Lessening Post Race Depression by a Day- The Victory Banquet

Last year I decided to attend the Victory Banquet. It is something I have always wanted to do and the time was right. I knew after five minutes 2018 would not be my one and only Banquet.  The best thing about it is that it delays the post race blues for another day.

This year my good friends Frank and Nola Proctor joined me for the first time. Marty was planning to go, but had to change her plans at the last minute. The Proctors were awestruck.  They loved the proximity to the drivers.

This year featured tributes to Mari Hulman George and Mario Andretti on the 50th anniversary of his 500 win. A. J. Foyt gave a touching tribute Mrs. George.

There were humorous moments. Conor Daly pretty much did a stand up comedy routine.  Colton Herta said His $351, 000 prize would allow him to move out his parents’ basement. James Hinchcliffe warned him that since Herta lives in California, that wasn’t enough money to move.

The evening’s most awkward moment of the night occurred when Helio Castroneves seemed to be pleading for Roger Penske to let him drive in next year’s race. I thought he had a three year agreement for the 500. Penske did not seem to be smiling. The room got eerily quiet. while Castroneves spoke.

Santino Ferrucci received the Rookie of the Year Award. This rookie class was so close that I thought it would come down to which rookie had the highest finish in the race. Ferrucci finished seventh. No other rookie finished any better than 22nd.

The Banquet Format Needs Work

The one thing I don’t like about the banquet is that some drivers come to the podium to speak and others, sometimes two at a time, sit in chairs and have a late night talk show type chat with a different host.  This format sets some drivers apart as being more important than others.

I especially don’t like when they talk to two drivers at once. the banquet should be a chance for each diver to talk about his day and thank his sponsors and others.  The two driver portions diminish each driver’s accomplishments.  We don’t learn how much prize money some of the drivers get.

Here are some photos from the banquet. Tomorrow look for my Detroit preview on Wild fire Sports.  The thing I like about Detroit is that I get to incorrectly pick two winners instead of one.

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A. J. Foyt remembers Mari Hulman George
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Mario Andretti talks about winning the 500 in 1969
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Santino Ferrucci receives the Rookie of the Year Award from Speedway President Doug Boles

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Simon Pagenaud gets the checkered flag signed by the other drivers.

 

 

 

 

 

Quick Thoughts 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500

Photo:     Kyle McInnes

That was an exciting ending to an otherwise mediocre race.

The red flag and the excessive yellow laps afterward saved Pagenaud from a race killing fuel stop.  If the track wasn’t ready, why did they put the cars back out there?

Great runs by Takuma Sato, Santino Ferrucci, and Pippa Mann. Sato moved up 11 places to 3rd, Ferrucci started 23rd and finished 7th, and Mann went from 30th to 14th. This is Mann’s best finish in the 500.

Cotlon Herta finishes last again. I hope the team can find a solution next weekend in Detroit.

Conor Daly finally got a top 10 result in the 500. He drove a great race and ran as high as fourth.  I hope he gets a couple more races this uy.

This was one of the messiest races in the pits I can remember.

Nice to see that the Speedway put banners over the seats in the south short chute that they haven’t been selling. It had to improve the look on television.

Opening ceremonies continue to be too long. Please cut two of the musical selections and let’s tighten it up.  Also, “Taps” should follow the Jim Phillipi speech.

I was happy to hear , “Lady and Gentlemen, start your engines.” again.

This was not the weather we were promised. I for one am darn glad.

Pagenaud won despite poor fuel mileage.

Zach Veach’s disappointing season continues.

Look for my full race report on Wildfire Sports tomorrow afternoon and more thoughts here tomorrow as well.

 

Racing to 101?

HiGood morning from a windy Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Race Day!  There has been lightning in the area and the video boards are already displaying the warning to exit the grandstands.  The weather forecast leaves very little time to squeeze in the race. If the race begins, 101 laps is an official race,

Knowing the race will be a short one will definitely play into teams’ strategy.

The last rain shortened race was in 2007. Dario Franchitti won a race that was interrupted by rain after 113 laps, restarted about three hours later, then halted after 166 laps. If the race is shortened, I hope we can get in at least 150 laps.  101 seems too short.

I wll keep you posted on weather developments through @PitWindow on Twitter and The Pit Window on Facebook  after 10 am.  Before then, I will post an update to this story.

If you’re coming to the track, be safe. I’m not suree there will,be an official announcement from the track or NTT Indycar Series officials before 9 am.

Update

It’s 7:17 and the skies are clearing. Things look better for an on time start. The weather is moving north.

9:59

Weather appears not to be an issue at all now. Thanks Tony Hulman

Legends Day

It’s Legend’s Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Two events, the drivers’ autograph session and the memorabilia show behind the day. The public drivers’ meeting is at 10:30 followed by vintage cars on track at 11:15.

The meeting is mostly ceremonial with awards and introductions. The start procedure is reviewed and the drivers are asked to play nice tomorrow.

My favorite parts of the day are the memorabilia show and the vintage cars. I have purchased some great items at the show at some good prices.  I also just enjoy looking at the things fir sale.

You know you’re getting old when  all of the vintage  cars are ones you saw race.  I guess I’m a vintage fan. Maybe I should get a lap around the track too.

There is also an autograph session for former drivers, but you need to stand in line until noon to attend, which doesn’t allow time for anything else.

I’m working on a piece concerning the aeroscreen announced yesterday. I want to get some questions answered before stating my opinion. Look for a story Tuesday or Wednesday.

Tomorrow after the hopefully completed race watch for Quick Thoughts here and a full wrap up on Wildfire Sports Monday.

 

Kanaan Leads Carb Day Practice

Tony Kanaan led the field for Sunday’s 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500. The session start was delayed 15 minutes because of morning rain.

The 90 minute final practice was clean. Graham Rahal brushed the wall in turn 4 but kept going.

I think the practice was indicative of what the race will be like.  Passing in groups of three or four, no passing in a larger group.

Alexander Rossi looked very strong  Honda’s dominated the top 10.

More later. There was a serious crash on lap 2 of the Freedom 100

The race is currently under a red flag.

 

Welcome to Carb Day; Frye Announces Red Bull Partnership

Jay Frye just announced some exciting news for the NTT Indycar Series. Red Bull Advanced Technologies will partner with Indycar in developing  a windscreen which should be on all cars in 2020.  Teams should have the new part by November.  The piece is similar to the windscreen previously tested. There is a rigid strip in the middle of the screen. More on this story later.

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It’s the final test for the 33 starters in the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500. Todays conditions are closer to what is expected Sunday. The extended session should help drivers and teams get a better idea of how their cars will perform on Race Day.

The track is drying from the morning rain.  No announcement on the start time for practice, but I think the delay will be minimal.

Here is the release from Indycar:

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This 500 is Anybody’s Race

The 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 is a tough one to predict. There is really no clear cut favorite in my view.  I think the winner comes from the first three rows, but he may come from further back. The two engine manufacturers, Chevy and Honda, both have strengths.  This is the closest field in history time wise. there are drivers capable of winning from deep in the field like Ryan Hunter-Reay and Scott Dixon.

Chevy is the engine with more power. The fastest Honda is fifth on the grid. there are just three Hondas in the top nine. Honda engines will get better fuel mileage and their cars should be better over a long run.  This is where I think a Honda powered car will have an advantage. Will the race end with a long run or will there be a restart with less than 20 laps to go?  The edge then turns to Chevy.

There are several things to watch for in this race.

Weather

The forecast seems to change hourly. The outlook seems to be improving, but it is Indiana in Spring. Doug Boles said this morning we will probably know for certain Sunday morning.  The temperature, which looks to be cooler than 2018, should aid the racing.

If teams see rain coming toward the track, we will see a flurry of pit stops.  Will a team not in the lead pack gamble and stay out hoping the red flag comes out and the race is declared over? It may be worth a gamble.

Passing

Several drivers told me that passing will be difficult from 4th or fifth place and beyond. The driver who can do what Rossi did last year will himself in contention. The top three should be able to pass each other.

Look for most advancement to occur during pit stops.

Row 4

This is the most interesting row in the field.  Marco Andretti, looking to repeat his grandfather’s victory 50 years ago, I think has one of his best shots at winning. he has had speed this week.  Bryan Herta is a master strategist. I think Andretti moves up slowly and steadily and will be there near the end.

Conor Daly has the best ride he has ever had at the Speedway. He took full advantage of it in qualifying 11th.  He will need some breaks to contend for the win, but I think a top is definitely possible, and a top 5 not out of the question.

Helio Castroneves will have a lot of rooting for him to get victory number four. .  He has been rather quiet all month. I’m not sure he has the car to get that elusive  win.  He may only have one more chance after this year.

This row will keep the leaders busy all day. All three will get some time at the front. If the weather and cautions play out in their favor, we could see a surprise winner.

Rookies

It was a mixed qualifying result for the rookies. Colton Herta was the quickest in fifth, and Marcus Ericsson is a respectable 13th.  The other rookies are bunched in the last four rows.  Felix Rosenqvist, because of his crash, is the slowest rookie in 29th.

Herta will be the rookie who stars in this race. Rosenqvist will be one of the biggest movers, but there will need to be significant attrition for him to reach the top 10.

Cautions

As is always the case, cautions will determine the strategy, especially late in the race. There be a fair amount of yellow time this year if we see any crashes like those that occurred in practice.

Once the pits open that will be the busiest part of the track.  Crews will need to execute and the drivers will need to be careful on their exits.

My Calls

Given my track record this year, you would be wise to bet on the drivers I don’t name, but here are my picks. this is a difficult race to call.

Winner-  Ed Carpenter

It is time. Carpenter came close last year. the balance of his car was not as good the second half of the race. The cooler temperatures will take care of the balance problem. He will win a close battle with Alexander Rossi.

Rookie of the Year- Colton Herta

Herta should be past all the gremlins hat have plagued his last three races. We should see the driver we saw at COTA.

Cautions – 6 for 49 laps

These cars seem to have an unpredictable quality about them at times. I just hope that there are no injuries and that any accidents are not multi-car pileups.

I am not figuring in cautions for moisture.

The thing I’m most looking forward to is watching the NBC broadcast and pre-race. if it’s anything like their Kentucky Derby coverage, it will be incredible. I just hope the rain doesn’t spoil their debut.