Friday, May 19, 2023

INDY 500: Who’ll Qualify for “the Greatest Race?”

And will it be “The Agony of Defeat” for somebody unexpected? Or fairly straightforward for who’s gonna miss the Show?


Since your Humble No Fenders Scribe Tomaso is a terribly slow t-y-p-er… I began my “Handicapping” of this year’s Indianapolis 500 field just days before what I prefer calling the “Guns ‘N Roses” Indy GP! Which is officially known as the GMR Indy Grand Prix.


Having read Racer’s Marshall Pruett’s piece upon Abel Motorsports efforts to make their maiden Indianapolis 500. The Team’s Manager John Brunner was saying All of the right things. And I’m fairly convinced that Abel Motorsports and R.C. Enderson will make this year’s field!


As Brunner notes that they’ve got a separate, dedicated veteran Indy 500 crew, including Engineer Mike Colliver, who previously guided A.J. foyt’s Sebastien Bourdais and Kyle Kirkwood’s entries.


And the team’s had Neil Enerson’s Dallara DW12 racecar, which previously ran in Oval and Road Course trim with Top gun Racing having received No upgrades since 2021. Has just receive it’s first Speedway Body-fit, along with new Speedway Uprights, Gearbox and Chevrolet engine updates. So I believe that the No. 50 is ready to “rock ‘N Roll!”


For my Off thee Cuff, First Take. Ill say that it’s two other Rookies who are on the proverbial “Hot Seat.” Mainly A.J. foyt enterprises Benjamin Pedersen and Juncos Hollinger Racing’s (JHR) Augustin Canapino. While I’ll expect JHR to have solved Canapino’s teammate Callum Ilott’s chassis issues from the Open Test.


I’d also say that Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s (RLLR) Katherine Legge is a possibility for Not making the Show. For which I could add RLLR teammate Jack Harvey to this list


Also suppose that Sting Ray Robb could potentially struggle at Mother Speedway? Whilst we’re All Ah-Waitin’ to see who’ll be the surprise having issues this year. But cannot say I exactly like trying to predict who’ll be packing Thar suitcases this May?


Practice Begins, Sorta…

Whale’ lookie Thar Folks, it’s Mother Nature at the very top of the scoring pylon for the first day of Official Indianapolis 500 Practice, Shuhzamm! As rain washed out the long anticipated yearly running of racing cars Turnin’ Left at Mother Speedway…


Prior to Tuesday’s washout, I did learn that with the permission of IMS and Chevrolet’s assistance. Abel Motorsports had their 2.2-litre twin turbocharger V-6 Bowtie’ lump’ installed on Thursday prior to the Indy GP, and successfully fired the Chevy motor Thursday night!


And with No Disrespect to Top gun Racing, Abel Motorsports just feels like a far better prepared effort that I still expect to Qualify for this year’s Indy 500.


Practice Commences

One day later, Speedway, Indiana saw bright, clear skies, with R. C. enersen passing His Rookie Orientation Program Wednesday morning, before the entire 34 Grid took to the day’s six Hours of practice. But what do the speeds really mean?


Not surprisingly, Scott Dixon hung around the top of the Time Sheets until Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) teammate Takuma Sato bumped Him off of P1 with a lap of 229.439mph late in the day. As CGR would have All four entries in the Top-10, with Alex Palou fourth and Marcus Ericsson seventh. Followed by Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin fifth and Josef Newgarden ninth, and Andretti Autosport Colton Herta sixth and Marco Andretti tenth. With two surprises, seeing A. J. Foyt’s Santino Ferrucci third and Dryer & Reinbold’s Ryan Hunter-Reay P8.


So what were the Arrow McLaren Boyz’ up to? Since Alexander Rossi was quickest in P19 with Pato O’Ward P20. Followed by Tony Kanaan in 23rd and Felix Rosenqvist 26th. While Foyt’s Benjamin Pedersen was 21st (225.480mph) and Junco Hollinger Racing’s (JHR) Agustin Canapino was P22. (225.127) Both ahead of the latter two McLaren’s!


Also funny how in the battle of the two 48yr Old Brazilian’s, i.e.; Kanaan and Helio Castroneves, Tony won the day’s battle with Castroneves being 24th.


Slowest of the day was JHR’s Callum Ilott in 34th, with a speed of 223.409mph. As I caught Ilott telling IndyCar Radio’s Ryan Marin when tuning in briefly. That the first two runs were still “somewhat sketchy”, but now He felt they had a handle on the car and could start working forwards.


R. C. enersen was one position ahead of Ilott. (224.017) Whilst oddly Ed Carpenter was 28th. And Romain Grosjean was P30 (224.550) with Christian Lundgaard P32, (224.300) split by Katherine Legge at 224.461mph.


Day 2’s Practice saw many of the same faces in the Top-10, with All four of the CGR boyz’ Thar again. This time with Marcus Ericsson’s 229.607mph being the day’s quickest speed. Followed by Dixon in second, seemingly lurking! Sato P7 and Palou ninth. The only other team with multiple drivers in the Top-10 was Arrow McLaren. With Pato O’Ward eight and Alexander Rossi, who ran the most laps with 164 being thenth.


Surprises of the day have to be Meyer shank Racing’s Simon Pagenaud in third, with Ed Carpenter Racing’s Conor Daly winding up sixth. With Penske’s Will Power (fourth) and Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta (fifth) sandwiched in-between.


Still have Zero idea if it means anything? But the day’s Slowest five cars were: ECR’s Rinus VeeKay, (225.028mph) and Ed Carpenter (224.906) P30-31. JHR’s Callum Ilott 32nd, (224.727) followed by DRR/Cusick Motorsports Stefan Wilson at 224.673mph and RLLR’s Katherine Legge last at 223.934mph.


Abel Motorsports R. C. Enersen was an impressive 28th at 225.112mph. Ahead of Andretti Autosport’s Devlin DeFrancesco (P29) and the other five slowest competitors!  


Whilst it’s worth noting that Legge was P14 on the “No Tow” list I believe. Which represents car speed without the Aerodynamic Tow once gets when running in a draft behind a pack of cars.


And now it’s time for Faux, err Fast Friday, when speeds are Artificially Inflated due to turning up the Boost! Albeit weather permitting…