Wow! What a chaotic start to the Verizon 200 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The first spin out of many at IMS started on turn 1 just after the field went green. And it didn’t stop there. Turn 1 gave nearly every driver issues today. It started with Justin Haley in lap 1 and continued until the very last overtime lap. Denny Hamlin was very loose and missed a turn, but stayed on the track. And he wasn’t the only one.
Part of the problem is it was hotter on Sunday than it was on Saturday. Track temp was reported to be 25 degrees hotter. All the drivers were stating that they were having problems with grip and that they kept getting loose.
Chris Buescher pitted at Lap 11 and something on the inside of his car caught fire. His pit crew got the fire out. Reportedly, Bubba Wallace had got into his door and knocked something loose, possibly causing the fire.
Not to be outdone by the chaos on the track, the Air Force hauler brought in for the fan experience got stuck in one of the tunnels.
On one of the last restarts, Reddick had to hold off AJ Allmendinger who had been driving hard all day. Turns out that his cooling device had not been working all day and when he got out of his car, he collapsed and was taken to the care center and released.
Chase Briscoe won Stage 1. Christopher Bell won Stage 2 and Reddick did some fancy driving to hold off everyone else. Reddick has won 2 of the last 5 cup races. He sets himself up 278 points behind Chase Elliot who is in the lead heading into the shootout.
AJ Allmendinger won his 2nd race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Saturday. He started from P1 and ended up P1. Alex Bowman and Jason Allgaier rounded out the podium for the Pennzoil 150.
It looked to be a rocky start because by lap 4, 2 cars had already pitted and taken on tires. It looked like tire wear was going to be an issue, but that smoothed out as the race went on. When asked what he needed help with, Noah Gragson said, “the driver.”
The first yellow came out with 5 laps to go in Stage 1 when Parker Kligerman’s brakes let go and he wrecked Ryan Ellis. On Kligerman’s exit after being checked out, he said, “I find myself a pretty adept driver, but I couldn’t stop it without brakes. I just couldn’t Flintstone it.” He expressed his apology to Ellis and his crew and to his own crew.
Gragson took stage 1 and Josh Berry took stage 2. Allmendinger led 42 laps of the Pennzoil 150 and was overjoyed to do so. He summed it up by saying, “Anytime you win at Indy it’s a big deal, at least for me. This place is special. I love this race track.” Winning this race moved Allmendinger into the points lead over Justin Allgaier and Ty Gibbs. The top 5 are all within 100 points of each other. The top 5 is rounded out by Josh Berry and Noah Gragson. It looks to be a fast paced finish to the shootout.
Rossi Takes the Checkered Flag in Indy
It’s great to be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at the Gallagher Grand Prix, the first of 3 races this weekend. We also have the Pennzoil 150 on the road course at IMS. The beginning of the Grand Prix was not without drama. Conor Daly had issues in the pits after running P6. There was an incident between Will Power and Pato O’Ward and Grosjean had some issues in the pits as well. The back end of the cars were slipping and sliding around but straightened up as the race went on. Marcus Ericksson started at the back of the grid but found himself in P2 for a time. And early on, Jimmy Johnson was taking faster laps than Will Power and found himself in P1 in lap 24.
By lap 49, Herta was out of the race. He said via radio, “I think this is something we can’t fix.”
During the press conference, Will Power was talking about IMS and stated, “It’s always hard starting on the outside of this track…you get freighttrained.”
Will Power ended up P3 which put him 7th all time leader for podium finishes and 92 career podium finishes. With this 3rd place finish, he took the points lead with 4 races to go. When asked how the season would end up, he stated, “It feels like it always goes down to the last race; [and it is] Impossible to predict in this series.” 46 points separate the top 5, so it truly will come down to the final 4 races this season.
Christian Lundgaard came in P2 for his first podium finish of his career. He stated, “It feels amazing, but the best thing is the team really deserves it….I’m just a guy doing my job, really…This is the right path. We are going in the right direction.” Lungaard turned 21last Saturday and showed a tremendous amount of poise for a 21 year old. One of his presents was a trip to Las Vegas immediately after Laguna Seca. Power suggested that the rest of the group be invited. Lungaard refused to let us know where he would be staying.
Alexander Rossi led 44 of 85 laps. This was Rossi's 1st win in approximately 1000 days. This was his 8th career win. Rossi said, “We had a solid test here a month or so ago…As challenging as it is for me, it is for them too [speaking of the rest of the team].” Rossi was asked if a weight had been lifted and stated, “Yes. There’s no other way to explain it. You’re as good as your last race. It doesn’t matter how good you are…It’s a very special thing today.”
It was announced in June that Rossi will be headed to McLaren. Rossi said today during the press conference, “Good thing we don’t have to have the conversation about breaking the losing streak.”
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Spent the weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with our Social Media Director, Melissa Shoffner. She had some interesting thoughts on the days.
We spent all of 2020 with no in person racing. We even spent the first part of this year with limited access to racing. This past weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, there were no limits to the number of fans that were allowed into the track at 16th and Georgetown in Indianapolis. There were also no mask mandates. True, there some people who were wearing masks, but the majority of people weren’t wearing masks, unless you went into the Media Center ?, however I spent most of my time with the fans on the viewing mounds that were open once again.
People were having a BLAST! It felt much like it did pre-Covid. Doug Boles, President of IMS was wandering around, talking to all fans and keeping in touch with the fan base, of all ages. I saw him stop and talk with a very young child and then took a pic with mom and the child. He then was kind enough to stop and talk with us and we even got a pic with him as well! On Sunday, during the Verizon 200, he was even out on the track helping with clean up during one of the red flags. I know that we have another variant out there, but this weekend felt like we were heading back into normalcy.
In other news, it was the Shootout at the OK Corral. We will get to that in one moment. It was an historic weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. For the first time in history, IndyCar and NASCAR were at IMS at the same time for the weekend. We had an exciting weekend on the road course as compared to other Brickyards. For the first time, the Brickyard was held on the road course which is another great idea from new track owner Roger Penske. Let me just say quickly, what great improvements were made. Roger, can I thank you for paving the media lot…that was one of my favorite changes! ?
In all seriousness, what an exciting weekend it was to see IndyCar, Xfinity and Nascar on the road course. That being said, it took some beating. We saw that come to fruition in the final laps of the Verizon 200 when we saw total mayhem.
I think for the first time, that I can remember for the ‘Brickyard” we have seen “the big one”. The road course produced one of the biggest wrecks we have seen at Indy in Nascar. The curb came up, the spikes came up, multiple cars were everywhere. This is insane and unacceptable. This is a learning experience. A caution should have called the lap prior. Maybe Nascar has some explaining to do. At the end of the day, because of the errors of others that pushed Denny Hamlin out of the way, A.J. Allmendinger wins at Indianapolis. Put on your conspiracy hat people, it’s about to get good!
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My weekend started and ended with Zeb Wise, a 16 year old phenom from Indiana. Before he died, Bryan Clauson decided this kid had what it took to be a major player in midget racing, and he was not wrong. Zeb took on, and held out over his teammates for a win on Thursday night.
But the really fabulous thing? Watching the interview with Zeb when he saw his picture on the wall at IMS. He was so excited and so shocked. This guy has the poise of a much older individual, but seeing his reaction to his poster on the wall made you realize that in actuality he is 16 years old. It was really good to see the moment of youth in this otherwise poised young man.
I sent a picture of Zeb winning the race on Thursday to a friend of mind who joined me for the midget races on Thursday. She made the comment that she had not realized the backstory of Zeb and his connection to the Clauson family, but she stated that it the fact that he had won the race on Thursday was even more special. And she is absolutely correct. As we were watching the commercials talking about Clauson's gift, the thought that the kid he had believed in had won the race on Thursday was so special.
Bryan Clauson's legacy lives on in the individuals whose lives he saved through his organ donation, but also through the ability to save multiple lives through putting a spotlight on this important topic.
Hanging out in Turn 4 you get to meet all sorts of individuals. I met a couple of folks that I will not readily forget. Reggie was at IMS for the inaugural Brickyard in August of 1994. Chase’s daughter was here today for HER inaugural Brickyard. Today was a day of firsts to firsts!
Reggie came from Nashville, TN and while he was here for the inaugural Brickyard 400, today he was here for Bubba Wallace, who had his best finish at Indianapolis. As we got to the last 10 laps of the race, you could FEEL Reggie pulling for Bubba to finish well. He kept say, “If he finishes top 5, that will be good”, but you could feel that he wanted better for Bubba. And Bubba pulled it out! Bubba Wallace ended up with a 3rd place finish. I know that Reggie’s trip to Nashville will go fast!!
I also met Chase and his daughter. Chase is a NASCAR fan, but his daughte, has never been to a NASCAR race, until today. She is a die-hard Chase Elliot fan and it was great to see the next generation of NASCAR fans in the crowd today.
I think the thing that struck me today was that I met someone who had been here for the inaugural Brickyard in 1994 and I also met someone who had not even been alive for that inaugural Brickyard. NASCAR and IMS brings folks of all ages together.
Speedway, IN 9/6/19
USAC comes to IMS! The Driven2savelives BC39 was held over the past 2 days at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and USAC put on a great show! Wednesday night's finish was one for the record books. What a great memorial for Bryan Clauson!
Thursday night's weather was perfect to watch dirt track racing! As I was wandering around Turn 3 at IMS, I noticed all the drivers that were represented on t-shirts. Each race brings with it it's unique race fans, but I noticed how much overlap there was between USAC drivers and NASCAR drivers. There were just as many cheers for USAC drivers as there were for drivers like Kyle Larsen. How great to see everyone mingling and having a great time!!
I started chatting with a woman in the grandstands and Thursday was her first experience with dirt track racing. She was no novice to IMS, having attended quite a few Indy 500s and Brickyard 400s, but this was a completely different experience for her. She talked about the ambiance and how great the atmosphere was. She remarked about the smells of the fuel and the sounds of the engines. It is completely different from Indycar and NASCAR. She said quite a few times that she kept expecting the drivers to crash as they were coming out of their drifts and she thought the control they showed was amazing! When one of the drivers in one of the heats ended up on their side and the fact that they were able to be righted, and take off with a push start, she was in awe! I think she will be back for a repeat visit!
Today, the Xfinity young guns got behind the wheel and had their first practice in an attempt to take on the veteran NASCAR drivers for the Indiana 250. Tomorrow the action continues with Cup practice and Xfinity qualifying, capped off by the Xfinity race Indiana 250 at 3pm.
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Speedway, Indiana - May 27, 2019
Congratulations to Simon Pagenaud for winning the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500. A great race to the end with Alexander Rossi!
I want to talk to you about what it's like to be a fan at the Indianapolis 500. I started the day at around 6am in one of the lots. I met some really great folks from NJ. It was their first race and it was a check off on the bucket list of the man in the pair. They were both really excited about what the day would hold for them.
I saw a fan I have talked to for many years from Victory Lane. He has been coming to the track since 1954. He has only missed 1 Indianapolis 500 and that was because he was in the service. I saw a mom pushing her baby around with a t-shirt that said "My First Indianapolis 500". As the month progressed I saw various events; Will Power kissing a girl with Downs Syndrome, the fan access is incredible.
On May 7th, the Friday before the GP, I talked to a teacher who had brought her students (about 30 in total) who were on a field trip to IMS. This is a group of kids from a low socioeconomic area of the city and it was their first visit to the track. She talked about how excited her students were to be able to experience the track and hear the sound of the engines. As I watched them, I could see their excitement coming off them like waves. They were trying to be cool, because they were high school students, but it was one of the best things I had seen that day and they could not hide their excitement. That is the spirit of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Race day was spent in the infield of the 4th turn. I set my stuff down and then headed to the red carpet. There, I hung out and watched the crowd wait patiently, for about 2.5 hours, for the incredible list of celebrities to make their way down the carpet. Matt Damon and Christian Bale did not talk to media, but made themselves extremely available to the fans. Matt Damon went so far as to take selfies with anyone who handed him a camera. There was a 19 year old girl there from Belgium and when she mentioned to Damon that she was a fan and from Belgium, he took the time to interact with her personally.
Another highlight of the red carpet was seeing Michael Goulian, 2018 winner of the Red Bull Air Race, in Indianapolis. It was great to see past champions of other types of racing at IMS celebrate the Memorial Day Weekend. All the celebrities on the red carpet were incredibly generous with their time with the fans. Jackson Robert Scott and Chevel Shepherd were incredibly open to interacting with their fans.
My race was spent in the infield of turn 4. I had a view of turn 4, and the straightaway toward turn 1. My favorite moment was after the 3rd parade lap and I could hear the engines rev up to running speed. If you haven't heard Indy Cars in full throttle, you haven't lived. It runs straight through your body and lets you know you are alive in no other way. I eagerly watched as we hit lap 100, knowing that if we could not get a full race in due to rain, things were going to get VERY exciting. As it turns out, God really does love Indy car because we were able to get the full race in, even with the threat of rain. There was a wreck at 177 that included Graham Rahal and Sebastian Bourdais that stopped the race. The last few laps were extremely exciting! There were several lead changes between Pagenaud and Rossi. The fact that it came down to the very last minute made it a race that will go down in the history book of Indy. Thanks to Simon Pagenoud and Alexander Rossi for a GREAT race!!