Be prepared for a brave new world, race fans. Racing is set to resume, albeit under very different circumstances. NASCAR and Indycar will begin the season with no fans in the stands and strict procedures for teams during the events. This may be how we see racing for awhile. Every track presents a different set of circumstances, so the Texas model won’t work everywhere. It seems to be a good way to run oval races.
While I am as anxious as anyone to get to a race track, I want to be able to attend knowing my health is assured. The teams and drivers are assuming risk by participating in theses early races. Might it be better to wait until the country as a whole has a better handle on the situation? What happens when someone involved in one of the early races tests positive for COVID-19?
Indycar has the luxury to see how things go in the May NASCAR races. Future decisions might be based on what happens this month. The NTT Indycar series indicated yesterday that they are committed to completing the last schedule published April 6.
The governor of Oregon has announced that no fans will be at sports events in the state through September. That means no fans at the scheduled Grand Prix of Portland September 13.
The two Indycar races I see as least likely to happen are Toronto and Richmond. Canada has stricter lockdown procedures than the United States. The end date would not allow enough time for the track build. Richmond’s stay at home order expires June 10, two weeks before the race. It is a Porpermanent oval. In talking to people who live in the area, it doesn’t sound as if fans are going to be allowed at that race, if it goes on.
I also spoke with someone last night about Road America. It appears they are planning to have fans at the Indycar race. Whether that number will be limited has not been determined. The first part of the Indycar schedule could be a race with no fans, a race with fans, and another race with no fans.
Mark Miles said on Trackside Tuesday night that the Indianapolis 500 could be run as late as October if necessary. I would be fine with that, especially if it allows all fans wishing to attend to do so.
In these strange times, don’t expect a race to actually occur until you turn on your television and see it. We can ride this through. Stay safe and wash your hands.
Will Power has returned. After finally winning a race this year at Pocono, he has now won two out of the last three races. Two wins and htree poles is still a somewhat substandard year for Power, but he has come alive in the last part of the season. One of the things that didn’t feel right about this season was Power not being a threat to win every week.
A great run for Spencer Pigot in sixth. Pigot is another driver who has begun to show better the last third of the year.
Matheus Leist earned A. J. Foyt Racing another top ten. This is the team’s fourth top ten since Iowa.
While Alexander Rossi gained on Josef Newgarden, Newgarden still increased his lead. Rossi is back in second place, 41 points behind. Simon Pagenaud is just one point behind Rossi.
Scott Dixon is likely done as far as the championship is concerned. Has to be a frustrating day for him.
The first lap yellow seemed to take a long time to clean up. It looked like the wreckers had hard time hooking the cars up to the trucks.
I’m not sure what Ryan Hunter-Reay was thinking on the restart.
I feel awful for Conor Daly not getting a chance to show what he could do for Arrow Schmidt Peterson. This is the second race in which both ASPM cars were taken out on the first lap.
Felix Rosenqvist has two second place finishes in the last five races. Here is another driver finally emerging late in the year.
Here are two photos I took of the start and the chaos that followed. if you look from Veach and behind him, you can see how it developed.
Look for a full race report tomorrow on Wildfire Sports. I’ll be back next week with comments on the 2020 schedule and the changes at A. J. Foyt Racing. Thanks for following along this weekend.
Good morning from the Great Northwest as the NTT Indycar Series is about six hours away from the start of Round 16. It has been a tough week in the motorsports community. It always helps to get back to racing. Today will also be a busy news day.
The 2020 NTT Indycar Series schedule will be announced during the pre race show which begins at 3:00 pm Eastern on NBC. The green flag will fly at 3:40 Eastern time. I don’t expect more than one change to next year’s races. I will have my thoughts on the schedule in a couple of days.
Today is about the Grand Prix of Portland. Yesterday’s scrambled qualifying should make for an interesting race. The outcome, and a possible effect on the championship, could be determined by who and who doesn’t get through the first set of turns. After that, pit strategy and yellow flags will play a big part in the final result.
After Practice 3 yesterday the drivers lined up for a moment of silence for F2 driver Antoine Hubert, who died in an accident at Spa yesterday. It was a touching moment and a reminder of how the racing community is not just each separate series in isolation. Photo from Indycar
Was that qualifying or boxing match? What a tremendous battle between Colton Herta and Will Power. They traded the lead back and forth for three rounds before Herta emerged on the pole. Power’s miscue in turn one on his next to last lap may have cost him the pole. Herta was quick all weekend, though, and the result isn’t a surprise.
This session was the best road/street course qualifying of the year. There was drama throughout.
Scott Dixon is the only one of the top four in points to get in the Fast Six. Leader Josef Newgarden starts 13th, a dangerous place to be going into turn 1 at the start here. Simon Pagenaud starts 18 and Alexander Rossi 7th. Watching the championship contenders’ progress in the race will be an interesting task tomorrow.
Jack Harvey has done a great job all year. In eight races to date, he has finished in the top ten in four of them. Today is the fifth time Harvey has advanced to at least the second round of qualifying. Today is his second Fast Six. I can’t wait to see what he does as a full time driver next year.
Conor Daly did it again. He jumps into a car for a different team and puts it into Round 2. Daly will start 9th, his best starting spot of the season. This is his second time in Round 2. He also has two top ten finishes. Daly deserves a full time ride in 2020. I don’t know what else he can do to prove himself.
Great job the Arrow Schmidt Peterson team to get both cars into Round 2.
Five teams in the Fast Six always makes the final round fun.
Felix Rosenqvist missed turn1 in two consecutive rounds but still made the Fast Six.
Power said after qualifying that there is not as much difference between the red and black tires this year as there was last year at Portland. He still thinks cars will be able to pass during the race.
Herta gambled by waiting to run one final lap on reds. He was nearly as fast on blacks.
Chalk up another one for the 2019 rookies. The scoreboard- 3 poles, 1 win.
Back tomorrow morning with a race preview. It looks like we will have a fun race tomorrow.
First, news I hate reporting about. Sad news from Spa. F2 driver Antoine Hubert suffered fatal injuries in a horrific crash at the start of the race this morning.
Colton Herta led his second session of the weekend in final practice this morning for the Grand Prix of Portland. Herta was the only drive to turn a lap in less than 57 seconds and turned the weekend’s fastest lap yesterday morning. His time of 57.9939 seconds beat the second quickest time of series points leader Josef Newgarden by 0.1083 seconds. Will Power was third, followed by Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi.
Red flags flew twice. Matheus Leist spun in turn 2 and stalled as he attempted to restart the car. Late in the session Santino Ferrucci’s car stopped just after exiting the pits. Practice resumed after the car was towed back to his pit. It was an adventurous session for Ferrucci. Rossi was coming out of the pits as Ferrucci entered turn 1. The cars nearly touched and Ferrucci needed to go through the chicane. He was not happy with Rossi.
Hondas again dominated practice. The Team Penske cars of Newgarden and Power were the only Chevys in the top ten.
Group 1` Group 2
Katherine Legge will drive the 2 seater at the start of tomorrow’s race. She says she is working on a ride for next year’s Indianapolis 500.
The 2020 schedule will be released near the beginning of the pre-race show on NBC tomorrow.
Another nice crowd on hand at Portland International Raceway today.
Good morning from Portland International Raceway for Day two of the Grand Prix of Portland. Today’s NTT Indycar Series schedule: All times Eastern
Practice 3– 2:00 pm-2:45 NBC Gold
Qualifying- 6:00 pm- 7:15 NBC Sports
In addition to the Indycar action, all three steps on the Road to Indy run their first of two races today. Rinus VeeKay has the pole for the Indy Lights race at 4:50 pm Eastern.
Sebastien Bourdais’s practice yesterday afternoon was similar to last year’s Saturday practice here. In bot sessions he set the fastest lap then ran off course in turn 11. The difference is this year the nose of his car barely nudged the tires. Last year’s damage had Bourdais qualifying and racing a car made up of a mixture of parts.
I will try to find out about the 2020 schedule today and see if I confirm some other things I’m hearing. I’ll be back after practice 3.
Here are a couple of photos from Kyle McInnes. One is of Bourdais, the other is Simon Pagenaud preparing for next week’s BC39 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Sebastien Bourdais recorded the fastest lap in Practice 2, setting the quick time with about five minutes to go in the session. Will Power had set the fast time with about 20 minutes left in the practice. Bourdais’ lap was 57.923 seconds. He bettered Power quick time by 0.0289 seconds.
After Bourdais’s fast lap, he went off track in turn 11 and slid gently into the tire barrier. There just two minutes remaining in the session. The red flag ended the practice period.
Felix Rosenqvist led the majority of the afternoon. Colton Herta was fourth after leading morning practice.
Teams are preparing for the put stop practice session, a 30 minute period.
Another great Friday crowd is on hand at Portland. This event has been embraced by the fans here.
If as much dust is kicked up tomorrow during qualifying as has been put on the track today, it will be an interesting qualifying session.
Times were faster in session one. Most teams didn’t go to the red tires this afternoon until there were less than 10 minutes left.
I hope we see more of the Oberto livery on Marco Andretti’s car next year. It’s the best livery that car uses.
In the warmup/pit stop practice session, Ryan Hunter-Reay had the best lap at 58.2729.
Indycar’s final practice is tomorrow at 2 pm Eastern and qualifying is at 6 pm Eastern.
Colton Herta ran the fastest lap in Practice 1 for the Grand Prix of Portland as preparations for the NTT Indycar Series 16th round got underway. Herta’s 57.4293 second circuit beat out Alexander Rossi by 0.1245 seconds. Andretti Autosport had all four cars in the top ten. Herta’s Harding Steinbrenner team has a technical alliance with Andretti.
Points leader Josef Newgarden finished the session in fourth place. Newgarden was the only Chevrolet car in the top ten. Penske teammates Will Power and Simon Pagenaud were 11th and 12th. Conor Daly, filling in for Marcus Ericsson at Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, was 23rd.
The session was green the entire time, although there were a few off road excursions. Graham Rahal went off course in turn 11 near the end of the session but got back on track. Several drivers missed turn 1 and needed to take the chicane penalty.
James Hinchcliffe spun just past turn two near the end of the session. The car kept running and he continued. Max Chilton and Simon Pagenaud had a near collision as Chilton exited the pits. It appeared he didn’t see Pagenaud coming.
The next practice session is at 5:40 Eastern time followed by a 30 minute pit stop practice at 6:40 Eastern.
I finally arrived in Portland after nearly 11 hours of travel time. I felt as if I was taking a trip to Europe. My body clock is still adjusting. The track opens soon and I will be there covering all Indycar sessions this weekend. Today’s schedule in Eastern time:
Practice 1- 1:50-2:35
Practice 2- 5:40-6:25
Pit Stop Practice 6:40
Yesterday’s big news was about Conor Daly replacing Marcus Ericsson in the number 7 Arrow Schmidt Peterson car this weekend. Ericsson has been a reserve driver for Alfa Romeo all season. This situation was always a possibility.
ASPM will be the third team Daly has driven for in 2019. Including the finale at Laguna Seca, Daly will have participated in eight races this season. He has a chance to finish 20th in points with just eight races. I really hope this year’s efforts lead to his landing a full time ride next year.
Charlie Kimball returns in the number 23 Carlin car. Portland is an addition to Kimball’s announced five race schedule.
I’ll be back after the first practice session. All of today’s track action is on NBC Gold.