INDIANAPOLIS – On Wednesday, 28 NTT IndyCar Series drivers will take to the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a crucial open test in preparation for the May 26 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 (11 a.m. ET/NBC/IndyCar Radio Network).
The drivers that are scheduled to test are seven past winners (Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan, Will Power, Alexander Rossi, Takuma Sato) and seven Indy Car series champions (Sebastien Bourdais, Dixon, Hunter-Reay, Kanaan, Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Power). Two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso also is expected to turn laps.
This test though is going to be largely beneficial to everyone involved. See, the series is trying to make the racing closer again. Last year, wasn’t as close as they would have liked it to be. With the new car that was supposed to make the racing closer, the ‘500 actually went backwards.
Prior to the DW12 aerokit being introduced in 2012, the most lead changes in Indy 500 history was 29 in 1960. But, over the past seven years, we’ve seen at least 30 lead changes in each race.
Under the new car from 2012 through 2014, we saw some of the most competitive Indy 500’s in history. There were 34 lead changes in 2012 and again in 2014 but a race record of 68 sandwiched in between in 2013. Then, came the manufacturer specific aero kits from 2015 through 2017 which produced 37,54 and 35 lead changes respectively.
Last year, with that new car, there were 30 lead changes, most coming on pit sequences.
Some blamed the weather, others cited not just the weather but the way the downforce was taken off of the cars and moved to the bottom of the machines themselves. IndyCar and IMS wants the racing to get closer again and have tried adjustments between this year and last to make that happen. That’s why Wednesday’s test is key to get back to that.
The test will take place from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. (ET) on the 2.5-mile oval. Veterans will be on track from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., with Rookie Orientation Program and refresher tests from 1-3 p.m. and all participants on track from 3-6 p.m.
The Turn 2 Viewing Mounds will be open for public viewing.
Testing will be streamed on indycar.com, the NTT IndyCar Series Facebook page and Periscope. Announcers for the test are Kevin Lee, Anders Krohn, Robin Miller and Katie Hargitt.
The lineup of NTT IndyCar Series teams and drivers scheduled to participate
AJ Foyt Racing – Tony Kanaan, Matheus Leist Andretti Autosport – Conor Daly, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi, Zach Veach Andretti Herta Autosport with Marco Andretti & Curb-Agajanian – Marco Andretti Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports – Marcus Ericsson, James Hinchcliffe Carlin – Max Chilton, Charlie Kimball Chip Ganassi Racing – Scott Dixon, Felix Rosenqvist Dale Coyne Racing – Santino Ferrucci Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan – Sebastien Bourdais Dreyer & Reinbold Racing – Sage Karam Ed Carpenter Racing – Ed Carpenter, Ed Jones, Spencer Pigot Harding Steinbrenner Racing – Colton Herta Meyer Shank Racing with Arrow SPM – Jack Harvey McLaren Racing – Fernando Alonso Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing – Graham Rahal, Takuma Sato Team Penske – Helio Castroneves, Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power