IndyCar

INDYCAR: Fast Facts for Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500

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Here’s all you need to know about Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (courtesy INDYCAR Media Relations):

Race weekend: Friday, May 25 – Sunday, May 27

Track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a 2.5-mile oval

Starting lineup: 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil

Race distance: 200 laps / 500 miles

Firestone tire allotment: Thirty-six sets for use throughout the event.

Twitter: @IMS @IndyCar, #Indy500 #ThisIsMay, #IndyCar

Event website: www.ims.com

INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com

2017 race winner: Takuma Sato (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda)

2018 Verizon P1 Award winner: Ed Carpenter (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet), 2:36.7818, 229.618 mph (four laps)

NBCSN Miller Lite Carb Day broadcast: Friday, May 25 (11 a.m. ET)

Kevin Lee will anchor NBCSN’s coverage of Indianapolis 500 final practice, the Indy Lights Freedom 100 race and TAG Heuer Pit Stop Competition. Robin Miller, Paul Tracy and Townsend Bell will serve as analysts with Katie Hargitt, Jon Beekhuis and Marty Snider as pit reporters.

ABC race broadcast: Sunday, May 28 (11 a.m. ET)

Allen Bestwick is the lead announcer for ESPN on ABC broadcasts for the third consecutive year alongside analysts Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever Jr. Rick DeBruhl, Dr. Jerry Punch and Jon Beekhuis are the pit reporters.

Radio broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Anders Krohn and Donald Davidson. Nick Yeoman (Turn 2), Jake Query (Turn 3) and Chris Denari (Turn 4) are the turn announcers with Dave Furst, Rob Howden, Ryan Myreh and Michael Young on pit lane. All Verizon IndyCar Series races are broadcast live on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius 219, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and on the INDYCAR Mobile app. The Verizon IndyCar Series final practice session on May 25 is available on IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app.

At-track schedule (all times local):

Friday, May 25

11 a.m.-noon – Indianapolis 500 final practice

1:30 p.m. – Indianapolis 500 Pit Stop Competition

Sunday, May 27

11:38 a.m. – Driver Introductions

12:14 p.m. – Command to Start Engines

12:21 p.m. – Indianapolis 500 Mile Race (200 laps/500 miles), ABC (live at 11 a.m.)

Race notes:

* The Indianapolis 500 will be the 102nd 500-mile Indy car race conducted on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s oval. Ray Harroun won the inaugural race in 1911. Takuma Sato won the race in 2017 to become the first Japanese winner.

* Six drivers entered have won the Indianapolis 500. Helio Castroneves has won the race three times (2001, 2002 and 2009) while Scott Dixon (2008), Tony Kanaan (2013), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2014), Alexander Rossi (2016) and Takuma Sato (2017) are the other former winners entered.

* There have been four different winners in five Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2018. Sebastien Bourdais (Streets of St. Petersburg), Alexander Rossi (Streets of Long Beach), Josef Newgarden (ISM Raceway and Barber Motorsports Park) and Will Power (IMS road course) have won races in 2018.

* Ed Carpenter became the sixth difference pole winner of 2018 by winning the Verizon P1 Award for the Indianapolis 500. Carpenter won his third Indianapolis 500 pole, all since 2013.

* Tony Kanaan has finished in the top four in four of the last seven Indianapolis 500s, including his win in 2013.

* Four drivers will race Verizon IndyCar Series cars on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval for the first time: Zachary Claman De Melo, Kyle Kaiser, Matheus Leist and Robert Wickens.

* Twenty drivers have won the race from the pole – most recently Castroneves in 2009.

* Team Penske has 16 wins at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the most of any team. Andretti Autosport has five wins while Chip Ganassi Racing has won four times. A.J. Foyt Enterprises has won twice.

* Two drivers have a chance to become the first to win on both the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the famed 2.5-mile oval: Simon Pagenaud and Will Power have road course wins.

* Danica Patrick is the only female driver in the field. It marks the 19th consecutive Indy 500 that a woman has qualified for the race.

* Tony Kanaan seeks to start his 289th consecutive race this weekend, which would extend his Indy car record streak that began in June 2001 at Portland. Former teammate Scott Dixon has made 229 consecutive starts heading into the weekend which is the second-longest streak in Indy car racing.

Rahal determined to regain winning touch in 2019 IndyCar season

Photo by Shawn Gritzmacher, INDYCAR
INDYCAR
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AUSTIN, Texas – Graham Rahal entered the room with a smile on his face and a chip on his shoulder.

It was IndyCar “Media Day” and Rahal wasn’t happy with the way last season went at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. He was less happy with the fact some aren’t considering him a serious threat in 2019. He playfully chided with one media outlet for failing to mention his team as one to watch in 2019.

“We use that as motivation to show everybody how we are viewed,” Rahal said. “We are here to win.”

Rahal just turned 30 in January but is entering his 13thseason in big-time Indy car racing. He entered the 2007 Champ Car Series season when he was just 17. He missed his high school prom because he was racing at Houston.

“That was the luckiest day of my life,” Rahal said. “I didn’t have to go to the prom. It doesn’t get any better than that.

“Plus, I got my second career podium that weekend.”

Rahal drove to victory in his very first race in the combined IndyCar Series in the 2008 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. He was hailed as the “Poster Boy of Unification” and a future star. What followed was a seven-year drought before he captured his second-career win in a thrilling race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

He won two races in 2015, one in 2016 and two in 2017. He was expected to contend for victories and possibly the championship last year but struggled through a disappointing season and finished eighth in the standings.

“I’m looking forward for chance this year,” Rahal said. “Last year was a tough one for me and for the team. I’m looking forward to what my new engineer, Allen McDonald, has done so far. He is an accomplished engineer and brings a different mindset to our program this year from what we had last year. He and (fellow engineer) Eddie Jones are very close friends and that will help us from the standpoint they are on the same page.

“We needed a bit of life brought back to the team.”

Rahal believes his challenges are to get everything in order before the season starts. The team has defined the areas where it was lacking in 2019. The team needed to improve in research and development after starting behind last season.

“I’m excited for what I see, and I know in the end it will all pay off,” Rahal said. “It’s just a matter of when.

“There is a lot to be excited about for us. We are in a great position as a team. We have great sponsorship and that will allow us to push forward and do the things we need to do.”

Rahal believes at 30, he has a long time ahead of him to win races and championships and maybe even the Indianapolis 500. In order to reach those goals, however, Rahal’s team needs to regain the competitive level he displayed prior to last year.

“We’ve been fortunate to win six times,” Rahal said. “A lot of people come into this sport and never win. I fully recognize there is no reason we can’t win a lot. I don’t care what anybody writes, what anybody thinks – I really feel that when it comes to race day, we perform better than 99 percent of the other people out there.

“As a team and for myself, we have to qualify better. If we can qualify better, we’ll be a thorn in everybody’s side. We know the rear of our cars just aren’t good enough. When we need to find that extra tenth or two, it’s just not there but absolutely, we want to win.

“I don’t come here year after year to just drive around. Our sponsors don’t invest in us year after year to not see us win. We feel that. But our cars aren’t good enough and we know that.”

Rahal believes the team has identified the problems with the setup of its car. It has a deep engineering staff but hasn’t had a chance to develop the damper program and other important areas that provide a competition setup.

Takuma Sato, the winner of the 101stIndianapolis 500 when he was with Andretti Autosport, scored the team’s only victory in 2018 with a win in the Portland Grand Prix. The two are back this year and have built a respect for each other.

“He’s a good guy,” Rahal said of Sato. “Other than Helio Castroneves, Takuma is probably the happiest man on the planet. He’s a great guy and fits in well with our organization. We pride ourselves on being a family and he fits in extremely well to that.

“We need to do a better job for him as a team. He won a race last year, but we can both do better to win with both cars.

“The Andretti cars are the best right now and the Penske cars will be good. We have a lot of space to close up on those two teams but hopefully, we can do it.”