Pit Stop Competition Matchups Set; Ruoff Mortgage New Sponsor

From Indycar:

INDIANAPOLIS (Wednesday, May 25, 2022) – Thirteen of INDYCAR’s top pit crews will compete for more than $100,000 in prizes as the Ruoff Mortgage Pit Stop Challenge returns to Miller Lite Carb Day on Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The traditional Carb Day competition will be held for the first time since 2019, when the crew of Arrow McLaren SP’s Marcus Ericsson was victorious. Ruoff Mortgage, which serves as the primary partner of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES’ Fastest Seat in Sports, will extend its INDYCAR SERIES involvement by serving as the event’s sponsor.
“What better way to welcome back fans to Miller Lite Carb Day than to bring back the Ruoff Mortgage Pit Stop Challenge,” INDYCAR President Jay Frye said. “NTT INDYCAR SERIES racing is a team sport, and this contest showcases how important pit stops are to helping their team win the Indy 500 on Sunday.”
Participating pit crews – representing seven different teams – qualified for this year’s Ruoff Mortgage Pit Stop Challenge via pit stop performance in NTT INDYCAR SERIES races since the 2021 Indy 500, their ranking in the 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES entrant standings or as a one-off Indianapolis 500 entrant.
Crews will compete head-to-head in single-round eliminations for the first three rounds of the competition in which they are required to change four tires and simulate refueling.
The top three ranked squads – top-seeded No. 2 Team Penske, second seed No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing and third seed No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing – earned byes to the quarterfinals
In the championship round, the last two teams will meet in a best-of-three series, with teams alternating lanes in the first two races.
The winning crew and driver will share a $50,000 bonus, custom-designed rings from Jostens and a variety of other prizes.
First Round (Team listed first has lane choice)
#12 Team Penske (Will Power) vs. #10 Chip Ganassi Racing (Alex Palou)
#5 Arrow McLaren SP (Pato O’Ward) vs. #23 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (Santino Ferrucci)
#26 Andretti Autosport with Curb-Agajanian (Colton Herta) vs. #45 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (Jack Harvey)
#24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (Sage Karam) vs. #7 Arrow McLaren SP (Felix Rosenqvist)
#20 Ed Carpenter Racing (Conor Daly) vs. #28 Andretti Autosport (Romain Grosjean)
Quarterfinals (Team listed first has lane choice unless noted)
Q1: #2 Team Penske (Josef Newgarden) vs. Power/Palou winner
Q2: O’Ward/Ferrucci winner vs. Herta/Harvey winner (Fastest first-round time has lane choice)
Q3: #9 Chip Ganassi Racing (Scott Dixon) vs. Karam/Rosenqvist winner
Q4: #15 Rahal Letterman Racing (Graham Rahal) vs. Daly/Grosjean winner
Semifinals (Fastest quarterfinal time has lane choice)
S1: Q1 winner vs. Q2 winner
S2: Q3 winner vs. Q4 winners
Finals (Best-of-Three Series)S1 winner vs. S2 winner
Team Penske leads the Challenge with a combined 17 wins.
Helio Castroneves is the winningest driver in the competition with eight titles.
Coverage of the Ruoff Mortgage Pit Stop Challenge begins at 2:30 p.m. (ET) and will be available on Peacock Premium. 
 
 

Kirkwood Comfortable on IMS Oval

Kyle Kirkwood is excited to be in his first 500. I spoke with the A. J. Foyt Racing driver yesterday after practice.

“It’s a really cool thing,” Kirkwood said of driving in the 500 for the first time.

He was happy with his morning run when the number 14 car finished 11th.

Indycar photo by Joe Skibinski

“We did the most laps out of everyone. So we’re getting the critical things that we’ve got to take everything apart, put our car back together and we seem to be better than we started off for some reason. So we’re happy with everything works around.”

Kirkwood felt his car picked up where they stopped at the end of the open test last month.

“You know, it’s just starting off. Everyone’s kind of starting off slow because it’s such a long, such a long two weeks of testing and everything so it’s really just making sure we got all the big things sorted out and we’ll start fine tuning the car as days go on,” Kirkwood said.

“We feel good. I think the conditions are quite a bit different than they were at the at the open test. I think everyone out there seemed to struggle a little bit more in traffic, for whatever that reason,” he continued. “We’ve had some rain over the past couple weeks and the track might have been a bit dirty. Possible. . But we feel we feel okay at the moment.”

The team’s plan for yesterday afternoon was “We’ve got a big list of items that we need to get through this next week and we’re just hitting all this off gathering as much data together and then we’ll reconvene or go back over it at some point, either at the end of this week or next week and figure out exactly what we have and we’re looking forward to get through these types of items and hopefully ended up with a really good car at the end.”

At St. Pete Kirkwood mentioned that he didn’t have much oval experience. Racing at Texas seems to have helped his confidence on ovals.

“Yeah, I’m very comfortable. It’s a bit different than Texas is given how flat the track is. But I feel very comfortable in the number 14 Rokit Chevrolet. “

Kirkwood ended up 21st in the afternoon session. It’s not unusual to see cars slide backwards in the second practice session as the team tries different setups.

Notes From a Wet Track

The image above looks as if it were taken last Saturday, but alas, I snapped it just two minutes ago. Some cars were on pit lane at 11:45 as a light sprinkle fell. The rain increased soon afterwards, and the cars returned to their garages.

Practice is on an indefinite hold. My weather app radar shows rain continuing through the 5 o’clock hour. I would say any track time today is doubtful. With every entry guaranteed to make the race, losing a day may not be as critical as it has been in the past. Most of the teams have the benefit of the two day open test in April.

Notes

IMSA at IMS? One of the first goals Roger penske set for the Speedway when he bought the track was to hoist a sports car endurance race. I think he was hoping for a World Endurance event, but it appears an IMSA race is more likely, probably a sprint event of 100 or 160 minutes.

Adding an IMSA event means IMS would host each of the three major North American series, something that is long overdue.

New at the IMS online shop In an email today the Indianapolis Kotr Speedway online store is offering a 1:12 replica of Ray Harroun’s Marmon Wasp, winner of the first 500. It can be yours for just $599.99.

Third OEM There is still no word about a third engine manufacturer for Indycar. I mention this because yesterday Lamborghini announced they will be joining IMSA’s GTP class in 2024 with an LMDh entry joining Cadillac, Acura, BMW, and Porsche.

I will keep you updated on the day here at IMS. Keep checking back. I will post at 3 pm Eastern or sooner if I hear something before then.

Sato Leads Practice 2

Takuma Sato turned the fastest lap of the day in the last few minutes of the afternoon practice session. Sato’s lap of 228.939 was the fastest of the day. Scott Dixon, the leader of the morning round, held the lead for most of the three hour session.

Eight Hondas were in the top 10. Rinus VeeKay in fifth and Josef Newgarden in eighth were the only Chevys in the top 10.

The session stopped three times, twice for debris and once when a quick brown fox jumped over the Speedway fence.

Scott Dixon cautioned against reading too much into today’s speeds.

“It’s just the first day,” he said.

Rinus VeeKay was fifth this afternoon, but he was first on the no two speeds. His Teammate Ed Carpenter had the second fastest no tow lap.

“I’m very comfortable in the car,” VeeKay said.

Teams of Note

Dale Coyne Racing cars were first and seventh with David Malukas finding speed late in the session.

All five Chip Ganassi Racing drivers were in the top 10. After Dixon, Jimmie Johnson was third, Marcus Ericsson fourth, Alex Palou sixth, and Tony Kanaan ninth. Dixon said they did do any group running today but plan to later in the week.

Notes

Stefan Wilson completed his refresher test then ran 10 more laps in the practice session.

A nice size crowd was on hand for today’s opening.

Results:

Rosenqvist’s Season Coming Together

Indycar photo by Joe Skibinski

Felix Rosenqvist believes his season is beginning to come together. He has qualified well, but errors in the races have held him back. He sees his sixth place finish in Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix as a positive sign, but he wasn’t completely satisfied.

“Yeah, it was a solid weekend,” the driver of the number 7 Arrow McLaren SP car said. “You know we we’ve had really good qualifying performance the last couple of races and I think last week and actually Barber half of the race was really good and then we made some mistakes and this race we were I think honestly we were the quickest on track and like all conditions and unfortunately we had a collision with Pato in the middle of the race.

“I’m still kind of bummed about it because I think we had a chance to win but it was good to be back in the top six for our season is very good. I think we had some momentum to run on this morning.”

Rosenqvist felt the first practice went well.

“Good, ” he said. ” Not really much to report. We didn’t do much traffic running. We just tried to like set up the car and make sure the car is fine for the weeks to come. And I felt good because I have a good baseline and we would know more and this afternoon when we were running traffic a bit more.”.

“I never really felt like this place is that green like you always come out the first run and you have pretty good grip and obviously the track grips up during the day.”

Rosenqvist said he will work on passing more this afternoon. He thinks it will be difficult to pass more than one car at a time.

“It seems like it’s very easy to pass one car. And then when you have two cars in front, it’s tricky. And then when you have three cars in front, it becomes really difficult. So you want to be up front no matter what’s you know. I think being second is probably the optimal spot in the race. Yeah, that’s the way it’s right now.”

This is a season on the brink fo rRosenqvist, but he is confident that the results will come.

Castroneves’ Drive for Five in Spotlight among 106th Indianapolis 500 Field 

I think there are several compelling stories which I will explore this week

From IMS:


 Eight ‘500’ Winners To Compete in ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ May 29
INDIANAPOLIS (Monday, May 16, 2022) – Eight winners are among the field of 33 drivers assigned to cars for the 106th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 29 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with Helio Castroneves’ quest to become the first five-time winner of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” taking center stage during the Month of May.
Four-time winner Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002, 2009, 2021), two-time winners Juan Pablo Montoya (2000, 2015) and Takuma Sato (2017, 2020), plus single winners Scott Dixon (2008), Tony Kanaan (2013), Alexander Rossi (2016), Will Power (2018) and Simon Pagenaud (2019) are the past winners aiming for another victory this year. The record for winners in one field is 10, set in 1992.
SEE: Entry List
Castroneves joined A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears in the most prestigious club in motorsports – four-time winners of the Indianapolis 500 – with his emotional victory May 30, 2021 in the No. 06 AutoNation/Sirius XM Honda fielded by Meyer Shank Racing. Castroneves, 47, remains with Meyer Shank this season for his drive for five and would become the third-oldest winner in Indianapolis 500 history – behind Al Unser and Bobby Unser – with a victory this year.
Brazilian native Castroneves also is trying to become the first repeat winner since he achieved the feat with his first two victories, in 2001 and 2002. BorgWarner is offering a $400,000 bonus this year to Castroneves if he can achieve back-to-back victories.
The field includes seven past INDYCAR SERIES champions: Dixon, Kanaan, Montoya, Josef Newgarden, reigning NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Alex Palou, Pagenaud and Power.
Seven drivers also will compete for Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge Rookie of the Year honors, the biggest rookie crop since 2014, when there also were seven first-time starters. This year’s group includes the high-profile debuts of seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and Formula One veteran Romain Grosjean and also includes Devlin DeFrancesco, Callum Ilott, Kyle Kirkwood, Christian Lundgaard and David Malukas.
Andretti Autosport and Chip Ganassi Racing each have entered five cars, the most of any team.
Practice opens Tuesday, May 17 and runs through Friday, May 20. PPG Presents Armed Forces Qualifying is scheduled for Saturday, May 21 and Sunday, May 22, followed by a two-hour practice Monday, May 23. The traditional final practice, two hours again this year on Miller Lite Carb Day, will be held Friday, May 27.Live Race Day coverage begins on NBC, Telemundo Deportes on Universo and the INDYCAR Radio Network at 11 a.m. (ET), with the green flag set for 12:45 p.m.
2022 ENTRY BREAKDOWN:
Winners (8): Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Juan Pablo Montoya, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, Alexander Rossi, Takuma Sato
Rookies (7): Devlin DeFrancesco, Romain Grosjean, Callum Ilott, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Kirkwood, Christian Lundgaard, David Malukas
U.S. drivers (13): Marco Andretti, Ed Carpenter, Conor Daly, Santino Ferrucci, Colton Herta, JR Hildebrand, Jimmie Johnson, Sage Karam, Kyle Kirkwood, David Malukas, Josef Newgarden, Graham Rahal, Alexander Rossi
International drivers (20, from 14 countries): Helio Castroneves, Devlin DeFrancesco, Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson, Romain Grosjean, Jack Harvey, Callum Ilott, Tony Kanaan, Dalton Kellett, Christian Lundgaard, Scott McLaughlin, Juan Pablo Montoya, Pato O’Ward, Simon Pagenaud, Alex Palou, Will Power, Felix Rosenqvist, Takuma Sato, Rinus VeeKay, Stefan Wilson
Engines (33): Honda 17, Chevrolet 16 (all cars use Dallara chassis and Firestone tires) 

GMR GP Wrap Up- This is What Racing is All About

Last night I had the kind of restless sleep that is usually reserved for the night before then Indianapolis 500. It was one of my last mornings to sleep in, but I awoke before 5 AM still excited about the race. I began to watch the replay of the GMR Grand Prix. my heart was racing just thinking about watching it. The first lap set the tone for the race.

Yesterday’s race is what racing is all bout- fighting changing conditions, making snap tire decisions, passing, taking risks. Many races these days are run somewhat on the conservative side, but yesterday’s show was a fun damn the point standings full speed ahead race. I can’t recall a race that exciting and intriguing.

Some fans have compared the GP to Nashville last year. I thought that was just slapstick follies. Fontana in 2015 had lots of action, but the rain Saturday added an element of tension to the event.

I hope we have a tone for a 500mile race that will be just as incredible. This race will stick with me for a long time.

Aeroscreen’s First Rain Test

The aeroscreen had its first test of performing in the rain. Reviews from the drivers are mixed. In a post race interview Conor Daly, who finished fifth, said,

“…the water just stayed in the center of the
screen, and I don’t know why, but even as you went faster,
which you would hope it would clear, it didn’t. Again, I can’t
say anything.”

Runner-up Simon Pagenaud suggested a wiper.

“I mean, if we had a wiper, it would probably help, but that
was the first real race with the aeroscreen, so you got to
give credit to INDYCAR. The safety is amazing, but in
these conditions you would need a wiper like they do in the
sports cars.
It’s very similar to a wind screen you have on a sports car.
There’s a (inaudible) wiper. It’s possible, and it would
probably help in these conditions.”

Will Power had a different perspective.

“Actually, I didn’t have much problem with
the rain. The worst part for me was when it was half wet.
We’re on drys, and you have kind of that gritty just dirt on
top of water. That was when I struggled to see a little bit,
but in the full wet, I mean, the biggest problem for me was
the spray from the cars.
There’s really nothing can you do about that with
open-wheel cars. It’s just going to be a lot of spray.”

When the aeroscreen was under development, what would happen during rain was one of my concerns. Unfortunately, there was no good way to test for this situation. Now that Indycar has some feedback, they will look for ways to improve visibility in wet conditions.

Rosenqvist Begins to make His Case

Felix Rosenqvist is in a contract year and it is widely assumed that he is fighting for his job. he has qualified well this season, with one pole and three Fast Six appearances, but has faded in several of the races. Yesterday he started and ended sixth despite a collision with teammate Pato O’Ward on lap 42. Rosenqvist has climbed into the top half of the standings. He needs a good showing on May 29 to help his position on the team.

Ericsson: Adversity is My Friend

This is nopt a direct quote from Marcus Ericsson, but it could be. In last year’s victory at Nashville, he ran into the back of Sebastien Bourdais, causing his car to get airborne. After serving a penalty and thanks to some timely cautions, he ended up in victory circle.

Saturday Ericsson started 18th and found himself in the lead nearing the halfway point during a caution. He stayed out hoping the race would be called at the and made official at the 43 lap mark. The race continued and Ericsson was forced to pit on lap 47. He dropped far down the standings, but came back to finish fourth.

Like 2021, Ericsson is one of those drivers you don’t really notice who is suddenly in contention. I think he will have a great second half of the season.

Thanks for following along this weekend. I will have a photo gallery up on The Pit Window on Facebook and on @tutorindie and @Pit WindowToo on Twitter in a bit.

Singin’ in the Rain- Herta’s Early Stop Pays Off

Some quick thoughts on a wild day at IMS:

The GMR Grand Prix was a two-hour long endurance race. I felt I was at the Rolex 24 for most of the race. Some quick thoughts. I will follow up with more tomorrow.

Honda finally broke through with a victory.

The race was not the prettiest I’ve ever seen, but gosh it was entertaining. Strategy changed almost every lap, contenders spun, came back, and spun again. Teams gambled, and some won while others lost. The drama and intrigue made for a fascinating event.

As we saw in 2019, this race is helped by rain.

A Good Day for Some Rookies

Four rookies had their best finishes of the year today. Callum Ilott was eighth, Christian Lundgaard ninth, David Malukas 12th, and Tatiana Calderon came home 15th. Calderon led a lap.

I can’t recall a race before today in which Will Power was on the pole and didn’t lead a lap.

Power has finished third or fourth in every race this season.

ECR Figuring Out Road Courses

Ed Carpenter Racing seems to have gotten a handle on road courses. The team has been in three Fast Six rounds and has twqo top five finishes.

Conor Daly’s fifth place today was his first top five in five years. Daly started fourth.

Rinus VeeKay has a pole and a fourth place start and finished third at Barber.

In 2019 Simon Pagenaud showed how good he was on a wet track, winning the GMR Grand Prix with a last lap pass. Today in less than ideal conditions he finished second after starting 20th. Definitely the driver of the day.

Alex Palou worked his way back to 18th after his early spin. He was not able to get his lap back because of the way the yellows fell. This track has been a difficult one for Palou. Last summer he finished last when his engine expired.

Thanks for following along. i will have more tomorrow on this wild race.

Ericsson Fastest in Morning Warm Up

Marcus Ericsson turned the quickest lap in the final warm-up session for the GMR Grand Prix. Ericsson edged Callum Ilott by 0.113 seconds. Pole sitter Will Power was ninth and Alex Palou, who starts second, was eighth.

Six Honda cars were in the top 10 in the thirty -minute practice, which ran green the entire way.

Reminder- the green flag time has been moved up to 3:07 pm Eastern to avoid as much of the thunderstorms as possible. The documentary The Club will still air at 2 pm on NBC.

The chance of rain may cause some teams to rethink their starting tire choices.

Some photos from the warmup.

Sato pit stop.

Will Power

Notes

Caesar’s Sportsbook has taken over the spot where the memorabilia show used to be. It is a betting parlor. I’m not sure if I like this idea.

The race will go on if there is only rain. Lightning will cause a red flag. I believe a halt for lightning will be at least thirty minutes. 44 laps will be an official race.

Results