St. Pete Schedule, Ticket Update

According to the GPStPete website, only General Admission tickets remain for Sunday. Saturday grandstand seats are available in socially distanced blocks. the entire block must be purchased. GA is available. Friday is General Admission. Three day grandstand ticket holders have first rights to their grandstand seats on Friday

The event schedule:

Schedule subject to change without notice
All times Eastern Time

Friday


Time
SeriesSession
7:45 AM – 6:00 PM Gate Hours
8:00 AM – 8:40 AMMX-5 CupPractice 1
8:55 AM – 9:25 AMUSF2000Practice 1
9:40 AM – 10:10 AMIndy Pro 2000Practice 1
10:25 AM – 11:05 AMIndy LightsPractice 1
11:20 AM – 12:00 PMMX-5 CupPractice 2
12:15 PM – 12:35 PMUSF2000Qualifying 1
12:50 PM – 1:10 PMIndy Pro 2000Qualifying 1
1:25 PM – 1:55 PMIndy LightsQualifying 1
2:10 PM – 2:40 PMStadium SUPER TrucksPractice/Qualifying
2:55 PM – 3:15 PMMX-5 CupQualifying
3:30 PM – 3:50 PMUSF2000Qualifying 2
4:15 PM – 5:00 PMNTT INDYCAR SERIESPractice 1-Peacock
5:25 PM – 5:55 PMIndy LightsQualifying 2

Saturday

TimeSeriesSession
7:45 AM – 6:00 PM Gate Hours
8:00 AM – 8:20 AMIndy Pro 2000Qualifying 2
8:35 AM – 9:20 AMMX-5 CupRace 1
9:45 AM – 10:30 AMNTT INDYCAR SERIESPractice 2- Peacock
10:55 AM – 11:35 AMUSF2000Race 1
11:50 AM – 12:35 PMIndy Pro 2000Race 1
12:50 PM – 1:20 PMStadium SUPER TrucksRace 1
1:45 PM – 3:00 PMNTT INDYCAR SERIESQualifying- Peacock
3:20 PM – 4:05 PMIndy LightsRace 1 Peacock
4:20 PM – 5:05 PMMX-5 CupRace 2
5:20 PM – 6:00 PMUSF2000Race 2

Sunday

TimeSeriesSession
7:45 AM – 4:00 PM Gate Hours
8:00 AM – 8:40 AMIndy Pro 2000Race 2
9:05 AM – 9:35 AMNTT INDYCAR SERIESWarm-Up- Peacock
10:00 AM – 10:50 AMIndy LightsRace 2 Peacock
11:05 AM – 11:35 PMStadium SUPER TrucksRace 2
12:00 PMNTT INDYCAR SERIESDriver Introductions
12:42 PMNTT INDYCAR SERIESGreen Flag NBC

Pre race show begins at noon on NBC Sunday.

NBCSN lists a delayed Practice show at 10 pm ET Saturday. I assume they mean qualifying, but I will try to get clarification.

Daly’s 500 Car Honors Tuskegee Airmen

Conor Daly and Ed Carpenter Racing revealed Daly’s car for the Indianapolis 500 this morning. The car is a tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen. I’m happy to see this squadron recognized at the 500. The car will keep the number 47 that it ran in the 500 last year.

Conor Daly at Barber. Photo-Joe Skibinski, Indycar

The US Air Force posted a video about the Tuskegee Airmen. Copy the link below:

As a homage to the original trailblazers, the Tuskegee Airmen, our newest paint scheme isn’t just a visual cue, but a reminder that great things can happen when we celebrate our differences. https://t.co/Lguc9b5vUS

Karam, DRR Team with AES for 500 Entry

And then there were (maybe) two. Dreyer and Reinbold Racing announced their entry for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 Monday. The car will carry sponsorship from AES, the power company which serves Indianapolis. There may be two more entries for the race. The most likely is a sixth car from Andretti Autosport. Top Gun Racing is still trying to obtain an engine lease from Chevrolet.

The official announcement:

Sage Karam will team again with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing to drive an entry for the 105th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, in a partnership with the 500 Festival Foundation, AES Indiana and Omaze.

Karam, from Nazareth, Pennsylvania, will attempt to make his eighth career Indy 500 start and seventh with Indianapolis-based DRR in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” on Sunday, May 30.

Sage Karam. Photo by Joe Skibinski, Indycar

The No. 24 Chevrolet-powered car will feature a new livery with branding from the 500 Festival Foundation, AES 500 Festival Parade, retail electric service company AES Indiana and fundraising platform Omaze.

“The 500 Festival is near and dear to me, and the whole team, as we have always admired and supported the work that the non-profit organization does in our community as well as the traditions it upholds for the Indy 500 and the entire month of May,” said Dennis Reinbold, DRR team owner and former 500 Festival board director. “We are grateful to longtime sponsor WIX Filters for working with us to create a platform to highlight AES Indiana, the AES 500 Festival Parade and the 500 Festival Foundation on our No. 24 car, and not to mention draw attention to the awesome Omaze prize that will benefit the 500 Festival Foundation.”

Omaze will support the 500 Festival Foundation on its unique fundraising platform this May with a sweepstakes that will allow Indy 500 fans to enter for the chance to win a very special prize and a dream-come-true package.

Due to unique challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 AES 500 Festival Parade will not be held this year. Longtime parade title sponsor, AES Indiana (formerly Indianapolis Power & Light Company), has teamed up with the 500 Festival to create a unique partnership that will highlight the community initiatives of the 500 Festival and support the 500 Festival Foundation.

Quick Thoughts- Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

Photo: A very happy Alex Palou. Joe Skibinski, Indycar

Maybe this is the year for the kids after all. Pato O’Ward won the pole and Alex Palou won the race after being in his first Fast Six yesterday.

I was not shocked by Palou’s victory. He was fast all weekend. Watching him yesterday just gave me a feeling that he was in for a big day.

Josef Newgarden didn’t kill his chances for another title, but he certainly made it more difficult. Barber is ne of his better tracks, so seeing him cause an accident was a surprise.

Nice Top Tens:

Sebastien Bourdais 5th , Rinus VeeKay 6th, and romain Grosjean 10th.

Bourdais led four laps as well. A good start for his time at A. J. Foyt Racing. The team improved every session.

VeeKay recovered from spinning in the first lap melee and a penalty for service in a closed pit.

Grosjean has impressed all weekend with his seventh place qualifying and a top ten finish. A very nice Indycar debut. Maybe the driver wasn’t the problem in F1 his last few years.

Chip Ganassi Racing had three drivers in the Fast Six Saturday and three drivers in the top 10 today. Along with Palou’s win, Scott Dixon finished third and Marcus Ericsson ended the day in eighth. This team could be the power this season.

Simon Pagenaud is starting 2021 the same 2020 went for him- poor qualifying result and a climb through the field. He didn’t get very far today, ending 12th after starting 15th.

Ryan Hunter-Reay begins the season with a DNF again. He has had awful luck in season openers the last few seasons.

Graham Rahal’s seventh place finish from an 18th starting spot must seem like a win for the team. Takuma Sato came home 13th from staring 19th. Both Rahal drivers struggled all weekend.

It felt great to get the season underway and to return to a track whose race was cancelled in 2020; The crowd was as large as it could be. The fans in Birmingham still love this race. They were happy to see it return.

I will have another story about Barber up tomorrow or Tuesday. Then it’s on to St. Pete. Thanks for reading this weekend.

It’s Race Day!

Photo: Pato O’Ward goes for his first career victory today. Joe Skibinski, Indycar

Today’s schedule All Times Central

7:00am – 3:00pm: Will Call (Hampton Inn | 310 Rex Lake Rd, Leeds, AL 35094)

7:30am: Gates Open

8:00am – 5:00pm: Surgere Fan Zone / Hagerty Car Corral

9:15am – 10:05am: Indy Pro 2000 Race #2

10:30am – 11:00am: NTT INDYCAR SERIES Warm-up

11:25am – 12:05pm: Porsche Sprint Challenge Race #2

12:20pm – 1:20pm: Indy Lights Race #2

2:42pm: NTT INDYCAR SERIES Race (90 laps)

NBC coverage begins at 3pm EDT.

The Indycar season finally gets underway this afternoon when the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama takes the green flag. I am assuming the power issues have been resolved and that things will run on time. It should be an interesting race. Two ittle contenders, Pato O’Ward and Alexander Rossi, start on the front row. Two other favorites for the series championship, Josef Newgarden and Colton Herta, line up eighth and ninth respectively.

Tire strategy will be key today. How long will the red tires last? I expect a couple of caution periods today. The timing of those will also figure into the tire choices.

Rossi has had success starting in front. He usually wins when he is on pole or starts second. Turn one is going to be interesting. Enjoy the race. I think it will be a good one.

Notes

Saturday’s crowd was significantly larger than Friday’s, but still smaller than a normal qualifying day crowd.

The Fan Zone had more vendors and interactive booths yesterday.

Today is expected to be at capacity. All 20,000 available tickets are spoken for.

Another really good qualifying effort yesterday- Conor Daly in the Ed Carpenter Racing number 20 will start 10th.

O’Ward Powers Through to Pole at Barber

Photo: Pato O’Ward by Joe Skibinski, Indycar

Pato O’Ward began his title quest by winning the pole for the season opener at Barber Motorsports Park. The Mexican driver in his second full time Indycar season set a track record in round 2 on the way to the first starting spot for tomorrow’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. O’Ward led the round of 12 with record lap of 1:05.5019.

Qualifying began five minutes late after a power outage postponed the USF2000 series second race. The race ran after Indycar qualifying.

O’Ward earlier this year declared his intention to have his Arrow Mclaren SP Chevy contend for the series title, and today gave credence to his goal. In two practice sessions and two qualifying rounds where some top drivers had issues, O’Ward stayed focused on the task at hand. He also had to survive the more difficult qualifying group.

Alexander Rossi will start on the outside of row 1. Rossi led the second practice session earlier in the day. He abandoned his usual qualifying strategy when he is a pole contender. Instead of waiting to get in one hot lap as time runs out, Rossi was one of the first two cars out at the start of the Fast Six. He stayed out the entire time. Will Power was the first car out for the final round. Power’s tires seemed to fade as could not improve his times from early in the session.

James Hinchcliffe slid into the tire barrier in turn 5 causing a red flag in the second group. The round restarted with just a bit more than 4 minutes left. As time ran out, Felix Rosenqvist went off track in the final turn. He lost a spot in the final round for affecting another driver’s lap.

Notes

Rookies Scott McLaughlin and Romain Grosjean advanced to the second round. Grosjean finished second in his group, and McLaughlin was fourth. Grosjean starts seventh tomorrow and McLaughlin will roll off twelfth.

I can’t remember the last time Chip Ganassi Racing had three cars in the Fast Six. Alex Palou led the first practice session, and Marcus Ericsson had an impressive qualifying. Scott Dixon begins his title defense from fifth place.

The biggest surprise in qualifying was Josef Newgarden finishing eighth. He usually does very well here. Starting position is generally a big factor in the race results at Barber.

I think we will see a first career win tomorrow, but it may not necessarily be Pato O’Ward. Alex Palou looked very strong all day.

Results

Indycar Hits the Track at Last

It is finally time for Indycar Racing.

Today’s schedule. All Times Central

7:30am: Gates Open

8:00am – 5:00pm: Surgere Fan Zone / Hagerty Car Corral

8:00am – 8:40am: USF2000 Race #1

8:55am – 9:35am: Porsche Sprint Challenge Race #1

10:00am – 10:45am: NTT INDYCAR SERIES Practice. All Times Central

11:10am – 12:00pm: Indy Pro 2000 Race #1

12:15pm – 1:15pm: Indy Lights Race #1

1:40pm – 2:25pm: NTT INDYCAR SERIES Practice

2:50pm – 3:35pm: Radical Cup Race #3

3:50pm – 4:30pm: USF2000 Race #2

4:55pm – 6:10pm: NTT INDYCAR SERIES Qualifying / Firestone Fast 6

Good morning from Barber Motorsports Park, Irondale AirBnB media center annex. Yesterday was a fun day, but today Indycar takes to the track for the first time in 2021 with two practices and qualifying. The Fast Six format was used rarely last season because most road courses hosted double headers. It will be nice to see it return. Some notes on Friday at Barber Motorsports Park.The crowd was the smallest I have ever seen here. It was a Friday and there are COVID concerns. It was eerie seeing so few people at this track which usually draws a decent number of fans on Friday. I wonder if the absence of Indycar on track kept people away.

Signs of the Pandemic Times

The trams are still running, to my surprise. There is one less stop, however. The stop at the entrance to the paddock is closed. There is a pull off for the tram which was blocked. Fans are encouraged to sit with their own party and distance, but no seats are off limits.

The signs reminding fans of the mask wearing requirement were ignored by many fans and sadly also by many of the track staff. There is a sign that says masks must be worn on the trams but staff allowed people on with no reminders.

The fan zone had fewer vendors than usual. We will see if more are present today. It was oddly quiet in an area that is normally filled with lots of activity.

On the Track

I liked having a day to watch the Road to Indy run their qualifying sessions. I normally pay mild attention to Indy Lights and not much attention at all to the IndyPro 2000 and USF2000, so I enjoyed learning more about who is in each series. The 30 minute qualifying sessions were intense. Some series track records fell and several teams locked out the front rows for their races.

I really enjoyed the Radical Cup. The cars look like mini prototypes and have three classes. They put on a great show with two good races. I hope to see them again at another Indycar event.

Photo from Radical Cup North America website

Spotter’s Guide Update

There is an interactive version of the Spotter’s Guide on the Indycar app.

Copy the link for the Interactive version:

https://t.co/LITlLtFqef https://t.co/yFmWJ6sUxP

Rain chances for today appear to be diminishing greatly. Qualifying will be dry. I will provide updates at The Pit Window on Facebook and on Twitter @PitWindowToo. There will be a qualifying/practice wrap up later tonight and a race preview story tomorrow morning.