Indycar Oval Season- Veterans Rule, Passing at a Premium

The NTT Indycar Series completed the oval portion of their abbreviated schedule Sunday at World Wide Technology Raceway. It was quite a feat to get in six races of any kind in a season that was delayed until June. Some positive things came from the abbreviated, revised schedule. The double header qualifying format, the competitiveness of Carlin Racing with Conor Daly driving, and that fans were allowed to attend Iowa and Gateway. Sunday’s attendance at gateway is thought to be around 7,500, which would make it the largest oval crowd of the year.

Qualifying Format for Double Headers

The double header qualifying format in which the first lap set the Race 1 grid and the second lap set the Race 2 grid was fascinating and did scramble the lineup a bit for the second race. I was surprised no one swept both poles at an event. Four different drivers won poles at the doubleheaders- Conor Daly, Josef Newgarden, Will Power, and Takuma Sato.

If there are more double headers next season, I hope this format stays. This year it was put in to save time and expense on an improvised program, but it was fun to watch.

Oval Points

It seemed as if Scott Dixon dominated the ovals, but Newgarden was not far behind. Dixon’s 95 point margin is largely based on the road course races. Dixon accumulated 256 points on the ovals while Newgarden has 251. Takuma Sato and Pato O’Ward each have 205 points on the ovals. Sato’s win at the Indianapolis 500 made up for his missing the race at Texas.

Passing

The aeroscreen may be a factor. Less tire degradation might also be a culprit. It seems as if passing is more difficult this year than last year. This past weekend passing was non existent except for a few bold moves, especially Sunday.

The aero package works  very well on road courses. Adjustments need to be made for the oval package. I hope that after a season with the new aeroscreen, the series and teams can figure something out.

Yellows

 The seventeen caution periods this season on ovals is I think, about average. Seven were in the Indianapolis 500. While the timing of the yellows can’t be predicted, several drivers have been caught out by the yellow flags just after their pit stops.

 Conor Daly had just pitted in Iowa race 2 when the yellow flew for Ryan Hunter-Reay’s accident. The rain yellow at Gateway this past Saturday pushed Josef Newgarden back in the field.

Two races have ended under yellow because of accidents with four laps to go. I don’t have a problem with races finishing under yellow. A race has a scheduled distance and that’s when it should end. Baseball doesn’t add an inning when a game ends on a strikeout instead of a home run.

Carlin and Daly

Carlin Racing and Conor Daly have been a great match. Daly has made Carlin competitive on the ovals. His average finish with Carlin is 8.8 with four top tens and a pole. The one top ten he didn’t get was because he was caught by a yellow in Iowa Race 2.

I hope Daly continues his arrangement with Carlin next season.

Rookies

The rookies have looked great on the road courses, but have struggled some on the ovals. Rinus VeeKay, who had a disastrous start at Texas,  does appear to be improving. He had a 6th and a 4th this past weekend. Oliver Askew Had a 3rd and a 6th at Iowa, but hasn’t shown consistency at the other ovals. Alex Palou has a best oval finish of 11th.

VeeKay leads the rookie standings overal with 181 points, while Askew has the most oval points, 126.

I’m sad to see the oval portion end. there are five road or street courses left on the schedule. We are still waiting for final word about Mid Ohio and whether fans will be allowed. There is no word yet about fans viewing the Harvest classic races at IMS. St. Pete I still think is iffy to run and definitely sketchy for fans.

Daly Takes First Career Pole; Newgarden Wins Pole for Race 2

Old photo. Someone must have thought these guys would be pretty good drivers

Conor Daly joined the ranks of Indycar pole winners this afternoon as he had the fastest first lap in qualifying for the Iowa 250s. Daly’s first lap of 175.188 beat Josef Newgarden by 0.0085 seconds. Newgarden turned the fastest second lap of 175.333 nipped teammate Will Power for tomorrow night’s pole. Daly starts third Saturday.

Simon Pagenaud had a fuel pressure problem as he started out of the pits for his qualifying run. Pagenaud will start last in both races. Qualifying has been difficult for Pagenaud this season.

It will be fun watching him work his way to the front.

Daly’s first pole follows last Sunday’s first pole for Pato O’Ward.  Four drivers have won pokes so far this year.

This is big achievement for Carlin Racing, the only single car team in the field.

Tonight’s green flag is at 9:15 pm Eastern Time.

Daly Eager to Begin Double Team Season

The strange twisting path Conor Daly has taken in Indycar rounds another corner this season. Daly will drive for two teams- Ed Carpenter Racing on the road and street courses; and Carlin Racing on the ovals. A season originally planned to begin at St. Pete for ECR now launches at Texas for Carlin.

“…it’s strange obviously. It’s not how you’d like to do things ideally. But it’s a great opportunity to be a full-time INDYCAR driver again. So I’m going to look at it like that, ” Daly said on the makeup of his full time season.

Daly thinks his experience in the races he ran in 2019 for Carlin will be helpful this season, and it gives him a level of comfort as the sole Carlin entry this weekend.

Daly said, “By the end of the season together, or the oval season that we did together, we were fighting quite a lot at the sharp end in Gateway. I love that track, but I also really enjoy driving the car there, too. It’s great to have the support of Gallagher still, have a great-looking car to drive on the ovals this year, albeit an interesting new schedule with the doubleheader at Iowa will be interesting and everything in general about this year will be different, but it will be cool. I’m excited to get it going with these guys on Saturday night.”

He is not a fan of the aeroscreen and Daly realizes it will be an unknown factor for everyone Saturday night. He understands the reason the series implemented the device.

“I think publicly I’ve said I’m not a huge fan of it. But I understand the reasons obviously why it’s been introduced. I respect what the series wants to do, the direction they’re taking obviously. But, yeah, it obviously presents a lot of interesting variables. …Yeah, it’s exciting because it’s all new, but it’s also like I don’t know what’s going to happen. It should be interesting.”

Daly thinks not having fans in the stands at Texas will weird at first, but once the visors go down and the cars are rolling the focus will be on the racing itself.

“…when we line up on that grid two- by-two, we close the visor, that’s all that needs to be said. We’re going to be going racing. There’s going to be a pace car out there that’s going to be leading us around. Realistically all focus is on the job at hand. I think it’s going to be strange basically before and after the race. But during there’s not a lot of time that you spend looking anywhere else other than the racetrack right in front of you. It will be interesting and it will be strange.”

This is an important season for Daly, who has been an itinerant driver in the Indycar paddock for most years.  He has the ability to make a car better, as he did with carlin last season. Having five secure races with a team he drove for in 2019 should help further develop Carlin’s program.  With Carpenter, Daly has another great chance to succeed at the Indianapolis 500.

 

Qualifying Weekend- Bumped Day; Indycar News Roundup

Photo: Alberto Ascari at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1952. It was Ferrari’s only appearance in the 500 mile Race. Ascari crashed on lap 40 and finished 31st.

Today was supposed to be the first day of Qualifying for the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500. We are, however, three months away from that. It’s been a surprisingly busy news week. Here are some thoughts.

 Toronto

Yesterday afternoon’s cancellation announcement was not a shock. I was just wondering when it would come. The government has banned gatherings of 25,000 or more until August 31. Will Indycar add another doubleheader or just have one less race? It’s getting late to add another venue. Green Savoree is looking for a date later in the year to reschedule.

Ferrari

As with all things of this sort, I’m taking a wait and see attitude. Ferrari principal Mattia Binotto has confirmed that ferrari is looking at Indycar for 2022 if F1 lowers their budget cap. The Scuderia wants to keep its employees, and Indycar is way to do that. I have questions.

With Indycar still planning to go to a hybrid system, will Ferrari become the third OEM? Will Ferrari be happy using a Dallara chassis or are they willing to become a second chassis? If they do become the third engine supplier, they won’t be able to form a technical alliance with an established team. Will that put them at a big disadvantage?

A decision is still a long way off. It would be exciting to have a team with such international prestige join the series. We will just have to wait.

Car 47

One thing that caught my attention in the Conor Daly car unveiling yesterday was the car number. I didn’t recall seeing number 47 often. Some research confirmed my suspicions. The number 47 has appeared in just 12 500 mile races.

Its first appearance was 1929 when Ernie Triplett drove a Dusenberg powered by a Miller engine. The car started 20th and finished 26th. It completed 48 laps and retired with a broken rod. The number wasn’t on a starting car again until 1933 when 1924 co-winner L. L. Corum drove the number 47 Rigling Studebaker to a 12th place finish. That would be the number’s highest finish.

The most recent start to date for the 47 was 1984 when future two time winner Emerson Fittipaldi drove the March Cosworth machine. It was Fittipaldi’s rookie year. He started 23rd and finished 32nd, retiring after 37 laps with oil pressure issues.

Overall, cars carrying this number have not had a lot of success. This year could be the 47’s best finish.

Another Tradition Broken

Tomorrow I will  watch the NASCAR race. It will be the first one I have watched in more than 10 years. I’m watching to see how their COVID-19 protocols work. Will the empty stands give it the feel of the iRaces? What other things might Indycar learn that can be applied to the opener at Texas.

It will be nice just to have some live racing to watch, no matter what it is.

 

ECR Unveils Daly’s Car for Indianapolis 500

It’s nice to have some good news to talk about on what was supposed to be Fast Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Ed Carpenter Racing unveiled Conor Daly’s car for the 104th running of Greatest Spectacle in Racing, now scheduled for August 23.

The livery is a tribute to the Bell X-1 aircraft in which Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier on October 14, 1947. The car’s number, 47, pays tribute to that date. 1947 is also the year the U. S. Air Force was founded by the National Security Act of 1947.

“It’s incredible to once again drive an iconic livery at the Indy 500. The U.S. Air Force does an unbelievable job paying respect to the history of the fighter jet and honoring the accomplishments of those who have served and are currently serving,” stated Daly. “This is such an exciting car, there’s so much that went into both the design and the number 47 that we’ll be representing. I can’t wait to drive the Indy car version of Glamorous Glennis and hopefully make Chuck Yeager himself proud!”

Daly drives for Ed Carpenter Racing in the number 20 car for road and street course races. The 20 car carries a different Air Force livery in those races. Daly began a partnership with the U. S. Air Force three years ago. In the 2019 500 he drove an Air Force sponsored car for Andretti Autosport, finishing a career best 10th.

The full press release from ECR:

U.S. AIR FORCE UNVEILS CONOR DALY’S INDIANAPOLIS 500 CAR AND NUMBER
Design of Daly’s No. 47 Pays Tribute to Chuck Yeager’s “Glamorous Glennis” Aircraft
Download Image:Web / Hi-Res
(INDIANAPOLIS) May 15, 2020 – Ed Carpenter Racing and the U.S. Air Force are proud to unveil Conor Daly’s No. 47 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet for the 2020 Indianapolis 500.  With the same attention to detail and historical accuracy used to design his road and street course car, Daly’s Indianapolis 500 entry pays homage to the beginning of today’s U.S. Air Force and one of its most iconic aircraft, the Bell X-1.
While Daly’s road and street course car carries the No. 20, team owner and oval driver Ed Carpenter will step back into that entry for the Indianapolis 500. The No. 47 was selected for Daly’s car with double significance. The U.S. Air Force was officially founded on September 18, 1947 with the passage of the National Security Act of 1947. That legislation would separate the U.S. Air Force from the U.S. Army and allow the U.S. Air Force to become a separate branch of military service. Less than a month later, on October 14, 1947, an experimental U.S. Air Force rocket plane became the first crewed aircraft to exceed the speed of sound.
Flying the Bell X-1, U.S. Air Force Capt. Charles “Chuck” Yeager became the first pilot to break the sound barrier. The aircraft was painted bright orange so it could be seen in test flights and named “Glamorous Glennis” by Yeager as a tribute to his wife. The aircraft reached Mach 1.06 (700 mph) at an altitude of 43,000 feet over the Mojave Desert in California. The Bell X-1 is now owned by National Air and Space Museum and is on display in Washington, D.C.
“It’s incredible to once again drive an iconic livery at the Indy 500. The U.S. Air Force does an unbelievable job paying respect to the history of the fighter jet and honoring the accomplishments of those who have served and are currently serving,” stated Daly. “This is such an exciting car, there’s so much that went into both the design and the number 47 that we’ll be representing. I can’t wait to drive the Indy car version of Glamorous Glennis and hopefully make Chuck Yeager himself proud!”
Maj Ross McKnight echoed Daly’s excitement. “The Bell X-1 and Brig Gen (Ret) Chuck Yeager are cornerstones of the Air Force and aviation in general. They are part of a rich history of high performance, pushing boundaries and advanced technology that are at the fabric of the U.S. Air Force and our Airmen!” said Maj McKnight, Chief, National Events Branch Air Force Recruiting Service. “We are really excited to pay tribute to the historic ‘breaking of the sound barrier’ at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing with a tribute livery that can be seen all round the track. Even if it can only go a fraction of the speed that Chuck and the Bell X-1 traveled, then Conor and No. 47 U.S. Air Force Chevy are in for a great result.”
Daly and the U.S. Air Force are continuing a partnership that originated three years ago. The Noblesville, Ind. native and Indianapolis-based Ed Carpenter Racing work alongside the U.S. Air Force to use Indy car racing to inspire young adults, communicate the service’s mission and build awareness about career opportunities. Daly will be attempting to qualify for his 7th Indianapolis 500 in 2020. Last year, he had his most successful Month of May to date by setting the fastest lap all practice sessions earning career-best “500” finish of 10th.
The 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 was originally scheduled to run on May 24, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event has been re-scheduled to August 23, 2020. ECR’s three-car lineup for the 500-mile race will feature Daly, three-time Indy 500 pole winner Carpenter and rookie Rinus VeeKay, the team’s full-time driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet. Following a three-month delay, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season is currently scheduled to begin on June 6, 2020 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Download Image:Web / Hi-Res
About Ed Carpenter Racing
Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR) first entered the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in 2012. The Indianapolis-based race team has proven its versatility by collecting seven wins across each type of track the series competes on – street and road courses, short ovals and speedways. ECR is led by IndyCar’s only team owner/driver, Ed Carpenter, three-time pole winner for the Indianapolis 500 (2013, 2014 and 2018). The 2020 season will see Indiana natives Carpenter and Conor Daly in the No. 20 Chevrolet as Carpenter will drive the ovals and Daly will take over for the road and street course events. Both will be entered in the Indianapolis 500 alongside Dutch teenager Rinus VeeKay, who will compete for the Rookie of the Year title as he races the No. 21 Chevrolet for the full season. More information on Ed Carpenter Racing may be found at http://www.edcarpenterracing.com/.
About the U.S. Air Force
The mission of the U.S. Air Force is to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace. For 2020, Air Force Recruiting Service is hiring over 30,500 new Airmen. An emphasis is on recruiting people with no prior military service into one of about 140 enlisted career opportunities. The Air Force recruits the brightest candidates possible, then provides them with tough, highly technical training that gives them the right skills to sustain the combat capability of America’s Air Force. For more information about Air Force benefits and opportunities, go to http://www.airforce.com.

Daly Fills Schedule Gaps with Carlin

Conor Daly will drive a full NTT Indycar Series season after all. Carlin Racing announced today that Daly will drive the 59 car on all the ovals except Indianapolis in place of Max Chilton, who will drive on the road  and street courses. In 2019, Daly also raced the ovals for Carlin. His best finish was 6th at Gateway.

Daly will race the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 and the road and street courses for Ed Carpenter Racing. It had been rumored after he signed with ECR that running the other ovals for Carlin was a possibility.

I’m sure there is a no information sharing agreement in place. While I am happy that Conor will be in all 17 races, this move doesn’t help ECR teammate Rinus VeeKay on the ovals. It also takes some seat time away from another driver looking for some work. But it is a good deal for Carlin. Daly usually makes any car he gets in better.

Carlin also announced that Felipe Nasr will drive car 31 at the St. Pete opener this weekend.. Nasr, a former F1 driver who currently drives for Action Express in the IMSA Weather Tech Series, turned the fastest lap on the first day of testing at Sebring last week. Nasr will likely be in more races this year, but will not run the full season. His entry keeps alive the streak of at least one Brazilian driver in an Indycar race which began in 1999. I still fear that streak may end at some point this season.

Daly Happy to Have a Steady Ride

 Note: Thoughts are with NASCAR driver Ryan  Newman  who was seriously injured in a crash at the end of the Daytona 500 last night. The latest report at just after 10 pm last night said he is in serious condition with non life threatening injuries. Please keep Ryan and his family in your thoughts.

NTT Indycar Series teams needing a driver replacement won’t have the series’ supersub available this season. Conor Daly will drive 13 races for Ed Carpenter Racing in 2020, competing in all the road and street races plus the Indianapolis 500.  In 2019 Daly drove in seven races for three different teams.  Daly drove full time for Dale Coyne in 2016 and A. J. Foyt in 2017. Those two season account for 33 of his 46 Indycar starts. While this season is not full time, Daly is glad to be with the same team for all his races in 2020.

While Daly feels more pressure, he feels the season long assurance will help in the long run.  “I’m putting more pressure on myself, ” he says.”Something crazy may happen at St. Pete, but we’ve got another race coming up. That’s so nice; you forget how good that feeling is.” Daly is thankful for the U.S. Air Force support, which began on a limited basis in 2019.

Daly says he is not a huge fan of the aeroscreen, citing vision and cooling issuesas his main concerns. He thinks he may have to raise his seat to see. “There are issues we won’t really know until we do testing with everyone.”

It is rare for him to have races before Indianapolis, Daly notes. At the moment his focus is on the St. Pete opener. He plans to work even harder this year. “It’s nice to have more chances,” Daly said.

Of the three rookies driving in the NTT Indycar Series this season who came directly from Indy Lights, Daly said that it shows the drivers in the Road to Indy ladder that getting to Indycar is not impossible.

After seeing how Daly performed in good equipment at Indianapolis in 2019, it will be interesting to see how he does with another team that has shown consistent competitiveness at the Speedway. I also look for Daly to help improve ECR’s road course program.

Hinchcliffe Gets Funding; Looking for Ride

James Hinchcliffe has the funding to run the Indianapolis 500 and possibly afew more races. Thanks to Genesys, a technology firm providing cloud services, he now has the money to take to a team. But which team? I assume he would want one of the Honda teams.  Andretti is full as they already have seven cars for Indianapolis. The other Honda teams, Ganassi, Coyne, and Rahal, are possibilities. I would think either Coyne or Rahal would be more likely than Ganassi.

The news comes just two months after Hinchcliffe was told by Arrow McLaren SP that he would not be driving for them. The team signed Pato O’Ward and rookie Oliver Askew and  for the 2020 season. Hinchcliffe still has a contract with the team and will do personal appearances on their behalf. My understanding is he can still drive for another team.

I have to give Hinchcliffe credit for working hard to secure the money needed for the 500 in just two months. Some drivers work on this aspect of racing all year and come up short. Hinchcliffe qualified 32nd and finished 11th in 2019. He failed to qualify in 2018. The sponsors will announce further details at a later date.

Hinchcliffe is one of the most popular drivers in the NTT Indycar Series. It’s great knowing he will be at IMS during May.

Indycar at the Chili Bowl

Indycar has its best representation at the Chili Bowl in several years. Santino Ferrucci, James Davison, and Conor Daly are entered in the week long midget event in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Daly drives for the first time tonight.

Ferrucci did well in his first ever midget event. He started 11th and finished fifth, just one spot short of transferring to that evening’s feature round. Davison was 10th in his debut last night.

The Chili Bowl finals are on Saturday night from 8:30-11:30 Eastern Time on MavTV.

Has Daly Found a Home?

Today’s announcement of Conor Daly getting the road/street course seat in the number 20 car was the most positive driver news of the past seven weeks. It has been an off season of seismic changes in the NTT Indycar Series paddock. What a great feeling to see the news and smile instead of thinking “What?” Here are some of my thoughts about what this could mean for Daly and the series.

I can’t think of a better fit at ECR than Conor Daly. Both he and Ed have very strong ties to IMS and the series. The move strengthens ECR as Indycar’s ambassador team.

2020 will be the first year since 2017 that Daly will drive for just one team. He drove for multiple teams in 2015, 2018, and 2019.

I’m very happy the Air Force continues with Daly. They could not have picked a better representative.

We can call car 20 the Indiana car.

I hope Ed Carpenter will allow Daly to drive in other series as his schedule allows.  He had success in the Super Trofeo Series last year. Daly is willing to drive anything; I hope gets the opportunity.

I could see Daly at ECR for a few years. Next season may be a getting acquainted period, but it will be interesting to track Daly’s performance compared to Ed Jones’s and Jordan King’s in comparable events.

Daly should be a huge help to Rinus VeeKay in his rookie year in Indycar.

I have seen Daly drive in several series. It seems as the car he is in always improves when he drives it. The road/street course help he can give this team will be invaluable.

Daly may have an even better chance at the 500 in 2020 than he had last season at Andretti. He will get more attention at ECR since it’s a smaller team. Also, the team is really good at IMS.

Wild conjecture on my part: Is this hire a part of Carpenter’s succession plan? Is Ed contemplating giving up the ovals other than Indy in a year or two and letting Conor drive full time?

 

If nothing else breaks, I will be back Thursday with annual (okay first annual) podcast edition.