Karam to Enter GMR Grand Prix

Per Dreyer and Reinhold this morning, Sage Karam will drive the Wix Filters car in the GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 4

The team had announced a four race program for 2020. Their plans, like those of almost every one else, have been altered by the Coronavirus..

The announcement from their Twitty account:

BREAKING: We are pleased to announce that @SageKaram will be driving the GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the black and yellow WIX Filters car. We are estatic to make our first road course start since 2013.

#WIXFilters #WIXIndy #DrivenByDRR

@wixfilters @mecum https://t.co/7sbGym0Qun

Some Thoughts: Indycar iRace at the Glen

Sage Karam’s dominating win in the Amerucan Red Cross Grand Prix iRace at Watkins Glen yesterday was fun to watch. It provided a much needed break for Indycar fans. This was the first sim race I had watched from start to finish. I found the cars and the action to be realistic. The track, however, looked like an older version of Watkins Glen. Some of it appeared different from when I was there at the last Indycar race.

We fans needed the race to connect in a positive way for a couple of hours. Yes, the race was artificial, but we still treated it as a real race by tweeting back and forth.

The broadcast crew was a  great addition. I enjoyed the replays and the side interviews with Robert Wickens and James Hinchcliffe.  Maybe NBCSN can broadcast the remaining five races. Will the novelty wear off after a couple of events? Maybe fans are so starved for racing that this is sustainable.

I wonder if Karam’s experience at iRacing gives him an advantage for all the races.

The invocation and the national anthem were a nice touch.

Yesterday’s incident involving three Penske cars may be the only time we ever see that happen.

A caution flag might have been good. There were two occasions where one would have been thrown.

Seeing Watkins Glen made me miss that track even more. I hope Indycar can find a way back there.

 

Rookies Get First Indycar Taste at Sebring

Sebring belonged to the newcomers today as rookies Oliver Askew and Rinus VeeKay ran tests for their NTT Indycar Series teams today. Askew shared the Arrow McLaren Sp car with teammate Pato O’Ward while VeeKay became familiar with his Ed Carpenter Racing machine. Two time Australian Supercar champion Scott McLaughlin ran laps in a test for Team Penske. McLaughlin drives for Penske in Australia.

Sage Karam also got some test time in the Dreyer and Reinbold entry. DRR announced last week they will enter four events this year, including the Indianapolis 500. There is a possibility of even more races in 2020.

Notes

At times the cars looked like prototypes as they approached the turn where I watched from. The cars with a white band on the framework give this impression more than the black does. While you  can still see the drivers’ hands work the steering wheel, it is difficult to see the drivers’ head and helmet at a casual glance. The framework of the aeroscreen and the helmet seem to blend together.

The new protection device is more noticeable when the cars slow for a turn; I got used to it when the cars were at full speed.

A couple of things seemed strange:

A white Ed Carpenter Racing car.

Someone other than a regular in the Penske car.

It was great watching Indycars run again.

Some Travel Items

The “L” turn on Sebring Parkway as is now a roundabout. I didn’t realize the Mayor of Carmel had a home near the track.

It was sad to see how much of the open fields on the road approaching the track has been sold. The area will have a very different look next year, I’m afraid.

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Rinus VeeKay in the Ed Carpenter Racing #21
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Sage Karam
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Pato O’Ward
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Scott McLaughlin

 

 

Karam and Daly Driving for Carlin at Iowa

A tweet this afternoon from Carlin Racing:

I think this is could be the makings of a great team for 202 if the money is there.  Karam may still be tied to Dreyer and Reinbold for the Indianapolis 500, but he could possibly drive for Carlin the rest of the year.

I know Daly wants to drive for Andretti, but with the news that Rossi looks to be staying, there is no room for him except for an Indianapolis one-off.

Daly drove for Carlin at Texas and finished 11th. Last week at Toronto Karam drove the Carlin entry. He started and finished six laps down in 21st. It was his first road/street course race since 2015 and he had never driven at Toronto.  Karam has driven in the Iowa race.

Iowa will not have a title sponsor this weekend. According to Adam Stern, a couple possible sponsor deals did not come through. Stern also mentioned that ticket sales are up a bit.

Quick, Well, Day After, Thoughts- Day 2 Qualifying

The format did provide drama. James Hinchcliffe and Fernando Alonso had to wait until the final two qualifiers ran to see if they made the race.

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James Hinchcliffe pauses as he gets out of the car his Sunday run. He seems to be wondering if the time will be good enough.

Some of the old Bump Day flavor was back with rumors swirling about deals and shared parts and information. the rain delay may have had something to do with it, but it was a fun atmosphere.

Every 100 years, a driver from France wins the pole. That’s not good news for Sebastien Bourdais.

Qualifying Weekend Tweaks

For next year I would like to see Bump Day  be a timed period, say 90 minutes, for cars not in the race to make a maximum of three attempts to make the field.

As far as the Fast Nine, it is a dinosaur concept intended to be filler when there were only 33 cars. It may be good for television, but I think an extended Bump Day as I proposed would be a better use of that brief network TV window. Let the pole winner be the fastest qualifier on Saturday. That’s your Saturday TV drama.

Limit cars to three attempts per day.  Several cars went out to use runs as practice time. If teams have exclusive use of the track, it should be for a serious run.

Other Thoughts

I was surprised that the track didn’t open for practice in the middle of Saturday afternoon.

Even in defeat, Fernando Alonso was gracious enough to come to the media center with Gil DeFerran to discuss their week.

Yesterday I think was the first time I nave ever seen Sage Karam smile. He was more at ease in interviews than I’ve seen him after his run. His best comment, referring to Hinchcliffe and the stress of the last two days, “I’m surprised James hasn’t had a heart attack yet going through this two years in a row.”

The new sealant seems to help dry the track quicker, which would be a good thing on Race Day. I just hope we never have to find out on that day.

I’ve seen some people say this year’s qualifying was a good argument for guaranteed spots. I  think it was a better argument against it. Would have great stories like Dragonspeed and Juncos with guaranteed spots? It would be hard if more full time teams join the series.

I have never seen so little attention paid to who wins the pole. I didn’t mind it. I think the pole should be decided first, like on Saturday. The true story of qualifying is in the smaller teams who make the field, sometimes at the expense of a bigger team or champion driver.

Today’s Schedule

Practice -12-2

Bronze badge holders have pit access today.

I will have a summary of the session later today.

 

 

Preparation Key to Winning the Indianapolis 500- Hilderbrand

“You realize how good you have to be at every little thing to win,” J. R. Hildebrand said at a morning press briefing featuring the Dreyer & Reinbold team.  ” The speedway doesn’t owe you anything, ” he said regarding his 2011 near win, The loss caused him to focus on his approach to the 500.  The theme of the conference was preparation.

Team owner Dennis Reinbold said the team is gearing up to do more races in the future. They decided to get two really strong drivers with whom they have worked in the past. Their focus in 2018 is the 500. Reinbold said there is no definite timeline for adding more races. There is a reason DRR is looking to run a larger schedule. According to Reinbold,

“Indycar is growing. You can see it. You can feel it. There are more good teams, better prepared teams which makes it harder to win. It (the series) has come a long way since I had a full time team.”

Reinbold was particularly impressed with a team owners’ meeting he attended. He enjoyed that there was dialogue between the series and the owners, unlike the contentious meetings he remembers.

Sage Karam is excited to have a teammate this year. He said a two car team can go mthrough the checklist quicker by dividing the tasks between the two cars. He is happy that Hildebrand is on the team with him.  About the Speedway, Karam says it’s a “magical place.”

” Every year I feel more nervous. I’ve always had really strong cars. (This team) is definitely a good situation.”

Karam believes qualifying will be tight because the car is new to everyone. Reinbold sees only running the 500  as both an advantage and a disadvantage. The advantage is the car is new to everyone. The disadvantage is that the full time teams may have learned some things about the car in the five races already in the books.

Hildebrand and Karam both think a strong showing in the race will build momentum with their current sponsors- Salesforce for Hildebrand, Wix Filters for Karam-and possibly attract more.

While both drivers are confident of making the field, Karam warns that it would not take much to miss the race.

It all comes down to who is prepared. DRR expects to be one of the best prepared teams.

The Day in Photos; Pit Lane Parley Comes to IMS

As promised (threatened?) Herb are some photos from practice Tuesday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Enjoy.  Practice resumed after an approximately 45 minute hold for impending weather. Practice resumed at 4:50 pm.

 

Pit Lane Parley Live at Indy

Pit Lane Parley will record two weekly podcasts and perhaps some other features from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the 500 approaches. I will post when their shows will be recorded. Pit Lane Parley broadcasts live on wildfireradioesports.com every Friday at 3:15 pm EDT. You can listen to the podcasts on Podbean as well. Mike, Jess, and occasional host Matt provide excellent insight on Indycar. Guests this season have included Jay Frye, Stefan Wilson, David Byrd, and Brian Belardi.