Indy GP Kicks Off May Speedway Schedule

Scott Dixon into turn 1 of the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the IndyCar Grand Prix. [John Wiedemann Photo]

Scott Dixon into turn 1 of the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the IndyCar Grand Prix. [John Wiedemann Photo]

by Allan Brewer

It’s Indy.

It’s May.

The cars are on the track readying for Saturday’s Indianapolis Grand Prix, but it takes a little convincing that spring is here.

The changeable Hoosier weather may not have caught up with the calendar on this first day of IndyCar practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mother Nature has on offer a day of cold, cloudy dismay for the sun-seekers, a high temperature of perhaps 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Regardless of meteorological forecast, the mood is one of excitement: in part because it is Indy, in part because of a crop of talented rookies who are eager to tackle the Racing Capitol of the World. “I am super excited,” said COTA winner Colton Herta on the eve of today’s action. “This is a cool event to kickstart May, the anticipation builds up to the 500.”

“It is something that I hold really dearly into my heart,” he continued. “I’m really excited for it.”

This weekend’s on-track activity is limited to the IMS road course inside of the oval, though the teams have had ample practice through open test sessions on both racetrack configurations in the last six weeks. “We did get a lot of testing in,” said Herta. “We got to do a test here on the Speedway. Then Honda engine manufacturing gave us a day on the road course. I think a lot of the Honda cars will be very well prepared for this weekend.”

Perhaps not quite so over the moon are the IndyCar veterans, among them reigning NTT IndyCar Series champion, Scott Dixon, racing for Chip Ganassi Racing. “It’s a fun way to transition into the month of May, and also for the community here (in Indianapolis).”

Dixon may be the series champion but no one has owned IMS in May recently like Team Penske’s Will Power, who won both the Indianapolis Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500 in 2018. “It was obviously a fantastic month,” he said. “Winning the 500 for me was something that I’ve been working on for so long, obviously weighing heavy on my mind, wondering if I’d finish my career without winning. In every way, it’s fantastic.”

Power’s experience is a testament to the evolution of IndyCar racing in the last generation: to succeed consistently it is necessary to excel on both road course and oval. Moreover, the driver must not only demonstrate a diverse skill but so must the chassis and engine. To that end, the better-funded teams have a separate car for each track set-up.

In the end it is every driver for himself, as the cars roar down the front straight at Indianapolis charging into the hard right that yields three-wide poorly and six-wide not at all. “If you give up a little bit, you’re going to go backwards in this field,” said Dixon. ”You actually worry about getting through there because there’s always someone who hits someone into you.”

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