Indycar Adds Nashville Street Race

September 16, 2020thepitwindowEdit “Nashville Joins Indycar Schedule”

A street race in Nashville August 6-8, 2021 is the first new race added to the NTT Indycar series schedule under Roger Penske’s ownership of the series, and the first new street race added to the schedule since 2013. The fully privately funded event and Indycar have a three year agreement. The 2.17 mile, 11 turn track designed by Tony Cotman incorporates part of Nissan Stadium, home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans. Some of the stadium suites will be viewing areas for the race.

Today’s announcement is the result of several years of planning by Matt Crews, president of Music City GP, Nashville Mayor John Cooper, and the Tennessee Titans.

Nashville officials are planning a music filled festival around the race.

A unique feature of the track is the section over the Korean War Veterans’ Bridge. I can’t think of another series which has a track crossing over water.

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The track resembles the Big Dipper. It runs counter-clockwise, which is unusual for Indycar road and street courses. The turns 7-11 cluster on the other side of the bridge looks interesting, as do the two long straights over the bridge.

Mark Miles was asked how adding another street course, this this is the fifth street event and sixth street race on the schedule,will affect the balance of types of circuits on the schedule, Miles said next year’s schedule will look a lot like this year’s original schedule. Miles said the full schedule will be released in 2-4 weeks.

Tickets are not on sale yet. Go to musiccitygp.com to sign up for notifications about ticket sales.

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Bourdais to Join Foyt for rest of Year and Full Time in 2021

Sebastien Bourdais was supposed to start the season with A. J. Foyt Racing, but now he will end the season with them and drive the No. 14 full time in 2021. Bourdais will drive for Foyt beginning with the harvest Classic doubleheader October 2 and 3 at IMS and in the scheduled season finale in his hometown of St. Petersburg October 25.

Bourdais, a four time Indycar champion with 37 wins and 34 poles, hopes to make the team more competitive. He spent this season in IMSA driving a Cadillac prototype. Bourdais is currently in France preparing to drive in this weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

About the signing, Bourdais said, “This is exciting news for all of us. We waited with anticipation for most of 2020 to put together a deal for 2021. I’m really happy that I’m running the last three races of the year — it is great for us to get an early start on next year. 2020 has been a very strange year so far and I can’t wait to finally get behind the wheel of the AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet No. 14.”

Larry Foyt spoke of the reason for putting Bourdais in the car for the last three races.

“We thought it made great sense to get this started now. Not sure what the testing rules are going to look like for next year, so we wanted to get Seb in the car as early as we could. Good to get this done, announce it, looking forward to the end of this year and 2021”

Dalton Kellett, who had been in the 14 on the road courses, will move to the No. 41 car for the Harvest Classic. The twin races will be Kellett’s last drives this season.

Before the season schedule was altered by the pandemic, Bourdais was scheduled to open the season for Foyt at St. Pete, where he has won twice, in the 14 car. Kellett would take over on the road and street course and Tony Kanaan would drive the ovals. Bourdais also had two more races schedule in the 14. All three of Bourdais’ races were cancelled in the schedule shuffle.

Larry Foyt said a sponsor will be announced at a later date. No driver is set for the No. 4 car for 2021. The team is talking with its current drivers for that seat.

I’m happy that Bourdais will return to Indycar. He adds even more depth to an already deep field. He had success with Dale Coyne’s team. It will be interesting to see if he can help bring the Foyt team up to a more competitive level.

Mid Ohio Tests Driver Endurance; Dixon Closes In on Title

Rounds 9 and 10 of the NTT Indycar Series are set for Mid Ohio Sports Car Course this weekend. The races will be the fourth doubleheader weekend of this strange year. Just getting to 10 races in this season of postponements and cancellations is an accomplishment. The series has three more events left on its 2020 schedule.

The race will have an audience of up to 6,000 fans. The State of Ohio approved that number. The track requested the state to host a bit over 9,000 fans. The NFL Browns and Bengals were each allowed 6,000 fans for their first two games. 6,000 spectators should be able to distance easily at Mid Ohio if not everyone sits in the popular esses area.

The two 75 lap races will be on two different networks. Saturday’s 5 pm Eastern start is on NBCSN, and Sunday’s 1 pm Eastern green flag is on NBC. Here are some things to look for this weekend.

Physical Fitness

Mid Ohio is one the more physical tracks on the Indycar circuit. One 90 lap race, the usual distance, wears a driver out. Sunday’s race could come down to who is the most physically fit. The veterans know how to prepare for what is essentially and endurance weekend. Will the fittest driver win on Sunday? If fitness is the key for day two, look for Simon Pagenaud or Tony Kanaan to do well. The rookies have youth on their side, which should help them over the weekend.

Pit Stops

This has been a season of pit errors. No team has been immune. Mid Ohio has had some notorious pit mistakes that have cost drivers victories. Josef Newgarden was on his way to his first Indycar win when the crew called him at the last minute. The team was as shocked as Josef at the call. he pulled into an unprepared pit. the disastrous stop resulted in a drive through penalty which cost him the race.

Mikhail Aleshin had the race in hand until an unsafe pit release caused a collision with another car, ruining his day.

Pit and tire strategy nearly cost Scott Dixon the win last year. He barely hung on to beat teammate Felix Rosenqvist.mo19 105Scott Dixon leads Felix Rosenqvist in the closing laps of the 2019 MidOhio Honda Indy 200.

Track Position

Mid Ohio is not known as a track where passing is easy. Qualifying and track position is key here. Pit strategy in what should be a two stop race each day will also play into who is at the front. If the second stop is late enough, a full fuel load may not be needed, which could help a driver pick up spots on track.

Passing has been difficult everywhere this season. The different starting times may also play a role in how much passing occurs. Will the late Saturday start and cooler track temperatures help the racing for Race 1?

Spotter’s Guides-

Dixon Takes Another Step Toward Title Number 6

I think Scott Dixon will win one of the races and leave mid Ohio just a short step away from his sixth Indycar title. A nother victory will put him within one of tying mario Andretti for second place on the career win list.

My prediction for the other race- Pato O’Ward will get his first Indycar victory from the pole. O’Ward has been knocking on the door of the top step of the podium and this weekend, this key finally opens the lock.

If you are going to Mid Ohio, please review the track’s protocols at

https://midohio.com/covid19.No block selected.

The Last 50 race Winner?

Photo: Scott Dixon after winning his 50th career race at World Wide Technology Raceway on Saturday. Chris Owens, Indycar

On Saturday Scott Dixon became just the third driver in Indycar history to win 50 races. The two in front of him, A. J. Foyt with 67 wins, and Mario Andretti with 52, have stood as the only to achieve the 50 race race mark since 1988, when Andretti won his 50th race at Phoenix. Foyt’s 50th came in 1975 at Trenton.

A. J. Foyt

There are similarities between the three drivers. Foyt and Dixon both hit the win mark at age 40. Andretti was 44, but spent 1975-1981 full time in Formula 1, although he still drove in the Indianapolis 500. An argument could be made that had Andretti drove Indycar full time during those years, he would have won 50 races much earlier. Could he have have surpassed Foyt for first place all time? That’s a great topic for bench racing.

Mario Andretti

I’m not sure how to decide which of the three drivers’ feat is the most remarkable. Foyt raced in an era where careers were usually shortened by injuries or death. Andretti also raced during the same era as Foyt. Dixon has raced most of his career in spec cars where the equipment is essentially equal in theory.

Will we see another driver win as many as 50 races? Only one other driver, Michael Andretti has won more than 40 times. I think the odds are quite long. The next active driver on the win list is Will Power with 37 wins, tied for sixth on the career list with Sebastien Bourdais. Power has a chance to reach the 40 win mark, but his remaining  time in Indycar looks limited.  Ryan Hunter-Reay has 18 wins, 26th all time.  Simon Pagenaud now has won 15 times, which ties him for 31st with Alex Zanardi and Juan Pablo Montoya. Only 45 drivers since 1909 have won 10 or more times.

If another driver ends up with 50 or more career win, he would be one of the newer drivers in the series. Any driver with potential has a lot to battle in his quest for the magic number. He needs to be on a top team for many years, like Dixon has been. There are  concerns of sponsors, injuries, mechanical failures, and accidents.

An Indycar career can last a long time. The aeroscreen may have added some years to a driver’s time on the track. The competitiveness of the series makes it more difficult to win a race. While this year may be a bit of an aberration, we have had there have been five different winners in nine races. Indycar has been averaging about seven different winners a season the past few years.

If I had to guess which drivers  may someday reach 50 victories, Colton Herta and Pato O’Ward would be the first two which come to mind. Herta won twice last year. O’Ward has yet to win a race, but I have a feeling that once he gets his first checkered flag, he will begin winning with regularity.

I have been fortunate to see each of the three 50 race winners drive and win races. Today’s fans need to appreciate Scott Dixon as he competes in his last few years  in Indycar. I admired the skills of Foyt and Andretti when they raced. Seeing them has helped me understand that Dixon is their equal.

Indycar Moves to Gateway for final oval double header

An oval the weekend after the Indianapolis 500 hasn’t happened for at least seven years. Milwaukee traditionally followed Indianapolis  on the schedule. One good thing all the schedule changes did was bring this bit of nostalgia. It’s not Milwaukee, but world Wide Technology Raceway, still called Gateway by many, has a double header this weekend.

It will be a different Gateway weekend in keeping with the adjustments 2020 has forced upon everyone. Both races will run in the daytime instead of at night as they have the last three years. The scheduled distance is 200 laps per race. The single race was 248 laps. Like Iowa, the racing should be different in the daytime from what it was like at night.

Gateway has hosted Indycar races since 1997, when CART ran a race the day before the Indianapolis 500 for three years. The last CART race was  September of 2000, as CART teams decided they wanted to go back to Indianapolis. The IRL raced at Gateway from 2001-2003. Indycar returned in 2017.

There are some oddities in the history of the track and the series. Tony Kanaan is the only driver participating this weekend who has driven in every race here, regardless of which series sanctioned the event. No driver has won the race at Gateway more than once. The only times the pole winner won were in 2002, when Gil de Ferran took the checkered flag, and 2003, when Helio Castroneves pulled the double.

Six active drivers have finished in the top ten twice- Conor Daly, Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Alexander Rossi, and Takuma Sato. Pagenaud has the best average finish of fourth.

The weekend schedule can be found here:

Coverage begins on NBCSN at 3 pm Eastern Saturday and Sunday

500 Hangover?

The winner of the Indianapolis 500 goes on a whirlwind media tour after the race and sometimes struggles the following weekend.  Sato is the defending winner of this race. I look for him to be better on Sunday than he is on Saturday. It has been a while since the winner of the 500 won the next race.

More Success for Daly and Carlin?

This weekend marks the last two races for Conor Daly and Carlin Racing on the ovals. The results to date have been pretty decent. Daly won the pole for Race 1 at Iowa. He has scored  a sixth at Texas, and an eighth  in Iowa race 1. 72 of Daly’s 121 points have come in the Carlin entry.  Daly also has earned a fifth place at gateway driving for Foyt Racing.  I see daly as having another good weekend. in the St. Louis area.

Chevy Comeback?

After Honda’s domination at Indianapolis, Chevrolet looks to rebound. This is a strong track for the bow tie. Chevy powered cars had won three races in a row before Honda’s win last year.  Chevy did win the pole in 2019 and Ed Carpenter came within 0,03 seconds of winning.  Chevy should again have a strong performance at a track that has seemed to favor their engines.

Clean Start?

Since Indycar’s return to Gateway, clean starts have been an issue. Last year there was an incident on lap 2 involving Marcus Ericsson. The previous two years, issues at the start caused yellows just after the green flag. Will a daytime race fix the problem?

Dixon’s Title March

Scott Dixon’s runner up finish last weekend in the Indianapolis 500 gives him an 84 point lead over Josef Newgarden. No one else is within 100 points of Dixon. A pair of good finishes this weekend could put the title virtually out of reach. Dixon won the first three races of the season and has two seconds and a fifth place as well. The second race at road america is his only finish outside the top ten this season.I don’t see Dixon losing ground here. he is having one of the strongest seasons we have seen from a driver in a while.

Notes

Kody Swanson, five time USAC Midget champion, will again drive for Legacy motorsport in the Indy Pro 2000 race at 1 pm Central time on Saturday. Swanson drove the car to victory in his debut at Lucas oil raceway on Carb Night. The deal was put together at the last minute, and the crew worked without pay to get the car ready. Sw2anson drove a great race after starting second. Once he got the lead he pulled away from the field. He is a driver that i hope gets a shot at Indycar in the next couple of years.

Mid Ohio will rune September 11-13 pending government approval. The track plans to allow 10,000 fans. The doubleheader was postponed from August 8 and 9. it will stay as a double header. I wonder if they have already sold more than 10,000 tickets. if so, how will they resolve the excess tickets?