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INDYCAR, NASCAR doubleheader at Indy

July 3, 2020

This weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) marks the first time in the history of the historic track that NASCAR and INDYCAR will share the bill. They’ll do it alone, though, without fans and with minimal media coverage – again.

The NTT IndyCar Series will conduct their GMR Grand Prix, the second race in a protracted season just after noon Saturday, July 4th, on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile clockwise road course. The road-course race was initially scheduled for the first weekend of May, another tradition lost to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

Little more than an hour after the Indy cars have completed their 80-lap contest, the open-wheel set cedes the circuit to NASCAR’s Xfinity Series, using the same road-course track for their triple-stage Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard. The Xfinity road race is a first for NASCAR’s second-tier stock car series and this race marks the first time since the series returned to action that practice will be permitted, a wise move considering NASCAR’s lack of experience on the IMS road course.

On Sunday afternoon, NASCAR’s Cup Series takes over on the historic 2.5-mile counter-clockwise oval for the 27th time, contesting a 160-lap, three-stage Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 powered by Big Machine Records. This 400-mile race marks the first time NASCAR’s Cup Series has raced at Indy on the July 4th weekend.

For the NTT IndyCar Series, the GMR Grand Prix is only the second race for the series this year; the first occurred nearly a month ago at Texas Motor Speedway. The GMR Grand Prix begins a summer rush and features some returning and new faces, both in terms of drivers and teams.

The team to beat, of course, is Team Penske, whose drivers Will Power and Simon Pagenaud are the only two that have won on this IMS road course. Pagenaud secured the first Indy Grand Prix victory while driving for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in 2014; he swept the month of May last year with Team Penske, earning both poles and wins in the Grand Prix and Indianapolis 500.

There are 26 cars entered in this race, which marks the return of Dreyer & Reinbold (Sage Karam in the No. 24 Chevy) and Spencer Pigot, racing for the new Citrone Buhl Autosport Honda team that’s aligned its efforts with Rahal Letterman Lanigan (RLL) Racing. Familiar faces and new ones abound on this entry list, one that includes rookie Dalton Kellett in the venerable No. 14 A.J. Foyt Racing Chevy, Conor Daly’s first drive for Ed Carpenter Racing (No. 20 Chevy), James Hinchcliffe in the Genesys Andretti Autosport Honda and Max Chilton taking the reins of the No. 59 Carlin Chevy.

In NASCAR, everyone will be chasing two drivers who have stood apart from the pack since the series resumed its on-track action a month and a half ago. That would be Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick, a Toyota and Ford driver, respectively. Both racers won at Pocono last weekend during the doubleheader plagued by rain delays; Harvick is looking to notch back-to-back victories on the Brickyard oval, while Hamlin leads the series with four victories in 15 races.

The Brickyard race marks seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson’s final opportunity to tie former teammate Jeff Gordon with five wins at Indy. Johnson, who’s had miserable luck this protracted season, is scheduled to test a Chip Ganassi Racing Indy car on the Wednesday after this race, in anticipation of perhaps contesting the Indianapolis 500 after his NASCAR career is complete.

As is customary, the weather will play a big part in the happenings at Indianapolis this weekend. There is a 40% chance of afternoon thunderstorms on Saturday and, unless they’re severe, the Xfinity drivers may have the opportunity to race in the rain, an anomaly for NASCAR. Otherwise we can expect hot, muggy conditions. Sure sounds typical for Indy in the summer.

By Anne Proffit

From → Uncategorized

5 Comments
  1. Geez wouldn’t it be something to actually be there and watch this theatre?
    dRU

  2. Yeah, but I was not one of the 12 media invited to be part of it. I had hoped to cover the INDYCAR race and next week’s NHRA nearby, but instead will work two weekends of drag racing on July 11-12 and 18-19.

  3. True but it would have been nice to experience both series….

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