Indycar 2021 Part II-Another Championship Coming Down to the Wire

Photo: Josef Newgarden looks to regain the Indycar title. Indycar photo

Long Beach, September 26- The NTT Indycar Series championship hinges on who finishes ahead of whom. Will Scott Dixon win his seventh title? Does Josef Newgarden win his third? Will Alexander Rossi finally earn the trophy he covets?

This is the scenario I see playing out in the season finale. I’m not ready to declare that the young drivers will be battling each other. We might see a brief spurt mid season where Pato O’Ward and Colton Herta are ibn the hunt, maybe one of them leading for a bit, but I think we have one more year of the old guard. By old guard i mean drivers over 25.

I see O’Ward winning multiple times and another first time winner out of the group including Jack Harvey, Rinus VeeKay, and Alex Palou.

While a driver has just seventeen chances to win in a season, there are 51 chances to get on the podium. The number of podiums could well determine the title since I thin there will be nine different winners in 2021.

The early schedule favors Newgarden. He has dominated at barber the last few years, and he won St. Pete last fall. As always happens, though, is the early leader comes back to the field. Dixon has not won at either of the first two tracks. The lack of short ovals will later be a disadvantage to Newgarden.

It’s gong to be wild ride to the finish line.

Winners

Who are the nine winners this year? I will name them, but unlike some stories I’ve seen, I won’t assign a number of wins. Here they are, in no particular order:

Newgarden

Dixon

Rossi

Herta

Power

Harvey or VeeKay

O’Ward

Rahal

Sato

Sebastien Bourdais could restore some glory to the iconic nuimber14

Will Bourdais Help Foyt?

A storyline to watch is how much will having Sebastien Bourdais in the team’s number 1 car help A. J. Foyt Racing? The season starts at two tracks where Bourdais has done well. In 2020, Bourdais started seventh and finished fourth at St. Pete. I think Bourdais will improve the qualifying and will have several top 10s and a couple of top 5s. A podium spot may sneak in there as well.

Will Peacock Ruffle Some Feathers?

Practices and most qualifying will be on the new Peacock streaming service this season as NBC is phasing out NBCSN. The service is $.99 a month and can be cancelled anytime. If you just get it for the months of the Indycar season, it is 4#0. NBC Gold costs almost $50 for the year. I bought Peacock in tuime for last week’s open test at IMS. I was impressed by the coverage and the picture quality, even on my phone and tablet.

Peacock has now built an Indycar page which has the upcoming broadcasts for the next two weekends. Don’t dismiss it until you try it.

Predictions

Josef Newgarden will win his third Indycar title in 2021. Scott Dixon has always had a difficult time in a year where he is defending his championship. Alexander Rossi and Andretti Autosport need a strong run at the Indianapolis 500 to have a chance. Last week’s test did not give me hope for that to happen.

Scott McLaughlin will win Rookie of the Year simply because he is the only rookie who will drive in all 17 races. He would probably win anyway.

Graham Rahal will win the Indianapolis 500. The team dominated with a first and third in 2020. I expect them to be strong again in May.

Rain Halts Test; Daly Posts Fastest Time

Photo: Rinus VeeKay suffered a broken finger in an accident shortly after the test session began.

Rain halted the open test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway just before the end of the two hour veterans’ practice period. 21 drivers posted times in the abbreviated session.

Conor Daly has the fastest time at the moment, a lap of 222.714 miles an hour. Ed Carpenter is second at 221.296. Scott Dixon had the third quickest time at 220.575, followed by Arrow McLaren SP teammates Felix Rosenqvist and Pato O’Ward. The top five are the only cars with laps above 220 miles an hour.

The practice got off to a slow start when Rinus VeeKay spun in turn 1 just 10 minutes into the session. VeeKay said he was caught by a gust of wind. His left front wheel got into the grass and the car spun into the outside wall. VeeKay suffered a broken finger in the accident.

The rain has stopped and crews have begun to dry the track. Rookie Orientation and Refresher tests will begin when the track is ready. Cody Ware and Pietro Fittipaldi are the only two who need to complete the three phases of the rookie test.

Notes

It is weird getting used to seeing Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya incars that aren’t owned by Team Penske.

James Hinchcliffe hinted in an interview on Peacock that Robert Wickens is planning something “very exciting.” Hinchcliffe stopped short of saying what it is, but said the fans will love it.

Conor Daly is using number 47 for the 500 as he did last year.

I really like the resolution on the Peacock app on my tablet.

The top 10:

147Conor DalyEd Carpenter RacingChevy222.71418
220Ed CarpenterEd Carpenter RacingChevy221.2969
39Scott DixonChip Ganassi RacingHonda220.5759
47Felix RosenqvistArrow McLaren SPChevy220.36016
55Pato O’WardArrow McLaren SPChevy220.23323
610Alex PalouChip Ganassi RacingHonda219.96913
726Colton HertaAndretti AutosportHonda219.8468
827Alexander RossiAndretti AutosportHonda219.64010
912Will PowerTeam PenskeChevy219.63516
1060Jack HarveyMeyer Shank RacingHonda219.5196

I’ll be back with a wrap up after 6 pm.

Peacock Debuts at Indy Open Test

Photo from Indycar Twitter

Indycar sent the following release regarding the open test at IMS Thursday and Friday. No fans allowed on the grounds. Peacock will have its first live streaming of Indycar. Peacocok costs $.99 per month. If you get it just for the Indycar season, it is less expensive than NBC Gold was. I believe Peacock is free if Xfinity is your cable provider.

The news release:

Nearly a full field of NTT INDYCAR SERIES participants will begin preparations for the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge during an open test Thursday, April 8 and Friday, April 9 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Thirty-two car-and-driver combinations are scheduled to participate in the two-day session, which will stream live to race fans exclusively via NBCUniversal’s new streaming service, Peacock.

The open test at IMS creates a marquee launch for INDYCAR action on Peacock, featuring NBC Sports talent, exclusive content and interviews previewing the 17-race NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. Fans can sign up here for one week to view both days of testing at IMS, and enjoy live coverage of NTT INDYCAR SERIES qualifying and practice sessions, as well as coverage surrounding the 105th Indianapolis 500, Indy Lights races, race day warmups and full-event replays of the 2021 season on Peacock Premium for $4.99 per month.

“IMS and INDYCAR are working closely with NBC Sports to deliver what should be an exceptional show on Peacock during these two very important days of testing,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “Having the NBC Sports broadcasters, production quality and exclusive content will deliver an engaging viewing experience that builds even more anticipation for finally coming ‘Back Home Again’ to IMS in May.”

Said INDYCAR President Jay Frye: “The NTT INDYCAR SERIES offers the most competitive and daring racing on the planet. Peacock gives our most loyal fans access to key practice and qualification sessions while also showcasing our series alongside a compelling roster of major global sports leagues and competitions.”

A full stream of the test also will be available to international fans via the INDYCAR App powered by NTT DATA. Details on further global coverage of NTT INDYCAR SERIES race weekends, beginning with the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst on Sunday, April 18, will be provided soon by INDYCAR.

The IMS test will be held from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. (ET) Thursday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday. There will be no on-site public access. IMS remains focused on planning and preparing to host spectators during the Month of May. An advisory regarding media access will be forthcoming.

Star-Studded Field Set To Turn Laps at IMS

Reigning “500” champion Takuma Sato of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and six-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing headline the list of participants testing. Sato and Dixon were the top two finishers in last year’s race, held Aug. 23 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and they have combined to win Indy three times (Sato in 2017 and 2020, Dixon in 2008).

Nine former “500” winners have plans to test, including three-time champion Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002, 2009) in a car fielded by Meyer Shank Racing. Juan Pablo Montoya eyes his third “500” victory with as many teams. Montoya’s prior victories came with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2000 and Team Penske in 2015; this effort is with Arrow McLaren SP.

Other past “500” winners participating will be Chip Ganassi Racing’s Tony Kanaan (2013), Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay (2014) and Alexander Rossi (2016), and Team Penske’s Will Power (2018) and Simon Pagenaud (2019). The record for former winners in a single “500” is 10, set in 1992.

Marco Andretti, who won the NTT P1 Award for pole at last year’s event, will be part of Andretti Autosport’s five participants. Andretti became the first member of his family to win the pole at Indy since his grandfather Mario in 1987. Mario won three “500” poles in his illustrious career.

Simona De Silvestro will make her return to IMS in the No. 16 Chevrolet of Paretta Autosport, a new NTT INDYCAR SERIES team. The Swiss driver last competed in the race in 2015. Pietro Fittipaldi, whose grandfather Emerson twice won the “500,” also will participate in the test in a bid to earn his first starting position in the famed event.

Honda will have 17 entries testing, Chevrolet 15.

Official practice for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” begins Tuesday, May 18, with more than 33 entries competing for a starting position. NTT P1 Award qualifying will be held Saturday, May 22 and Sunday, May 23. The “500” is Sunday, May 30.

Peacock Replaces NBC Gold

Photo: Indycar

Well, that didn’t take long. Fans who purchased NBC Gold received an email today regarding the switch to Peacock. Indycar sent the follow release regarding the change.

From Indycar:

NBC, NBCSN To Broadcast All 2021 NTT INDYCAR Series Races

Peacock Premium becomes the new streaming home of NTT INDYCAR SERIES coverage beginning with the 2021 season. NBC Sports’ exclusive streaming coverage will move from NBC Sports Gold’s “IndyCar Pass,” to Peacock Premium, which is available for $4.99 per month.

Peacock Premium will provide fans in the U.S. with live coverage of 2021 INDYCAR qualifying and practice sessions as well as coverage surrounding the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, Indy Lights races, race day warmups and full-event replays of INDYCAR races in 2021. Peacock Premium will surround the 105th Indianapolis 500 with exclusive practice and qualifying coverage, as well as ancillary content.

“Peacock Premium will offer NTT INDYCAR SERIES fans in-demand track action at tremendous value,” said Penske Entertainment Corp. President & CEO Mark Miles. “Alongside NBC Sports, we’re providing comprehensive coverage of practice and qualifications throughout our season, while also connecting to a larger platform with a world-class roster of programming.”

INDYCAR on Peacock Premium will also feature INDYCAR archival and library content, and other motorsports shoulder programming.

As previously announced, all 2021 INDYCAR races, along with select additional race weekend sessions, will be broadcast on either NBC or NBCSN.

The 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season starts Sunday, April 18 with the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.

INDYCAR will join a robust library of live sports on Peacock Premium. Highlights of Peacock Premium’s live sports offerings include Premier League, a Sunday NFL Wild Card playoff game, U.S. Open golf, U.S. Women’s Open golf, and upcoming Olympics and Paralympics coverage, plus the Peacock Originals “Lost Speedways,” hosted by Dale Earnhardt Jr., and “In Deep with Ryan Lochte.”

Viewers can sign up for Peacock at peacocktv.com. Peacock is currently available on the Roku platform; Apple devices including iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD; Google platforms and devices including Android™, Android TV™ devices, Chromecast and Chromecast built-in devices; Microsoft’s Xbox One family of devices, including Xbox One S and Xbox One X; Sony PlayStation4 and PlayStation 4 Pro; and VIZIO SmartCast™ TVs and LG Smart TVs. Comcast’s eligible Xfinity X1 and Flex customers, as well as eligible Cox Contour customers, enjoy Peacock Premium included with their service at no additional cost.