Richmond Raceway Excited for Indycar Return

Photo: Team Penske car ready for the aeroscreen  test at Richmond Raceway. Josef Newgarden drove the car in today’s sessions. The  aeroscreen looks much better painted. Photo from Team Penske

You could hear the excitement in track president Dennis Bickmeier’s voice as he talked about the NTT Indycar series returning to Richmond Raceway.

“…it’s really exciting to hear the sound of IndyCars going and Richmond Raceway again. A buzz around town, a luncheon around here with some of our invited guests, some of our partners, hopefully some of our potential new partners as well that are getting a glimpse of seeing IndyCars back on the track here at Richmond Raceway after a decade. Certainly exciting. Much quicker than even I anticipated. Again, given my previous history watching open cars around two-mile tracks, this is a different experience.”

“The track has sold tickets to fans in 26 states and two areas of Canada for the June 28 race. After the season ticket renewal period ends, more seats will be available for the Indycar race.

I asked Bickmeier to explain how Indycar’s return to the schedule happened. He  said discussions began in 2018.

“But really it was about trying to find an opportunity in
the schedule. We were open to a lot of different dates.
This June date is more along the traditional date where
IndyCar raced here before. We love this date. It works
well between our two NASCAR races. For us, it really
presents kind of a big cadence to our year as we’re
promoting all of our racing events here at Richmond
Raceway…
one of the most
asked questions I got in the time I’ve been at
Richmond is, When are the IndyCars coming back? I’m
happy to say we’re able to answer that question now.
It really wasn’t that complicated. These guys made it
easy, Jay and the team, to discuss the possibilities of
having IndyCar return. I’m just thankful we were able to
get it all together.”
It looks to be a promising successful event for the series.

Morning Testing Session Focuses on Tires

The morning part of the Richmond test was mainly  dedicated to Firestone tire testing. Today was Josef Newgarden’s first time in the car with red Bull Advanced Technologies Aeroscreen. He found the transition pretty seamless

“It was my first time with the screen. Just getting a feel
for that. It honestly was pretty seamless. Honestly
didn’t feel that different. Perception-wise it was a little
different when I got in. It took maybe 30, 40 laps, after
that you’re used to it. It feels kind of normal at this
point.”
Newgarden said the track was like “a smooth Iowa.”
“I’m hoping a second lane comes in. If it does, I could see it
racing very similar to that place.”
Scott Dixon said the car felt pretty much the way it did at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last month. he thinks the oval configuration is fine. Dixon believes lap times may be slightly down because of the added weight, but thinks overal there will be a net zero effect on performance.
The final aeroscreen test will be at Sebring  November 5 with Sebastien Bourdais and James Hinchcliffe driving. The test there will be the closest the series can come to testing on a street course.

Harding Steinbrenner Releases Al Unser, Jr.

Al Unser, Jr. announced in a Tweet this morning that he has been released from Harding Steinbrenner racing. The release is part of the ongoing transition of the team as it becomes part of Andretti autosport. I wish Al well and hope he can find another team with a young driver to help.

 

 

 

Power: Car with Aeroscreen Could Race This Weekend

In a mid afternoon press conference  NTT Indycar Series Jay Frye said today’s Aeroscreen test “exceeded our high expectations. We learned a lot; we have lot of work to do but the foundation is set.” Frye said the cars will visually be different when teams do their own things to blend the new device into their liveries.

If necessary, the AMR  Safety Team will be able to remove piece “within seconds,” Frye said. “They already have a piece they are practicing on,” he added.

The day long test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway saw drivers Will Power and Scott Dixon log 600 miles by 3 pm. Both drivers agreed that the test was seamless . Both drivers commented on how quiet it was in the cockpit. “I can hear my radio,” Dixon said.

Power was impressed with how quickly the project came together.  “When you’ve driven it for a day you’re going to feel naked without it, ” he said. Asked if this car could race this weekend, Power responded, “you could race this weekend; no problem, no issue.” Dixon agreed.

Power and Dixon still believe some adjustments need to be made with the tear-offs and air flow adjustments. They both think reflections need work as well.  Dixon sais there are some optional and driver’s personal preference items that need to be looked into as well.

Tire wear was not a concern today. Power said the car was more forgiving. The new weight distribution helped, he said. Dixon said on his long run the speed fall off was about the same as this year.

Following the press conference Power and Dixon returned to the track to do simulated “qualifying runs.”

I started the day skeptical of the aesthetics and how the Aeroscreen would work. I am ending the day impressed with the new safety piece. Safety is the first priority and this is a step in the right direction. As the piece blends in with the cars, it won’t be noticeable. It should be even less noticeable on the new chassis in 2022, when it is an integrated part of the car.

 

 

 

 

Quick Thoughts- Honda Indy 200

That was one of the most entertaining Mid Ohio races I’ve ever seen. There was lots of action and passing in the esses.

Will Power must have nightmares about Felix Rosenqvist coming up behind him. He passed Power twice today and also got by Power at St. Pete.

Speaking of Rosenqvist, he had the drive of the day.

I can’t remember the last time Ganassi cars finished 1-2. I’m thinking 2013 or earlier.

Who would have won if the race went 95 laps?

Horrible start of the day both Arrow Schmidt Peterson cars.

Rossi doesn’t seem to be bale to catch Penske cars. He didn’t seem to have anything for Power.

Josef Newgarden’s spin out dented his points lead significantly.  He still has a lead he can easily maintain with his usual results.

Dixon is the fourth multiple race winner this year.  Four drivers have won 11 of the 13 races.

There were some good battles between Spencer Pigot and Colton Herta all day. They seemed pretty equal in speed all weekend.

I love watching cars go side by side through turn 5 at Mid Ohio.

Look for my full race report on Wildfire Sports tomorrow.  I have two special features coming up this week.

 

 

Dixon Fastest in Mid Ohio Practice 1

Scott Dixon led the opening practice for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid Ohio. The NTT Indycar Series session ended with a mix of Hondas and Chevys in the top ten. Dixon’s best lap was 1:06.097. Spencer Pigot finished second with a 1:06.245 circuit.  Points leader Josef Newgarden was fourth quick, 0.209 seconds behind. The other championship contenders had mixed results.  Simon Pagenaud was third, 0.169 behind Dixon. Alexander Rossi ended the session 13th, more than a second down to the leader.

Jack Harvey was 11th quick in his return to the series with Meyer Shank Racing. R. C. Enerson, driving his first Indycar race in three years for Carlin Racing, was 21st. Enerson completed a session  high 24 laps.  Felix Rosenqvist was the fastest rookie. He finished eighth, 0.508 seconds off Dixon’s lap.

The next Indycar practice is at 3:15 pm EDT.

A couple more photos from this morning:

IMG_6925
Felix Rosenqvist slides to a stop between turns 4 and 5
IMG_6913
Colton Herta leads Santino Ferrucci and Max Chilton into the esses.

Dixon Leads Practice One; Turn 11 Proves Tricky

Scott Dixon led the first practice session for the Honda Indy Toronto this morning. His lap of 1:01.072 was nearly two tenths better than Josef Newgarden’s best time. Dixon’s teammate Felix Rosenqvist was third quickest. and Alexander Rossi was fourth. This is the NTT Indycar Series’ first race since Road America June 23.

Newgarden, Will Power, and Takuma Sato each spun on the exit of turn 11 causing stoppages to the session.  Newgarden bent the rear tow link in his incident. Ther is an expoxy patch in the center of the road just past the turn’s apex. if the car straddles the patch, no problem. If the tires touch it, there could be an issue.

Rossi led the session until the last five minutes when Dixon passed him. Rossi’s final attempt at a decent lap was frustrated by his being behind another car, then not not having enough tires left for a quicker lap.

Notes

It’s difficult to get used to Sebastien  Bourdais in a blue car.

Karam’s car reminds me of Paul Dana’s car.

Turn three seems even trickier than it has been.

The next practice begins at 3:15 eastern. You can watch on NBC Gold. The coverage this morning was excellent.

The top 12:

Screenshot_20190712-121925

 

Race 2- Quick Thoughts

Scott Dixon knows how to correct mistakes.  After his crash yesterday left him in 22nd place, he comes back with a win. His first of the year and 45th career win. He is now fourth in points. Dixon got his first win at Detroit last year as well.  Could this be the start of his run for back to back titles ?

Alexander Rossi was the big gainer in points today. He moves to second place just 15 behind Josef Newgarden.

Nice to see all four Andretti cars in the top 10.

Great to finally see a podium for Arrow Schmidt Peterson.  Good job by Marcus Ericsson.

Ed Carpenter Racing drivers Spencer Pigot and Ed Jones can’t seem to put a complete race together consistently.

Like yesterday, half the elapsed time was under yellow consuming 33% of the laps.

I’m not sure these late red flags are any better than a green white checker.

Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Graham Rahal are the only drivers who had top ten finishes both days.

What a great comeback by Will Power after his early problem.

I hate when television switches to laps to go. They seemed to start with 48 laps left today, Way too early for that.  I can tolerate it with about 10 laps left.

Look for my full race report on Wildfire Sports tomorrow. I will have some photos up later tomorrow. If you like damaged cars, you’ll enjoy them.

 

Dixon Leads Practice 1

Scott Dixon had the fastest lap in the opening practice session for the Detroit Grand Prix. His best lap was 1:16.7418, a speed of 110.240 mph.  Four Hondas and two Chevrolets occupied the top six spots. Will Power was second, 0,3464 seconds behind Dixon.

The rest of the top six – Ryan Hunter-Reay, Josef Newgarden, Graham Rahal, and Colton Herta.  Spencer Pigot was the only other Chevy driver in the top 10, in ninth place. Alexander Rossi, one of this weekend’s favorites, was eighth quickest.

The session was green until Sebastien Bourdais found the runoff area in turn seven with about eight minutes left. He tried to spin the car around and continue, but the car stalled.  The session resumed with about five minutes left.  Felix Rosenqvist spun into a runoff area, but the session continued.

The next practice is at 2:50 and the results will determine tomorrow’s qualifying groups. Pit stop practice follows the practice session.

More later.