‘You just worry all the time’: IndyCar drivers strive to avoid COVID-19


For Simon Pagenaud, assessing risks is natural while behind the wheel of his No. 22 Dallara-Chevrolet. It’s inherent to virtually every decision he makes at more than 200 mph.

But in the era of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, assessing risks has become an obtrusive part of daily life in order for the defending Indianapolis 500 winner to ensure he continues racing in the NTT IndyCar Series this season.

“You’ve got to be careful about everything you do,” Pagenaud said Tuesday during a Zoom media conference. “I wash my hands too many times a day. When you really think about it, everything you touch is a risk. Every movement you make with your hands across your face is a risk, and it brings a lot of anxiety, because you just worry about it all the time. Racing being everything in my life.”

INDIANAPOLIS INFO: GMR Grand Prix weekend schedule; and the race’s entry list

TV SCHEDULEWhere to watch the next five IndyCar races

The Team Penske driver said he and his wife, Hailey, mostly have remained in isolation at home since mid-March, just after IndyCar’s originally scheduled season opener in St. Petersburg was postponed (eventually to the season finale in October).

Though Pagenaud has left the house for job obligations (namely, simulator testing, an NBC shoot at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May and the June 6 race at Texas Motor Speedway), he has placed heavy restrictions on his social life and used “extreme caution” to protect the profession that he loves and is central to his life.

“It’s difficult because we have friends we want to go see, but then you’re wearing a mask, and I’m the one that has to be extra cautious and explain I’m racing in two weeks, and I can’t contract the virus because I want to be able to race.

Simon Pagenaud waits to be interviewed after finishing second in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway (Chris Jones/IndyCar).

“So we haven’t been able to go back to the restaurants because we don’t want to take that risk. I love going to the restaurant, it’s part of who I am, and I can’t quite do it. You could do it, but it’s risky, and those are things you have to think about. It’s been big adjustments. I think as we go through times, obviously life is going to be different for everybody, and for us, if we want to keep racing and make sure that we are allowed to race, we’ll have to make some big efforts and dedicate everything to racing.”

Pagenaud isn’t alone in being overly careful about his interactions. Joey Logano, Team Penske’s No. 22 counterpart in the NASCAR Cup Series, recently said he treats everyone as a potential carrier of COVID-19. Team Penske and Stewart-Haas Racing also recently disclosed they had had shop employees test positive for the coronavirus.

Mindful of five IndyCar races over 14 days (starting with Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis and followed by weekend doubleheaders at Road America and Iowa Speedway), Team Penske’s Will Power said he hasn’t been to a restaurant and bought exercise equipment so he can work out at his home in Troutman, North Carolina (where gyms remain closed).

“I’ve been to the go-kart track by myself in my garage,” Power said. “And when I have to do a simulator day, they’re pretty strict on the precautions they take. Everyone’s at least 6 feet apart with gloves and masks.

“So yeah, I’m doing everything possible to make sure that I stay healthy, because it would be a real disaster to come down with the COVID and miss a few races because they’re pretty stacked close together during the season.”

IndyCar driver Conor Daly said he also has been vigilant about avoiding extraneous contact with the outside world.

“For sure,” said Daly, who is running a full season for the first time since 2017 while splitting time between Carlin and Ed Carpenter Racing. “In the end, you’ve got to think what is your main goal in life? Well, mine is to try to be a racing car driver for as long as possible, and right now I’ve got the best opportunity I’ve had in years for my career, so for sure thinking about that every day. Whoever you interact with, how you do it.

“It’s tough because after so many months sitting at home and doing what we had to do, I definitely want to be social. I want to see people I haven’t seen in forever. I want to obviously interact with our fans as well when we have fans back at races, but in the end, I won’t be of use to my team if I can’t drive the race car. So I’ve got to think about that, and we want to make sure we’re taking care of not only ourselves but our team members, our fans, everyone that we could potentially interact with in the next few months.”

Conor Daly was sporting a distinctive mask while out of the car before the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway (Chris Jones/IndyCar).

IndyCar Detroit Grand Prix: How to watch, start times, TV, schedules, streaming


The NTT IndyCar Series will return to the Motor City for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix but with start times in a new location for 2023.

After a 30-year run on Belle Isle, the Detroit GP has moved a few miles south to the streets of downtown on a new nine-turn, 1.645-mile circuit that runs along the Detroit River.

It’s the first time single-seater open-cockpit cars have raced on the streets of Detroit since a CART event on a 2.5-mile downtown layout from 1989-91. Formula One also raced in Detroit from 1982-88.

The reimagined Detroit Grand Prix also will play host to nightly concerts and bring in venders from across the region. Roger Penske predicts the new downtown locale will be bigger for Detroit than when the city played host to the 2006 Super Bowl.

Here are the details and IndyCar start times for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach race weekend (all times are ET):


TV: Sunday, 3 p.m. ET on NBC and streaming on Peacock, the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com. Leigh Diffey is the announcer with analysts Townsend Bell and James Hinchcliffe. Dave Burns, Marty Snider and Kevin Lee are the pit reporters. Click here for the full NBC Sports schedule for IndyCar in 2023.

Peacock also will be the streaming broadcast for both practices and qualifying.

POSTRACE SHOW ON PEACOCK: After the race’s conclusion, an exclusive postrace show will air on Peacock with driver interviews, postrace analysis and the podium presentation. To watch the extended postrace show, click over to the special stream on Peacock after Sunday’s race ends.


GREEN FLAG: 3:30 p.m. ET

PRACTICE: Friday, 3 p.m. (Peacock Premium); Saturday, 9:05 a.m. (Peacock Premium); Sunday, 10 a.m. (Peacock Premium)

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Combined

QUALIFYING: Saturday, 1:20 p.m. (Peacock Premium)

STARTING LINEUP: Alex Palou captured the first street course pole of his IndyCar career; click here for where everyone will begin Sunday’s race

RACE DISTANCE: The race is 100 laps (170 miles) on a nine-turn, 1.645-mile temporary street course in downtown Detroit.

TIRE ALLOTMENT: Seven sets primary, four sets alternate. Rookie drivers are allowed one extra primary set for the first practice.

PUSH TO PASS: 150 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 15 seconds per activation (Indy NXT: 150 seconds total, 15 seconds per). The push-to-pass is not available on the initial start or any restart unless it occurs in the final two laps or three minutes of a timed race. The feature increases the power of the engine by approximately 60 horsepower.

FORECAST: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 80 degrees with a 0% chance of rain.

ENTRY LIST: Click here to view the 27 drivers racing Sunday at Detroit

INDY NXT RACES: Saturday, 12:05 p.m. 45 laps/55 minutes (Peacock Premium); Sunday, 12:50 p.m. 45 laps/55 minutes (Peacock Premium)

INDY NXT ENTRY LISTClick here to view the 19 drivers racing at Detroit


(All times are Eastern)

Friday, June 2

8:30-9:30 a.m.: IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

9 a.m.: IndyCar garage opens

9:50-10:20 a.m.: Trans Am Series practice

11:40 a.m.-12:40 p.m.: IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

1-1:30 p.m.: Trans Am Series practice

1:50-2:40 p.m.: Indy NXT practice

3-4:30 p.m.: IndyCar practice, Peacock

4:50-5:05 p.m.: IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge qualifying

5:30-6 p.m.: IndyNXT qualifying (Race 1 and 2)

6-7:15 p.m.: A-Track concert (Hart Plaza Stage)

7:30-8:30 p.m.: Big Boi concert (Hart Plaza Stage)

Saturday, June 3

6 a.m.: IndyCar garage opens

8:15-8:45 a.m.: Trans Am Series qualifying

9:05-10:05 a.m.: IndyCar practice, Peacock

10:35-11:35 a.m.: Trans Am Series, 3-Dimensional Services Group Muscle Car Challenge

12:05-1:00 p.m.: Indy NXT, Race 1 (45 laps or 55 minutes), Peacock

1:15-2:45 p.m.: IndyCar qualifying, Peacock

4:10-5:50 p.m.: IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, Chevrolet Detroit Sports Car Classic (100 minutes), Peacock

5:30-7 p.m.: Z-Trip concert (Hart Plaza Stage)

7-8:30 p.m.: Steve Aoki concert (Hart Plaza Stage)

Sunday, June 4

7 a.m.: IndyCar garage opens

10:00-10:30 a.m.: IndyCar warmup, Peacock

11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.: Trans Am Series, 3-Dimensional Services Group Motor City Showdown

12:50-1:45 p.m.: Indy NXT, Race 2 (45 laps or 55 minutes), Peacock

2:47 p.m.: IndyCar driver introductions

3:23 p.m.: Command to start engines

3:30 p.m.: Green flag for the Chevrolet Detroit Prix, presented by Lear (100 laps/170 miles), NBC


ROUND 1Marcus Ericsson wins wild opener in St. Petersburg

ROUND 2Josef Newgarden wins Texas thriller over Pato O’Ward

ROUND 3: Kyle Kirkwood breaks through for first career IndyCar victory

ROUND 4: Scott McLaughlin outduels Romain Grosjean at Barber

ROUND 5: Alex Palou dominant in GMR Grand Prix

ROUND 6: Josef Newgarden wins first Indy 500 in 12th attempt 


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Alexander Rossi fitting in well at McLaren

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Helio Castroneves says 2023 season is “huge” for IndyCar future

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HOW TO WATCH INDYCAR IN 2023Full NBC Sports schedule