GMR Qualifying- The Kids Are Alright

Photo: Indycar, Chris Jones

Will Power won the pole for tomorrow’s GMR Grand Prix with a brilliant final lap in the Fast Six. he nipped Jack Harvey by 0.188  seconds. Old news. This was Power’s fourth pole in this race. He won the other three times he started on pole. The pole was the 58th of Power’s career, and he is just nine shy of tying Mario Andretti for the most career poles. He will creep even closer by year’s end.

What I want to focus this qualifying report on though is the younger drivers in the series. Overall, they had a great day. I will discuss them after a recap of qualifying.

Round 1, Group 1

The youngsters led the way, grabbing the first four spots to advance. Defending series champion Josef Newgarden struggled to squeeze into the final transfer spot.

Results:

Oliver Askew

Max Chilton

Felix Rosenqvist

Conor Daly

Ryan Hunter-Reay

Josef Newgarden

Round 1, Group 2

This session had a more traditional look with Power leading and more drivers expected to advance filling the next round.

Results:

Will Power

Colton Herta

Scott Dixon

Jack Harvey

Graham Rahal

Alexander Rossi

Round of 12

Half of the drivers in the second round have less than three full years of Indycar experience. It looked as if the fast Six would shape up to be another the great Power vs. Herta pole battles we had last season, but another youngster decided to spoil the fun.

Results:

Oliver Askew

Jack Harvey

Graham Rahal

Colton Herta

Will Power

Josef Newgarden

Fast Six

Jack Harvey came within a whisker of his first career pole. Power nipped him on the final lap as time ran out. The result was Harvey’s second consecutive GMR Grand Prix Fast Six. In 2019 he started third and finished third.

Results:

Will Power      1:10.177

Jack Harvey    1:10.365

Colton Herta

Graham Rahal

Oliver Askew

Josef Newgarden

The Kids

If you were keeping score, half of each of the last two rounds had drivers with less than three years experience. Oliver Askew in his first road course qualifying led two rounds of qualifying and had the fastest lap of 1:09.878 in the second round.

Conor Daly got a rare second round spot for Ed Carpenter Racing and will start 8th tomorrow.

Colton Herta showed last year that he will be a perennial contender.

Jack Harvey loves this track. if he can transfer his success at IMS to the rest of the series, he will be someone fun to watch.

Max Chilton advancing to the second round was nice to see.

Felix rosenqvist had an off day today, but could be a factor tomorrow.

We are witnessing a very quick generational change. These younger drivers are the sport’s future. The current stars have at most three years left. The series will be in very good hands when they leave. We could see a few more surprises this season. The kids are alright.

 

 

 

Power Quickest in GMR Practice; Good session for Young Guns

It’s probably bad news for the rest of the field. Will Power lead the only practice session for the seventh running of the GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this morning.  Power languished near the back of the pack through the first hour of the 90 minute session, then slowly began moving toward the front, topping the charts with about  15 minutes remaining. He was the only driver to crack the 1:10 mark.

The results:

1 12 Will Power Team Penske 1:09.949 –.—- 30
2 18 Santino Ferrucci Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan 1:10.124 0.1755 21
3 8 Marcus Ericsson Chip Ganassi Racing 1:10.165 0.2161 28
4 5 Pato O’Ward Arrow McLaren SP 1:10.187 0.2387 29
5 9 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing 1:10.205 0.2567 25
6 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport 1:10.285 0.3359 25
7 22 Simon Pagenaud Team Penske 1:10.313 0.3642 27
8 10 Felix Rosenqvist Chip Ganassi Racing 1:10.362 0.4132 29
9 45 Spencer Pigot RLL with Citrone/Buhl Autosport 1:10.363 0.4146 23
10 7 Oliver Askew Arrow McLaren SP 1:10.364 0.4154 30
11 88 Colton Herta Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport 1:10.385 0.4360 17
12 1 Josef Newgarden Team Penske 1:10.386 0.4375 26
13 60 Jack Harvey Meyer Shank Racing 1:10.455 0.5063 24
14 98 Marco Andretti Andretti Herta with Marco & Curb-Agajanian 1:10.486 0.5372 30
15 27 Alexander Rossi Andretti Autosport 1:10.520 0.5717 21
16 30 Takuma Sato Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 1:10.538 0.5894 25
17 21 Rinus VeeKay Ed Carpenter Racing 1:10.606 0.6571 36
18 59 Max Chilton Carlin 1:10.611 0.6627 26
19 15 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 1:10.685 0.7367 31
20 20 Conor Daly Ed Carpenter Racing 1:10.694 0.7448 26
21 26 Zach Veach Andretti Autosport 1:10.709 0.7602 27
22 55 Alex Palou Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh 1:10.886 0.9376 26
23 4 Charlie Kimball AJ Foyt Enterprises 1:10.980 1.0312 25
24 29 James Hinchcliffe Andretti Autosport 1:11.227 1.2783 26
25 14 Dalton Kellett AJ Foyt Enterprises 1:11.448 1.4997 42
26 24 Sage Karam Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 1:11.616 1.

The rookies and younger drivers had some time at the top. Felix Rosenqvist, last byear’s pole sitter, led for a while, as did Pato O’Ward and Marcus Ericsson.

Oliver Askew is the only rookie in the top 10. The biggest surprise in the top 10 is Spencer Pigot in 9th.  His team, Citrone Buhlo in partnership with RLL Racing,  team is making their Indycar debut this weekend.

the practice was stopped twice. Santino Ferrucci bumped Ryan Hunter-Reay around the 45 minute mark. Hunter-Reay was getting his tires up to temperature when Ferrucci tried to pass him pon the inside going into turn 7. Hunter-Reay spun and stalled. Ferrucci received a 5 minute stop and hold penalty for avoidable contact.

With about 30 minutes left, Sage Karam lost power on the access road by turn 12.

Notes

Except for Hunter-Reay, the rest of the Andretti Autosport struggled in the middle of the pack.

A dozen or so fans stood at the ,main gate watching the video board facing the entrance.

It was frustrating hearing the cars but not seeing them. It was still better than nothing.

I have never seen the Speedway look nicer.

A few photos:

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Back tonight after qualifying.

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.

 

 

 

 

Grand Prix of Portland- Quick Thoughts

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.

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Zach Veach (blue and gold car on the left) and behind him is where the first lap accident began

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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.

 

 

 

Quick Thoughts- ABC Supply 500

A weather shortened official race is like only getting to eat half of your lunch. You’re somewhat filled, but want to get to the end.

I had a scary deja vu feeling when the first lap accident began. Thank goodness Rosenqvist’s car didn’t launch into the fence.

The AFP did its job, keeping a piece of carbon fiber and a tire from hitting Hinchcliffe.

I don’t know when the NTT Indycar Series’  post-race review of Sato’s part in the incident will take place, but there needs to be a penalty stronger than a fine or having points docked.

I’m not sure what has happened to Sato, but he had a great season going until he came into the pits too fast at Texas. since then, he has taken cars out of two consecutive races and may have affected the championship.

Have we seen the last 500 mile race outside of Indianapolis? From fans I communicated with who were there, it sounded as if the race was better attended than t last year’s race. The first lap accident on the heels of last year’s crash, may have sealed the track’s fate.

I have seen on social media that Pocono, which was built for Indycar, is not suited for the cars today. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway wasn’t built for today’s cars either, but no one is talking about leaving IMS. Cars can be modified to be safe for different tracks.

Dixon’s decision to add front wing may have cost him 10 valuable points.

Rossi is fortunate that he only lost 19 points to Newgarden. Newgarden didn’t have a great car today.

Ferrucci turned in another outstanding performance. He was in the lead group the entire race and improved nine spots.

Power’s Pocono line the last four years: 1st, 1st, 2nd, 1st. With his win at Indianapolis last year, of the last  five 500 mile races, Power has won four and finished second in the one he didn’t win.

The racing was good for the brief time we saw it. I thought the battle for the lead between Power and Pagenaud was great.

Tony Kanaan’s eighth place result is the second oval top ten for A. J. Foyt Racing in the last two ovals.

Ed Carpenter tied his best finish of the season with his sixth place finish. He also finished sixth at the 500.

That’s all for tonight. Back with a full race report tomorrow afternoon.

 

 

 

Quick Thoughts- Mid Ohio Qualifying

I sure didn’t see this pole coming. Power’s season has been difficult, and he has been out of the conversation for most of the year.  He seemed almost as relieved after qualifying as he was after winning the 500 last year.

Rossi can take consolation that he is starting ahead of Newgarden this race. The first turn after the green will be interesting.

Power’s pole takes a point away from all the championship contenders.

Disappointing qualifying for Colton Herta and Spencer Pigot. Neither made the Fast Six. Herta led the last two practice sessions. Pigot was second quickest this morning.

A Ganassi car made the Fast Six, but not the one I expected. Felix Rosenqvist had decent times in practice, but was 11th overall. He had also had a couple off track excursions. Scott Dixon looked as if he had recovered from his early weekend struggles.

Rossi said he hasn’t had time to think about his renewal with Andretti yet. I still think he will win the race tomorrow.

Bourdais has been a regular in the Second Round of late. It would be great to see him get a pole this year.

All three Arrow Schmidt Peterson cars got to Round Two.  James Hinchcliffe, Marcus Ericsson, and Jack Harvey all advanced. This is Harvey’s first race since Road America, which makes his advancement more impressive.  I would love to see what that team can do full time. Harvey made the Fast Six at the Indycar Grand Prix and finished third.

Tomorrow looks to be the hottest day of the weekend with temperatures around 90 degrees at race time. It should make for an interesting race.

Power said his team is planning on three stops in the race.

Power felt that he would eventually get another pole. “It just got the point where God said, ‘Let him have it.’ ”

Back later with a full qualification report. Thanks for following along today.

 

Power Quickest on Day 1

Team Penske’s Will Power had the fastest lap of the first day of practice for the Indianapolis 500 today. His speed of 229.745 was just slightly quicker than teammate Simon Pagenaud’s best lap of 229,703. Power said that the speeds were the result of a huge tow and no one really knows their true speed yet.

Nine drivers were in the 228 or above range in near perfect running conditions.

The only incident of the day was Colton Herta spinning as he exited pit lane. Herta said he accelerated too quickly on cold tires. The only damage was a punctured tire.

Zach Veach exited the pits and immediately went to the high side of the track causing Josef Newgarden to check up quickly. There was no contact.

Pato O’Ward did not complete his rookie test and will have an opportunity tomorrow at 10:20. The track will open for the second practice day at 11:00.

I will have a complete day’s roundup later.

COTA Qualifying-Quick Thoughts

 

Will Power is trying to pass Mario Andretti’s pole record this season.

Another first round red flag cost Sebastien Bourdais a chance to advance. Has to be frustrating for him, especially since his teammate, Santino Ferrucci, advanced. The red flag to end group 2 may have cost Marco Andretti. Unlike St. Pete, the reds came with less than a minute left in each session, so no one can complain about not having a shot.

I’m not so sure now that the race will be caution free. Turn 19 could be an action packed spot tomorrow.

This rookie class is good. Four of the six advanced to the second round. Felix Rosenqvist was the only to get through to the Fast Six for the second race in a row. He has out-qualified Scott Dixon twice. Rosenqvist had the fastest qualifying lap, 1:45.5 in round 2.

It’s great to see the rookies contending for starting spots at the front every week.

Look for the Power-Rossi front row a lot this season, though not always in this order.

Cars are sliding a lot, which will make for some exciting racing.

Round 2 was one of the best qualifying rounds I’ve seen.

Thank goodness there are no track limits in turn 19. The series might want to move some Porta Potties around, however.

The cars of Pato O’ Ward and Kyle Kaiser look very similar. Doesn’t help that they are numbers 31 and 32.

The race could be 2 hours long at these speeds.

A full qualifying report will be on Wildfire Sports later this evening.

Quick Thoughts – St. Pete Qualifying

Today’s qualifying was brought to you by the color red and the noun penalty. This was one of the strangest qualifying sessions I can remember.

I understand the guaranteed time rule but it was a bad look to not give Group 1 another lap.

Not sure who hindered whom, but it seems as if a couple more penalties could have been called.

One rookie replaced another in the Fast Six. I thought both of them would make it.

Teammates make up each of the first three rows.  Very much like F1.

Disappointed to see Rahal Letterman Lanigan cars not advance farther. Sato had been fast in all practice sessions.

Will Power is a great qualifier. He seems to find the quick lap when he needs to.

The race outcome will likely be determined by when the yellows fall. I think there could be several.

Back in the morning with a race preview.