First Week Of Indy 500 Practice Has A Different Feel This Year

SPEEDWAY, IN: It isn’t just the lack of crummy weather at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that’s giving the week of practice leading up to Time Trials a different feel this year.

Only once in the past 25 years has there been a full week of practice that has gone uninterrupted by the Spring Weather Gods of Central Indiana (i.e.: RAIN). And, without the threat of downtime due to track drying, etc., a more casual attitude has prevailed among the teams. But, there are other factors that have contributed to this almost relaxed approach to Pole Weekend.

Factor #1: Beginning Fast Friday through Bump Day Sunday, the teams will be allowed 10 extra inches of turbocharger boost, which should pump up the lap speeds to nearly the pole time from last year. Therefore, the teams have been concentrating strictly on raceday setups and running in groups all week, rather than working on qualifying trim. As a result, the first six days of running have been rather laid back. Ultimate speed has not been the goal, unlike past years.

Factor #2: With Dragon Racing finally getting on track Thursday with their new Chevy engines, the 32nd and 33rd car/driver combinations have become a reality. Therefore, the only possibility of any actual bumping on Bump Day would have to come from a last minute deal and, with the limited engine leases available, plus the lack of spare parts for the all-new Dallaras, it’s difficult to see how that might happen. The best possibility appears to be the #21 car from Ed Carpenter Racing, especially considering the fact that Ed is Tony George’s stepson. Therefore, with only 33 confirmed car/driver combo’s in Gasoline Alley, the pressure to “fight for a spot in the field” in virtually gone.

So, it appears that any real drama will have to wait until Fast Friday, when forecast of warmer temperatures, which should result in less grip, combined with the extra 50 horsepower gained from the additional 10 inches of boost, should help to get the juices flowing.

Excitement is the name of the game at Indy in May. Let’s hope it begins in earnest Friday.

Share Button