Indy 500 test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway: Entry list and how to watch on Peacock


UPDATE: Because of inclement weather, the Indy 500 Open Test has been canceled for Friday, April 21

The Indy 500 open test will begin Thursday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as IndyCar teams begin tuning up for the season’s biggest race while series officials fine-tune on its oval racing package.

After a hugely successful debut for added downforce in the April 2 race at Texas Motor Speedway, IndyCar will be trying for aerodynamic tweaks over two days on the Brickyard in hopes of high-quality racing May 28 in the 107th Indy 500 (11 a.m. ET, NBC).

Building on the barge boards that were used at Texas, IndyCar is expected to use road course-style strakes and more rear wing flexibility to allow drivers greater handling in the draft at 230 mph.

INDY 500 PRIMER: Start times, schedules for watching in May on Peacock, NBC

With teams focusing on qualifying runs and settling into their cars, Colton Herta isn’t expecting to learn much about Indy 500 favorites from the test but is expecting to get an understanding of how the aerodynamic changes will affect handling.

“You won’t see who has a fast car,” Herta said. “You’ll get somewhat of a read, but it won’t be clear cut. Everybody knows what to expect from wind tunnel data, and data from Honda or Chevy, on the aerodynamics. We know the numbers of how much drag and downforce. We know what to start off on and go through every option to make sure the data is right. It’s not a massive change. It’s nowhere near the change for Texas.

“The biggest thing is Texas was great, but the car doesn’t create enough drag to get a massive tow like the past cars with big front rear wings. Those create more drag, and it’s usually a better race. Then it’s how far you go until it’s a pack race. Texas was right at the limit of being able to do that. We’re still trying to find a little balance.”

Herta and his Andretti Autosport teammates enter the test from capturing three of the top four spots in the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. Kyle Kirkwood became a first-time winner in IndyCar, and Romain Grosjean tied a career best by taking second. Herta, Kirkwood, Grosjean and Devlin DeFrancesco will be joined by a fifth Indy 500 teammate in Marco Andretti.

“We hope we unload fast,” team co-owner Michael Andretti said about the Indy test. “You always hold your breath until you get it on the track and the first couple of runs with the cars. We’re hoping that all five cars will be equal, then we’ll be able to have a fun month and not have to worry about one of the slow cars.

“Sometimes it’s really difficult to get all five cars to be equal. We work really hard to try to do that.”

With inclement weather in the Friday forecast, IndyCar has added 90 minutes to the Thursday testing schedule, which will begin an hour earlier at 10 a.m. ET.

Here are the details for the 2023 Indy 500 test on Peacock (all times are ET):

SCHEDULE: Thursday, April 20, 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m. (veterans 11 a.m.-1 p.m.; Rookie Orientation Program and refresher tests 1-3 p.m.; all drivers 3-6 p.m.). Friday, April 21, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

TV: All 14 and a half hours of on-track action will be covered by NBC Sports on Peacock Premium. Click here for more information about IndyCar on Peacock, which features comprehensive live coverage of every minute of the 2022 season with practices, qualifying and race simulstreams. Click here for the 2023 IndyCar broadcast schedule.

Leigh Diffey and James Hinchcliffe will call the action Thursday with pit reporters Marty Snider and Kevin Lee. they will be joined by 2014 Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay (who also is driving in the test) as a guest analyst. Hinchcliffe, Snider, and Lee will anchor Friday’s coverage.

FORECAST: According to the Weather Underground site, it’s predicted to be 73 degrees at 11 a.m. Thursday with a 0% chance of rain. Temperatures are expected to climb into the mid-80s. Friday temperatures are expected to be much cooler with a strong chance for rain.

ENTRY LIST: There are 33 driver-team combinations entered in the test.

AJ Foyt Racing (2): Santino Ferrucci, Benjamin Pedersen

Andretti Autosport (5): Marco Andretti, Devlin DeFrancesco, Romain Grosjean, Colton Herta, Kyle Kirkwood

Arrow McLaren (4): Tony Kanaan, Alexander Rossi, Pato O’Ward, Felix Rosenqvist

Chip Ganassi Racing (4): Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson, Alex Palou, Takuma Sato

Dale Coyne Racing (2): David Malukas, Sting Ray Robb

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (2): Ryan Hunter-Reay, Stefan Wilson

Ed Carpenter Racing (3): Ed Carpenter, Conor Daly, Rinus VeeKay

Juncos Hollinger Racing (2): Agustin Canapino, Callum Ilott

Meyer Shank Racing (2): Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (4): Graham Rahal, Jack Harvey, Katherine Legge, Christian Lundgaard

Team Penske (3): Scott McLaughlin, Josef Newgarden, Will Power

‘It’s gnarly, bro’: IndyCar drivers face new challenge on streets of downtown Detroit

IndyCar Detroit downtown
James Black/Penske Entertainment
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DETROIT – It was the 1968 motion picture, “Winning” when actress Joanne Woodward asked Paul Newman if he were going to Milwaukee in the days after he won the Indianapolis 500 as driver Frank Capua.

“Everybody goes to Milwaukee after Indianapolis,” Newman responded near the end of the film.

Milwaukee was a mainstay as the race on the weekend after the Indianapolis 500 for decades, but since 2012, the first race after the Indy 500 has been Detroit at Belle Isle Park.

This year, there is a twist.

Instead of IndyCar racing at the Belle Isle State Park, it’s the streets of downtown Detroit on a race course that is quite reminiscent of the old Formula One and CART race course that was used from 1982 to 1991.

Formula One competed in the United States Grand Prix from 1982 to 1988. Beginning in 1989, CART took over the famed street race through 1991. In 1992, the race was moved to Belle Isle, where it was held through last year (with a 2009-2011 hiatus after the Great Recession).

The Penske Corp. is the promoter of this race, and they did a lot of good at Belle Isle, including saving the Scott Fountain, modernizing the Belle Isle Casino, and basically cleaning up the park for Detroit citizens to enjoy.

The race, however, had outgrown the venue. Roger Penske had big ideas to create an even bigger event and moving it back to downtown Detroit benefitted race sponsor Chevrolet. The footprint of the race course goes around General Motors world headquarters in the GM Renaissance Center – the centerpiece building of Detroit’s modernized skyline.

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Motor City is about to roar with the sound of Chevrolet and Honda engines this weekend as the NTT IndyCar Series is the featured race on the nine-turn, 1.7-mile temporary street course.

It’s perhaps the most unique street course on the IndyCar schedule because of the bumps on the streets and the only split pit lane in the series.

The pit lanes has stalls on opposing sides and four lanes across an unusual rectangular pit area (but still only one entry and exit).

Combine that, with the bumps and the NTT IndyCar Series drivers look forward to a wild ride in Motor City.

“It’s gnarly, bro,” Arrow McLaren driver Pato O’Ward said before posting the fastest time in Friday’s first practice. “It will be very interesting because the closest thing that I can see it being like is Toronto-like surfaces with more of a Long Beach-esque layout.

“There’s less room for error than Long Beach. There’s no curbs. You’ve got walls. I think very unique to this place.

PRACTICE RESULTS: Speeds from the first session

“Then it’s a bit of Nashville built into it. The braking zones look really very bumpy. Certain pavements don’t look bumpy but with how the asphalt and concrete is laid out, there’s undulation with it. So, you can imagine the cars are going to be smashing on every single undulation because we’re going to go through those sections fairly fast, and obviously the cars are pretty low. I don’t know.

“It looks fun, man. It’s definitely going to be a challenge. It’s going to be learning through every single session, not just for drivers and teams but for race control. For everyone.

“Everybody has to go into it knowing not every call is going to be smooth. It’s a tall task to ask from such a demanding racetrack. I think it’ll ask a lot from the race cars as well.”

The track is bumpy, but O’Ward indicated he would be surprised if it is bumper than Nashville. By comparison to Toronto, driving at slow speed is quite smooth, but fast speed is very bumpy.

“This is a mix of Nashville high-speed characteristics and Toronto slow speed in significant areas,” O’Ward said. “I think it’ll be a mix of a lot of street courses we go to, and the layout looks like more space than Nashville, which is really tight from Turn 4 to 8. It looks to be a bit more spacious as a whole track, but it’ll get tight in multiple areas.”

The concept of having four-wide pit stops is something that excites the 24-year-old driver from Monterey, Mexico.

“I think it’s innovation, bro,” O’Ward said. “If it works out, we’ll look like heroes.

“If it doesn’t, we tried.”

Because of the four lanes on pit road, there is a blend line the drivers will have to adhere to. Otherwise, it would be chaos leaving the pits compared to a normal two-lane pit road.

“If it wasn’t there, there’d be guys fighting for real estate where there’s one car that fits, and there’d be cars crashing in pit lane,” O’Ward said. “I get why they did that. It’s the same for everybody. I don’t think there’s a lot of room to play with. That’s the problem.

“But it looks freaking gnarly for sure. Oh my God, that’s going to be crazy.”

Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing believes the best passing areas will be on the long straights because of the bumps in the turns. That is where much of the action will be in terms of gaining or losing a position in the race.

“It will also be really easy to defend in my opinion,” Palou said. “Being a 180-degree corner, you just have to go on the inside and that’s it. There’s going to be passes for sure but its’ going to be risky.

“Turn 1, if someone dives in, you end up in the wall. They’re not going to be able to pass you on the exit, so maybe with the straight being so long you can actually pass before you end up on the braking zone.”

Palou’s teammate, Marcus Ericsson, was at the Honda simulator in Brownsburg, Indiana, before coming to Detroit and said he was shocked by the amount of bumps on the simulator.

Race promoter Bud Denker, the President of Penske Corporation, and Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix President Michael Montri, sent the track crews onto the streets with grinders to smooth out the bumps on the race course several weeks ago.

“They’ve done a decent amount of work, and even doing the track walk, it looked a lot better than what we expected,” Ericsson said. “I don’t think it’ll be too bad. I hope not. That’ll be something to take into account.

“I think the track layout doesn’t look like the most fun. Maybe not the most challenging. But I love these types of tracks with rules everywhere. It’s a big challenge, and you have to build up to it. That’s the types of tracks that I love to drive. It’s a very much Marcus Ericsson type of track. I like it.”

Scott Dixon, who was second fastest in the opening session, has competed on many new street circuits throughout his legendary racing career. The six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion for Chip Ganassi Racing likes the track layout, even with the unusual pit lane.

I don’t think that’s going to be something that catches on where every track becomes a double barrel,” Dixon said. “It’s new and interesting.

“As far as pit exit, I think Toronto exit is worse with how the wall sticks out. I think in both lanes, you’ve got enough lead time to make it and most guys will make a good decision.”

It wasn’t until shortly after 3 p.m. ET on Friday that the IndyCar drivers began the extended 90-minute practice session to try out the race course for the first time in real life.

As expected, there were several sketchy moments, but no major crashes during the first session despite 19 local yellow flags for incidents and six red flags.

Rookie Agustin Canapino had to cut his practice short after some damage to his No. 78 Dallara-Chevrolet, but he was among many who emerged mostly unscathed from scrapes with the wall.

“It was honestly less carnage than I expected,” said Andretti Autosport’s Kyle Kirkwood, who was third fastest in the practice after coming off his first career IndyCar victory in the most recent street race at Long Beach in April. “I think a lot of people went off in the runoffs, but no one actually hit the wall (too hard), which actually surprised me. Hats off to them for keeping it clean, including myself.

“It was quite a bit less grip than I think everyone expected. Maybe a little bit more bumpy down into Turn 3 than everyone expected. But overall they did a good job between the two manufacturers. I’m sure everyone had pretty much the same we were able to base everything off of. We felt pretty close to maximum right away.”

Most of the preparation for this event was done either on the General Motors Simulator in Huntersville, North Carolina, or the Honda Performance Development simulator in Brownsburg, Indiana.

“Now, we have simulators that can scan the track, so we have done plenty of laps already,” Power told NBC Sports. “They have ground and resurfaced a lot of the track, so it should be smoother.

“But nothing beats real-world experience. It’s going to be a learning experience in the first session.”

As a Team Penske driver, Power and his teammates were consulted about the progress and layout of the Detroit street course. They were shown what was possible with the streets that were available.

“We gave some input back after we were on the similar what might be ground and things like that,” Power said.

Racing on the streets of Belle Isle was a fairly pleasant experience for the fans and corporate sponsor that compete in the race.

But the vibe at the new location gives this a “big event” feel.

“The atmosphere is a lot better,” Power said. “The location, the accessibility for the fans, the crowd that will be here, it’s much easier. I think it will be a much better event.

“It feels like a Long Beach, only in a much bigger city. That is what street course racing is all about.”

Because the track promoter is also the team owner, Power and teammates Scott McLaughlin and Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden will have a very busy weekend on the track, and with sponsor and personal appearances.

“That’s what pays the bills and allows us to do this,” Power said.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500