INDIANAPOLIS – On Wednesday (April 24, 2019) 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).
Among 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 in his No. 66 Chevrolet too.
This test though is largely going to be beneficial to everyone involved. See, the series is trying to make the racing closer again. The reason is because last year’s race wasn’t as close as they would have preferred it to be. With the new car that was debuted for the 2018 season and beyond, it was supposed to make the racing even closer. Unfortunately, the ‘500 actually went backwards.
Prior to the DW12 aerokit being introduced in 2012, the most lead changes in Indy 500 history was 29 back in 1960. But, over the past seven years, we’ve seen at least 30 lead changes in each race.
With the DW12 car from 2012 through 2014, we saw some of the most competitive Indy 500’s in the rich history of the event. 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, the race was supposed to rival those before it. Instead, there were 30 lead changes, most of which coming on pit sequences.
Some blamed the weather for that. 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 heard all the complaints and took the data that they received a year ago and have worked the last 10 months of making the action closer. That’s why Wednesday’s test is so crucial because it’s the first real chance to see if the changes made work.
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