Quick Thoughts- Gateway Race 2

Photo: The race on the pit road exit lane decided the race.

Passing has always been difficult at World wide Technology Raceway, and yesterday was an extreme example of it. When leader Takuma Sato couldn’t lap Ed Carpenter or even get close to him, it set the tome for a very processional race. It was definitely a race that could ahve been helped by a yellow flag or two.

While pit work is very much appreciated, I would rather see races won on the track. The pit crews were on their game this weekend, but on track action is what the series needs to showcase.

Sato showed no signs of an Indy hangover this weekend with a second, a pole, and an eight place finish. He is still fourth in points.

Points for the weekend– Dixon 81, O’Ward 79, Newgarden 69, Sato 67

Congratulations to Rinus VeeKay for his career best fourth place finish Sunday. VeeKay finished sixth on Saturday. He has improved a lot this year after a shaky start at Texas. The rookie is carrying Ed Carpenter Racing this season.

Conor Daly and Carlin is a great pairing. This weekend he earned his third and fourth top tens from his five oval races with the team.

Last year at Gateway vintage cars dropped oil on the track just before qualifying. This year the first responders parade, which was great, also left some fluid on the track. I understand the need for prerace presentations, but Indycar might want to begin the festivities a little earlier to allow for these issues to be resolved.

Was yesterday the last race of 2020 where fans will be allowed? Jay Frye said he is 80-90% certain Mid Ohio will take place, but he said nothing about fans being able to attend.  The Harvest Classic is iffy for fans. and I am stoill skeptical about St. Pete running or running with fans.

The first through fourth finish for Chevy powered cars Sunday was a bit of redemption for their showing at Indianapolis.

I thought Indycar threw the yellow awfully fast when Sato hit the wall. He kept going and maybe should have been black flagged. I don’t think O’Ward would have caught or passed newgarden in any case.

I’m glad that Tony Kanaan had one top ten finish this weekend in what may have been his final Indycar race outside of the Indianapolis 500. He has been a great driver and very popular with the fans. I know many fans who became interestd in Indycar because of him. Sponsorship may prevent him from running more races. If that is the case, I want to say thank you, Tony. You have been a great ambassador for the sport.

History Made – Quick Thoughts on Race 1

Photo: James Black, Indycar

We were going to see history today. We just didn’t know what it would be. Was it going to be O’Ward’s first victory, Dixon’s 50th, or a repeat winner at this track?

50 Indycar wins for Scott Dixon. Nothing else to say. The way his season is going, he could catch and pass Mario Andretti this season for second place on the all time win list.

Asking for a friend- Is someone really old if they have seen all three Indycar drivers who have won 50 or more races drive and win?

Pato O’Ward will sometime soon get the last stint right and stand atop the podium. Maybe tomorrow.

What Indy 500 hangover? Takuma Sato finished a strong second today, starts on pole tomorrow, and moved up to fourth in points. This ranks as one the best next races after winning the 500 I remember.

Andretti Autosport has a lot of work to do tonight. Losing three cars before they even reach the starting line typifies the type of season the team is having.

I still need to see the replay of the start, but from what I have seen it looks like Power brought the field to the line too slow and drivers in the back got anxious. I’m not sure what Alex Palou was thinking being that far out of line.

Starts and restarts have been a problem this year. Road America race 2 also had a slow start. Colton Herta had the restart problem at Iowa.

Conor Daly earned another top ten finish for Carlin Racing. Daly has really helped that team. Sad that tomorrow is his final race with them this season.

Runus VeeKay’s sixth place finish is his best oval result this year. After a rough start at Texas, VeeKay has worked hard to improve on ovals.

Tony Kanaan’ s ninth place is a nice finish as he closes his season Sunday.

Herta had a quiet fourth place finish.

The points race is all but over. Dixon holds a 117 point lead over Newgarden, and O’Ward is another 13 behind. It has been a while since the pints leader has had such control of the championship. It’s been a long time since someone had won half of the races this deep into the year.

O’Ward Leads Practice

Photo: Indycar, James Black

Pato O’Ward lead the field in the only practice session for the Bommarito Autuomotive Group 500 this afternoon. O’Ward turned in a 181.532 mph lap on the 66th lap of his 75 circuits.  Qualifying is at noon Eastern time tomorrow, followed by Race 1 at 3:40 Eastern Sunday’s race is also at 3:40 eastern. Both races will be on NBCSN.

Santino Ferrucci lost the drive in his car and sat out most of the session, turning just 40 laps. Ryan Hunter-Reay also had issues and ran a session low 32 laps. Points leader Scott Dixon was third quickest. The entire field was within 1.1 seconds of the leader.

I will be traveling to Gateway very early tomorrow morning and should arrive in time for qualifying. Look for a brief qualifying report. my Quick Thoughts on Race 1 will post late Saturday evening.

The time sheet:

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Bommarito 500 Preview-A More Traditional Schedule

An oval the weekend after the Indianapolis 500 hasn’t happened for at least seven years. Milwaukee traditionally followed Indianapolis  on the schedule. One good thing all the schedule changes did was bring this bit of nostalgia. It’s not Milwaukee, but world Wide Technology Raceway, still called Gateway by many, has a double header this weekend.

It will be a different Gateway weekend in keeping with the adjustments 2020 has forced upon everyone. Both races will run in the daytime instead of at night as they have the last three years. The scheduled distance is 200 laps per race. The single race was 248 laps. Like Iowa, the racing should be different in the daytime from what it was like at night.

Gateway has hosted Indycar races since 1997, when CART ran a race the day before the Indianapolis 500 for three years. The last CART race was  September of 2000, as CART teams decided they wanted to go back to Indianapolis. The IRL raced at Gateway from 2001-2003. Indycar returned in 2017.

There are some oddities in the history of the track and the series. Tony Kanaan is the only driver participating this weekend who has driven in every race here, regardless of which series sanctioned the event. No driver has won the race at Gateway more than once. The only times the pole winner won were in 2002, when Gil de Ferran took the checkered flag, and 2003, when Helio Castroneves pulled the double.

Six active drivers have finished in the top ten twice- Conor Daly, Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Alexander Rossi, and Takuma Sato. Pagenaud has the best average finish of fourth.

The weekend schedule can be found here:

https://thepitwindow.blog/2020/08/25/world-wide-technology-schedule/

500 Hangover?

The winner of the Indianapolis 500 goes on a whirlwind media tour after the race and sometimes struggles the following weekend.  Sato is the defending winner of this race. I look for him to be better on Sunday than he is on Saturday. It has been a while since the winner of the 500 won the next race.

More Success for Daly and Carlin?

This weekend marks the last two races for Conor Daly and Carlin Racing on the ovals. The results to date have been pretty decent. Daly won the pole for Race 1 at Iowa. He has scored  a sixth at Texas, and an eighth  in Iowa race 1. 72 of Daly’s 121 points have come in the Carlin entry.  Daly also has earned a fifth place at gateway driving for Foyt Racing.  I see daly as having another good weekend. in the St. Louis area.

Chevy Comeback?

After Honda’s domination at Indianapolis, Chevrolet looks to rebound. This is a strong track for the bow tie. Chevy powered cars had won three races in a row before Honda’s win last year.  Chevy did win the pole in 2019 and Ed Carpenter came within 0,03 seconds of winning.  Chevy should again have a strong performance at a track that has seemed to favor their engines.

Clean Start?

Since Indycar’s return to Gateway, clean starts have been an issue. Last year there was an incident on lap 2 involving Marcus Ericsson. The previous two years, issues at the start caused yellows just after the green flag. Will a daytime race fix the problem?

Dixon’s Title March

Scott Dixon’s runner up finish last weekend in the Indianapolis 500 gives him an 84 point lead over Josef Newgarden. No one else is within 100 points of Dixon. A pair of good finishes this weekend could put the title virtually out of reach. Dixon won the first three races of the season and has two seconds and a fifth place as well. The second race at road america is his only finish outside the top ten this season.I don’t see Dixon losing ground here. he is having one of the strongest seasons we have seen from a driver in a while.

Notes

Kody Swanson, five time USAC Midget champion, will again drive for Legacy motorsport in the Indy Pro 2000 race at 1 pm Central time on Saturday. Swanson drove the car to victory in his debut at Lucas oil raceway on Carb Night. The deal was put together at the last minute, and the crew worked without pay to get the car ready. Sw2anson drove a great race after starting second. Once he got the lead he pulled away from the field. He is a driver that i hope gets a shot at Indycar in the next couple of years.

Mid Ohio will rune September 11-13 pending government approval. The track plans to allow 10,000 fans. The doubleheader was postponed from August 8 and 9. it will stay as a double header. I wonder if they have already sold more than 10,000 tickets. if so, how will they resolve the excess tickets?

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.