IndyCar Christmas gift to fans: Classic race replays

IndyCar Christmas classic race
ISC Archives via Getty Images

On Christmas Day, the IndyCar series announced a Christmas gift to fans; they will replay a classic IndyCar race each day this week on their Facebook page with the 1980 Indianapolis 500 as the first offering.

In a race that featured 22 lead changes and 13 caution periods for 64 laps, the winner beat the field to the line by nearly 30 seconds. And in case you forgot which icon won, you can have the satisfaction of reliving the experience by clicking on the link in the tweet embedded below.

Johnny Rutherford led the field to green in 1980 with a pole speed of 192.256 mph. By comparison, the pole in 2020 was earned with speed of 231.068 mph.

Rutherford led the first 15 laps that afternoon before handing the lead over to Roger Rager. Rutherford would not retake the lead for the next 25 laps.

Johnny Rutherford won the pole for the 1980 Indy 500
Johnny Rutherford won the pole for the 1980 Indy 500, nearly 40 miles per hour slower than the pole in 2020. Getty Images

In 1980, The Indy 500 was the second race of the season. Rutherford was on a roll after winning the season-opener at Ontario Motor Speedway. He was the only driver on the lead lap.

Rutherford went on to win the 1980 title on the strength of five wins. Bobby Unser won four races that season, including the next race after the Indy 500 that was held at the Milwaukee Mile. Unser finished second in the championship race.

Three other drivers won one race each in 1980.

Don’t get overly excited for some of your favorites, however, as only four cars finished on the lead lap that year and 12 were running at the end.

Larry Cannon, who made 46 starts in the IndyCar series was the first driver out on Lap 2 with a broken camshaft. The first accident came just seven laps later and eliminated Bill Whittington and Dick Ferguson.

SAD NEWS: 1981 CART Rookie of the Year dies from COVID-19

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.



Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III