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

Race Day- Wet or Dry?

Today’s Schedule

  • May 14 – $40 for General Admission. $50 for flex ticket seating in Northwest Vista (Sections 11-20), Southwest Vista (Sections 1-10), Tower Terrace (Sections 37-47 and 75-79) and Paddock (Sections 9-14). Children 15 and under are admitted free with flex ticket paying adult. Reserved seats range from $41-105.

Public Parking: Parking for the GMR Grand Prix is available in a variety of locations around the track:

  • May 14 – paid public parking is available in Lot 1A, Lot 2 and Main Gate parking lots for $20. Gate 1 Lot (Parcel B) parking is available for $50. Motorcycle parking is also available at South Carousel Lot for $20. Paid ADA parking is available in Lot 3P and Lot 2. Free parking is located in Lot 7 (North 40).

SATURDAY, May 14 (General Admission $40; Reserved Seats Start at $41)
7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Public Gates Open

8:05-8:50 a.m. USF2000 Race 2

9:10-10 a.m. Indy Pro 2000 Race 2

10:30-11 a.m. NTT INDYCAR SERIES Warmup Peacock

11:15-11:55 a.m. USF2000 Race 3

12:10-1 p.m. Indy Pro 2000 Race 3

1:20-2:15 p.m. Indy Lights Race 2 (35 laps or 55 minutes) Peacock

2:40-3:05 p.m. Silver/Bronze Badge Grid Walk

3:30 p.m. Ninth GMR Grand Prix (85 laps) NBC, Peacock

5:45 p.m. GMR Grand Prix Post-Race Track Invasion

Weather is the word for the day. Thunderstorms are predicted for late morning and scattered storms may visit the track this afternoon.

The latest from @Indycar_Wxman:

It looks like rain may come after 4 pm which will add intrigue to the event. Will someone go to rain tires before the rain comes? Who dives into the pits first?

The grid has several drivers starting farther back than usual. It should be an interesting race watching them climb to the front. I an going to be watching Colton Herta, Scott Dixon, and Simon Pagenaud work their way forward.

Will Power and Alex Palou should battle for the win. Palou and Josef Nwgarden saved a set of reds by starting the Fast Six on blacks before switching to reds

Whichever way the weather turns out, it should be a fascinating race.

I’ll be back after the morning warm up.

Power Still Indy’s King of The Road

If it’s early May in Indianapolis, you will find Will Power on the pole. Power won his fourth GMR Grand Prix pole and fifth on the IMS road course. Power snatched the pole from Alex Palou on the final timed lap of the Firestone Fast Six. His time of1:09.766 beat Palou by 0.043 seconds.

The pole was Power’s 64th of his career. He is just three behind Mario Andretti’s record of 67.

Will Power talks about his 64th career pole

The entire qualifying ran without issues. Only one Honda, the car of Alex Palou, made it to the final round. The rest of the Fast Six, in order, are Josef Newgarden, Conor Daly, Pato O’Ward, and Felix Rosenqvist.

Conor Daly earned his best starting spot of the season

Some pole contenders struggled during qualifying. Colton Herta and Rinus VeeKay did not make it out of the first round. Herta will start tomorrow’s race in row 7 and VeeKay in row 8. Jack Harvey, who usually qualifies well at this track, will start 9th Saturday.

The 2021 polesitter, Romain Grosjean, starts 10th.

Unfamiliar Territory

Simon Pagenaud starts 20th and Scott Dixon starts 21st. Pagenaud won the pole at the GMR Grand Prix in 2016 and has won the race three times. Dixon has won once and is usually a top finisher. Watch for this pair to move forward tomorrow.

Notes

The scoring pylon showed the time remaining in each round. This is something that wasn’t always done in the past. I’m glad they had it up there.

I found a lot of nice shirts while making a brief pass through of the merchandise shop behind the pits. If anyone has a dresser I can have, I will add to my T-shirt collection.

The speed difference for the starting grid from first to 27th is 1.68 seconds.

Palou had the fastest lap in qualifying, 1:09.411 in round 2.

Thanks for following along today. I will have some follow up on today tomorrow morning.

8

O’Ward Sets Practice 2 Pace

The kids took over in GMR Grand Prix practice in the second session. The top five drivers are all 25 years old or younger.

Pato O’Ward grabbed the fastest time late in the session from Alex Palou. The top four drivers recorded laps in the 1:09 bracket. The top 23 cars are within one second of O’Ward’s time. Practice had two red flag interruptions, both within the first seven minutes of the session.

Alex Palou was first in the morning practice and second in the afternoon.

Dalton Kellett spun off track into the sand trap and could move. David Malukas went off track to avoid Kellet’s car. Malukas was able to continue back to the pits.

Jimmie Johnson went off track min the same area a few minutes later. The rest of the practice was green.

As I expected, some drivers who were down nthe chart in the morning practice improved their times. Rinus VeeKay was fourth this afternoon after ending the morning session 21st. Veekay was the first driver to turn a lap under 1:10.

Callum Ilott dropped to 19th from second in the just completed round. Christian Lundgaard, fifth in the just completed practice, improved from14th this morning.

Notes

I noticed a few more new things around the speedway.

BMW has a new building in turn three. I am not sure what the building will be used for.

Recycling cans are prevalent throughout the grounds next to trash cans. It’s nice to see some tangible environmental commitment by IMS.

Results:

Palou’s Last Lap Quickest in Practice 1

Indycar Photo by Chris Jones

Series points leader Alex Palou posted the fastest time of the first practice session as th NTT Indycar Series began preparing for tomorrow’s GMR Grand Prix. Palou’s lap of 1:10.4555 nipped rookie Callum Ilott by 0,0038 seconds.

The session was green for the first 43 and a half minutes. Helio Castroneves spun and stalled at pit in bringing out the red flag. There was enough time for one more flying lap, and Palou edged Ilott, who had led for the previous eight minutes.

At one point three former pole winners for this race were at the top of the pylon. Will Power led Felix Rosenqvist and Simon Pagenaud. While the top ten contains no real surprises, Rinus VeeKay, the 2021 winner in 21st is puzzling. Also Josef Newgarden in16th and Scott McLaughlin in 17th is a shock. I think these three will show better in session 2, which begins at 12:45 pm.

I spoke with Callum Ilott after practice.

He told the run was “really good. I just thought we had to improve a couple of things and then at the end we put it together and it was quite good’ We got the new tires I think a lot of other people used the new tires.”

Ilott described the track as “Really green because as the painted part for the oval transferring off of that onto the road course was a little bit different so we had to rubber it in.”

As far as changes for session two, Ilott thinks the team will make a few.

“I think so. I just haven’t told them everything I was feeling so I think they’re making the changes. “

Notes

Fans are slowly entering the track.

It has been nice seeing people I haven’t seen since 2019. I’m glad to see that they are healthy.

The Wifi in the stands seems to be improved.

I continue to be impressed by the cleanliness of IMS since Roger Penske bought the track.

Matthew brabham won the pole position for Indy Lights Race 1.

Back after Practice 2.

Results: