Test Day Final Notes

Rain stopped the final session early in a fitting end to tis long, strange day. Colton Herta had the fastest time of the late round, 226.108. That was the day’s fifth fastest time.

Some drivers did not seem to care for the AFP. They thought it was distracting and blocked their vision, especially coming into the pits.

All four rookies, Herta, Santino Ferrucci, Felix Rosenqvist, and Marcus Ericsson, successfully completed their rookie tests.

Conor Daly completed his refresher test.

Takuma Sato led the No-Tow time sheet as well as having the fastest lap of the day.

I was impressed with the fans who showed up early and returned after the rain delay.

Thanks for reading today. I will have a full recap on Wildfire Sports tomorrow.

5:15 Update

After an almost four hour delay waiting for the rain to stop, Full time veterans practice resumed at 3:15.  The session was halted when Max Chilton had a mechanical issue (engine?). Adter the session restarted, rain again stopped activity just after 5:00.  NT Indycar Series officials decide the veterans were done for the day.  We are currently waiting for the track to dry so that the rookies and non full time veterans can get out today.

Takuma Sato led the session with a 226.9, followed by Ed Carpenter at 226.4.


What other track president brings cookies to the fans? Doug Boles drove a Corvette pace car to the  turn 2 mounds, parked illegally, then brought several containers of cookies out the trunk to give to the fans.

Boles took some time to speak with the crowd. He said the new surface dried more quickly than expected, in about a third less time given the conditions.



The crowd appeared to be almost as big as when Alonso first tested here in 2017 and rivals the crowd last year when the new aero kit had its test.

The rain has stopped but the skies look darker.  This has to be frustrating for the rookies.  I think when the track dried the rookies should have gone out.

Back with a final report later.

IMS just announced that they will try to get the rookies on track and that will be the end of the day.


The Next Step in Driver Protection

The Advanced Frontal Protection device  received a formal introduction today before the open test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Jay Frye explained the concept and  explained why the NTT Indycar Series chose this system. The device will be used on the cars the rest of the season.

Some facts courtesy of the NTT Indycar Series:

Today is the first time the AFP will be used on track.

The device is made of titanium and manufactured by Dallara.

Versions of the AFP have been explored since 2012.

Dallara introduced the device to Indycar in January.

The AFP has been subjected to and passed the same loads as the roll hoop.

The AFP weighs 2.8 pounds with bolts. Reinforcements to the monocoque weigh 2.1 pounds.

Frye said this is the first phase of cockpit protection.

“Sometime in May we will announce the next phase, ” Frye said.

The next phase is for 2020.  Frye explained the reason for the length of the process.

“You can’t just put something on a car without vetting it all the way out,” he said.

The AFP cost $5,000.  Titanium is more expensive than steel, but its lighter weight was the reason titanium was chosen.

As far as the view from the cockpit, this should be a minimal distraction.


Track Update

After about 20 minutes of running, the track was closed because of rain. An update will be given n about an hour. Ed Carpenter had the fastest lap at 220.817. I hope to get some photos during the rain delay of som.e of the newer liveries.

I will keep you posted through The Pit Window on Twitter and The Pit Window’s Facebook page.


It’s Race, I Mean, Test Day at IMS!

It’s time.  Twenty eight to twenty-nine cars take to the world’s most famous oval this morning in an open test to prepare for the Indianapolis 500.  The middle part of the day will be for rookie and refresher tests.

Many will be eager to watch Fernando Alonso return to the track

Today’s Schedule:

11:00-1:00  Veterans practice

1:00-3:00    Rookie orientation/refresher tests

3:00-6:00  Open practice

Roster Changes

Dreyer and Reinbold will run newly announced J. R. Hildebrand in the 48 instead of Sage Karam in the 24.

Oriol Servia will drive the 77 for Arrow Schmidt Peterson. Servia is not confirmed for the 500 as of now, but likely will be in this car.  the schmidt entry is an addition to the previously published roster.


Where to Watch

The test will be live streamed beginning at 10:55  on indycar.com and YouTube.

It is NOT on NBC Gold.

Another place to watch is from the turn 2 mounds and south bleachers.

New Liveries

In addition to Conor Daly’s car 25 revealing yesterday at IMS, Will Power posted a video of his new livery, featuring 5G on the sidepod.  I think he should change his number to 5G. it will give a shout out to the sprint world.

I’m also excited to see the style of numbering on the 48.


I will have updates after each segment here on The Pit Window and a full report tomorrow on Wildfire Sports.






Daly, Andretti Reveal Car 25

Conor Daly and Michael Andretti revealed the car Daly will drive in the 103rd running of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today. The car is mostly matte black, touches of blue and hits of various fighter jets. I really like the shark’s teeth behind the front wheel.

Daly’s entry completes a five car all American lineup for Andretti Autosport. All five cars will carry Air Force labels.

“It’s been a dream of mine to drive for this team for a long time,” Daly said. Getting to practice tomorrow is “a huge benefit. Tomorrow is day 1,” Daly added.

The unveiling also give those in attendance their first look at the Advanced Frontal protection device which will be on the cars tomorrow and for the 500. The piece is taller than i thought it was. It is very thin. The device does not appear as if it will obscure the drivers’ vision.

Dalyunveil 1135

The front view shows the AFP device just in front of the cockpit. I asked Daly how he thought the device would bother the vision. He said he wasn’t sure. The device is on the simulator, but he wants to see what it’s like when he actually drives the car.

A closer look at the AFP

Tomorrow’s test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway begins with veterans on track from 11-1, followed by rookie orientation between 1 and 3. The final round of testing begins at 3 and goes until 6. The turn 2 mounds will be open for spectators. the test is also live streamed on Indycar’s Facebook page.

The Pit Window will have updates after each session and a full wrap-up on Wildfire Sports Thursday morning.

The Soul of the Race

It’s called qualifying. It means you have to meet a standard which in this case means being one of the fastest 33 drivers. That is one tradition that must stay. A chance to win the greatest race in the world should not just be handed to someone.

Above: Willy T. Ribbs exultant after finally qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 in 1991.

I am back at The Pit Window summer headquarters after a long two day slog through Georgia traffic jams and torrential rains through four states. The  controversy about guaranteed spots for the Indianapolis 500 began as I was traveling. I wanted to wait until I returned to gather points of view and form my own opinion.  While the Indianapolis 500 is the heart of the racing world, qualifying for the race is the event’s soul.

I agree that many traditions have disappeared and are not returning. I know we will never again have 30 days at the track or four days of qualifying. I’m okay with that. No guaranteed spots in my opinion does not fall in the category of tradition. It’s called qualifying. It means you have to meet a standard which in this case means being one of the fastest 33 drivers. That is one tradition that must stay. A chance to win the greatest race in the world should not just be handed to someone.

The starting lineup gives the race its flavor. Are there drivers starting in the back that will charge to the front? Will a top driver staring near the front fall back quickly? How do the Indycar regulars stack up against drivers fro another series? There just a few of the things we would lose. The 500 would be just another race on the schedule.

On race morning, I take a moment to think of what it took for each driver to get into the race. Some had a fairly easy time, having signed with a top team with the best equipment. Others had to fight for every sponsor dollar just to put a car and team together to get to to the track. Their sponsors are just as important as those of the full time teams. But I appreciate that all had to endure the stress of Indianapolis qualifying, a nerve wracking four lap run. Some of the drama of being on the grid or not race morning could lose its luster if the owners advocating guaranteed spots get their way.  I think it would take  some of the soul from the race. The grid would be less pure.

There would still be some space for one-offs, about ten with the current full time grid. What happens when the full time roster expands? Is this proposed format really fair to a team like Meyer Shank Racing, who is only running ten races this season? Why should a second tier full time team put much effort into qualifying? They just need to post a time, why try too hard?

When qualifying used to be spread over two weekends, I would pick and choose when to attend.  Pole Day was a given. I rarely went to Day 2. Day three was hit and miss. If the field would be filled the second Saturday, I would go later in the day to see the 33rd qualifier and to see if any bumping would take place. Bump day really had no action until the last two hours, so I would head out around 2:30.

With guaranteed spots, I’m not sure I would find Pole Day that interesting.  I would probably just wait for the non guaranteed cars to qualify see who will make it. There will be less drama without a big name near the edge.

Putting full time drivers in the field automatically would lessen the value of the race.  The owners are selling the soul of the Indianapolis 500 for sponsor dollars. I hope this is not the direction we’re going. Please don’t steal the soul of the race.