I know the calendar says it’s May already, but tomorrow but May really arrives Friday when the NTT IndyCar Series officially takes to the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Here are a few things that are on my mind:
Will Penske stay perfect? Team Penske has won four of the five runnings of this race, and if you look strictly at current employment, a current Penske driver has won all five of them. Will Power is the two-time defending champ of the race — winning from the pole each time — and also won from the pole in 2015. Simon Pagenaud also won from the pole as a Penske driver in 2016, and also won in 2013 with then Sam Schmidt Motorsports. He started fourth that day but do recall that was the year qualifying was a fiasco in the rain, leading to Sebastian Saavedra starting on pole.
So what I’m saying is, if I were a betting man, I would bet on the pole winner or fastest Penske qualifier.
Will the weather be a factor? At this point, I’ve hated this spring, despite the fact that in the first 4 1/2 months of this year I’ve spent a month of that in much better climates. It just keeps raining, and when it stops it still looks like it’s going to rain. I’m sorry to be bringing that down to Indy from my home in Chicagoland, but that’s what the 48-hour forecast looks like. Thankfully Friday will be dry for practice and qualifying, but there is still a chance of rain Saturday afternoon. To be honest, I wouldn’t mind seeing a sort-of wet race. Not one that makes the racing really bad, just one that puts enough moisture on and off the track to watch the teams scramble with strategy. Long Beach was so ho-hum that a little scrambling wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Should the GP be moved to the season finale? Indy Star writer Jim Ayello tackled this subject a little today in an overall story on the GP itself, and there are some good points to make. While I think the championship race should be back in the Midwest, I don’t think it should be at IMS, at least not at the expense of the GP. Now in its sixth year, the race draws a nice crowd and seems to get everyone into race mode at Indy again. I think there is a correlation between the GP and the rise of overall attendance at the track in May as well. Plus, with four of the first five winners having won from pole, it’s proven to be not the greatest track for racing, which would almost be like moving Sonoma to Indy, you’d get the same result in terms of the racing. Let’s give Laguna Seca a bit of a chance first. If that doesn’t tickle our fancies, I’d be open to a move back to the Midwest in some form, but tinkering with the May schedule should be a last resort.
Pit Lane Parley
PLP is gearing up for the best May ever, and warm up for this weekend with an Indy GP preview, along with talk about windscreens and hybrids while taking listener questions. You can catch it here on iTunes or one of many other listening platforms.
Photo credit: Walter Kuhn/IndyCar Media