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

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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.

 

Race Day!

Good morning from IMS. The 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 begins in 7 hours. There seems to be no clear favorite for the race.

I still think it will be a caution filled race and strategies will be mixed. The temperatures in the 90s this afternoon and the anticipated cloud cover will change the way the cars handle.

Look for a quick post race note and a recap tomorrow.

Carb Day- Lots of Laps and a Great Indy Lights Race

I’m not sure we know any more about how the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 will go tomorrow after watching the Carb Day session. 1,273 laps of mostly strung out running should help drivers get a feel for Sunday’s similar weather conditions. The four fastest yesterday- Tony Kanaan 227.791, Scott Dixon 225.684, Marco Andretti 225.220, and Sebastien Bourdais 224.815, could be the group from which  the winner comes.  The race will come down to track position in the last40 laps and who makes the right tire calls on the last stop.

Danica Patrick had an electrical problem early in the session and only ran 15 laps. Her second lap was the eighth quickest. She did get on track during the final 10 minutes. The session was halted briefly for a track inspection. No cars had an on track incident.

Polesitter Ed Carpenter Ran 30 laps with a best time of 223.219, 14th fastest. Teammate Spencer Pigot had the 9th fastest time, 223.584. Overall, a decent day for the Carpenter team. Can they put it all together on race Day? That has been the one glitch in their 500 program.

Graham Rahal ran the most laps, 51, as he still looks for a good pace. The rest of the top five in laps run were Carlos Munoz, 49; Jay Howard, Helio Castroneves, Stefan Wilson, and Sage Karam 48 each; Josef Newgarden, 47. Of the high laps run group, Karam was quickest with the 12th best lap at 223.278.

We will begin to get answers in 15 and half hours from the time I’m writing this.

Herta Wins Exciting Freedom 100

When engines fired for the Indy Lights Freedom 100, I joked to my friend Brad that the race starts in 38 laps. This race has produced extremely close, four wide finishes with great racing in the last two laps. I was wrong. The small field raced every lap as if it were the final lap.

Twenty lead changes in a 40 lap race is unprecedented. Dalton Kellett, the polesitter, had the longest stretch in the lead, from lap 21-25. Colton Herta, who started sixth, took the lead on lap 39 and held off Patricio O’Ward by 0,0281 seconds. Yes that was close, but it is not in top four closest margins in Freedom 100 history.

The Day in Photos

Here are some photos from yesterday. Remember to rest tonight (Ha) get to the track early, and drink lots of water. Enjoy the race.

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Colton Herta takes the lead during the Freedom 100.

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Danica Patrick returns to the track after a trip to the garage to repair electrical problems.

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Pit road is always busy on Carb Day.

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James Davison leads Takuma Sato in turn 1.

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Spencer Pigot leaves his pit box.

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Pit stop practice for Tony Kanaan and Ed Carpenter.

Good Morning. It’s Carb Day!

The final practice for the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 starts at eleven am. I expect it to be a very busy session as drivers figure out how the cars work in traffic and how the behave in the heat.  This is also the time for some teams to get in some pit stop practice under near race conditions.

It doesn’t always happen that Carb day and race day have similar weather, but this year the temperatures should be similar. Look for who is fastest and who turns the most laps. I’m also looking at who runs the most consistent times, especially in traffic.

Daltonm Kellett won the pole for today’s Indy Lights race. In a bit of a surprise, usual top qualifiers Santi Urrutia and Colton Herta start fifth and sixth. It should be a typical Lights race at IMS with a close finish. I will have results later.

Coverage of Carb Day can be seen on NBCSN starting at 11 am EDT

My Indy 500 preview is posted at wildfireradiosports.com.

Race Day Advice: Come Earlier, Hydrate Heavily

Photo: Doug Boles, Indianapolis Motor Speedway President (center), advises fans to come earlier Sunday to ensure getting to their seats on time.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Doug Boles asked fans to plan to get to the track a bit earlier than they normally do Sunday. Increased security measures, including vehicles being subject to searches, necessitate the call for an earlier arrival. The forecast calls for a high of 90 degrees Sunday.  The Speedway is asking fans to start hydrating Saturday to prevent heat illness.

The heightened security includes checking every cooler, canine units at some checkpoints, and a warming that vehicles may be searched,  Uniformed police will have a noticeable presence at the race.

To help those who get uncomfortable, the track will have five cooling buses available. In addition, all first aid stations have air conditioning, as well as the IMS Museum. 75 misting stations in various places will allow some quick relief. Sunscreen is highly recommended for Race Day.

Gates open at 6 pm EDT for entry to the track. Exterior parking lots open at 5 am. Fans must have a purchased parking sticker to drive into the track property. Boles said the Speedway has sold out, but suggested some passes may be available online.

“Cars without a valid sticker will be turned away,” Boles said.

He reviewed the rules for items not allowed:

No glass containers

No wagons

No selfie sticks.

Coolers must be no larger than 14″ x14′ x18″.

Boles urged fans to have patience entering the track and when leaving after the race. Vehicles will not be allowed to exit the track until the pedestrians are out, he said.

Buses from downtown and from the airport are available. There are pick up and drop off locations for ride services as well.

The Speedway’s goal is that everyone is safe and has fun.

For detailed information, go to indianapolismotorspeedway.com/planahead.

Bump Tales- Peter Revson’s Six O’Clock Run

Editor’s Note: This is the last of the series. I hope you’ve enjoyed these stories of past Bump Days.

Photo from 1970 Indianapolis 500 program.

Peter Revson sped down the backstretch at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on his final qualifying lap. On the other side of the track, the gun sounded to end qualifying for the 1969 Indianapolis 500. He just had to finish this lap and he would be in the field for his first 500.

Revson made it easily. His Repco-Brabham bumped Rick Muther from the field. The final run of the day ended a hectic last hour of qualifying and capped what had been one of the strangest qualifications in the history of the race.

The first weekend of qualifying was rained out except for one waved off attempt by Jigger Sirois. That is a tale for another day. Do NOT call Talk of Gasoline alley and ask Donald Davidson about it. Sirois’ attempt with about 15 minutes left on what was to be Pole Day was waved off. Before another car could get on track, the rains came again. Sunday was a complete washout. All 33 spots would need to be filled the following weekend.

A busy Saturday Pole Day saw 25 of the 33 spots filled. A. J. Foyt won the pole. Mario Andretti and defending race champion Bobby Unser completed the front row. Just five spots remained for Sunday.

It was a typical Bump Day afternoon. Teams waited until after 4 pm when the cooling shadow began to creep across the track. Then the scramble to get in the qualifying line began. The last hour produced several waved off runs. Jerry Grant lost the turbo of his Ford. It took 24 minutes to clean up the oil trail he left on the track. Losing that much time in the final hour could hurt several drivers chances.

Jigger Sirois and Al Miller each suffered a mechanical issue on their incomplete attempts. Their shortened runs allowed Revson to get on the track on time.   Bob Veith turned out to be the victim of the  Grant oil cleanup . He waited helplessly hoping Revson would pull off before the gun.

Revson would finish the race in fifth place from his 33rd starting position. The following year he joined Mclaren. He won the pole in 1971 and started second in 1972. His best finish was second in 1971.  Revson only completed a combined 26 laps in his last two starts -1972 and ’73 due to mechanical failures.

In 1972 Revson also drove for McLaren in Formula 1. He won both the British and Canadian Grand Prix in 1973 and finished the season fifth in points. Revson is the last U.S. born driver to win an F1 race.  Following the 1973 season he moved to the Shadow Formula 1 team.

His quick rise to prominence ended March 22, 1974. Shadow had retired from the first two Formula 1 races of the year. The team arranged a test session in Johannesburg, South Africa, the site of the next race. Revson’s car crashed violently into the Armco barrier. He was killed instantly.

Notes

My Indianapolis 500 preview will be on Wildfireradiosports.com tomorrow. I will have additional thought in this column Saturday along with some pictures from the IMS Roadster Tribute which follows the Public Drivers’ Meeting.

Thank you to the IMS Media Relations Staff. You al have been great to work with this May.

And thanks to all who have read this space and wildfireradiosports these last three weeks.