IndyCar executives say 90 percent of teams will be vaccinated by 2021 season opener

IndyCar team vaccinated
Kelly Wilkinson/IndyStar
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An IndyCar executive said roughly 90 percent of personnel on teams in the NTT Series paddock will have been vaccinated for COVID-19 ahead of Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.

“I think that’s going to continue to move up,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said Wednesday on a Zoom news conference. “When I say we’ve worked hard on it, we’ve provided an opportunity for everybody that was here in Indianapolis just after the (Indy 500) test concluded last Friday to be vaccinated, to get their first dose. We’re going to do that again in Texas (after the completion of a May 1-2 weekend doubleheader).

“And then there’s yet another opportunity in Indianapolis the first week in May. I expect it to be very close to 100 percent by the time we get (to the Indy 500), and we’ll see where that number is.”

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IndyCar president Jay Frye said IndyCar teams “were taking it very seriously” even before having the opportunity to get vaccinated at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after last week’s two-day Indy 500 test.

“We were running in the high 60 percent before that,” Frye said. “And now like Mark said, we’re over 90 percent as a group. It’s been, again, a great paddock-wide effort.”

Two-time Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing was among those who was  vaccinated at IMS (as the team posted on social media).

IndyCar and IMS owner Roger Penske said he offered up the track as a mass vaccination site in a goodwill gesture toward having as many fans as possible for the Indy 500 on May 30.

IndyCar has opened up paddock access to more sponsor VIPs and media after heavy restrictions last year because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Miles said the series was weighing whether it’ll begin implementing regular COVID-19 testing for access to the paddock among those who haven’t been vaccinated.

“We’ll take all the right precautions to make the paddock as buttoned up as possible,” Miles said.

A vehicle leaves the Indianapolis Motor Speedway garages after vaccinations Tuesday (Kelly Wilkinson/USA Today Sports Images).