Laguna Seca Drops Off Schedule;Double Headers Added to Compensate

Laguna Seca dropped off the Indycar schedule today, meaning no west coast races for the NTT Indycar Series in 2020. the follow is from Indycar with the latest revised schedule. I think we are the oint in the season where any further races that are cancelled will not be made up.

INDYCAR Announces 2020 Series
Schedule Update

14-Race Calendar Highlighted by Additional Doubleheaders

INDIANAPOLIS (July 27, 2020) – The NTT INDYCAR SERIES released an updated 2020 race calendar today featuring several modifications.

Three events already scheduled on the series calendar will now become doubleheader weekends, including INDYCAR’s upcoming race weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Prior to the originally scheduled Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio on Sunday, Aug. 9, the stars of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES will square off in another championship-points paying event Saturday, Aug. 8.

In addition, the race weekends at World Wide Technology Raceway in August and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course in October will become doubleheader weekends. WWTR will feature races Saturday, Aug. 29 and Sunday, Aug. 30. IMS will add a road course race Friday, Oct. 2 before the already scheduled event Saturday, Oct. 3.

“Our race fans have loved the exciting doubleheader action of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES this year at Road America and Iowa Speedway,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President & CEO Mark Miles said. “We look forward to giving them even more world-class entertainment this season at three of the most exciting racetracks on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES calendar.”

INDYCAR’s race at Portland International Raceway and doubleheader weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The cancellation of both event weekends was a mutual decision between the series and promoters following close consultation and monitoring of the local situation. The series looks forward to returning to both venues in 2021.

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES remains on track to run 14 races in the 2020 season. The full, updated schedule can be found at INDYCAR.com/Schedule.

The Podium of Redemption- Quick Thoughts on the Bommarito Automotive Group 500

Three drivers who needed a good result got the best results possible. Takuma Sato, maligned as the cause of the first lap crash at Pocono; Ed Carpenter, in his final race of the year and some questioning whether he should step out of the car; and Tony Kanaan, whose best finish to date was a quiet eighth, stood proudly on the podium after The Bommarito Automotive Group 500.

Each of these drivers needed a good finish and they couldn’t have asked for more.

Josef Newgarden placed more distance between himself and his closest rivals.

Santino Ferrucci had the drive of the day. He led the most laps and made some incredible passes. It’s a shame the pit stops and yellows fell the way they did.

There was a great four way battle for the lead in the middle of the race with Ferrucci, Sebastien Bourdais, Newgarden, and Rossi.

In spite of all the yellows, some of which were a bit too long, this was a great race. The race had lots of passing, on track lead changes, pit strategy, and a close finish.

Sato has had a strange season- strong early, then a terrible middle, then he rebounds with another win.  He has two wins and a pole in this weird season.

Conor Daly grabs another top ten. I hope Carlin puts him in the car full time next year. He again shows that he can get the most out of a car.

Carpenter finishes his oval season with two straight top tens and three overall.

I can’t remember a race in which Will Power finished last and Scott Dixon finished 20th.  Dixon’s chance of winning the title may have suffered a fatal blow tonight.

Ferrucci now leads the rookie standings by two points over Felix Rosenqvist.

Five drivers in the top ten started 17th or worse.

I will update this post later.

Thanks for following along the last two days.

 

 

 

 

Mid Day at World Wide Technology Raceway

We are four hours away from race time. There s a fairly decent crowd here already. Currently on track Indy Lights is 13 laps into their 75 lap race. A caution is out for a spin by Toby Sowery. Rinus VeeKay leads.

I arrived at the track  around 1 pm. The paddock was empty and all the equipment was under cover. The tires emitted that distinct rubber smell. The silence was eerie. Activity soon picked up and the track regained its usual energy.

I took some time to get a close look at the vintage cars. It was a trip down memory lane. Here are some photos. I did see ALL of these cars race, but I did see a lot of them on track.

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Steering wheel of a 1933 racer

I am still looking for the Stanley Cup.  That is my next mission. I will try to post again just before the race, but will definitely have Quick Thoughts up tonight.

Race Day at Gateway

Good morning, race fans. We are about 10 hours away from the green flag for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500. The weather looks ideal for racing with the temperature in the high 70s at race time.

This race will determine what kind of championship fight we have for the last two races of the year. Can Josef Newgarden extend his lead to a comfortable margin or will Alexander Rossi, Simon Pagenaud, and Scott Dixon close the gap?

Here a few photos from yesterday. One had a legend sitting in another legend’s car.

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Daly Fastest in Final Practice

Photo: Kyle McInnes

Conor Daly recorded the fastest lap in tonight’s final practice for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 with a speed of 181.931. Daly turned his best lap late in the session, bettering a 181.312 circuit by Josef Newgarden about halfway through the hour long practice. Zach Veach had led early with a lap 0f 181.033. Veach’s lap was still good enough for third place in tonight’s practice.

The practice was green until Charlie Kimball brushed the wall in turn 4 with about six minutes remaining. He slowed and rolled down the front stretch, coming to a stop at the start/finish line.  The session was ended with about three minutes to go.

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Charlie Kimball  after brushing the wall in turn 4

Newgarden, the NTT Indycar Series points leader, reported a misfire toward the end of practice. The team is installing a new engine according to reports. As for the other championship contenders, Scott Dixon was sixth,  Simon Pagenaud seventh, and Alexander Rossi eighth. Rossi struggled early then found some speed late in the session.

Ed Carpenter continues to struggle. He was last in tonight’s practice after qualifying 17th.

Notes

The crowd today seemed smaller than the Friday crowds of the previous two years.

The matte black finish of Felix Rosenqvist’s car is disappointing. A gloss finish would have bee better. It doesn’t present well under the lights.

I am hoping the rubber laid down by the Indy Pro 2000 and Indy Lights Series will help establish a second lane for passing. I think getting around someone will be difficult tomorrow night.

The vintage car laps were great until one of them oiled down the track. I love this part of the day, but maybe scheduling it just before qualifying may not be the best idea.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a pre race edition around midday and my Quick Thoughts after the race. Look for a full race report on Wildfire Sports Sunday night.

 

Quick Thoughts- Bommarito 500 Qualifying

Photo: Kyle McInnes

That was a very exciting qualifying session. Any time the pole is decided on the last lap adds drama to the day.

It must have been a great moment for Dale Coyne’s team to have both his cars on the front row for a few minutes.

Disappointed that the NTT IndyCar Series didn’t delay qualifying. and completely clean up the oil dry. The first ten cars to qualify were at a distinct disadvantage. I’m not saying one of them would have won the pole, but a fairer run might have helped them gain a spot or two.

Sanction Ferrucci qualified sixth after leading the early practice session. He was P 1 during qualifying for a few minutes until teammate Sebastien  Bourdais nipped him.

The top ten is a surprise outside of the expected Penskes’s top positions. Both Coyne cars, both Ganassi cars and only one from Andretti fill half of the top of the grid.

Josef Newgarden is in a position to take firm control of the championship tomorrow night. Alexander Rossi needs to get through the first lap cleanly.  Pit strategy will be an important factor in tomorrow’s outcome.

The way today’s action played out is why I prefer a draw or order based on practice speeds for oval qualifying. The series says the order system is part of the consistency they seek. Road and street course groups are based on practice speeds. Wouldn’t it be more consistent to base oval qualifying order on practice speeds as well?

If a title contender were to be one of the first to go out, that could make the race more interesting. Would the series let Newgarden or Rossi or one of the other contenders go out wit oil dry not completely cleaned up?

 

 

 

Ferrucci Quickest in First Practice

Photo: Kyle McInnes

Santino Ferrucci added to the outstanding resume of the 2019 rookie class as he led the pre qualification practice for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway.

Ferrucci’ s best lap was  184.804 miles per hour. Rookie Marcus Ericsson was second quick at 184.527. Scott Dixon finished third.

The session began with all three Team Penske cars, led by Josef Newgarden, occupying the top three spots. Colton Herta briefly took the lead. Newgarden reclaimed first place a few minutes later.

The Penskes stopped getting faster and Hondas took over. Newgarden finished fourth, Will Power seventh, and Simon Pagenaud 14th. Newgarden and Power were the only Chevy’s in the top ten.

Next up is qualifying at 6:15 ET. Back with my Quick Thoughts afterwards.

Indycar’s Last Oval Weekend of the Year Begins

Good morning . Today begins a bittersweet weekend. Practice and qualifying for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 is today.  The event produces mixed feelings. It’s exciting because this race is a great event and it is an oval race. It’s sad because it is the final oval of the year and one of the final three races of the season.

Today’s schedule- All times CDT:

1-2 Practice. NBC Gold

5:15 Qualifying NBCSN

8:15-9:15 Final Practice NBC Gold

Last night at Busch Stadium Josef Newgarden started the Indycar weekend by throwing out the first pitch before the St. Louis Cardinals- Colorado Rockies game.IMG_20190822_190713

Watch for session up dates here throughout the day.

 

Bommarito Automotive Group 500 Preview- Trio Chasing Newgarden Needs to Gain More Ground

Photo: The first two rows on the pace lap at last year’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500

The clock is ticking. Alexander Rossi, Simon Pagenaud, and Scott Dixon are running out of time to catch Josef Newgarden. They are closing, but Newgarden has done well enough, other than his misstep at Mid Ohio, to keep the group at slightly more than arm’s length. Dixon has been gaining ground steadily. He has won once and finished second three times over the last four races. He needs to maintain that level of performance to have a chance of catching Newgarden

Rossi has crept close and then fallen back. His first lap incident Sunday could have hurt worse than it did. His last four races showed a fifth, a third, a sixth, and the 18th at Pocono. He needs another win to close the gap. Pagenaud has been steady

also. He has a win in the last four races to go along with  third,  sixth, and  fourth place finishes.

Saturday’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 is the third NTT Indycar Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway just outside St. Louis since Indycar returned in 2017. The racing has been fun and attendance has been the best at an oval outside of Indianapolis.  Chris Blair, executive vice president and general manager and track president Curtis Francois, understand how to promote a race. Saturday night’s crowd should again be in the 30,000-40,000 range.

The first race involving Indycar machines was in 1997 under CART sanction during the split. The first three races were the day before the Indianapolis 500. They were scheduled to prevent the CART drivers from participating in the 500. The race moved to September in 2000. In 2001-2003 the IRL held races at the track. Indycar returned in 2017.

Team Penske has dominated the past two years. Will Power won the pole in 2017 and Newgarden and Pagenaud battled for the win. Newgarden won with a pass going into turn one late in the race. There may have been some contact between them.

In 2018 the grid was set by entrant points after rain washed out qualifying.  Will Power won the race, taking the lead for good with eight laps left. What will this year bring? No driver has won this event more than once. Who has the best finishing average of the two races? Scott Dixon.

Dixon finished second in 2017 and third last year. If his trend of the last four races continues, he has to be a favorite for at least a podium spot.  Power, comes into the weekend not only as the defending winner at this track, but also with the momentum of his first victory of the season last Sunday at Pocono. can Power get on one his patented winning streaks?

Rossi and Newgarden I think are under the most pressure. Newgarden has seen his lead over fourth place Dixon dwindle to 52 points. He leads Dixon by 98 going into Mid Ohio. Newgarden is 35 ahead of Rossi and 43 in front of Pagenaud. I think the winner will come from the top four in the points or Power.

Rossi is unde pressure because he can’t afford another bad race. He has two wins this year while Newgarden has four. he need to win two of the last three races to possibly take the title to the second tie breaker. Rossi holds that edge.

Breaking the First Lap Curse

Both races this track have had a first lap, second turn incident. This is a tradition that needs to end in 2019. In 2017 Tony Kanaan spun and Ed Carpenter hit the wall. Last year Sebastien Bourdais hit the turn 2 wall just after the green flag. We’ll see if Sunday’s accident has any influence on how the field drives on the first lap.

A Closer Points Battle

i think the points battle gets even closer after Saturday night.  My prediction is Dixon will win, and Rossi and Pagenaud also close their gaps to Newgarden. I’m not wishing or predicting anything bad for Newgarden. All four drivers should finish in the top ten.

The race  coverage begins at 8 pm Eastern on NBCSN with the green flag around 8:30.

Friday look for my Quick Thoughts after qualifying as well as practice session reports. Saturday morning I will have a pre race post followed by  post race Quick thoughts Saturday night.