IndyCar: NOLA qualifying canceled for severe weather; field set by entrant points, JPM on pole (VIDEO)


AVONDALE, La. – Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying was delayed, then had one group run, and then was canceled due to persistent rain and severe weather.

Juan Pablo Montoya will have the pole position, but not receive a point, as the field for the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana (Sunday, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) will be set by entrant points.

Essentially, the field will mirror the results from the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which Montoya won over Team Penske teammate Will Power.

“Oh, I mean, we were lucky, but at the same time that’s why you need the points, when you have days like this, it will pay off,” Montoya said.

“I think our car was actually pretty good. I didn’t get to run the entire practice session in the morning. Like I put new tires on my fast lap I got ‑‑ you know, the red flag came out, and on the lap I was actually up to the point I was running I was on pace with Simon, and Simon was P3 or whatever he was, so I thought we had a pretty good car.”

Qualifying was due to start at 4:15 p.m. local time, but was bumped forward five minutes due to the threat of severe weather. However, that didn’t wind up happening as lightning strikes near the circuit put the qualifying on a temporary hold.

Qualifying began at 5 p.m. local time after the delay, with the first group going out in moderately wet conditions, but using Firestone’s wet compounds.

Times were nearly 20 seconds off the pace set in the dry conditions in Saturday’s third practice. At the end of group one in Q1, Sebastien Bourdais had the best time of 1:38.0125 with Tony Kanaan, Simon Pagenaud, Carlos Munoz, Will Power and James Jakes due to advance through to their group.

Bourdais, however, had an off-course excursion at Turn 1. When he re-entered the course, he was deemed by INDYCAR to have committed qualifying interference on Kanaan, interrupting the Brazilian’s lap. Subsequently, Bourdais was docked his two fastest laps in the session, and bumped back to 12th in his group.

Jakes’ Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammate James Hinchcliffe would have been bumped in to advance.

In group two, the rain intensified and few realistic rain times were set. Josef Newgarden led ahead of Ryan Hunter-Reay, Scott Dixon, Charlie Kimball, Marco Andretti and Sage Karam.

However, with increasing rain and lightning strikes at the circuit (see below screenshots from Kimball and Graham Rahal, not Hunter-Reay as it’s listed), INDYCAR officials made the decision to cancel the remainder of qualifying.

The field will be set by entrant points, with Montoya on pole after all despite a spin at the end of his session exiting Turn 1. Power will be second with Kanaan third, Helio Castroneves fourth and Simon Pagenaud fifth.

This is the first race where the grid has been set by entrant points since Toronto race two last year.

Sunday will have a slightly altered time schedule due to today’s weather:

Sunday’s Schedule (all times Central):

7:55am Pro Mazda Race#1
8:30am USF2000 Race #2
10:00-10:30am Verizon IndyCar Morning Warmup
11:45am Pro Mazda Race #2
1:45pm – Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana (75 laps)

The NBCSN broadcast window is still from 1:30 to 5:00pm local time.


AVONDALE, La. – Qualifying Saturday for the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana Verizon IndyCar Series event at the 2.74-mile NOLA Motorsports Park, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine. Field set by entrant points after qualifications were rained out.

1. (2) Juan Pablo Montoya, Dallara-Chevy
2. (1) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy
3. (10) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy
4. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy
5. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Chevy
6. (11) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy
7. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda
8. (41) Jack Hawksworth, Dallara-Honda
9. (20) Luca Filippi, Dallara-Chevy
10. (27) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda
11. (15) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda
12. (67) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Chevy
13. (14) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda
14. (26) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Honda
15. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Chevy
16. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda
17. (98) Gabby Chaves, Dallara-Honda
18. (25) Simona de Silvestro, Dallara-Honda
19. (8) Sage Karam, Dallara-Chevy
20. (4) Stefano Coletti, Dallara-Chevy
21. (83) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Chevy
22. (7) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda
23. (19) Francesco Dracone, Dallara-Honda
24. (18) Carlos Huertas, Dallara-Honda


1. 10-Tony Kanaan, 1:38.3668
2. 22-Simon Pagenaud, 1:38.4420
3. 26-Carlos Munoz, 1:38.5526
4. 1-Will Power, 1:38.5766
5. 7-James Jakes, 1:39.1614
6. 5-James Hinchcliffe, 1:39.7898

7. 2-Juan Pablo Montoya, 1:39.8157
8. 18-Carlos Huertas, 1:40.1864
9. 3-Helio Castroneves, 1:40.2080
10. 25-Simona de Silvestro, 1:40.2154
11. 19-Francesco Dracone, 1:40.6653
12. 11-Sebastien Bourdais, 1:41.7573**

**Bourdais’ best time of 1:38.0125 and second best time invalidated for qualifying interference

1. 67-Josef Newgarden, 1:43.8783
2. 28-Ryan Hunter-Reay, 1:46.7627
3. 9-Scott Dixon, 1:47.1617
4. 83-Charlie Kimball, 1:47.4779
5. 27-Marco Andretti, 1:48.0192
6. 8-Sage Karam, 1:49.1470

7. 14-Takuma Sato, 1:49.6570
8. 4-Stefano Coletti, 1:50.7713
9. 20-Luca Filippi, 1:51.7934
10. 98-Gabby Chaves, 1:52.6481
11. 15-Graham Rahal, 1:54.7212
12. 41-Jack Hawksworth, 1:55.9655

NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E and Ian James set to race ahead of electric motorsports’ curve

James McLaren Formula E
NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team

As Formula E enters their ninth season and McLaren Racing is set to compete in last year’s championship winning car, Ian James is passionate about pushing electric motorsports forward at a critical stage as race technology begins surpassing that of the street cars.

Midseason, McLaren acquired the assets of the Mercedes-EQ team as they were already on their way to winning a second consecutive championship. With those assets in place and coming off a successful debut in the Extreme E series, James is set to usher in a new era in electric car racing.

Last week’s announcement that Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast behind the wheel of the NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team was the last piece of the puzzle.

McLaren’s electric portfolio is building with the Formula E team coming one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour. There were a lot of lessons to learn in that series with growing pains during the first three of five rounds. Rounds 4 and 5 were a completely different matter with the team crossing the finish line first in Chile before being assessed a time penalty.

In the final round in Uruguay, they scored an elusive podium.

“McLaren kicked off the season in Extreme E at the beginning of this year, so our first [electric] race took place Neom, actually out in Saudi,” NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team Principal James told NBC Sports. “At the time, we were in very early discussions about opportunities with the Formula E team. I actually went out there to meet with Zak [Brown, CEO McLaren Racing] and that was my first taste of Extreme E.

“Since the transition, I joined them in Chile in Atacama Desert, and then Uruguay last weekend. [The second-place finish was] a lovely way to round out the season. The fact that they got that podium. It was very well deserved. It’s a great team and a great series actually. It’s just so very different from anything else. The team’s done a great job in getting set up, and it’s nice now to, we’re trying to use that momentum that we’ve got from Uruguay to get us into next season when it kicks off next year, which will be great. I think we’re mid-March is looking like the first race, so a little bit of time to get things prepped for that.”


James McLaren Formula E
The NEOM Mclaren Racing Formula E Team was created through the acquisition of last year’s championship team from Mercedes-EQ. – NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team

Synergies exist between the single seater and rally series. Lessons learned about battery power and sustainability in the electric SUV carry over so long as one is mindful of keeping focus on the individual needs and nuances of each series.

Especially now that electric racing technology has caught up, and is ready to surpass, the existing technology that has gone into building street cars.

When internal combustion engines gained the upper hand soon after automobiles were invented, racing paced alongside. The pressure of competition pushed the development of their commercial equivalents. The same has not necessarily been true of electric cars. Street cars were not designed to undergo the same stress as racecars – and that vulnerability showed up on the racetrack.

“Formula E has come along a long way,” James said. “I think one of the most notable developments is in the battery technology. In Gen 1, you had the drivers jumping from one car to another car midrace because the battery technology and capacity simply wasn’t where it needed to be to do the full distance. That obviously changed in Gen 2 and we saw a power increase as well to the 250 kilowatts.

“Now going to Gen 3, we have 350 kilowatts in a smaller battery. But that means that we’re relying on the regeneration of energy and for that reason, we’ve got also the opportunity to regenerate on the front axle as well as the rear axle now. So, there’s all sorts of things that are developing in the right direction.

“In terms of throttle response, actually, we’re now in a situation with electric racing and the motors that it’s instantaneous. And one of the advantages of electric over combustion engine is that the torque is instantaneous as well, so that gives you a lot more room to play with.”

No matter the power source, racing has always been about resource management. Drivers and teams select tire strategies they believe produce the fastest elapsed time and fuel conservation comes into play.

On one hand, electric racing is the same, but there is a critical difference. With the battery as both the power source and an integral part of the engine, there are multiple reasons to manage it.

In electric racing, the brain of the car is the software – and that is where James sees the greatest room for advancement.

“As we are working with our drivers and engineers – and start to look at functionality to improve our efficiency and our performance, that’s something we’ll continue to push because that development is open throughout the season,” James said. “That’s going to be our focus going forward and provides enough of a challenge for us to get our teeth into.

“What’s going to be fascinating is as Formula E continues, is to really look at which areas of development on the car are going to be the most relevant and ensuring that we can focus on those together with the manufacturers so we continue and use the series as a platform for technical development that can then feed back into the road car side of things as well.

“At the end of the day, that’s what motorsports always been, a very powerful tool for, and I see Formula E as no exception.”

James McLaren Formula E
Jake Hughes and Rene Rast were chosen for their ability to drive fast and execute the necessary strategy for energy management. – NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team

Selecting Rast and Hughes as McLaren’s Formula E drivers was not simply because they know how to drive fast. James believes both drivers have the mental aptitude to execute energy management strategies throughout the race and squeeze maximum performance.

“As with many other motorsports, you’ve got a certain amount of energy that you’re able to deploy during the race and the management of that energy is absolutely crucial,” James said. “What we’re seeing typically in electric motorsports now is the hardware side of things. The efficiencies that we’re seeing in the powertrain as a whole, they’re getting up to the sort of 96%, 97%, 98% efficiency, so the gains that you get through that further and further become more marginal.”

With much more room for improvement, software is a different matter. To make the best decisions, the drivers need data, and that is where James believes McLaren Formula E will make their greatest impact.

“And then you really switch that focus to the software and that’s where you’re going to see the most the most improvement and the most gains,” James continued. “It’s then using that software to ensure that you’re deploying the energy in the most efficient manner during race, and thereby giving the driver the most performance. And that’s something which is incredibly complicated, but I find it a fascinating area to work in.

“The benefit of being involved in racing is you can really push the envelope in a way that you can’t do on road cars. And I think that that’s where that value comes in. It means that you accelerate the development a lot quicker. We will get ahead of the curve – and we are getting ahead of the curve now – and that will mean that the electric motorsports remain part of the overall development process.

“The key to that is also making sure that the racing’s exciting and fun for the fans. If we can, we can tick both of those boxes, then it’s got a very bright future ahead of it.”