Getty Images

More bad news for SPM: Rookie Robert Wickens wrecks in Indy 500 practice

Leave a comment

Canadian rookie Robert Wickens crashed early this afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during practice for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.

Wickens had come out of Turn 2, skimmed the outside wall, moved slightly to the left, and suddenly veered hard to the right and into the outside retaining wall and then coasted into the infield grass.

The entire right side of his Honda was destroyed. He exited his mangled wreck under his own power and was taken to the infield care center, where he was checked and released.

“I just got some oversteer in 2, late in the corner, thought I got away with a big save, and just ran out of track and brushed the wall,” Wickens told the IMS Radio Network. “I was already on the brakes, trying to slow down and it just went violently right on the driver’s side and into the wall. It sucks for the guys. They have a lot of work ahead of them. I’m pretty disappointed.”

Wickens had turned only three laps with a top speed of 222.325 mph before wrecking.

“Looks like he got loose, don’t know if he had a low tire or what, we’ll have to look at the telemetry,” team owner Sam Schmidt told the IMS Network. “You’d rather have it happen today than on race day. … He’s been having a hell of a season. He’s the total package, for sure.”

The team now has four days to repair the damage, as the next on-track action won’t be until Friday.

It took about 15 minutes to clear the track of debris and practice has resumed back under green flag conditions.

Wickens’ teammate and best friend, James Hinchcliffe, will not be in the 500, having failed to qualify for the 33-car field, being one of two drivers that will miss the race.

While there has been significant speculation that Hinchcliffe’s team, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, may try to buy a ride into the 500 for him, Hinchcliffe said Sunday that he doesn’t anticipate being in the race.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Indianapolis 500 weather forecast: Rain chances decreasing for start

Clive Rose/Getty Images
Leave a comment

INDIANAPOLIS — As the green flag keeps approaching for the 103rd Indianapolis 500, the chances of clear skies Sunday keep increasing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The chance of rain at the start of the race was down to about 30%, according to the wunderground.com site as of late Saturday night, and the forecast seemed good until late afternoon when the odds of precipitation rose to about 80%.

If the race starts on time at12:45 p.m. ET, that should be a long enough window to run the full 500 miles and certainly an official race (102 of 200 laps).

With Indiana on the western edge of the Eastern Time Zone and a 9:02 p.m. sunset on race day, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Doug Boles said the green flag probably could be held as late as 6 p.m. if a worst-case scenario of bad weather hits.

THE 103RD INDIANAPOLIS 500: Click here for how to watch

“We ran the NASCAR race (in 2017) almost right up to sunset,” Boles said. “The challenge of getting closer to sunset is just getting people out when it’s still light. The race itself is more than 2 hours and 40 minutes so you have to back-time yourself.

“We’ll sit down with IndyCar over the next 24 hours and at least have that in the back of our mind. If there’s a window to get it done, our intent would be get it in Sunday, so we would want to go as late as we could.”

Boles said National Weather Service representatives are on site this weekend to help with forecasting. Regardless of if there still is a threat of rain, the track will start the race on time as long as the surface is dry.

“I can’t imagine we’d postpone the start because we think it might rain,” Boles said. “If it’s not raining, we’re running the race.

Boles said track officials are monitoring Sunday’s weather daily but won’t discuss any potential contingency plans until Saturday night. Regardless of whether it’s raining Sunday morning, some pre-race ceremonies likely will remain in place.

“It’s hard to speculate on what’s going to happen,” he said. “It’s likely Sunday morning will be the first time that we have any definitive statement on what we think is going to happen. Instead of giving you information that we don’t know what it’s going to be like, I’d rather wait until that Sunday when we see the conditions, and we’ll let you know.

“Obviously, if it’s raining, then we’ll have to decide what the next steps are.”

Boles said Indiana weather traditionally is unpredictable, noting that qualifying was completed last Sunday despite predictions of a complete washout.

“Last year the prediction was it was going to rain on race day, we got up next morning, and it was perfect,” Boles said. “It just changes so rapidly around here.”

Should it rain, IndyCar officials will make every reasonable attempt to run the Indy 500 on time,. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway also recently used a new sealant on the track surface which makes it quicker to dry the racing surface.

During the previous 102 runnings of the Indy 500, there have been 12 impacted by rain: three complete postponements; two partial postponements and seven shortened races.

So what happens if it does rain? Some options:

Rain-shortened race

The Indy 500 could turn into the Indy 255. If more than 255 miles (102 laps) are completed in Sunday’s race, the race can be deemed official. If the race is called, driver’s finishing positions are based on their position in the race at the time of the caution flag for rain.

The Indy 500 has been shortened by rain only seven times, most recently in 2007. The race was stopped nearly three hours because of rain on Lap 113 and was declared officially over with Dario Franchitti in the lead when rain again hit at the 415-mile mark.

Partial postponement

If fewer than 102 laps are completed Sunday, the race will resume on the next dry day. With most Americans on holiday Monday because of Memorial Day, a partial postponement still might allow for a healthy audience at the track and watching on NBC.

The race has been partially postponed only twice in the 102 previous runnings, in 1967 and 1973.

Complete postponement

Fans shouldn’t worry too much about a complete postponement of the race, as it has only happened three times, most recently in 1997. If rain completely postpones the Indy 500, the race will be rescheduled for the next day with the start time dependent on the forecast.

The 1997 race ran 15 laps on Monday before rain again postponed the remainder of the race until Tuesday. The 1915 and ’86 runnings were postponed until the following Saturday.