IndyCar »

Indy 500 preview: what's in store in May

Today sees the rookies on track for the first time at Indianapolis, ahead of the official Indy 500 "Opening Day" on Saturday. Here's a preview of the next two weeks of activity.
The American motor sports fans do love naming their "days": from Opening Day to Pole Day, then Bump Day to Carb Day and finally Race Day itself, there's a lot of activity in store over the next 17 days at Indianapolis Motor Speedway before the race itself on Sunday May 27.

Although "Opening Day" is the first day that the Speedway is opened up to all the teams for on-track activity, there have already been a series of events at the facility, starting with the track being used for part of the route of a local mini-marathon through the streets of the city of Indianapolis last Saturday.

Things get down to earth with more serious business from today, Thursday May 10, with the Rookie Orientation and Refresher Program. This is the first on-track action for the Indy 500 rookies and those who haven't run in the race for a while who are bidding to make the starting grid in the coming week. IndyCar officials have to 'sign off' the rookies as oval-worthy before they are eligible to take part in qualifying, but if they run out of time on Thursday then they can still complete the final ROP stage during normal practice sessions the following week.

There are eight rookie drivers listed, including F1 veterans Rubens Barrichello and Jean Alesi. Former Champ Car drivers Katherine Legge and Simon Pagenaud are also Indy 500 rookies, as are Josef Newgarden, Bryan Clauson and Wade Cunningham despite their Firestone Indy Lights series experience at Indianapolis in previous years. The eighth rookie, James Jakes completed ROP in 2011, although he did not qualify for the race itself; usually recertification is not required in such instances, but Jakes is also listed to undergo ROP again in 2012.

Champ Car veteran Michel Jourdain Jr. will be on the refresher program as he hasn't competed in the Indy 500 since 1996, and Sebastien Bourdais is in a similar position having not raced on the speedway since 2005.

After ROP is concluded on the Thursday, Friday then allows the Firestone Indy Lights teams their first taste of IMS with a five hour open test session ahead of the Firestone Freedom 100 support race in a fortnight.

Opening Day itself on Saturday, May 12 sees all the IndyCar teams eligible to take to the track for the first time from noon until 6pm (local time.) That will allow the drivers to get used to the Speedway, and let the teams start dialling in the car to the track conditions.

The rest of the week continues to see the track open every day between noon and 6pm for IndyCar practice, with the morning period being used for Indy Experience two-seater and pace car rides. Last year the week of practice was badly hit by rain which lost the teams a lot of track time and resulted in an outbreak of 'planking' by drivers frustrated and literally bored stuff by the conditions. This year, the question will be how much running the teams want to undertake given the restrictions on engine usage for the season.

Fast Friday on May 18 is when the main contingent of race fans start arriving and the stands fill up with spectators for the final six-hour practice session, which is usually when the teams are fine-tuning their qualifying pace and therefore should see some of the fastest laps of the week so far.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
A violent but brief thunderstorm caused the suspension of Bump Day qualifying just 10 minutes into the afternoon`s proceedings at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 22 2011. [Picture credit: John Cote for IndyCar Media]
A typical American way of closing proceedings. [Picture credit: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media]
The start of the 2011 Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 29. [Picture credit: Larry Seidman for IndyCar Media]
Dan Wheldon crosses the finish line to win his second Indy 500. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Sunday May 29, 2011. [Picture credit: LAT Photo USA for IndyCar Media]
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Hawk Performance Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to an 11th-place finish Sunday, August 2, 2015, during the Verizon IndyCar Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. Montoya retains the overall driver`s championship points lead with two races left in the season. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to an fourth-place finish Sunday, August 2, 2015, during the Verizon IndyCar Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 PPG Finishes Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to a third-place finish Sunday, August 2, 2015, during the Verizon IndyCar Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 PPG Finishes Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his third-place finish Sunday, August 2, 2015, during the Verizon IndyCar Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Graham Rahal leads a group through the Turn 2 Keyhole turn during the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal and his father, Bobby, celebrate in Victory Circle following their win in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Podium celebrations for Graham Rahal and Justin Wilson after the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Podium celebrations for Graham Rahal, Justin Wilson and Simon Pagenaud after the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal sprays the champagne in Victory Lane following his victory in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal wins the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal begins the celebration as he wins the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay waits in his pit stand prior to practice for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay rolls down pit lane for practice for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates having the fastest qualifying time Saturday, August 1, 2015, winning the pole for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. Dixon set a track record of 1:04.5814/125.869 mph. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.




© 1999 - 2015 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.