While the drivers of the Verizon IndyCar Series have a clear track to run as fast as they want here at the Yard of Bricks, I find myself stopping, going, barely stepping on the heels of folks in front of me and saying, ‘excuse me’ more often than not. In most situations, I would find that scenario irritating but here at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it simply means that the headlining weekend for the Month of May is upon us. And there is nothing that could possibly be bad about that realization! Especially since I heard rumblings about attendance being much higher than recent years. It certainly seemed that way to me. The IndyCar fan base is growing and hopefully after the 500 this weekend, we will have even more people interested or hooked and in turn, ready to attend additional series events.
Hinchtown Unites for the Mayor
I started Carb Day morning the way many of you here at the track did… by meeting up with friends, sharing some stories and laughs, and taking a walk through the garage. If you have the ability to walk through the garages this weekend, make sure you sign the ‘Get Well Hinch’ banner that is on display in front of the Firestone Garage. There are Sharpies hanging all around the fence so you can write a note to Hinch, wish him a quick recovery, and even send him a goofy comment or sarcastic tort. It will definitely make him smile… and that’s always needed on the road to recovery!
Chip Ganassi Discusses Intensity of Schedule
The namesake owner of Chip Ganassi Raccing Teams was surrounded by media this AM to partake in the traditional Q&A forum at the Yard of Bricks in front of the Pagoda. He touched base on a multitude of topics, including the current schedule format for the IndyCar Series. He feels that the condensed schedule is not necessarily the best way to handle their season – expressing that the drivers need more time to rest between races, urging that the current format should be “loosened up and expanding”.
I can’t disagree with this assessment. As much as I love being at a racetrack nearly every single weekend, if it becomes taxing on me as someone covering the series I can’t even begin to imagine the stress it puts the drivers under – mentally and physically. Giving one’s self time to relax or even just a moment to reflect, regroup and prepare to attack the next challenge, is a healthy way to handle such a grueling schedule and demanding sport. I can’t speak as someone that is all that great at guaranteeing myself downtime, but maybe if things were just spread out by at least one weekend in between each race, it would benefit us all.
I understand that Mark Miles plan is to extend the series and add races to it, essentially moving it up in the year with a start date sometime in February and still concluding over Labor Day weekend. The recently announced Grand Prix of Boston could very well serve as the annual finale that Miles wants to achieve. He has mentioned in past pressers that he wants the season finale to be a race that fans can rely on. In that same fashion where people know that the Indy 500 runs every Memorial Day weekend in Indianapolis, he wants a location and date for the IndyCar Season Finale to also become a tradition. Boston has the potential to serve as that precedent, and I look forward to covering the inaugural event at the South Boston Waterfront in 2016.
IndyCar Practice went smoothly, with only a couple yellows for routine track inspections. Team Penske, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams and AJ Foyt Racing were represented in the Top 5 with Will Power, current IndyCar Series Champion clocking the fastest speed at 229.020. Power has never won on the famed Yard of Bricks but he’s had a very solid Month of May so far, achieving the pole position and victory in the Grand Prix 2 weeks ago. Could this be his year to finally achieve a win at the 500, and in doing so, sweep the entire Month? It’s entirely possible given the strength he has shown this season and the consistency of Team Penske’s entire entourage. The probability of someone from that squad earning the win on Sunday is very likely – the Vegas odds are actually on Montoya, and in about 24 hours, we will know how accurate those estimates were.
Jack Harvey, driving for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, battled teammate Ethan Ringel for the lead throughout all 40 laps of the Freedom 100. The pair went back and forth with Harvey only leading a quarter of the Indy Lights race but crossing the yard of bricks when it counted most: as the checkereds waved. The victory gives Harvey the points lead as they head into their next race weekend – a double header in Toronto on June 13th & 14th.
The end of my Carb Day ended the way it has for the past few years – on the north end of town at 96th St. Steakburgers for the Carb Night Burger Bash, hosted by Curt Cavin, Kevin Lee and 1070AM The Fan. If you’ve never been to this event, make sure you start adding it to your regular 500 weekend schedule in the future. Starting grid drivers always swing through – the identities of, and duration of visit however, never being announced prior. The surprise aspect makes it fun, with every arrival and interview inducing smiles, applause and the occasional hoot-and-holler. Maybe the best part of the entire event is that proceeds go to charities every year. This year, the charities supported were focused on finding a cure for Huntington’s Disease, as well as bringing support to children undergoing chemotherapy through Tatum’s Bags of Fun.
I am trackside at the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 for Live Full Throttle all weekend.
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