O’Ward Leads Carb Day

Photo: Indycar, Matt Fraver

Pato O’Ward led an incident free Carb Day practice session as the 33 drivers in the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 completed the final tune up session. Scott Dixon was second, followed by Alexander Rossi and Takuma Sato. O’Ward’s teammate Oliver Askew was fifth.

About 150 fans were on 16th street listening to the cars and following along on the video boards.


In keeping with Carb Day tradition, the fans applauded at the end of the session.

I gained a new perspective just listening to the engines without the visual of the cars. I paid more attention to the sounds, which is hard to do in a packed grandstand. I could tell when a car was on the pit exit road, when they slowed for turn 1 or when they were close to another car. the difference between the two engines was distinct.

It is hard to imagine doing this on Sunday. I know some people plan to, but I will stay home and watch from the comfort of my den, surrounded by racing memorabilia. Since this is the first time I have watched the 500 live on television, I should probably put rookie stripes on my satellite box.

From earlier:


The top 12:

The 104th Indianapolis 500- Past and Future Meet Before Empty Stands

Photo: Indycar, Joe Skibinski

It is finally time. The Indianapolis 500 will run Sunday as a very different event than we normally witness. It’s been delayed three months, a safety plan developed, and attendance was limited then done away with. Now the race is set.

The field is mixture of current and future stars of the series. Two rookies start in the first three rows surrounded by long time veterans. The rookie class has done very well this season, and I look for some of them to do quite well Sunday. I think one of the veterans will win, but I expect three rookies in the top ten at the finish.

Here are some things to look at for the 104th running:

Last Rides?

Sunday may be the final 500 for some popular drivers, particularly Helio Castroneves and Fernando Alonso. Castroneves is in the final year of a three year deal to drive in the 500 with Team Penske. With the disbanding of Penske’s IMSA team, Castroneves has nothing secure for next season. he is looking for a full time Indycar ride. Penske said the other day he would not rule Castroneves out for next year. The team looks like it will be pretty full already. Castroneves has been one of the greatest drivers in 500 history with three wins and three second place finishes.

Alonso’s contract with Renault in formula 1 for the next two seasons precludes him from racing in the 500. He has said he will come back after his Renault contract ends, but he will be 42 years old then.

Could Ryan Hunter-Reay be retiring at the end of this year? His contract is believed to be up, and DHL’s sponsorship agreement also ends after this season. Will he come back for Indianapolis one offs?

Watch and enjoy these three drivers Sunday. We don’t know if they’ll be back.

Charging from the Back

Will Power starts 22nd, Simon Pagenaud rolls off 25th, Castroneves starts 28th. despite the poor qualifying runs, look for the three penske drivers to be near the front by the end of the race. Pagenaud has not qualified well all season. He won at iowa after starting last, but this is a different situation.

Watch for the Ed Carpenter and Conor Daly to im prove from their sixth row grid positions. The ECR cars disappointed a bit in qualifying, but they should be good for the race..


Drivers are saying passing will be difficult and may take four to five laps instead of two or three. Today’s practice might give us a hint. Passes need to be planned and executed wisely. Team penske cars appeared to have little trouble passing cars during the first two days of practice.

Pits- Strategy and Mistakes

We have seen virtually every team have an issue in the pits through the frist six races. The mistakes could be from the delay in starting the seaon and the lack of practice time for crew members. A mistake Sunday could be costly, especially on one the later pit stops.

Will a team gamble on fuel strategy? It depends on how the race plays out with the cautions. How much  will the 58 pounds of the aeroscreen affect fuel mileage and tires?

The Rookies

Rinus VeeKay qualified fourth and Alex Palou starts seventh. VeeKay has improved since his shaky debut in Texas, but I’m not sure what to expect from him here. Driving for Ed carpenter racing is a plus at IMS. He should end up in the top ten.

Palou has been fast, and I am interestef to see how he handles a longer race. He needs flawless pit stops and smart strategy calls.

Pato O’Ward and Oliver Askew start a bit further back than i expected. If they can avoid trouble, look for the Arrow McLaren SP cars to move up steadily during the first half of the race. At Iowa both cars stuck to their plan and were contending.

And the Winner Is…

While Marco Andretti wowed everyone with his dominant pole run, I am going with Scott Dixon to win his second Indianapolis 500. Dixon has been steady all year in winning the first three races to begin the season. He has been quietly quick during practice and qualifying. This team is prepared to go to Victory lane. A win would would put Dixon in a favorable spot to win his sixth championship.

Could Scott Dixon win his second 500 and 50th Indycar race Sunday?

For Rookie of the Year, look for Rinus VeeKay to take the honor. th 19 year old loves the speedway. Carpenter said he has taken to the track quicker than Josef Newgarden did.



Andretti Rides the Wind to Capture the Pole- Quick Thoughts

The shifting winds brought part of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s legends back today as Marco Andretti just edged Scott Dixon to win the pole for the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. The last time an Andretti won the pole was 1987 when Mario led the field to the green flag.

Andretti Autosport seemed to be floundering this season until the got to IMS. The team certainly has its act together here.

It appeared the wind shifting from turn 4 to turn 2 after Dixon’s run would help him stay in the top spot, but Marco found just enough speed to continue  his dominance of the week.

Marco’s dad Michael never won the pole at Indianapolis. Maybe victories skip a generation as well.

Marco is in good shape for the race with Brian Herta calling his race. Herta has now put a driver on the pole as well as bringing two other car 98s to victory lane (Wheldon 2011 and Rossi 2016).

Where would Alex Palou end up if he hadn’t had a problem with the weight jacker? He could be a sleeper in the race.

Rinus VeeKay in fourth is the fastest rookie in the field.  VeeKay could be another player next Sunday.

Graham Rahal had a couple of wild rides today. I hope they can balance the car better for the race.

Car 98 has now won four poles and four races. Just three drivers have won poles in the 98- Walt Faulkner, Parnelli Jones (twice), and Marco Andretti.

I don’t know if there were any poles won by a smaller margin, but 0.0113 seconds and 0.017 mph is pretty close.

Marco also started on the front row in 2013, when he started third.

It was frustrating when NBC didn’t immediately show the lap times because they were too busy playing with their graphics. Give the audience the information it needs at the time they need it.

No matter how the race ends, it will be great having an Andretti lead the field at the start.

Qualifying results, including all attempts from yesterday:

 Thanks for following this weekend.


Pole Day-Will Marco Stay on Top?

Photo: Indycar, Walt Kuhn

Today’s schedule:

11-11:30 am – Fast 9 Practice NBC Gold

1:15-2:15 pm – Fast 9 Shootout NBC (1-3 pm coverage)

3:30-6 pm – Practice (NBCSN at 4 pm)

Good morning from the IMS northwest media center annex. This is an interesting and talented Fast Nine, and definitely one of the most unusual ones since the beginning of the pole shootout.  The field has four former race winners, two rookies, two former pole winners, and drivers from five different teams. Andretti Autosport has four drivers who advanced to today and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has two.

The odds of having a first time polesitter are good. Marco Andretti showed yesterday that he is fast regardless of the time of day and the track conditions. While Scott Dixon’s late run yesterday was simply a show of strength, he won’t be running with the shadows on the track.

Rinus VeeKay is a rookie driving for Ed Carpenter Racing. VeeKay loves to go fast. The ECR team  has been a perennial member of the Fast Nine.  I look for the only Chevy in the Fast Nine to be on the front row.

As for predictions, I hate to jinx someone, but this is Marco’s pole to lose.


What’s missing from today’s shootout? Penske cars. Josef Newgarden was the fastes on the team in 13th. Will Power  is 22nd, Simon Pagenaud is 25th and Helio Castroneves is 28th.  Pagenaud has been a poor qualifier all season, but has come from the back to contend for the win.  I am puzzled by Chevrolet’s overall lack of speed.

Scott Dixon will increase his points lead today by at least 1 point and as many as 9. he currently leads Pagenaud by49 points and Newgarden by 51.

I think the fastest driver on Saturday should receive at least a point.

James Hinchcliffe’s mask is creepy.

I saw a lot of anger on social media toward Takuma Sato and Scott Dixon for their late day runs. While I wished they hadn’t done it and given drivers who needed a shot a chance, these late day qualifying games have been played for the last 70 years. Watch film of Bump Days in the past and see what went on in the last 90 minutes or so. You’ll see pretty much what you saw yesterday.  They were playing by the rules they were given.

Quick Thoughts- Qualifying

Photo: Indycar, Walt Kuhn

A Fast Nine with no Team Penske cars is something I never thought I would see.

Today was a complete rout for Honda. I’m pretty sure Chevy will be better in the race, but they have a lot of ground to make up.

Congratulations to Marco Andretti on an outstanding run.

Was Dixon just sending a warning shot for tomorrow?

Sato played some pretty good defense at the end of qualifying.

Dixon’s and Sato’s late runs really show the flaws of this qualifying format. Indycar needs to get rid of the keep your last time if you don’t beat it rule. If a car goes out to qualify it should withdraw its time.

Qualifying with no fans in the stands really took a lot of the excitement out of what was an interesting day.

Gusty northwest winds tomorrow could make fast nine qualifying interesting.

I wonder how many of the Fast Nine will actually use the practice time tomorrow morning? Today a total of six cars, all Chevys, practiced. All the cars were in group 2.

What outstanding debuts for Rinus VeeKay and Alex Palou. VeeKay has the only Chevy in the Fast Nine. Palou put a Dale Coyne entry in the Fast Nine.  After Sebastien Bourdais and Craig Hampson left the team, I wasn’t sure how well they would fare this year.

I wish NBC would stop those “Different Month, Same Feeling” spots. It’s not the same feeling at all.

I will be back tomorrow morning and then again after the Fast Nine. Have a great evening and thanks for following along.



Qualifying Day

Today’s schedule:

8:30-9   Group 1 Practice  NBC Gold

9-9:30 Group 2 Pracrice  NBC Gold

11-4:50 Qualifying  NBC Gold (NBC 3-5)

The 3earlier someone qualifies, the better chance they will have of making the Fast Nine. Weather conditions should be similar to yesterday when the fastest laps came early in the day. Heat made the track slippery later, and even the cooling shadow on the front stretch in the final hour didn’t help speeds improve.

Qualifying ends a n hour earlier today as well, meaning drivers can’t take advantage of the late day shade on the front straight.

The qualifying order:

Honda powered cars have dominated the practice days. Could they fill the first three rows?  Team Penske cars have looked down on power, with Will Power finally improving to eleventh fastest late yesterday.  Andretti Autosport, particularly Marco Andretti, have looked strong so far. Marco drew what many consider to be an unfavorable qualifying spot at 28. Usually some cars step out of line and give up their slot, but with the heat and the way the track slowed yesterday, i don’t look for anyone ahead of the 98 to do that.

On Friday, the fastest four lap averages were:




Practice Begins for a Very Different 500

Good morning from the 71st and Michigan Road media center annex of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Practice begins today for the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 on August 23.

Today’s schedule all times ET:

11-1 Veterans

1-3  Rookie Orientation and refreshers

3-5:30  All cars

Coverage: NBC Gold

The weather forecast seems to be improving for the week. Today should be dry.

My race preview will come out next week.  Some story lines to follow for now:

No Fans

For the first time in he race’s history, the 500 will take place with no fans watching.  How will it affect the drivers?  I have wondered if having fans in the stands on race day affects the drivers’ perspectives in certain areas of the track.

The winner will not hear  cheers while on the victory podium or see the fans waving on his cool down lap. That will be disappointing to whomever wins.

The pre race grid will be eerily quiet with the throngs that usually pack the front stretch.

We have seen two races without fans. They seemed weird, but the 500 will seem even stranger, I think. The energy fans bring to this race is unlike the buzz at any other track.


The aeroscreen gets its first test on the speedway this week. We know from iIowa that it performs as it was designed to. Will it hold up at higher speeds in a similar incident? How will it affect handling? Will passing be more difficult?

Will the extra weight slow the cars? Will the aeroscreen act as front downforce?

Indycar has once again modified the cooling system with larger tubing and a filtration system to keep debris out of the cockpit. I will be looking for what the drivers think of the changes.

Helio’s Last Ride for Penske?

2020 could be the final year in which Helio Castroneves drives at Indianapolis for Roger Penske. The three time 500 winner has been driving full time for Penske in IMSA, but that program ends after this season. The full time drivers have been told to seek other rides. Castroneves has expressed interest in returning to Indycar full time.  He may have to settle for a mid pack team next year. How Castroneves does this year may determine where he ends up next year.

No Women in the Field

For the first time in 20 years the field will not have a female driver. Pippa Mann could no put together a program for 2020. It may be a few years before we see the next woman drive in the 500.

Bump Tales Bumped This Year,  Pole Tales Coming

Because there will be no bumping, Bump Tales will spend the year in quarantine. Tomorrow, look for the first edition of Pole Tales, stories of how poles were won before the Fast Nine came into being.





Indianapolis 500 Daily Broadcast Schedule

here is the broadcast schedule leading up to the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500. The race day broadcast begins at 1 pm ET with the green flag at approximately 2:30 pm ET. Practices are only on NBC Gold, which i think NBC should open up at a deeply discounted price. They had a half price sale at the mid point of the season last year.