Quick Thoughts on the ABC Supply 500

A huge thank to Dallara, the AMR Safety Team, Jay Frye, Indycar and anyone else who had a hand in designing this car. It definitely saved a life today. I hope Robert Wickens has a speedy recovery.

It looked like the front aero improvements did not help passing. I’m not sure if it the lack of the final practice, the temperatures, or effects of the accident,  but it seems as if there was no improvement from IMS.

Alexander Rossi continues his meteoric rise to stardom. If anyone can overtake Scott Dixon for the title, he is the one who can do it.

Dixon showed again today why he will be tough to beat for the Astor Cup. He had an amazing drive today for the podium.

Zach Veach had an outstanding weekend. he lead the practice session, sat on the provisional pole until fewer than ten drivers were left to qualify, and had his third straight top ten finish. keep an eye on him next year.

Why did NBC have to replay the accident so many times? I could understand once or twice, but it seemed as if they were showing it over and over. It seemed as if one time they showed the replay followed by the Indycar commercial with Dixon’s accident at the 2017 500.

The repair of the catch fence looked like a shoddy patchwork job that was not up to standards. I’m glad there was not another incident there the rest of the day. The series should have paid more attention to Sebastien Bourdais.

I hope before the race at Gateway Race Control has a long talk with the drivers about starting a race. Power did start correctly, but other drivers got too anxious.

I will have a full race story on Wildfire Sports sometime tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

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Quick Thoughts on Qualifying- Pocono

Great day for Zach Veach. He led the practice session and hung on to P1 in qualifying longer than I expected.

Is this the opening the  four drivers chasing Dixon need?

Can Power defy the odds and win the race too? Only five pole winners have won this race.

Pagenaud could a points spoiler for one of the championship contenders, possibly one if his teammates.

Honda and Chevy seem pretty equally this weekend.

Never thought I’d see anyone tie an A.J. Foyt record. Well done, Will Power.

With final practice washed out the race will be more intriguing. I like that there is no morning warmup on road courses for that reason as well.

Quick Thoughts on the race this evening.

 

Good Morning From Mid Ohio

TheMid Ohio weekend begins in one hour with MX5 Cup practice. Indycar’s first practice is ar 11.

I will have quick thoughts occasionally in this site but my full articles will be on wildfireradiosports.com.

I will also be live tweeting action on this site’s account, @PitWindow. If you aren’t following that account, please do.

Enjoy the weekend.

 

Second Half Preview – Points Battle, Scheduling, Title Sponsor, Teams

Announcement: The Pit Window now has its own Twitter account. If you haven’t already, please follow @PitWindow. Through this account I will be better able to provide up to the minute happenings, especially at the track on race weekends.

This weekend at Road America the second half of the all too short Indycar season begins. There is a terrific points battle going on with the top four separated by just 57 points. Racing has been great on the road and street courses, but Indycar is still trying to find the best way to set up the new aero on the ovals. An announcement today about Pocono may be a solution. We also have a new series title sponsor announcement within the next 90 days, the 2019 schedule to sort out, and going on right now is Silly Season, Teams Division. Here is a look at what to expect in the second half.

Fierce Title Fight Will Continue to Sonoma

Scott Dixon’s usual way to win a title is to start the season slowly, catch fire around mid-season, then take the lead with just a few races left and run away with the championship. That he has the lead at the season’s mid-point should have the rest of the contenders concerned. There are more tracks left that should favor Chevy rather than Honda. Dixon is the defending champ at Road America.  Josef Newgarden, currently fifth, won last year at Gateway and Mid-Ohio. Alexander Rossi is probably going to win another race this season and Will Power will also take another checkered flag. This fight is going to be fun to watch.

Schedule Issues?

Indycar was able to boast of schedule continuity and date equity the last three years when they had virtually all their tracks signed on for multi year deals. That continuity may be gone next year, as three tracks have yet to renew.

Right now it appears two tracks, Phoenix and Texas, may fall off the schedule. With few oval options to replace them, this could be a loss for the series. Phoenix looks to definitely not be returning, and Eddie Gossage looks as if he wants to again be the race after the Indianapolis 500 with an off week in between. To get that, Roger Penske would have to move the Belle Isle weekend. That is not likely to happen. Gossage’s only leverage is that he has an ova which is the type of track the series needs. Look for the schedule to come out later than it has been the last couple of years. I think it will be very different.

New Teams

Juncos and Meyer Shank Racing are hoping to expand their part time status next season although not necessarily become full time teams yet. Shank is looking to expand from six races in 2018 to between eight and ten next year. Juncos is still looking to become a single full time one car team at some point. Jack Harvey will stay at Shank.  Will Kyle Kaiser be Juncos’s main driver? Given more time in the car, I think Kaiser has potential.

The Orange Elephant

With Fernando Alonso’s victory at LeMans on Sunday, talk immediately heated up about him coming to Indycar full time. McLaren appears to be on the brink of becoming a new full time Indycar team in 2019. Team Principal Zak Brown said the move to Indycar depends on what Alonso wants to do. Alonso will be in a  McLaren for the 500.  If the 500 is all Alonso wants to do, but McLaren still wants to go full tim, they could put Lando Norris in the car for the rest of the season. Norris, McLaren’s reserve driver, gets seat time and Alonso stays in Formula 1 in addition  to running the 500. The current thinking is McLaren will form a technical partnership with Andretti Autosport. This could be a  big piece of the grid for 2019.

The Steinbrenner/Herta Conundrum

Assuming that a). McLaren does partner with Andretti, and b). Colton Herta wins the Indy Lights championship, where does Herta race?  His team, Steinbrenner Racing, is part of the Andretti Lights program. Owner George Steinbrenner IV plans to move Herta to Indycar if he wins the Lights title this year. He might move up anyway, but the million dollar prize would make it easier. Would Andretti field six full time cars? Herta might work with another team for a year or two. Stay tuned.

New Series Sponsor?

According to The Indianapolis Star, Mark Miles hopes to have a new title sponsor for Indycar in the next 90 days. There seems to be two entities involved. My reading is that one is definitely closer to a deal than the other. I have nomidea who Indycar is talking to, but I appreciate Miles’s and the Indycar executives working hard to get this matter taken care before the end of the current season.

Aero Help at Pocono

Indycar announced yesterday some added downforce for Pocono. Here is a link to the article on Indycar.com explaining the new piece.

https://www.indycar.com/News/2018/06/06-18-Superspeedway-front-wing-extension

Look for my Road America preview on Wildfireradiosports.com this weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andretti on Pole for Race 1

The headline is not a typo. Marco Andretti won the pole for today’s Indycar race at Belle Isle.

Andretti nipped Robert Wickens in the second qualifying group with a last lap of 1:14.8. He was the only driver under 1:15. Scott Dixon led the first qualifying group and will start second.

Indy 500 champion Will Power was the fastest Chevy and will start sixth.

Firestone Introduces New Rain Tire

A new rain tire debuts this weekend. It is designed to produce more grip and push water away more efficiently. The new tires may see some action tomorrow with a chance of showers in the forecast.

Race 1 summary later tonight.

The Positive Thinking of Power

“When you work hard at something it eventually comes to you,” Will Power said at his Sunday afternoon press conference. He credit this approach to his determination in the closing laps of the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500. Winning the 500 had run through his head more than ever over the last year, he said. It was. “The last box to check on his career, which includes an Indycar Series championship won after several close calls. Again working hard will eventually get you what you want.

The race was an intriguing event. It was difficult to pass, as expected, but drivers liked that the outcome was more in their hands. Some teams, Scott Dixon and Robert Wickens, tried alternate pit strategies which were hurt by the timing of the caution periods. Power, on a normal pit cycle, was in the right spot in the end to take advantage of those who gambled.

Ed Carpenter and Power had the strongest cars all day. Carpenter led 65 laps and Power led 59. No one else led more than 19. Tony Kanaan looked to be a third factor until a cut tire forced an extra stop. He had worked his way back to ninth, then crashed on lap 189, setting up the dramatic finish and near storybook ending.

Oriol Servia, Stefan Wilson, and Jack Harvey gambled there would be another yellow and they would be able to save enough fuel to go the distance. Servia led the field to the green on lap 193 and was quickly passed by Wilson and Harvey. Wilson led the next three laps, which sent a buzz through the crowd. The two leaders pulled into the pits for fuel on lap 196, hand Power the lead and the victory.

The usually stoic Power was one of the happiest winners in Victory Lane in many years. “I started screaming on the white flag lap,” he said. Tim Cindric corroborated that.

Notes

Power’s win was the first for a front row starter since Dario Franchitti won from third in 2010. It was Team Penske’s first 500 win since Juan Pablo Montoya won his third in 2015.

There were 30 lead changes, many on pit cycles. While we didn’t see constant passes for the lead, I thought it made each pass more genuine and a result of driving and not equipment packages.

Alexander Rossi had another march from the back of the field. His fourth place finish from a last row start was one of the highlights of the day. He also charged from the back to get a podium at Phoenix after a pit penalty. Rossi is now two points behind Power in the series championship.

Graham Rahal continues his season of starting in the back and getting to the top 10. Yesterday he finished tenth from his 30th starting spot. I’m sure he’s looking forward to Detroit where he dominated the weekend last year.

Danica Patrick’s career ended with a crash on lap 68. It was the only the second time she has not finished the race. Patrick had always done well at the Speedway, including being the first woman to lead.

Helio Castroneves spun and crashed on lap 146. I’m not sure if he will return next year. If he does, 2019 may be his last time to try for win number 4

Power is the first driver to win the Indycar Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500 in the same year.

What is Up with the Pre-Race?

For a couple of years now I have become annoyed with the pace of the pre race ceremonies. This year I thought they were longer and more drawn out than ever. It seemed as if parts were out of order as well. These ceremonies used to be compact, flowing and built the tension leading to the start. I don’t get that feeling or the goosebumps I used to get during this part of the day.

The Speedway has found its new singer for “(Back Home Again in) Indiana”. It was another great performance by Jim Cornelison. Please keep him.

The highlight was playing a recording of Jim Phiilipe’s homage to veterans which preceded taps. It was wonderful to hear that again, but the moment was ruined when instead of following it immediately with “Taps”, the invocation was next, followed by an ABC commercial break, then “Taps.” A solemn moment was ruined.

The last straw was Tony George giving the command, “Drivers, start your engines” for the second year in a row. I’m not sure if I heard the engines or if the sound was Tony Hulman spinning in his grave. Please, IMS, give the traditional (Ladies) and Gentlemen, start your engines command. Drivers, start your engines is fine for every other race on the schedule.

I will close with a couple more photos from yesterday. I have more stories of the month this week before the series moves to Detroit.

(Left) Will Power’s car om pit lane race morning.

(Right) Power waits to take questions from the press.

All photos: Mike Silver

Power Wins Strategic Indianapolis 500

Will Power edged Ed Carpenter in the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500. Power, whose car seemed to get stronger as the race went on, took the lead for good with 3 laps remaining when leader Stefan Wilson and second place Jack Harvey had to stop for fuel.

Power led 59 laps, second to Ed Carpenter’s race high 65. Power was able to pass Carpenter in the pits and kept ahead of the pole winner.

Alexander Rossi came from starting 32nd to finish fourth. Graham Rahal finished tenth after starting 30th.

It was an intriguing race with teams using different pit strategies. A rash of yellows around lap 50 and other cautions in the second half of the race played havoc with some teams’ plans.

Two fan favorites, Danica Patrick and Helio Castroneves, crashed in separate incidents. It was the final race for Patrick, who is the first woman to lead laps at Indianapolis.

Three time winner Castroneves ran in the top 10 most of the day,but never contended for the lead. This was his only race in Indycar this season.

More tomorrow, including my thoughts on the day as a whole.