Dragonspeed Fills the Field at 33; Hoosier Hundred Returns

Yesterday Dragonspeed confirmed Ben Hanley will drive the number 81 in the 104th running for the Indianapolis 500.  The entry is the 33rd for the race, avoiding a less than full  field for the first time since 1947. Given the economic climate I think it is quite an accomplishment to have 33 cars this year.

Two other possible entries, Juncos Racing and Top Gun Racing, decided not to pursue an entry until next year. Juncos ran out of time to secure sponsorship and get a car built in time. Top Gun had a sponsor withdraw because there would be no track activation. Cutting the purse in half also figured into their decision. R. C. Enerson was scheduled to drive for Top Gun.

Five rookies are entered- Pato O’Ward, Oliver Askew, Rinus VeeKay,  Alex Palou, and Dalton Kellett. O’Ward passed his rookie test last year but did not qualify for the race.

This year’s race will be the first without a female driver since 1999. Pippa Mann was unable to put a program together for this year.

Because there are only 33 cars, there will be no Last Row Shootout next Sunday, but the Fats Nine will still take place.

The entry list, thanks to Eric Smith of Race Review Online:

Chevrolet (17)

Team Penske (4) – Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, Josef Newgarden and Helio Castroneves

Ed Carpenter Racing (3) – Ed Carpenter, Conor Daly, Rinus VeeKay R

Arrow McLaren SP (3) – Pato O’Ward R, Oliver Askew R, Fernando Alonso

AJ Foyt Racing (3) – Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball, Dalton Kellett R

Carlin (1) – Max Chilton

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (2) – Sage Karam, JR Hildebrand

DragonSpeed (1) – Ben Hanley

Honda (16)

Andretti Autosport (6) – Zach Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe, Colton Herta, Marco Andretti

Chip Ganassi Racing (3) – Scott Dixon, Felix Rosenqvist, Marcus Ericsson

Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing (3) – Graham Rahal, Takuma Sato, Spencer Pigot (Citrone/Buhl partnership)

Dale Coyne Racing (3) – Santino Ferrucci, Alex Palou R, James Davison

Meyer Shank Racing (1) – Jack Harvey (Andretti alliance)

Hoosier Hundred Gets New Life

The Hoosier Hundred, thought to be gone after 2019, will return to Indiana State Fairgrounds August 23. The race began in 1953 as part of the USAC national championship. It is now an event in the USAC Silver Crown series. Ther ace is scheduled for 8pm, well after the 500 is over, but activities begin with practice and qualifying during the 500.

The race is able to return because of the pandemic. The track was going to be resurfaced with a limestone base and become a full time harness racing facility. The work never got started due to the pandemic, so this may truly be the final Hoosier 100.

Tickets go on sale Tuesday at 10 am ET at usactickets.com. Seating capacity is limited to 25%.

Larson ‘s 8th Straight Win; Iowa Thoughts

My first trip to Lincoln Park Speedway won’t be my last. Watching Kyle Larson come from 15th to win his eighth straight dirt race was as great a drive as I’ve seen. he used the heat race and the B Main races to learn the track. Larson used the high line in turn four and drove an elliptical pattern, going low into turn one. The move allowed him to make passes easily. It was definitely the quickest way around the track.

Larson was in third by the halfway point of the 30 lap feature. A red flag for Jason McDougal’s  flipped his car allowed him to get in position to take the lead soon after the restart. Larson and pole sitter Tanner Thorson had a great battle for the lead, swapping the point on lap 20. Larson took the lead for good on lap 22.

I was impressed by this track. It is a well maintained track with clean facilities. The program was very well organized. I liked the track exit and entry paths and the fact that the cars are push started off the track. It was nice not seeing trucks and cars on the racing surface as the midgets were warming up and getting pushed off.

I think turn 4 is one of the best corners I’ve seen on a dirt track.

The attendance was limited to 50% capacity, although it seemed to be a larger crowd than that. Very few people wore masks and distancing was a bit of an issue.  Track officials stopped ticket sales as they approached 3,000.

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Fans at Iowa

Last night Iowa Speedway announced that fans would be allowed to attend the Indycar races July 17 and 18 at the Newton track.

The full announcement:

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/90591962/posts/2764759036

Go to the track’s website and look at the FAQ for more information.

Limited ticket sales begin next Friday. I’m not sure what the limit is. Tickets already sold will be honored. There will be no paddock passes or fan walk passes.

This is a fair compromise and allows fans to see racing at one of the most fun tracks on the schedule. I’m not sure we can read anything into this regarding the Indianapolis 500 in August. The trend for the races allowing fans is no infield access. That may continue at Indianapolis.

 

 

Zeb Wise takes the High Road to Victory in BC 39

Zeb Wise rode the top cushion to victory in the BC39 USAC midget race at IMS last night. He led 17 laps in the feature race. it was an emotional win for Wise and his team, Clauson-Marshall Racing,. The late Bryan Clauson’s father Tim had picked Wise to drive for the team after seeing him drive in the Batt;le of the Brickyard quarter midge race in 2014. . Clauson is the inspiration for this event. For his team to win it is a bonus.

It was a complete team victory for Clauson-Marshall Racing. Tyler Courtney finished second and Chris Windom was third.

Pole sitter Thomas Meseraull led the first 18 laps. the first of several halts to the action happened. Wise took the lead on the restart.  Wednesday’s stoops pursuit winner Kyle Larson charged into second, but could not quite get by Wise. The two chased each other on the high cushion for several laps.  They made contact in turn 2, then again in turn 4 when Wise bounced off the wall after getting too high  in the dirt. The contact cut Larson’s left rear tire. He was able to return to the race, but Larson was out of contention for the win. He finished ninth.

Last year’s BC39 winner Brady Bacon took the lead on lap 29. He later collided with teammate C. J. McDougall and both cars came to a stop on the front stretch.  Wise regained the lead on lap 32 and held it to the end.

Notes

My impressions as someone who doesn’t get to enough of these short dirt track shows:

These guys can race and race hard. I was impressed by the action both nights. I wish more of these drivers had Indycar aspirations.

The fans are just as, if not more passionate than fans of the major series. Last night I talked to a couple from Illinois who travel to follow the USAC races. They were very knowledgeable about the series and gave me some good information about some races I want to attend.

Kudos to Conor Daly for his improvement from night to night. conor admits he is still learning how to drive a midget. I though he held his own last night in the qualifying race. I wish more Indycar drivers would try this.

It was hardly a shock to see IMS President Doug Boles go to each car before the feature and shake hands with every driver.

Attendance again was great for this event.  With the NASCAR race moving to Jly 4 weekend in 2020, does this event move as well?  I’d prefer it stay where it is on the schedule.

back next week to catch up on some Indycar news that I am woefully behind on.

BC39: Larson Wins Stoops Pursuit; Feature Race Tonight

Kyle Larson won the Stoops Pursuit last night as the BC39 Drive to Save Lives opened its two day show at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The final 5 laps segment began with just three drivers, Larson, Michael Pickens, and Justin Grant. the race format eliminated drivers who lost positions  at the end of each  5 lap segment.

On the final lap of the last segment, Pickens flipped and Grant hit the wall and flipped. Larson drove to the checkered flag alone. Beither driver was injured.

Larson, who drives for Chip Ganassi racing in NASCAR, will also compete in Sunday’s Brickyard 400. He did not enter the BC 39 last year.

The evening featured great racing in the twelve heats which set the qualifying races for tonight’s event. Drivers received points for passing cars.  The format led to aggressive driving which didn’t always work out.  Brady bacon set the tone for the night in heat 1 with a pass just before the line for the win.

Heat winners:

  1. Brady Bacon
  2.  Kevin Thomas, Jr.
  3. Zeb Wise
  4. Dillon Welch
  5. Gio Scelzi
  6. Zach Daum
  7. Jake Neuman
  8. Chad Boat
  9. Spencer Bayson
  10. Thomas Meseraull

Today’s schedule:

3 pm Gates open

5 pm Hot laps (8 groups)

6 pm Qualifying races (8 races)

7:45 Main races (5 races)

9:30 BC 39 (39 laps)

Tickets $35-$75; no general admission

Some more photos of last night’s action

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BC39 Returns to IMS

The BC 39 returns to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway tonight for the first of two evenings of midget racing. The event was a great success last year. 90 drivers, including Conor Daly, Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell, and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., will compete.

Today’s schedule:

3 pm- Gates open

5pm – Hot laps- 12 groups

7:15- Heat races – 12 races , 10 laps each

Stoops Pursuit Race- 25 laps

Heat line-ups were set Tuesday night for tonight’s return of the BC39 midget race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Tonight’s heats will set the groups for tomorrow’s qualifying races. Drivers gain points for their finishing positions and for the number of positions gained during their heat.  For full details on tonight’s action, click this link to the IMS website.

https://www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com/events/usac/news-multimedia/news/2019/09/02/exciting-format-to-add-more-action-trim-field-for-bc39-main-2019

Midgets and sprint cars used to be the roots of Indycar racing.  While most of these drivers gravitate to Nascar these days, it is still a fun time watching cars on dirt.

BC39- IMS Gets Down in the Dirt and Mud- A Fan’s Review

It had been a long time. The last dirt track race I remember attending was the 1970 Hoosier Hundred. It was an event on what was then the USAC Indycar schedule. As for midgets or sprint cars, it had been a much longer time. After watching the BC39 Drive to Save Lives event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this week, I have to ask myself, “Why have you waited so long?” This was quite a show and a refreshing change of pace from Indycar.

There is no pit strategy, fuel saving, tire management, or push to pass. All there is is pure, full out hard racing. Cars appear out of control through the turns, but it’s how they need to be driven. The 110 entries provided  non- stop action over the two nights.

As usual, IMS did things in a first class way. The track was beautifully done, well prepared, and the surface held up well each night. The grandstands were about 80% full Wednesday and completely full Thursday night. Opening night was great. I loved watching the dirt fly around. But Thursday night the flying mud was even better. The track dried out some as the evening progressed.

The crowd on Thursday was particularly impressive considering it had rained most of the day and the program didn’t start until nearly 9 pm. These are some of the most dedicated fans I’ve seen. Hardly anyone left their seat during the track action and not many got up when there was an extended break in the proceedings.

The race was a great way to honor three time Indy 500 starter Brian Clauson and it also paid homage to the original feeder series that helped prepare drivers for the 500. Sadly, the skills required for midgets and sprints today translate more to stock cars than Indycars.

An Annual Event?

The big question is whether this will become an annual event. There is no answer at the moment. The track will to revert to a parking area for the 500. The infrastructure is in place to reassemble the track, however. I think it can be a staple on the IMS calendar.

Some have suggested the race move to pole night. I think May is a more appropriate time for it and qualifying weekend would be great. I have also seen a suggestion that it become a part of Indiana Sprint/Midget week.  It’s a nice idea, but I would hate to see one of the small tracks lose their spot. If it were an addition to the week, that would be fine.

Changes

I have just a couple things the Speedway could improve here. There is no signage on the outside of the grandstands indicating section locations. It would have been nice to know which walkway to enter to be close to where I sat.

The rows were not well marked. There was not a designation for every row. In my section everyone in two rows were one row too high.

Shuttle stops for infield parking were not clearly marked. I ended up walking to turn 3. I didn’t have a problem doing that, but others may need transportation.

My Favorite Car

If you were there and you know me, you can guess which one it was. It is pictured here:

bc39 161

I think that should this event return, more cars should adopt old Indy 500 liveries. A heat race with the cars in tribute liveries would be fantastic.

It was great to be a part of something special. I plan to get to more dirt short track races the rest of this year and next summer. These were two fun nights and helped bridge the two week gap between Indycar races.