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RHR leads Andretti train on day two of Indy 500 practice

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INDIANAPOLIS – Race runs and full-tank runs dominated most of Wednesday’s hectic day of running for 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil practice, and again, an Andretti Autosport car topped the timesheets.

Ryan Hunter-Reay led the way on the day in the No. 28 DHL Honda with a best speed of 228.202 mph. Carlos Munoz was second to make it a 1-2 result in the No. 26 United Fiber & Data Honda, in the 228.066 mph.

Josef Newgarden, who was fourth overall in the No. 21 Preferred Freezer Chevrolet, topped the no-tow speed charts at 224.541 mph. He clocked in ahead of four Andretti Autosport drivers, Townsend Bell, Hunter-Reay, Munoz and Alexander Rossi.

The last hour and a half was particularly frantic with big groups of cars all running in formation. It looked similar to a race display, or certainly the Fast Friday sessions when the boost gets turned up.

The other story of the day beyond the speeds at the top of the chart was Spencer Pigot’s accident, which saw the Indy Lights champion and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver crash in Turn 1 and force the team to build a backup car.

Pigot was fine, albeit frustrated with himself to have the crew need to spend extra time to build up a new car. It was later diagnosed that Pigot hit something in Turn 1.

Other quick tidbits of note:

  • There were 2,779 laps turned on Wednesday – nearly double the Monday number – in an insane amount of running. Rookie Matthew Brabham in the No. 61 PIRTEK Team Murray Chevrolet led the way with 126 laps while Max Chilton in the No. 8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet was only one behind at 125 laps. Jack Hawksworth only ran 31 laps and was slowest on the day at 217.789 mph.
  • Chilton and Pippa Mann ran really close, nose-to-tail, ahead of a big train of cars in the last hour.
  • The Andretti train was fun to watch, albeit briefly interrupted by Helio Castroneves when he came out of the pits in the No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet.
  • Quick one-or-two-word answers from Oriol Servia and rookie Stefan Wilson on their days: “Not great” and “OK” respectively. Servia ran 59 laps and was only at a 223.373 mph for 32nd overall but was 20th in no-tow at 221 and change. Wilson was 30th, 223.781, overall and 19th on no-tow.
  • James Hinchcliffe ran in both his No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda and the No. 7 SMP Racing Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, shaking down Mikhail Aleshin’s car. Aleshin later went back out and had a mechanical issue in the last hour.

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Indianapolis Motor Speedway can have 10,000 fans for IndyCar races

Indianapolis Motor Speedway fans
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Indianapolis Motor Speedway will have crowds for its NTT IndyCar Series race weekend next month, the first time fans are allowed at the track this year.

The track announced Friday that up to 10,000 fans will be allowed in the grandstands daily from Oct. 1-4. The IndyCar Harvest GP race doubleheader will be held on the track’s road course Oct. 2-3.

IMS has played host to several events this year without fans, including the 104th Indianapolis 500 on Aug. 23 and a NASCAR-IndyCar weekend July 4-5 that included the Brickyard 400. Plans originally were made to have fans at the Indy 500 before reversing course a few weeks ahead of the race. In a letter last month, Roger Penske vowed that fans would return for the 2021 Indy 500.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS president Doug Boles said in a release. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

Fans will undergo temperature screenings upon entry and also be required to wear face coverings at all times on property. The track said each attendee will receive a mask and bottle of hand sanitizer.

The Friday, Oct. 2 race will be shown at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA, and NBC will broadcast the Saturday, Oct. 3 race at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Here’s the release from Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020 – For the first time in 2020, Indianapolis Motor Speedway will welcome fans to the Racing Capital of the World for the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR weekend. Up to 10,000 spectators can be in the grandstands each day of racing action Oct. 1-4, per approval from the Marion County Public Health Department.

Tickets are available now via IMS.com and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

The massive facility, which holds more than 300,000 people, will provide two spectator zones with up to 5,000 fans in each. The zones will be located in Turns 1 and 4 of the oval, offering strong sightlines of the road course. Strict health and safety rules will be in place, including the following:

  • Face coverings must be worn throughout the property at all times;
  • All fans will receive temperature screenings before gate entry;
  • Grandstand seats will be marked for distancing;
  • Attendees must use pre-assigned gates and remain in their designated zones.

Global Medical Response, the world leader in compassionate, quality emergency medical and patient relocation services, will be the presenting sponsor of the penultimate weekend of INDYCAR racing this season.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

The plan, which includes each attendee receiving a mask and a bottle of hand sanitizer upon entering the track, was developed in consultation with state and local health officials.

This event weekend is highlighted by an NTT INDYCAR SERIES doubleheader, with races Friday, Oct. 2 and Saturday, Oct. 3. It will be the penultimate event of the series’ season as the field pursues the champion’s prestigious Astor Challenge Cup to be awarded Sunday, Oct. 25 at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The INDYCAR Harvest GP will pay tribute to a storied IMS event, the Harvest Classic in September 1916. The Harvest Classic was the only racing event held outside of May at IMS from 1911 through 1993. The event featured three races, all won by legendary driver Johnny Aitken.

Fans also will see a host of facility improvements during the event weekend, including more than 30 new LED video boards, refreshed concession stands and restrooms, and 5G wireless connectivity throughout the facility.

The first race will air at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Friday, Oct. 2 on the USA Network. NBC will broadcast the second race at 2:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday, Oct. 3, with WTHR-13 airing the action live in Central Indiana.

Also racing that weekend will be the first pairing of two major sports car series — the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli and its North American counterpart, GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS. Former Indianapolis 500 pole winner Ryan Briscoe is among the drivers in the Indianapolis 8 Hour event held Sunday, Oct. 4.

The event also will showcase drivers in SRO America’s Pirelli GT4 America, GT Sports Club America and the TC America series.

The full on-track schedule is available at IMS.com.