Show car and revised course (IndyCar photo)

Grand Prix of Indianapolis set for May 10, 2014 on revised course

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IndyCar’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis will occur May 10, 2014, on a revised version of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The course will be adjusted to 2.434 miles and feature several alterations from the version raced by Formula One and more recently, GRAND-AM. The race will also feature a standing start.

The IndyCars will run the clockwise direction with the right-handed, sharp Turn 1 to lead from before oval Turn 4 onto the road course. Turns 2, 3, 4 remain the same before an adjusted chicane that will be Turns 5 and 6, and lead onto the Hulman Blvd. straight. Turn 7 will be a tight, 90-degree left-hander following the flow through Turns 8 and 9, leading back onto the oval Turn 2, road course Turns 10 and 11, and then through the MotoGP section of course to bypass oval Turn 1 and create road course Turns 12, 13 and 14 leading back onto the front straight.

Spectator mounds will be increased and heightened to enhance viewing opportunities. Track officials hope to have a resurfacing complete by December 1 and testing held in the spring.

Tickets go on sale starting on Oct. 14, with the goal outlined by IMS President Doug Boles and Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles to create a family-friendly weekend. Miles outlined a weekend family package for $50. Race Day reserved seat prices will range from $40-75. Existing ticket customers to any 2014 IMS event will receive a $10 discount on reserved seats ($30-65). Race Day general admission tickets are $25 for all customers. A separate website, gpofindianapolis.com, has been created for further information.

The race will be televised live on ABC, including in the Indianapolis market (it’s blacked out locally for the Indianapolis 500).  Thursday and Friday will serve as practice and qualifying days. All rungs of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder will also race at the track that weekend.

A title sponsor for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis was not announced, but potentially will be at a later date.

Miles said he wanted to “elevate the month of May” as part of a grander plan to increase attendance and the Speedway, and therefore INDYCAR’s, bottom line over the next five years through 2018.

Boles hopes for a crowd in the 40 to 50,000 range, if not greater, and said the Speedway will “resize the stadium” to give a feel of a big event and give spectators the best viewing access.

Marvin Musquin’s Indy win may have come too late

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Marvin Musquin answered one question at Indianapolis last week, but the biggest one may well plague him for the next six weeks.

Musquin has won a battle, but can he win the war?

After standing on the podium in eight of the first 10 races, Musquin finally showed the field he was capable of winning in Indy when he grabbed the holeshot and led every lap on the way to Victory Lane. He was never seriously challenged and it was the Musquin that Supercross fans expected to see all season.

It was a long time coming. Musquin must have felt like victory was just around the corner after finishing second in the overall standings in Anaheim II’s Triple Crown race. He was third in the first Main that night and second in the last two Mains.

As it turned out, that single race defined his season until last week. Musquin stood on the podium all night, but he finished two spots behind Cooper Webb in the first Main and was one spot back in the second. It was only as time ran out that he was able to beat Webb by a single spot in the third Main. If Musquin had won either of the first two Mains, he would have had the overall victory – denying Webb his first career win in the process.

Webb’s Anaheim win revitalized the rider and gave him the confidence to rattle off four more wins in the next seven races.

Meanwhile, Musquin scored podium finishes in the next seven races, making him almost perfect. In another season, a record like that would have been enough to give him a comfortable points lead. In 2019, he sit 14 markers out of first, which is the points’ equivalent of the difference between first and 11th in one race. In other words, Webb cannot lose the points lead at Seattle unless he finishes outside the top 10 while his teammate wins.

Looking at the numbers another way the scenario is not quite as hopeless. Musquin needs to shave only 2.3 points off Webb’s lead each week to win the championship. Three points separate first and second. Five points differentiates first from third, which is where Webb finished in Indianapolis. Webb is vulnerable as his 10th-place finish at Glendale and an eighth at San Diego attest.

Those bobbles came early and Webb seems to have forgotten how to make a mistake.

A third-place is Webb’s worst finish in the last six weeks and since Anaheim II when Musquin started his impressive string of podium finishes, Webb has recorded an average finish of 2.2. That came with a worst finish of eighth on an extremely muddy and heavy track in San Diego. Musquin has a worst finish of only sixth, but his average of 2.8 still lags behind Webb.

Worse still, since Anaheim II Musquin has finished behind Webb in every race except for the outlier of San Diego.

It is no longer a question of keeping pressure on Webb. Musquin cannot expect his teammate to make a mistake; he has to find a way to pass him on the track. If Webb adds only two points to his lead at Seattle, Musquin’s fate would no longer be in his hands. He would need to gain 3.2 points per race. With that scenario, Webb could finish one spot behind Musquin every week and still win the championship.