Road America Weekend Schedule

The schedule with broadcast times. Reminder- all times are Eastern. If you are going to the race, times are an hour earlier. Saturday’s race is on NBCSN, the first race of the year on that channel. Sunday’s race is on NBC.

Qualifying will follow the format used for the Detroit races. Two groups get 30 minutes each. The fastest driver in each group gets a point and is guaranteed a front row start. the faster of the two is on the pole. the other cars line up behind the leader of their group.

Thursday is reserved solely for the Road to Indy. USF 2000 and IndyPro 2000 each have practice, qualifying, and two races.

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INDYCAR, IMS Announce ‘Race for Equality & Change’

This slipped under my radar this weekend. I’m glad to  see Indycar finally addressing this issue.

INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, July 4, 2020 – INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have announced the “Race for Equality & Change,” a major effort to support diversity and inclusivity across the INDYCAR industry. A key pillar of “Race for Equality & Change” will be a $1 million fund to fuel internal and external programs and initiatives that will create fundamental change.

“As our country has grappled with systemic issues related to race, equality and access to opportunity, we’ve been doing a lot of listening, learning and reflecting,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President and CEO Mark Miles said. “‘Race for Equality & Change’ will create a more diverse and inclusive INDYCAR community that fundamentally transforms our sport.”

Key focuses of the “Race for Equality & Change” include:

  • Recruiting and developing a diverse workforce throughout all levels of INDYCAR and IMS
  • Diversifying the competitive driver field at the grassroots, Road to Indy and NTT INDYCAR SERIES levels
  • Supporting impactful grassroots youth motorsports programs, including enhancing the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s longstanding partnership with Nexgeneracers, a 501c3 that introduces minority students to the world of motorsports
  • Diversifying employment, leadership and ownership within the SERIES and with INDYCAR promoters
  • Investment in minority communities to encourage greater engagement with INDYCAR and IMS
  • Establishing a procurement program to meaningfully increase the number of minority-owned businesses that contract with INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway each year

As part of today’s announcement, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway pylon will light up with a special “Race for Equality & Change” message during the NTT INDYCAR SERIES GMR Grand Prix this afternoon on the IMS road course. The NBC broadcast also will feature a conversation on the initiative between host Mike Tirico and Miles.

Traditions Smashed: Quick Thoughts on the GMR Grand Prix

Photo: Indycar, James Black

Two traditions of this race went down n flames today- A clean first lap for the first time in race history, and the biggest tradition-the two winners club was intruded upon by Scott Dixon. It was only the second time a Team Penske car did not win.

Five drivers with less than three years of Indycar experience finished in the top 10.Colton Herta finished fourth, Rinus VeeKay came home fifth, Marcus Ericsson was sixth, Pato O’W  and Santino Ferrucci ended up in eighth and ninth. VeeKay started 18th. His 13 spot improvement was second to Simon Pagenaud who moved up 17 positions from 20th to third.

Scott Dixon should have at least 50 career  victories by season’s end. He is now just four behind Mario Andretti for second place.

What is going on with Will Power and pit stops? There have been issues in both races this year.

The yellow for Oliver Askew’s crash hurt Graham Rahal. His two stop strategy was working perfectly until then. It was nice to see Rahal fighting for the win again.

It was a great day for Ed Carpenter Racing. In addition to VeeKay’s fifth place, Conor Daly finished 12th. Daly had been in the top 10 for much of the race. I hope to see more of this kind  of result from the team the rest of the year.

Andretti Autosport  struggled overall for the second straight race. Except for Herta, the rest of the team was not a factor. In Texas Veach was the lone bright spot. They need to turn things around at Road America next week.

Think it’s boring watching Dixon win the first two races? We are watching one of the best ever. As someone who has been lucky enough to watch Foyt, Andretti, Jones, Mears,  and the Unsers, I am telling you Dixon belongs with this group. appreciate him that you can watch someone with his skill.

A few people gathered outside the fence of IMS around 23rd and Georgetown Road to watch the race on the video board and soak in the sounds of the race. It was weird just getting tiny glimpses of the cars, but it was better than sitting at home.

I will be back with a more detailed wrap up later tonight or tomorrow.

Enjoy your holiday. wash your hands and mask up. Thanks for following along this weekend.

 

GMR Qualifying- The Kids Are Alright

Photo: Indycar, Chris Jones

Will Power won the pole for tomorrow’s GMR Grand Prix with a brilliant final lap in the Fast Six. he nipped Jack Harvey by 0.188  seconds. Old news. This was Power’s fourth pole in this race. He won the other three times he started on pole. The pole was the 58th of Power’s career, and he is just nine shy of tying Mario Andretti for the most career poles. He will creep even closer by year’s end.

What I want to focus this qualifying report on though is the younger drivers in the series. Overall, they had a great day. I will discuss them after a recap of qualifying.

Round 1, Group 1

The youngsters led the way, grabbing the first four spots to advance. Defending series champion Josef Newgarden struggled to squeeze into the final transfer spot.

Results:

Oliver Askew

Max Chilton

Felix Rosenqvist

Conor Daly

Ryan Hunter-Reay

Josef Newgarden

Round 1, Group 2

This session had a more traditional look with Power leading and more drivers expected to advance filling the next round.

Results:

Will Power

Colton Herta

Scott Dixon

Jack Harvey

Graham Rahal

Alexander Rossi

Round of 12

Half of the drivers in the second round have less than three full years of Indycar experience. It looked as if the fast Six would shape up to be another the great Power vs. Herta pole battles we had last season, but another youngster decided to spoil the fun.

Results:

Oliver Askew

Jack Harvey

Graham Rahal

Colton Herta

Will Power

Josef Newgarden

Fast Six

Jack Harvey came within a whisker of his first career pole. Power nipped him on the final lap as time ran out. The result was Harvey’s second consecutive GMR Grand Prix Fast Six. In 2019 he started third and finished third.

Results:

Will Power      1:10.177

Jack Harvey    1:10.365

Colton Herta

Graham Rahal

Oliver Askew

Josef Newgarden

The Kids

If you were keeping score, half of each of the last two rounds had drivers with less than three years experience. Oliver Askew in his first road course qualifying led two rounds of qualifying and had the fastest lap of 1:09.878 in the second round.

Conor Daly got a rare second round spot for Ed Carpenter Racing and will start 8th tomorrow.

Colton Herta showed last year that he will be a perennial contender.

Jack Harvey loves this track. if he can transfer his success at IMS to the rest of the series, he will be someone fun to watch.

Max Chilton advancing to the second round was nice to see.

Felix rosenqvist had an off day today, but could be a factor tomorrow.

We are witnessing a very quick generational change. These younger drivers are the sport’s future. The current stars have at most three years left. The series will be in very good hands when they leave. We could see a few more surprises this season. The kids are alright.

 

 

 

Qualifying Groups for GMR Grand Prix

Photo- Indycar, Jonathan Ferrey (Getty Images)

Qualifying groups for this afternoon’s knockout rounds and Fast Six:

Qualifying Groups (unofficial)

GROUP 1 GROUP 2
Santino Ferrucci Will Power
Pato O’Ward Marcus Ericsson
Ryan Hunter-Reay Scott Dixon
Felix Rosenqvist Simon Pagenaud
Oliver Askew Spencer Pigot
Josef Newgarden Colton Herta
Marco Andretti Jack Harvey
Takuma Sato Alexander Rossi
Max Chilton Rinus VeeKay
Conor Daly Graham Rahal
Álex Palou Zach Veach
James Hinchcliffe Charlie Kimball
Sage Karam Dalton Kellett

Qualifying can be seen on NBCSN at 4:30 Eastern. The race is at noon tomnorrow on NBC.

Power Quickest in GMR Practice; Good session for Young Guns

It’s probably bad news for the rest of the field. Will Power lead the only practice session for the seventh running of the GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this morning.  Power languished near the back of the pack through the first hour of the 90 minute session, then slowly began moving toward the front, topping the charts with about  15 minutes remaining. He was the only driver to crack the 1:10 mark.

The results:

1 12 Will Power Team Penske 1:09.949 –.—- 30
2 18 Santino Ferrucci Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan 1:10.124 0.1755 21
3 8 Marcus Ericsson Chip Ganassi Racing 1:10.165 0.2161 28
4 5 Pato O’Ward Arrow McLaren SP 1:10.187 0.2387 29
5 9 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing 1:10.205 0.2567 25
6 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport 1:10.285 0.3359 25
7 22 Simon Pagenaud Team Penske 1:10.313 0.3642 27
8 10 Felix Rosenqvist Chip Ganassi Racing 1:10.362 0.4132 29
9 45 Spencer Pigot RLL with Citrone/Buhl Autosport 1:10.363 0.4146 23
10 7 Oliver Askew Arrow McLaren SP 1:10.364 0.4154 30
11 88 Colton Herta Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport 1:10.385 0.4360 17
12 1 Josef Newgarden Team Penske 1:10.386 0.4375 26
13 60 Jack Harvey Meyer Shank Racing 1:10.455 0.5063 24
14 98 Marco Andretti Andretti Herta with Marco & Curb-Agajanian 1:10.486 0.5372 30
15 27 Alexander Rossi Andretti Autosport 1:10.520 0.5717 21
16 30 Takuma Sato Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 1:10.538 0.5894 25
17 21 Rinus VeeKay Ed Carpenter Racing 1:10.606 0.6571 36
18 59 Max Chilton Carlin 1:10.611 0.6627 26
19 15 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 1:10.685 0.7367 31
20 20 Conor Daly Ed Carpenter Racing 1:10.694 0.7448 26
21 26 Zach Veach Andretti Autosport 1:10.709 0.7602 27
22 55 Alex Palou Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh 1:10.886 0.9376 26
23 4 Charlie Kimball AJ Foyt Enterprises 1:10.980 1.0312 25
24 29 James Hinchcliffe Andretti Autosport 1:11.227 1.2783 26
25 14 Dalton Kellett AJ Foyt Enterprises 1:11.448 1.4997 42
26 24 Sage Karam Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 1:11.616 1.

The rookies and younger drivers had some time at the top. Felix Rosenqvist, last byear’s pole sitter, led for a while, as did Pato O’Ward and Marcus Ericsson.

Oliver Askew is the only rookie in the top 10. The biggest surprise in the top 10 is Spencer Pigot in 9th.  His team, Citrone Buhlo in partnership with RLL Racing,  team is making their Indycar debut this weekend.

the practice was stopped twice. Santino Ferrucci bumped Ryan Hunter-Reay around the 45 minute mark. Hunter-Reay was getting his tires up to temperature when Ferrucci tried to pass him pon the inside going into turn 7. Hunter-Reay spun and stalled. Ferrucci received a 5 minute stop and hold penalty for avoidable contact.

With about 30 minutes left, Sage Karam lost power on the access road by turn 12.

Notes

Except for Hunter-Reay, the rest of the Andretti Autosport struggled in the middle of the pack.

A dozen or so fans stood at the ,main gate watching the video board facing the entrance.

It was frustrating hearing the cars but not seeing them. It was still better than nothing.

I have never seen the Speedway look nicer.

A few photos:

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Back tonight after qualifying.

Today’s GMR Grand Prix Schedule

Good morning from my Pandemic Media Center nine miles from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Today’s schedule for Indycar practice and qualifying: (All Times Eastern)

11:30-1:00   Practice    NBC Gold

4:30-6:00      Qualifying    NBCSN

Times given are broadcast windows.

A few other notes:

Gary Trout, co-owner of Top Gun Racing, has announced the team will attempt to run in this year’s Indianapolis 500 and two other races. Earlier this week the team said they would wait until 2021. Top Gun plans to have R C Enerson drive in the 500, the Harvest grand Prix at IMS, and the season finale at St. Petersburg.

The 26 entries for this weekend’s race is a record number for this event. Had the race run on its original date there may have ben as many as 30 cars taking the gren flag. The most notable absence is Scott McLaughlin. The two time Australian Supercars champion looked to make his Indycar debut in this race for Team Penske, but the quarantine and pandemic have delayed his first race in the series until 2021.

I will be back after practice with a summary before qualifying.

 

GMR Grand Prix- Another Serving of P Soup? A Preview of an Historic Weekend

Photo: Simon Pagenaud can win his 4th GMR Grand Prix and third straight race at IMS this weekend.

The race that made history  becomes a part of a bigger history Saturday. No fans will be present to witness it. The GMR Grand Prix began as a prelude to the Indianapolis 500 in 2014. It was the first time a race other than the 500 had been run at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 1911. Saturday the race is the first part of the first Indycar/NASCAR doubleheader. Thrown together by the Coronavirus pandemic, the long overdue coming together of the two series could not happen anywhere else. IMS is the place that comes to mind when you talk about racing history.

The GMR Grand Prix winners club is the most exclusive group in racing.    There have been just two winners- Simon Pagenaud and Will Power. Each driver has won three times. Is Saturday Game 7? Team Penske has won the last five races. Schmidt Peterson won the first one. Power has also won the pole three times. Pagenaud has started from the point once.

Last year’s race was arguably the best of the six.  The event was plagued by rain throughout. Simon Pagenaud made the right call on which tire to use in the final segment. He sliced to the front, passing Scott Dixon late on the final lap to take what would be the first part of his May sweep.

Weather, Endurance

The race has run in different weather conditions. In 2016 was an  unseasonably cold day, 2019 had rain. Saturday looks to have temperatures near 90 for the start. Will the heat in the cockpit caused by the new aeroscreen be a factor?

The Grand Prix is the first leg of a five race in fifteen days stretch for the NTT Indycar Series.  Drivers have talked about how fit they have become during the delayed start to the season. Saturday’s heat will be a good test for the mupcoming doubleheaders at Road America and Iowa, two physical tracks.

Rookies

Three full time rookies, Oliver Askew, Rinus VeeKay.and Alex Palou join part time rookie Dalton Kellett in the field.  It is the first race for all of them at IMS. Kellett will drive the road course races in car 14 for A. J. Foyt Racing. He shares the car with Tony Kanaan, who drives the oval races.

Askew, VeeKay, and Kellett  have raced on this track in the Road to Indy. Will their experience help them this weekend?

First Lap Tradition

The GMR Grand Prix has yet to have a clean first lap.  In the inaugural race pole sitter Sebastian Saavedra stalled at the start most cars got by him, but two cars starting in the back rows plowed into him. Fortunately no one was injured. Turn 1 has seen spins and collisions each year at the start. Last year contact ruined Alexander Rossi’s chances of having a good finish.

Debuts

Conor Daly makes his debut for Ed Carpenter Racing Saturday. Daly is driving the road and stret courses for ECR and driving the oval races for Carlin. I have never seen Conor this well prepared for a season. This will be just his second full time year. His sixth place for Carlin at Texas should give him a lot of confidence heading into this marathon stretch. I have said before that Daly in the cockpit improves whichever team he drives for.

This will also be Charlie Kimball’s first road course race for A. J. Foyt Racing. Kimball finished 11th at Texas, a respectable showing for the team. In 2019, Matheus Leist finished 4thin the GMR Grand Prix for Foyt.  The potential is there for another good result.

Another Red Letter Day for the P’s?

I think the letter P finally falls from the top of podium Saturday. Scott Dixon, who has finished second three times in this race, finally gets to move up a step. His performance at Texas, along with the great  of teammate Felix Rosenqvist, showed me that this team is ready for a very strong season. Rosenqvist won the pole in 2019 and could also be a factor.

Don’t feel sorry for the two race winners. At least one of them will still be on the podium.

 

 

GMR Grand Prix Fast Facts

From Indycar:

Race weekend: Friday, July 3 – Saturday, July 4

Track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course (clockwise)

Race distance: 80 laps / 195.12 miles

Media Links: Entry List (PDF) | Trackside Book (Interactive PDF)

Push-to-pass parameters: 200 seconds of total time, with a maximum time of 20 seconds per activation.

Firestone tire allotment: Seven sets primary, four sets alternate (Note: An eighth set of primary tires is available to any car fielding a rookie driver.)

Twitter: @IMS @IndyCar, #INDYGP, #IndyCar

Event website:www.ims.com

INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com

2019 race winner: Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet)

2019 NTT P1 Award winner: Felix Rosenqvist (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda), 1:08.2785, 128.597 mph

Qualifying lap record: Will Power, 1:07.7044, 129.687 mph, May 12, 2017 (Set in Round 3 of knockout qualifying)

NBC Sports telecasts: Qualifying, 4:30 p.m. ET Friday, July 3, NBCSN (live); Race, noon ET Saturday, July 4, NBC (live). Leigh Diffey will be the play-by-play announcer for NBC’s telecast of the GMR Grand Prix alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy.

INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Davey Hamilton. The GMR Grand Prix race airs live on network affiliates, Sirius 211, XM 205, IndyCar.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app powered by NTT DATA. All NTT INDYCAR SERIES practices and qualifying are available on IndyCar.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app.

NBC Sports Gold livestreaming: All NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice sessions and qualifying will stream live on INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold, NBC Sports’ direct-to-consumer live streaming product.

At-track schedule (all times local):
Friday, July 3
11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice, NBC Sports Gold

4:30 p.m. – Qualifying for the NTT P1 Award (three rounds of NTT INDYCAR SERIES knockout qualifications), NBCSN (Live)

Saturday, July 4

9-9:30 a.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES warmup, NBC Sports Gold

Noon – NBC on air

12:01 p.m. – “Drivers, start your engines”
12:08 p.m. – GMR Grand Prix (80 laps/195.12 miles), NBC (Live)