Newgarden Leads Day 2; Thinks Race Will be Better

Photo of Josef Newgarden by Joe Skibinski, Indycar

On a day that I wish we could save for may, 31 cars hopeful of making the field for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 completed the second day of open testing. Josef Newgarden, two time NTT Indtcar Series champion, had the quickest time of the two days, 226.819 miles an hour.

The first hour of the morning allowed the rookies, Pietro Fittipaldi and Cody Ware, to complete their rookie tests, and the drivers who needed to complete their refresher tests to co mplete their two phase runs.

Conor Daly led the veterans session from 10-11 before all cars were turned loose on the track. The day was interrupted twice for brief rain sprinkles and the afternoon action stopped for some track inspections.

Newgarden summed up his day in a zoom call with media after the session finished.

“It was a pretty good day,” Newgarden said. “I was happy enough with the car. I think we still need some work, for sure, but to just get an initial read on where we’re at is good. Obviously, there are a lot of new parts and differences to the last couple of years, so we’re just trying to assess what we need to really work on these last couple of weeks before we get back here in May. But I’m pretty happy.”

He responded to questions about the duifference between this year’s car and last year’s car. he likes the changes and thinks the racing will be better.

“Yes, definitely. It’s easier to follow. It’s still tough. You’ll still get a big front wash in traffic. 10 cars back, it’s always going to b e difficult. But I think they’ve made the ability to follow better. That balance separation between clean air and dirty air is definitely reduced.Some of them are tricky to drive, some of these parts. I think you’re seeing some split camps here along pit lane. Not everybody is running the same stuff. That’s been interesting to watch. There’s more downforce on the car. I think the balance shift in traffic is less.Yeah, the ability that we’re going to have to race compared to last year will be better.

I think you have a better opportunity this year looking at the amount of downforce we have, the balance shift in and out of traffic. I think you have a better opportunity to fight for the win in the third or fourth car inline.I think more than that, you are a quick car during the race,you somehow find yourself in the back, I think you have abetter opportunity of making your way forward. Those two elements will automatically help the show. But you don’t want to have it so easy where we’re packed up the entire field the entire time. I think that’s something that you would want to avoid.It’s a balancing act. I think it will be a lot better than last year as far as the ability to race up front. Time will tell. But I think you’ll have a better show.”

Juan Pablo Montoya. Photo by James Black, Indycar

Juan Pablo Montoya, two time Indianapolis 500 is returning to the race after a three year absence. He gave his thoughts on the Arrow McLaren SP Chevy he drove in the test to the Indycar he last drove.

“They’re a little harder to drive, I think. I think the difference between clear air and dirty air is a little bigger. I think the changes from what INDYCAR did, from what everybody says, it’s a little harder as before, but not that bad.”

As for adjusting to the aeroscreen, Montoya felt the aeroscreen was similar to the sports cars he drove the last three years.

“It wasn’t too bad to get used to it. I thought it would be a little more intrusive. It’s definitely a pain in the butt to get in and out of the car, and it’s a lot hotter. I know like here it hasn’t been that bad in the oval. I did a test in Laguna. In a road course, you don’t get a lotof air. That was kind of shocking.Yeah, I mean, it’s kind of weird because, like, you’re really in a little bubble. It feels a little bit once you’re driving like a sports car.”

Notes

Andretti Autosport seemed to be struggling a bit as they did last year. The team did not have a driver in the top 10 today.

Takuma Sato and Graham Rahal look to be right wher they were last year with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Sato won the 2020 race and Rahal finished third.

Montoya and Helio Castroneves were quick in their first outing in cars not owned by Roger Penske. It’s still odd seeing them in non-Penske cars.

Arrow McLaren SP could be a factor in the 500 as well as during the rest of the season. Montoya’s input should help push the team up a notch this year.

Today’s results, followed by the no tow time sheet:

RANKCAR NO.DRIVERTEAMENGINESPEEDLAPS
12Josef NewgardenTeam PenskeChevy226.819121
230Takuma SatoRahal Letterman Lanigan RacingHonda226.39660
386Juan Pablo MontoyaArrow McLaren SPChevy226.12368
49Scott DixonChip Ganassi RacingHonda225.906126
515Graham RahalRahal Letterman Lanigan RacingHonda225.644157
647Conor DalyEd Carpenter RacingChevy225.639137
712Will PowerTeam PenskeChevy225.501162
860Jack HarveyMeyer Shank RacingHonda225.266140
95Pato O’WardArrow McLaren SPChevy225.118156
106Helio CastronevesMeyer Shank RacingHonda225.074128
1122Simon PagenaudTeam PenskeChevy225.001184
1228Ryan Hunter-ReayAndretti AutosportHonda224.949134
1326Colton HertaAndretti AutosportHonda224.203164
1420Ed CarpenterEd Carpenter RacingChevy224.146146
1510Alex PalouChip Ganassi RacingHonda224.134112
167Felix RosenqvistArrow McLaren SPChevy223.973126
1718Ed JonesDale Coyne Racing With Vasser-SullivanHonda223.905104
183Scott McLaughlinTeam PenskeChevy223.808195
1927Alexander RossiAndretti AutosportHonda223.636136
2045Santino FerrucciRahal Letterman Lanigan RacingHonda223.519137
2116Simona De SilvestroParetta AutosportChevy223.45892
2229James HinchcliffeAndretti Steinbrenner AutosportHonda223.458127
2348Tony KanaanChip Ganassi RacingHonda223.10199
2424Sage KaramDreyer & Reinbold RacingChevy223.09581
2598Marco AndrettiAndretti Herta-Haupert w/Marco & Curb-AgajanianHonda222.815138
2614Sebastien BourdaisAJ Foyt EnterprisesChevy222.627125
2759Max ChiltonCarlinChevy222.258114
288Marcus EricssonChip Ganassi RacingHonda222.135188
2951Pietro FittipaldiDale Coyne Racing w/Rick Ware RacingHonda221.943144
304Dalton KellettAJ Foyt EnterprisesChevy220.19697
3152Cody WareDale Coyne Racing w/Rick Ware RacingHonda218.43858

Indianapolis 500 test – Friday all-skate – no-tow timesheet

RANKCAR NO.DRIVERTEAMENGINESPEED
115Graham RahalRahal Letterman Lanigan RacingHonda221.549
23Scott McLaughlinTeam PenskeChevy221.153
327Alexander RossiAndretti AutosportHonda220.889
428Ryan Hunter-ReayAndretti AutosportHonda220.490
512Will PowerTeam PenskeChevy220.405
620Ed CarpenterEd Carpenter RacingChevy220.263
726Colton HertaAndretti AutosportHonda220.242
822Simon PagenaudTeam PenskeChevy220.099
959Max ChiltonCarlinChevy219.922
1060Jack HarveyMeyer Shank RacingHonda219.881
117Felix RosenqvistArrow McLaren SPChevy219.670
122Josef NewgardenTeam PenskeChevy219.668
135Pato O’WardArrow McLaren SPChevy219.621
149Scott DixonChip Ganassi RacingHonda219.558
1598Marco AndrettiAndretti Herta-Haupert w/Marco & Curb-AgajanianHonda219.518
1614Sebastien BourdaisAJ Foyt EnterprisesChevy219.293
1730Takuma SatoRahal Letterman Lanigan RacingHonda219.175
184Dalton KellettAJ Foyt EnterprisesChevy219.174
196Helio CastronevesMeyer Shank RacingHonda219.027
2024Sage KaramDreyer & Reinbold RacingChevy218.431
2147Conor DalyEd Carpenter RacingChevy218.424
2229James HinchcliffeAndretti Steinbrenner AutosportHonda218.014
238Marcus EricssonChip Ganassi RacingHonda217.991
2416Simona De SilvestroParetta AutosportChevy217.880
2510Alex PalouChip Ganassi RacingHonda217.670
2651Pietro FittipaldiDale Coyne Racing w/Rick Ware RacingHonda217.619
2786Juan Pablo MontoyaArrow McLaren SPChevy217.600
2848Tony KanaanChip Ganassi RacingHonda217.563
2945Santino FerrucciRahal Letterman Lanigan RacingHonda217.068
3018Ed JonesDale Coyne Racing With Vasser-SullivanHonda216.992
3152Cody WareDale Coyne Racing w/Rick Ware RacingHonda215.776

Montoya Carries Iconic Number and Colors on 500 Ride

Photos from ArrowMcLarenSP Twitter page

Juan Pablo Montoya will drive car number 86 in the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 in a car trimmed with the famous McLaren papaya orange. The 86 commemorates the 50th anniversary of the 1971 pole winning McLaren of Peter Revson, who stunned the crowd with his average time of 178.696, which beat out Mark Donohue for the pole. Revson finished second in the race to Al Unser.

Peter Revson prepares for his qualifying run in 1971
Top view

Montoya, 500 winner in 2000 and 2015, will also drive in the May 15 race on the IMS road course.

Arrow McLaren SP is the third team Montoya will have driven for in the 500. He won the 500 while driving for Chip Ganassi in 2000 and for Team Penske in 2015.

The three car AMSP effort at Indy, with full time drivers Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist, should be a strong contender in May.

Ferrucci Latest Driver to Find Life After Indycar

Photo:Chris Graythen (Getty Images) via Indycar

Santino Ferrucci will drive in 20 Xfinity Series races for Sam Hunt in 2021 as he begins the road to a NASCAR Cup ride. Ferrucci spent the last two years in Indycar driving for Dale Coyne with Vasser Sullivan Racing. He was Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year in 2019, finishing seventh.

Ferrucci is the latest driver who has found work in another series after losing their Indycar ride. Many factors have caused the drivers to go a different direction. Sometimes it is a budget issue, other times team owners have made the choice.

Zach Veach, released by Andretti Autosport before the end of the 2020 season, will drive full time for Vasser-Sullivan’s GTD team in IMSA. Veach replaces Townsend Bell in the number 12 Lexus, and he will team with veteran Frankie Montecalvo. The car was a series title contender last year.

Helio Castroneves moved to the Team Penske Acura prototype in IMSA in 2018. That program ended with Castroneves winning his first title. He has a busy year coming up. Castroneves will drive in six Indycar races for Meyer-Shank Racing- Barber, Long Beach, the 500, the IMS Road Course race on August 14, Portland, and Laguna Seca. He will also participate in Tony Stewart”s and Ray Evernham’s new SRX series in addition to sports car races in the United States and Europe.

Juan Pablo Montoya was also out of work with the ending of the Team Penske Acura program, but he will return to the Indianapolis 500 with Arrow McLaren SP in May. Montoya will be one of the added drivers for Meyer-Shank’s Acura prototype in IMSA’s four endurance races. The rest of his 2021 season will be in Europe driving Dragonspeed’s LMP2 car in the WEC series.

I really enjoy seeing a driver run in several different series during a season. It would be nice if contracts allowed for more of this.

Montoya Returns to the 500; Hoosier 100 Gets Another Reprieve

Two time Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya will once again drive in the Indianapolis 500, this time with Arrow McLaren SP. Montoya will pilot a third car for the team, alongside reglkar drivers Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist.

Montoya spent the last three season driving for Team Penske Acura in the Weather Tech Championship Series, winning the championship in 2019. He also has won a CART title. Montoya has driven just about everything. He will drive next season for Dragonspeed in the WEC. Monotya has also .won races in Formula 1 and NASCAR.

With Montoya’s entry into the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500, the field has the potential to include eight former winners. Montoya’s former Penske teammate, three time winner Helio Castroneves, will be driving for Meyer Shank Racing. May 30 will be the first time the pair will be driving on different teams.

Hoosier Hundred Gets Another Chance

The Hoosier Hundred returns to the USAC Silver Crown Schedule at the Indiana State Fairgrounds May 27. 2019 was expected to be the final running of the 65 year old race. The track was schedule to be resurfaced for the sole use of the trotting and pacing horses which normally run during the Indiana State Fair. The COVID pandemic has prevented the track work from being done. The longer the work is delayed is more time to convince the fair board to keep this race.

The night following the Hoosier Hundred is the Carb Night Classic at Lucas Oil Raceway/ The schedule also includes the Silver Crown’s first visit to Winchester Speedway.

The full schedule:

Gift Ideas

My friend Johanna, (@writebend) has compiled a list of some small businesses that sell racing related items. These businesses have had a difficult year and could use any support you can give. Here is the link to her post:

https://write-bend.blogspot.com/2020/11/supporting-motorsport-related-companies.html?m=1

Indycar Notes: Indy Lights Looks for Expanded Grid; Ganassi, Montoya Make Sports Car Moves

Some good news for Indy Lights. HMD is teaming with Global Racing Group to field a total of four cars in the Indy Lights field in 2021. Global Racing won the 2020 Formula Regional Americas title with Linus Lundqvist driving. HMD, owned by Henry Malukas ran David Malukas and Toby Sowery in 2019 Indy Lights. Sowery won a race in 2019.

The four car effort will double the current size of the field with the four cars from Andretti Autosport. Dan Andersen, owner of the Road to Indy, expects 11-13 cars on the grid in 2021.

Ganassi to Run DPi Cadillac in IMSA

Chip Ganassi Racing reenters IMSA with a DPi Cadillac entry next year. Ganassi ran the top class of prototypes in the Grand Am series and also entered Fords in the GTLM class through 2019. He takes over the Cadillac entry from Wayne Taylor, who is switching to Acura. Drivers have not been named, but I expect Scott Dixon to be the extra driver for the endurance races.

Montoya Signs with Dragonspeed

Juan Pablo Montoya will drive for Dragonspeed int he World Endurance Championship in 2021. The two time Indianapolis 500 winner drove for Team Penske Acura in IMSA the last three years, winning the championship in 2019. he finished the season with a second place overall at the Sebring 12 Hour race last Saturday.

Montoya will team with Henrik Hedman and Ben Hanley. Hanley drove Dragonspeed’s entry in the last two Indianapolis 500s. The team will not compete in any Indycar races in 2021.

Quiet at Coyne

We may have gotten spoiled the last couple of years as Dale Coyne Racing had their driver lineups set by Christmas. The quiet from the Coyne shop seems strange, but this is the way it used to be with the team.

I think some news may be coming soon, and it involves a possible new owner in Indycar. Stay tuned.

Requests

What stories would you like to see for the final six weeks of 2020? History? Reprints of previous articles? Let me know. I’m thinking of publishing some my non-racing creative writing, but I like you guys too much to bore you with that.

I will have at least one more column before Thanksgiving. Stay safe, mask up, and wash your hands.