I want to start this off by saying I absolutely adore the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It is highly underrated by INDYCAR fans and has done an amazing job of putting on great racing. That being said: can we figure out when we’re going to have the second IMS Road Course race? This year it’s the middle of August, last year it was mid-September. If I had a vote it would be for mid- to late-September because Indianapolis in August is way too hot. But you didn’t come here for a discussion on the weather.
Today – Friday – the NTT INDYCAR series starts a two-day crunch of practice, qualifications, and a race. It’s part of a triple-header weekend with the NASCAR XFINITY series and the NASCAR CUP series. Every series racing on the IMS Road course. As a fun fact: first time that the Brickyard 400 will be ran on the road course since its inception. This race, the Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix, will consist of 85 laps on the fourteen turn 2.439 mile track, reaching a total mileage of 207.32.
The drivers took this course back in May and the GMR Grand Prix proved to be extremely exciting. We had quite the unique Firestone Fast Six with Romain Grosjean; Josef Newgarden; Jack Harvey; Alex Palou; Scott McLaughlin; and Conor Daly. It was hard not to just be excited for the sheer new, or slept on, talent in this group. Ultimately, Romain Grosjean earned his first pole in the NTT INDYCAR series, and his first in open wheel racing in approximately ten-years. It was Rinus VeeKay’s weekend. He was just handling that car like a seasoned veteran. At one point he threaded the needle between Jimmie Johnson and Alex Palou to really solidify his position. Credit also goes to the Ed Carpenter Racing team who kept the pit stops quick and spotless. At about Lap 60 I switched to listening exclusively to his radio and it was one of the greatest additions to the race. He was just responding “copy” and as the laps got higher…so did his voice. Plus, we happened to be sitting across from his pit and I was able to watch his parents just lose their minds at the end.
For this year, you can always put money on Ed Carpenter Racing cars at the IMS. WIth VeeKay winning and Conor making the Firestone Fast Six, expect great things. Of course Team Penske owns the record for most wins on the road course, both Will Power and Simon Pagenaud have racked up an impressive number of wins on this course. However I’m telling you to put money on Jack Harvey. He showed exceptional speed and skill at the GMR Grand Prix, but had just shit pit stops that ruined his chances. I think he’ll be back with something to prove this weekend.
If you’ll be at the track, first I hope you say “hi”! And second if you have general admission: the mounds are back open! I adore watching the race from the mounds in the middle of the track. It’s a fun carnival atmosphere. I’m also excited as my sister is joining me and it will be her very first INDYCAR race in person. I will report back on her thoughts and impressions!
Practice is Friday (8/13) at 3:00pm
Qualifications is Friday (8/13) at 7pm
Warm Up is Saturday (8/14) at 8:45am
Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix is Saturday (8/14) at 12:45pm