VeeKay Cleared to Enter US

Per Racer magazine, Ed Carpenter Racing rookie driver Rinus VeeKay  is on his way to the United States from Mexico. VeeKay will begin his NTT Indycar Series career Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway in the Genesys 300. The Dutch driver had been in quarantine in Mexico the last two weeks.

Alex Palou, who drives for Dale Coyne Racing Team Goh, entered the United States last week.

All drivers scheduled to participate in Saturday night’s season opener are now in the country.

The Tires They Are A-Changin’- New Procedures for Texas

The NTT Indycar Series has added two tweaks to the June 6 schedule at Texas Motor Speedway. We have already seen the event shortened to 200 laps/300 miles from its traditional 248 laps/360 miles. This isn’t the first time we have seen the Texas race run a bit differently. Remember the twin races where the drivers spun a tire to determine Race 2’s starting position? That was fun. For this race, it’s nothing that drastic. One change I like, the other I’m not excited about, but I feel is necessary for the season opener.

The day of the Genesys 300 will begin with a 30 minute test session for  rookies Alex Palou, Rinus VeeKay, and Oliver Askew. The 80 minute practice session begins immediately at the conclusion of the rookie test period. With testing cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, Indycar felt the rookies should get extra time on the 1.5 mile oval.  This is a great and necessary move by Indycar. It doesn’t completely erase my concerns for the event, but it does help lower them a bit.

The second change is a 35 lap maximum stint for tires during the race. Several factors led to this decision. First, the divers haven’t been on track in nearly nine months except for testing almost three months ago. Second, tire supplies are down because of the changes in work time caused by the pandemic pandemic. And the new aeroscreen creates a change in the center of gravity which will affect tire wear.

I don’t like mandated stints. Indycar did this at Texas a couple years ago when tire wear became an issue. The decision came after the race had started. At least the rule is clear for the entire race. The tire rule takes fuel strategy out of the race but when the yellows come could dictate tire strategy. Teams get nine sets of Firestone tires for the entire day. The team that manages their tires the best should do very well.

More Details on Texas Race Move to NBC

From Indycar:

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NTT IndyCar Series News Release
For Immediate Release
NTT INDYCAR SERIES Set for NBC Network Primetime Debut June 6 at Texas

NTT INDYCAR SERIES Set for NBC Network Primetime Debut June 6 at Texas

INDIANAPOLIS (May 24, 2020) – The NTT INDYCAR SERIES will be broadcast in primetime on NBC for the first time when the season-opening Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway is televised starting at 8 p.m. (ET) Saturday, June 6.

The race is moving to NBC from its originally scheduled window on NBCSN. It’s the first INDYCAR race on broadcast television in primetime since 2013.

“We’re pleased the daring nature and bold skills of INDYCAR’s athletes will be displayed to a network primetime audience in just a few weeks’ time,” Penske Entertainment Corp President & CEO Mark Miles said. “INDYCAR’s first season on NBC in 2019 was marked by significant audience growth, and this marquee broadcast slot reflects both our continued momentum and strong partnership with NBC Sports Group.”

NBC Sports’ lead INDYCAR broadcast team of Leigh Diffey (play-by-play), Townsend Bell (analyst) and Paul Tracy (analyst) will call the Genesys 300 on NBC.

“America has a thirst for live sports, so we’re thrilled to showcase the spectacular racing of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in primetime on the broadcast network,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports and NBCSN.

Live comprehensive coverage of practice and qualifying June 6 from Texas Motor Speedway will stream on NBC Sports Gold’s INDYCAR Pass. Race coverage on NBC streams on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

The Genesys 300 will be the first race of the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES campaign as the series gets #BackOnTrack. This kicks off NBC Sports’ second season as the exclusive home of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, including the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, which will now take place Sunday, Aug. 23 on NBC.

The second race of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, the GMR Grand Prix on Saturday, July 4 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, also will be broadcast to a network audience on NBC. A full-season broadcast schedule will be released at a later date.

Today’s news also will be announced on network television, during NBC’s four hour “Indy 500 Special: Back Home Again.” NBC Sports Group also has provided significant TV exposure to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES during the break in competition caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, airing five races of the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge on NBCSN.

Texas is a Go; Shortened Race, No Fans

News release from Indycar. I will have some thoughts later.

For Immediate Release
NTT INDYCAR SERIES season kicks off June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway

NTT INDYCAR SERIES season kicks off June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway

INDIANAPOLIS (May 7, 2020) – The 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season will begin Saturday, June 6 with the Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway. INDYCAR’s stars will take the green flag at 8:45 p.m. (ET), with broadcast coverage provided by NBC Sports via NBCSN.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, INDYCAR will run a condensed schedule with practice, qualifying and the race taking place on the same day. The event also will be conducted without fans in attendance. This will be the 24th consecutive year in which INDYCAR has raced at the 1.5-mile oval in Fort Worth, Texas.

“We’re excited and ready to kick off the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season at Texas Motor Speedway,” INDYCAR President Jay Frye said. “We’ve worked closely with Eddie Gossage, the entire TMS team and public health officials on a plan of action that will ensure the safety of our event participants alongside an exciting return to competition for our drivers, teams and viewers tuning in from around the world.”

“America needs live sports and they are not going to believe what they see when the Genesys 300 storms into their living rooms on TV from Texas,” said Eddie Gossage, president and general manager of Texas Motor Speedway. “One of the world’s greatest sporting events, the Indy 500, has been postponed until August by coronavirus, so all of that pent-up energy, anticipation, frustrations and anxiety will be pounding through the drivers’ nervous systems. Typically, the Genesys 300 results in a 220-mph photo finish.”

Other steps to protect the well-being of participants have been identified through close consultation with TMS and public health officials. These include:

• Strict access guidelines limiting the number of personnel on site

• A health screening system administered to all participants

• PPE equipment provided to everyone entering the facility, along with guidelines on usage

• Social distancing protocols in place and carefully maintained

• Revised competition layout to increase distancing

To accommodate the one-day schedule, the length for the race at Texas Motor Speedway has been adjusted to 200 laps rather than the previously announced 248 laps. The full on-track schedule for the Genesys 300:

NTT INDYCAR SERIES Practice: 1:30-3:30 p.m. (ET)

NTT INDYCAR SERIES Qualifications: 5 p.m. (ET)

Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway: 8:45 p.m. (ET)

The remainder of the updated, 15-race INDYCAR calendar for 2020, announced April 6, remains on schedule for competition.

ABOUT INDYCAR:

INDYCAR is the Indianapolis-based governing body for North America’s premier open-wheel auto racing series known as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. The series features an international field of the world’s most versatile drivers – including five-time series champion Scott Dixon, reigning series champion Josef Newgarden and defending Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud – who compete on superspeedways, short ovals, street circuits and permanent road courses. The 2020 season, which runs from June to October, currently consists of 15 races in the United States and Canada and is highlighted by the historic Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge in August at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The NTT INDYCAR SERIES, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IMS Productions are owned by Penske Corporation, a global transportation, automotive and motorsports leader. For more information on INDYCAR and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, please visit www.indycar.com.

For Immediate Release
NTT INDYCAR SERIES season kicks off June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway

NTT INDYCAR SERIES season kicks off June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway

INDIANAPOLIS (May 7, 2020) – The 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season will begin Saturday, June 6 with the Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway. INDYCAR’s stars will take the green flag at 8:45 p.m. (ET), with broadcast coverage provided by NBC Sports via NBCSN.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, INDYCAR will run a condensed schedule with practice, qualifying and the race taking place on the same day. The event also will be conducted without fans in attendance. This will be the 24th consecutive year in which INDYCAR has raced at the 1.5-mile oval in Fort Worth, Texas.

“We’re excited and ready to kick off the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season at Texas Motor Speedway,” INDYCAR President Jay Frye said. “We’ve worked closely with Eddie Gossage, the entire TMS team and public health officials on a plan of action that will ensure the safety of our event participants alongside an exciting return to competition for our drivers, teams and viewers tuning in from around the world.”

“America needs live sports and they are not going to believe what they see when the Genesys 300 storms into their living rooms on TV from Texas,” said Eddie Gossage, president and general manager of Texas Motor Speedway. “One of the world’s greatest sporting events, the Indy 500, has been postponed until August by coronavirus, so all of that pent-up energy, anticipation, frustrations and anxiety will be pounding through the drivers’ nervous systems. Typically, the Genesys 300 results in a 220-mph photo finish.”

Other steps to protect the well-being of participants have been identified through close consultation with TMS and public health officials. These include:

• Strict access guidelines limiting the number of personnel on site

• A health screening system administered to all participants

• PPE equipment provided to everyone entering the facility, along with guidelines on usage

• Social distancing protocols in place and carefully maintained

• Revised competition layout to increase distancing

To accommodate the one-day schedule, the length for the race at Texas Motor Speedway has been adjusted to 200 laps rather than the previously announced 248 laps. The full on-track schedule for the Genesys 300:

NTT INDYCAR SERIES Practice: 1:30-3:30 p.m. (ET)

NTT INDYCAR SERIES Qualifications: 5 p.m. (ET)

Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway: 8:45 p.m. (ET)

The remainder of the updated, 15-race INDYCAR calendar for 2020, announced April 6, remains on schedule for competition.

ABOUT INDYCAR:

INDYCAR is the Indianapolis-based governing body for North America’s premier open-wheel auto racing series known as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. The series features an international field of the world’s most versatile drivers – including five-time series champion Scott Dixon, reigning series champion Josef Newgarden and defending Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud – who compete on superspeedways, short ovals, street circuits and permanent road courses. The 2020 season, which runs from June to October, currently consists of 15 races in the United States and Canada and is highlighted by the historic Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge in August at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The NTT INDYCAR SERIES, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IMS Productions are owned by Penske Corporation, a global transportation, automotive and motorsports leader. For more information on INDYCAR and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, please visit www.indycar.com.

The Greatest 33 Non-Winners: Final Grid- A Reader Request Post

Editor’s Note: This is the first reader request; originally published May 9, 2017

What a fun project this turned out to be! It was fascinating seeing how much those who submitted grids both agreed and disagreed. Some drivers got just one mention, while others appeared on every ballot.  There was near unanimous placement for some drivers, and some drivers were near the front on some grids and near the back on others. The driver nearly everyone agreed should be on the pole is Michael Andretti (pictured above, from 1992).

I  noticed the rankings were along age lines. Older fans close to my age seemed to have near identical grids,  and younger fans as a group submitted similar lineups.  Many drivers from long ago in general fared better on the lists from the older group. I was surprised how well the current drivers stacked up against the racers of the past. Another interesting detail is that all 50 driver finalists had at least one mention. I didn’t expect that.

To rank the drivers, I assigned points to the drivers corresponding to their spot on each person’s grid. A driver on pole got 1 point, the last driver got 33. If a driver was listed on pole on five grids, his total was 5. The lowest total won the pole. If a driver did not appear on someone’s grid, he/she was given 34 points. To my shock, there were only two ties. I resolved placement by averaged each driver’s highest and lowest rank of all the grades, with the lowest average getting the higher spot. One of the ties was for 32nd and 33rd. It was just like qualifying for the 1963 500.

The front row- Michael Andretti, Rex Mays, and Ted Horn, is strong. These drivers were in the top 10 on everyone’s grid. Andretti led 431 laps, the most by any non-winning driver. he started on the front row three times and had 5 top 5 finishes.  Rex Mays, in the middle of the front row is the only other driver to lead more than 200 laps and not win. Mays was on the pole four times. Ted Horn, on the outside of the front row, finished in the top five 9 times in 10 starts.

So here they are, the Greatest 33 Non-Winners of the Indianapolis 500:

Row 1

Michael Andretti

Rex Mays

Ted Horn

Row 2

Harry Hartz

Marco Andretti

Lloyd Ruby

Row 3

Gary Bettenhausen

Ralph Hepburn

Roberto Guerrero

Row 4

Scott Goodyear

Carlos Munoz

Robby Gordon

Row 5

Eddie Sachs

Tony Stewart

Jack McGrath

Row 6

Wally Dallenbach

Tomas Sheckter

Will Power

Row 7

Danica Patrick

Tony Bettenhausen

Joe Leonard

Row 8

Jimmy Snyder

Ed Carpenter

Danny Ongais

Row 9

Pancho Carter

Mel Kenyon

Kevin Cogan

Row 10

Vitor Meira

Russ Snowberger

Paul Russo

Row 11

Tom Alley

Johnny Thomson

George Snider

it’s kind of fitting that Snider is last on the grid. his trademark was jumping into a car on Bump Day and getting into the field starting near the back. Thanks to everyone who submitted a grid. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts and reasoning as to how yo put your grids together.

I will be back tomorrow with some 500 news and a report on my visit to the A. J. Foyt exhibit at the Speedway Museum. The cars were great to see, but the memorabilia was even more amazing to me. Thursday I will have my Indianapolis Grand Prix preview with my normally inaccurate winner’s prediction.

 

 

 

 

 

Genesys Assumes Sponsorship at Texas

It makes sense now. I wondered why one of James Hinchcliffe’s three races with Andretti Autosport was Texas instead of Toronto. His sponsor is the new title sponsor of the June 8 NTTINDYCARSERIES race, now known as the Genesys 600. The company replaces DXC Technologies in the title role.

It’s nice to see a new sponsor jumping in with both feet like this. I would have been happy with their three race sponsorship for Hinchcliffe. That would be a nice beginning for a new Indycar partner. I hope their involvement leads to a full time of half year sponsorship for Hinchcliffe and Andretti.

Earlier today, the Firestone Grand of St. Petersburg announced Frontier as the official television and internet provider of the season opening race. I posted the announcement here:

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/90591962/posts/2603641037

I love days like this when there are several announcements, especially when they concern more companies getting involved with the series.

My season preview will start tomorrow. It will be a three part series where I assess each team’s outlook for the 2020 season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quick Thoughts- DXC Technology 600k

That turned out to be a fun race at the end. It was a pretty tame race for Texas.

Josef Newgarden has three wins already this season. No one had more than three wins in 2018.  This puts Newgarden in a great position to win a tiebreaker, although should  Alexander Rossi tie him in wins, Rossi has three second places to date.

If Newgarden wins the championship, Tim Cindric should get a big share of the credit. Another brilliant call to pit on the first yellow worked out and brought the car home first. All three of Newgarden’s wins this year can attributed to pit/tire calls by Cindric.

Rossi had a great save to avoid the Herta-Dixon crash. It likely saved his title hopes.

The high line never came in tonight as it usually does. Rossi lost one of his strengths without that second groove.

Graham Rahal had a quiet race, but ends up third.  Glad to see him finally have a good result in what has been a frustrating season for his team.

Remember when crew members wore short sleeves and no helmets? A serious injury or worse didn’t happen on pit lane tonight because of the mandated safety equipment for crew members. That was a scary crash in Sato’s pit. Glad to see the crewman was okay.

Dixon has made race ending mistakes two straight weekends.

It’s a shame that James Hinchcliffe  crashed. He had the drive of the race going until then.

Colton Herta also had a great run going.   He made some incredible moves. A shame his day ended the way it did.

What can we say about Santino Ferrucci? His fourth place tonight  at Texas gives him  three top tens in the last four races. Ferrucci is now leading the Rookie of the Year standings. He has done this rather quietly.  Ferrucci has improved every week.

Zach Veach continues his disappointing season.

Look for my full race report on Wildfire Sports tomorrow.  Next week I take a look at the season at the halfway point.

 

Quick Thoughts- Texas Qualifying

Photo; Takuma Sato at Indianapolis last month

Note: The  comments above the break were written in real time during qualifying.

Tony Kanaan’s miserable year continues. He brushed the wall on his qualifying lap.

Great first lap by Marco then he looked like he was back on slicks at Detroit last Saturday.

After Spencer Pigot’s run I thought Ed Carpenter would do better.

Takuma Sato with another great qualifying run.

Disappointing run fir Alexander Rossi.

That is the worst Team Penske qualifying effort I’ve seen in a while.

****************************************

Anyone who says they knew before the season started that Sato would have two poles is lying. I have said he will be in this title fight all season. Sato is third in bonus points with 7, behind Rossi and Newgarden.

Sato now has 9 career poles.  Ryan Hunter-Reay and  Josef Newgarden each  have 7.

The race will he interesting with Rossi and Will Power starting mid pack.  Keep your on starting spots 8-15 the first stint tomorrow.

I wonder if the Penske cars have better race cars than qualifying cars.

The tire question will be huge tomorrow night, especially late in the race.

Marco can’t catch a break, even with a really good car.

The unofficial results:

screenshot_20190607-203814.png

Back tomorrow with Quick Thoughts after the race and a full report Sunday on Wildfire Sports.