It’s just about 12:45 p.m. at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and cars have been on track for just under two hours. We’ve already had a bit of drama today, so here are some early storylines.
The speed. The turbo boost was cranked up last night and the 50 extra horsepower has added some speed. Marco Andretti, Conor Daly and Simon Pagenaud have already cracked the 230 mph barrier, and Ed Carpenter has a no-tow speed of 229.879. Ten drivers have posted lap times in the 229 mph range, and as of right now Jordan King is the slowest car at 222..747. The top 25 cars are separated by .6591 seconds, and Honda has eight of the top 10 speeds on the pylon.
The weather. When I left home in the Chicagoland area just before 7 a.m. it was a dreary 50 degrees. When I stepped out of my car at IMS, it was 78 and sunny. The forecast high today will be 84 degrees, and it’s going to push to 87 tomorrow. It’s hard to guess right now what that will do to speed, but as hard as the drivers are pushing right now, the edge is getting a little closer.
The pressure. After almost two days down, Fernando Alonso is back on track after his accident Wednesday, as is Felix Rosenqvist, who crashed Wednesday as well. Pato O’Ward is back on track after crashing yesterday and is only up to 224 mph. Kyle Kaiser, whose non-sponsored Juncos Racing team was a pleasant surprise so far this month, found the Turn 3 wall about an hour ago. It is unknown Juncos’ situation as of now. Alonso, Rosenqvist and O’Ward are almost a day behind everyone else, and while pressure is building all over the paddock, those three teams are feeling it a little more right now.
The pace car. It was announced earlier today that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be the pace car driver next Sunday. How’s everyone feel about that? I’m OK with it as it’s more of a ceremonial thing anyway. While Mario Andretti would have been a better choice on the 50th anniversary of his 1969 win, he’s apparently happy with the view from the two-seater, so that’s that.
The podcast. Make sure to check out this week’s Pit Lane Parley episode. With Matt in Iceland on his honeymoon, Host Mike and Jess review the Indy GP and preview qualifying weekend. IndyCar fan Jake Neely joins them for a segment, and I jump in and throw my two cents too. You can listen to it here.
Photo credit: Karl Zemlin/IndyCar Media