Quick Thoughts- Mid Ohio Race 1

Photo: Matt Fraver, Indycar

It was obvious after qualifying that Will Power was going to have a monster race. Any driver who can win the pole from Group 1 in this qualifying format has a really good car. The bad news for the rest of the field is that Power is in Group 2 tomorrow. The expected rain means Group 1 will got out on a green And possibly slightly wet track.

Although Power had the race well in hand, there were some good battles behind him. Alexander Rossi and teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay fought early. Rossi and Graham Rahal had a late battle for third. The Rahal home crowd perked up when Rahal nearly got by. Scott Dixon and Colton Herta also had a good fight for tenth.

If Conor Daly hadn’t run out of fuel, Rd Carpenter Racing would have had two cars in the top ten. Daly qualified fourth. Perhaps ECR might be getting more competitive on the road courses. Rinus VeeKay had another top ten. He also made another great pass in turn 4 on Herta.

It was one of Andretti Autosport’s best days of the season, with three cars in the top ten plus the Meyer Shank team getting another top ten with Jack Harvey. Hunter-Reay also started on the front row.

Speaking of Harvey, he just quietly goes about his business and keeps getting good results.

Power’s 60th pole and 38th career win move him closer to joining two legends. He is just seven poles behind Mario Andretti and one win behind Al Unser, Sr. for fifth place. He passed Sebastien Bourdain’s today on the victory list.

Josefs Newgarden made up 20 points on Scott Dixon today. How many can Dixon get back tomorrow? Dixon’s biggest ally is time.

COVID Protocols

Mid Ohio did a great job keeping fans safe. Masks were worn more today than at any other track with fans I’ve been to. Staff reminded people who had masks off to wear them and fans complied. The squares painted in orange for people to sit in were hard to see. White paint or chalk might have been better. I appreciate the concept and people respected the boundaries.

The track is hoping the success of their protocols this weekend will allow them to host more fans for the IMSA race on two weeks. All 6,000 tickets for today we’re sold.

I’ll be back with a Day 2 preview in the morning. Quick Thoughts for tomorrow’s race will be up Monday morning. Thanks for following this weekend.

Results

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Carpenter Adds Space Force Sponsorship for 500

Ed Carpenter Racing has a new sponsor for the number 20 car for the August 23rd Indianapolis 500. The United States Space Force joins the team. The U. S. Air Force already sponsors the number 47, which  Conor Daly will drive in the 500, and it also sponsors the 20 car when Daly drives it on the road and street courses. Carpenter has touted his team as the All american team, so this sponsorship falls in line with the team’s theme.  The press release:

U.S. SPACE FORCE JOINS ED CARPENTER RACING FOR THE INDIANAPOLIS 500
Three-Time Indy 500 Pole Winner Ed Carpenter Will Drive No. 20 U.S. Space Force Chevrolet on August 23
Download: Web / Hi-Res / Request B-Roll
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) August 7, 2020 – The U.S. Space Force announced a partnership with Ed Carpenter Racing this morning on FOX & Friends. Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, Chief of Space Operations unveiled the No. 20 U.S. Space Force Chevrolet with driver and team owner Ed Carpenter. The three-time Indianapolis 500 pole winner will carry the colors of the U.S.’s new military branch in this year’s 500-mile race, scheduled for August 23, 2020. Through ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,’ Carpenter and ECR will build awareness of the U.S. Space Force in race fans and Americans all over the country.
The U.S. Space Force became the sixth branch of the Department of Defense when it was signed into law on December 20, 2019. The mission of the U.S. Space Force is to protect the interests of the United States in space; deter aggression in, from and to space; and conduct space operations. Similar to the branches of the military which are dedicated to protecting and securing the air, land, and sea, the U.S. Space Force focuses singularly on space.
“The U.S. Space Force’s involvement with the Indy 500 is centered around our organizations’ shared principles of STEM, teamwork, speed and competition,” said Maj. Jason Wyche, Chief of Air Force and Space Force Recruiting National Events Marketing Branch. “Additionally, the partnership gives the U.S. Space Force the ability to reach a large number of prospects and influencers through the far-reaching broadcast viewership and media coverage both for and leading up to the race.”
While Carpenter now races exclusively in the oval events, he is one of the most experienced drivers in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES with 184 career starts to date. He began his 18th season of Indy car competition with a Top 5 finish at Texas Motor Speedway in June. Carpenter, an Indianapolis native, has started on the front row of the Indianapolis 500 five of the past seven years. He solidified his status as a hometown favorite by winning the pole position in 2013 and 2014; in 2018, he became just the 10th driver to collect three or more Indy 500 poles in the century-plus history of the race. Of Carpenter’s 16 Indianapolis 500 starts, two of his strongest results have come the past two years, including a runner-up after leading the most laps in 2018.
Carpenter is thrilled to have the opportunity race on behalf of the U.S. Space Force. “This is such an exciting day, unveiling this beautiful U.S. Space Force Chevrolet that I will drive in the Indianapolis 500 on August 23! To be able to represent the men and women of the U.S.’s newest military branch is truly an honor,” proclaimed Carpenter. He continued, “Even though we are not running the ‘500’ on Memorial Day weekend this year, the event has such a strong connection to our Armed Forces and there’s no better way to showcase the brand new U.S. Space Force!”
The U.S. Space Force will organize, train, and equip agile, lean and forward-looking space professionals to defend our nation, allies, and American interests in space. By creating separate service with a dedicated purpose, the United States will maintain an advantage as space becomes more crowded and contested. Approximately 16,000 military and civilians from the former U.S. Air Force Space Command are now assigned to the U.S. Space Force and 6,000 active-duty Airmen will be transferring to the branch.
Just two weeks ago, the U.S. Space Force released its logo and motto, both of which are featured prominently on Carpenter’s No. 20. First used in 1961, the Delta symbol honors the heritage of the U.S. Air Force and Space Command. The silver outer border of the Delta signifies defense and protection from all adversaries and threats from the space domain. In the center of the Delta is the star Polaris, which symbolizes how the core values guide the mission. The U.S. Space Force motto, ‘Semper Supra’ (Always Above), represents the service’s role in establishing, maintaining and preserving U.S. freedom of operations in the space domain.
Carpenter is the only individual in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES who handles both the responsibility of driving and owning his own team. Founded in 2012, Carpenter’s eponymous team has two full-time entries and expands to three cars for the Indianapolis 500. The 39-year-old will compete alongside fellow Hoosier Conor Daly and Dutch rookie Rinus VeeKay. ECR will be representing two branches of the United States military as Daly races for the U.S. Air Force. The 28-year-old’s special edition No. 47 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet pays homage to the founding year of the U.S. Air Force and one of its most iconic aircraft, the Bell X-1. VeeKay, 19, will be competing in his first Indianapolis 500 in the team’s No. 21 entry.
The 2020 Indianapolis 500 was originally slated for May 24 but was rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After careful consideration and extensive consultation with state and city leadership, the decision has been made to hold the race on August 23 without spectators. All on-track action from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway can be viewed via NBC Sports Gold, NBCSN or NBC. The 2.5-mile oval will open for practice on Wednesday, August 12 and continue throughout the week. Qualifications will be held on Saturday, August 15 and Sunday, August 16. The 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 will begin at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 23 with a live broadcast on NBC.
Download: Web / Hi-Res / Request B-Roll
About Air Force Recruiting Service
The mission of the U.S. Air Force is to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace. For 2020, the Air Force Recruiting Service is hiring nearly 29,000 new Airmen to fill opportunities in both the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Space Force. AFRS is looking to inspire, engage and recruit the next generation of Airmen and Space professionals to preserve the security of America. For more information about U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force benefits and opportunities, go to www.airforce.com.

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.

 

VeeKay Cleared to Enter US

Per Racer magazine, Ed Carpenter Racing rookie driver Rinus VeeKay  is on his way to the United States from Mexico. VeeKay will begin his NTT Indycar Series career Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway in the Genesys 300. The Dutch driver had been in quarantine in Mexico the last two weeks.

Alex Palou, who drives for Dale Coyne Racing Team Goh, entered the United States last week.

All drivers scheduled to participate in Saturday night’s season opener are now in the country.

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.

Indycar Season Preview, Part II: Teams That Should Improve

Here are four teams I think should show improvement over their 2019 performance. They are presented in no particular order.

Meyer Shank Racing

Michael Shank has finally reached his dream of a full time entry in the NTT Indycar Series.  Jack Harvey did well early in 2019 when the team ran virtually every race, culminating in a podium at the Indycar Grand Prix. When the team had a gap before their next race, their performance dropped off. The consistency of a full season will help the team do well in 2020.

Not hurting their chances is the technical alliance with Andretti Autosport. Colton Herta had this same arrangement last year, and he did all right.  Harvey had three top 10s in his first six races. He was 13th in points after the Indianapolis 500. I think he may have moved up a spot or two had he run every race in 2019.

Arrow McLaren SP

On the surface, it appears this team is doing everything the wrong way. They signed a rookie driver and one with eight races of experience. In the process, they fired their most veteran driver. They are bringing in a new engineering staff. Even the ownership has seen a shakeup. In the team’s favor is that all of the new pieces have a lot of talent.

Rookie Oliver Askew is a steady driver. The 2019 Indy Lights champion is  focused and analytical behind the wheel. Pato O’Ward had a roller coaster season bouncing from series to series. I think he will show his appreciation for having a full time ride. Both drivers were in the top 10 at Spring Training.

The third element that will help AMSP is engineer Craig Hampson, who joined the team after working with Sebastien Bourdais. Hampson and Bourdais won several championships together, and the pair gave the Dale Coyne team some relevance. The team may need a race or two to get their footing, but I think they will have enough good results to call their season successful.

From Yesterday- https://thepitwindow.blog/2020/02/27/indycar-season-preview-part-i-coyne-foyt-carlin-look-to-improve/

Rahalk Letterman Lanigan

This group seems to always be looking for consistency. Graham Rahal said on Content Day, “When we were strong at a track, both of ttling battling tus were strong. When we struggled at a track, both of us struggled.”

Takuma Sato was ninth in the final standings and Rahal finished tenth. They are not that far off from moving up in the top 10. Sato won twice and earned two poles. Rahal started on the front row at Barber but was sidelined by mechanical problems. It was a steady season for two drivers who still weren’t satisfied.

RLL should have a few better race results, but moving up in the final standings may be difficult battling the three teams that make up half the grid. Both drivers can win a race and I could see that happening in 2020.

Ed Carpenter Racing

The oval program is solid, especially at Indianapolis. Two spots on the front row last year and three poles in the 500 are a great qualifying record. The team is still looking to improve their road and street course performance. I think they are on their way to doing just that.

The road/street team of Conor Daly and rookie Rinus VeeKay are capable of turning the  team’s fortunes around. Daly seems to make any car he drives better. With a full season at the same team ECR should improve as the year goes on. VeeKay, the Indy Lights runner-up needs to focus his energy and adapt quickly to the nuances of Indycar. He is a talented, consistent driver.

How many more seasons will Ed Carpenter drive the oval races? Only Ed knows that answer. His runner-up finish at Gateway last August shows he isn’t ready to step out of the car yet. I think in a couple of years he will cut back to Indy only, but for now there isn’t any good reason to stop.

A good season for this team on the road courses would be some second round qualifying results and a few top ten race finishes. The talent is there. I can see this team putting it together, especially after Indianapolis.

 

Monday I’ll preview the Big Three. Tomorrow- a summary of all the great news that happened this week in Indycar.

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.

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.