colton Herta, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe, Marco Andretti

Chip Ganassi Racing(4)- Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson, Alex Palou, Tony Kanaan

Dale Coyne Racing (1)- Ed Jones, 2 TBA

Meyer Shank Racing (2)- Jack Harvey, Helio Castroneves

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (2)- Takuma Sato, Graham Rahal

Other entries may come from a third Rahal entry,

Other entries may come from a third Rahal entry, Dreyer and Reinbold with one or two cars, and possibly a sixth Andretti entry. These possible additions would get the field to 33 or 34.

It would be great to have at least 35 cars and have a bit of a battle for the final two spots. How qualifying is set up this year remains to be seen. I will discuss my ideas in a later post.