INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Dirt tracks across the Hoosier State will feature plenty of racing this week.
The 19th annual edition of USAC Indiana Midget Week begins Sunday and runs through next Sunday, June 11.
The following is the schedule for the week:
- June 4: Tri-State Speedway
- June 5: Circle City Raceway
- June 7: Gas City I-69 Speedway
- June 8: Lincoln Park Speedway
- June 9: Bloomington Speedway
- June 10: Lawrenceburg Speedway
- June 11: Kokomo Speedway
Overall, the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship drivers will be competing at seven different dirt tracks over the course of the next eight nights.
“I grew up in Washington state,” said driver Chance Crum. “And so this is always an event that I watched as a race fan.”
Crum competed in USAC Indiana Midget Week last year. He finished in second place during the race at Bloomington Speedway. This year, he would love to finish one spot higher at that track.
“Just that unsatisfying feeling of being that close,” said Crum. “I really think we were just a little bit of luck – one yellow flag away at the end – from getting that one. Having been so close, we’re definitely excited to go back and give it our best shot.”
Jacob Denney (Galloway, Oh.) currently leads the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship standings. He has a seven-point advantage over second-place driver Daison Pursley.
Buddy Kofoid enters this year’s USAC Indiana Midget Week as the two-time defending Midget Week champion. This year though the plan is for him to only race in the first four events of the week, according to a USAC Racing press release.
DETROIT (WISH) – Chip Ganassi Racing driver Alex Palou will lead the field to green for the second straight NTT IndyCar Series race.
Palou, who won the pole for the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500, will start first again in Sunday’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.
Palou’s fast lap during the Firestone Fast Six portion of Saturday qualifying was 01:01.8592 (95.734 mph).
“We started on used greens (Firestone alternate tires) that we used in the Fast 12, and it didn’t feel really good,” Palou said in a news release. “I was concerned if we were going to be able to make two laps or not, but super happy. My first pole on street course. We had a great car since the beginning.
“It’s going to be a tough day tomorrow, for sure. I got off (course) a lot in practice. We were wanting to see where the limit was. We found it. But man, it’s a crazy track.”
Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin will start alongside Palou on the first row. McLaughlin turned a fast lap of 01:02.1592 (95.271 mph) during the Firestone Fast Six.
Romain Grosjean, Scott Dixon and 2023 Indy 500 champion Josef Newgarden will start third, fourth and fifth respectively.
Sunday’s race on the streets of Detroit will begin a little after 3 p.m. EDT.
BELOIT, Wis. (WISH) – ABC Supply Co. announced Thursday that over $3 million has been donated to Homes for Our Troops.
The nonprofit’s mission is to build and donate specially adapted, custom homes nationwide for severely injured post-9/11 veterans to enable them to rebuild their lives.
The money was raised as part of a fundraiser helped by ABC Supply in conjunction with Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.
“This past weekend’s events at the Indy 500 were an incredible experience for our Veterans, including one-on-one interactions with the AJ Foyt Racing team as well as celebrating driver Santino Ferrucci’s third-place finish,” said Tom Landwermeyer, chief executive officer and president of Homes for Our Troops and a retired Army brigadier general. “We are so grateful to ABC Supply for not only hosting HFOT at the event but for raising national awareness of our mission of ‘Building Homes and Rebuilding Lives’ through both the car’s patriotic design and by matching donations throughout the month of May. Our Veterans had the experience of a lifetime, and the exposure we gained ensures we can build and donate specially adapted custom homes to many more of our nation’s most severely injured post-9/11 Veterans.”
ABC Supply donated the design the of the race car in May to raise more awareness for the HFOT organization.
“The entire AJ Foyt Racing team has been honored to represent such a wonderful organization,” said Larry Foyt, president of AJ Foyt Racing Team, in a press release. “From meeting some courageous heroes who attended the race to carrying the beautiful red, white and blue livery on Memorial Day weekend, this program has been special to our team and fans alike. We’re thrilled that we could have a fantastic finish and hopefully raise a great deal of awareness about Homes For Our Troops.”
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indianapolis 500 might be over, but the race for the IndyCar Series championship is just heating up.
“I think the fire to win the championship is burning stronger than ever for me,” Indy 500 runner-up Marcus Ericsson said.
The calendar has turned, and so have the driver’s attentions, away from the Indy 500, and onto Detroit and the race for the series championship. The Motor City’s race will be different this year, returning to downtown for the first time in over 30 years.
“The fan turnout at Belle Isle was always fantastic. Moving it properly into downtown is going to be amazing,” Alexander Rossi said. “Certainly new races are exciting for us. It levels the playing field. Everyone starts from scratch, essentially. Last time was Nashville, which was actually fairly recently, but before that, I don’t think we’ve ever been to a track that no driver had been to before, so I’m very excited.”
“I think it will be spectacular. We’re back in downtown Detroit, which I’ll miss Belle Isle, but I’m sure this one will be as cool,” Rossi’s Arrow McLaren teammate Pato O’Ward said. “Just looking forward to a new circuit. I’m curious to see that double pit lane, which we’ve never had. I think they’ll be some very good challenges, and we’re ready.”
Detroit will be a major change from the IMS oval, but just as important to win in the fight for the series championship. A mere 37 points separate the top four drivers. A win in Detroit is a 51-point boost, which could mean another standings shakeup.
“What we want is the championship, right? But there’s a long way to go,” O’Ward said. “We just have to keep doing what we’re doing. We’ve been contenders every single weekend so that’s a lot of things that we can be proud of.”
“Going to Detroit is definitely going to be fun. I’m going to try to get that win in Detroit this weekend, and then go and get that championship,” Ericsson said. “A lot to play for still. We’re excited. We’ve had a great start to the year, so we just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing and we’re going to be right there in the fight.”
Eleven races left in that fight.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A lot of famous race car drivers have come from the state of Indiana.
There are two more up-and-coming drivers who hope to add their names to that list in the near future.
“Open-wheel racing always had my heart,” said USF2000 driver Al Morey IV. “I’d watch IndyCar and Formula 1 with my dad.”
Morey is a student at Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers. He competes in USF2000 presented by Cooper Tires. That series is on the “Road to Indy” ladder.
“I’d love to be in IndyCar one day,” Morey said. “You know, some sports car racing, I wouldn’t turn down. A lot of my friends actually have done some European sports cars and some American sports cars. I think that’d be a lot of fun. But ultimately, I’d like to be in IndyCar.”
He’s not the only central Indiana student who competes in that series because Franklin Central High School’s Elliot Cox competes with Morey in USF2000.
“I started racing when I was 5 years old,” the Indianapolis high schooler said. “I originally wanted a dirt bike, but nobody in my family thought that was a good idea. So my grandpap took me to a go-kart store for the first time, bought me a go-kart and I just fell in love with it.”
Both Cox and Morey competed on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course and the Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park oval in May.
“I couldn’t be more thankful to be here,” Cox said. “Couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunities I have. I just love it.”
Morey is currently 11th in the championship standings, while Cox is one spot behind him in 12th.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indianapolis Motor Speedway does not do a yearly economic study on the money the Indianapolis 500 brings into the area, but, at the last check, the city’s tourism arm postulates this year’s total was upwards of $300 million.
Visit Indy, in some years, has found the tally has reached as high as $330 million.
Nate Swick, the senior communications manager with Visit Indy, told News 8 on Tuesday that the money spent this year would be on par with years past. “The last one they did said we bring in $300 million from this event alone, so it’s a healthy nine figures no matter if it’s that or it would be more than that if anything.”
Many amenities around the city were at capacity because of the race. “The hotels downtown are at a virtual sellout. Hotels downtown, it’s hard to get a reservation. It might take a little longer to get an Uber,” Swick said.
Surrounding counties also could benefit from tourism dollars, Swick said. “The Indianapolis 500 obviously impacts downtown more than anything else, or the town of Speedway more than anything else. But it not only impacts downtown, Speedway, but it is hard to get a hotel room in any of our suburbs. It pushes out to our doughnut counties, and most of our doughnut counties are at a virtual sellout as well.”
Swick said Indianapolis International Airport had a record-breaking weekend for air travel this year.
“This is our biggest international event of the year as well, so we get more international visitors for this event than we do for any other event year-round,” Swick said.
Swick said the team at Visit Indy describes the Indianapolis 500 as the area’s yearly Super Bowl.
“If you’re in Indianapolis during race weekend, you can feel it. It’s a great way to kick off the summer here in Indianapolis. It’s a start to that summer tourism, summer travel.”
Swick said central Indiana will get a double tourism boost next year with the NBA All-Star Game in February and then the 108th running of the Indianapolis 500 in May.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The sixth and final episode of “100 Days to Indy,” a look at the IndyCar Series during the 2023 Indianapolis 500, is set to air at 9 p.m. June 8 on WISH-TV and the CW Network.
Expect a one-hour or two-hour end to the series.
On Thursday, the hourlong series premiere will re-air on WISH-TV at 9 p.m. The premiere episode looks at the rivalry among members of Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing during the first races of the IndyCar season.
Stream earlier episodes of “100 Days to Indy” on The CW website. The finale named “The Big Dance” will be online June 9.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — It’s called “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” because the Indianapolis 500 is supposed to be one of the most dramatic and difficult races in the world.
Sure, it’s an automobile race. But it’s also very much entertainment, even if Marcus Ericsson vehemently disagrees.
The controversial ending to the 107th running of the Indy 500 gave Josef Newgarden the win, and Newgarden drives for Roger Penske, who owns the race and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. So when IndyCar went to an unprecedented one-lap shootout that allowed Newgarden to win the race, well, Ericsson was furious and conspiracy theorists went wild.
Ericsson, looking to become the first back-to-back Indy 500 winner in 21 years, was the leader when a crash brought out the yellow flag. IndyCar ran three laps under caution before deciding to throw the red flag for an Indy 500-record third time, stopping the race for cleanup for the third time in the final 16 laps.
Ericsson wanted the race to end under yellow, with the Swede declared the winner, and was furious with IndyCar’s decision to set up a 2.5-mile sprint around the track to decide the biggest race in the world.
And, if IndyCar was going to throw the red, then Ericsson felt the series wasted two laps under caution — which created the situation in which the cars came off pit road to take the green and white flags at the same time.
Some found it all a bit suspicious.
Newgarden, after all, is a featured star in “100 Days to Indy,” the docudrama about the race produced by Penske Entertainment. And he won a race at the track owned by his boss because of a ruling by race control never before seen quite the way it was executed until Sunday.
Newgarden dismissed his win being scripted or aided by the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“Where does it stop? When is it too comfortable a scenario for Roger owning the track and Roger’s car winning the race?” Newgarden told The Associated Press on Monday. “I don’t think he will ever win that battle. Someone is going to find reason, whenever, to bring us down.
“I have so much respect for Roger,” Newgarden continued. “I don’t think there’s anyone in the world who cares more about integrity than Roger Penske.”
Penske said after the race that he’s tried to divorce himself as the speedway and IndyCar owner from competition decisions that affect the series and his race team. He spent decades on the timing stand for dozens of winning Penske drivers, but since purchasing the speedway and series at the start of 2020, he has shifted his focus from competition.
Yet he noted that under Penske leadership, tradition has shifted away from purity to trying to ensure the 300,000-plus spectators see a race to the checkered flag.
“I had nothing to do with (the red flag), obviously,” Penske said. “We have a group that is certainly the officials of the track, and to me, we’ve said this before, I think all of you had said, we want to see a checkered flag, not a yellow flag.”
In 107 years, the Indy 500 has ended under the yellow flag or red flag (for rain) just 19 times, but 10 of those endings have been since 2000. Since Penske’s first 500 as owner in 2020, both last year and this year have had late red flags to set up a race to the finish.
There was no red flag in 2020, when the race ended under caution and was won by Takuma Sato as helpless Scott Dixon had to stay in line with no chance to try a late pass for the win. Dixon, a six-time IndyCar season champion but only one-time winner of the 500, said this week that the defeats that end under caution are the ones that bother him most.
IndyCar said in 2020 there weren’t enough laps remaining to stop the race for a final restart following a crash with five to go; four years later, the series now thinks two laps is enough for a red flag.
Tony Kanaan won in 2013 under caution, and even though he’s one of the most popular winners in track history, he recognized that some found the finish of his crowning achievement anticlimactic. Kanaan on Sunday sympathized with Ericsson and third-place finisher Santino Ferrucci because of the odd one-lap shootout but insisted it was best for the fans.
“Guys like Santino and Marcus are mad, and you have Josef that’s happy. But we need to think about the show,” Kanaan said. “The biggest complaint we have every year was we shouldn’t finish a race under the yellow. That’s going to hurt someone. Actually 33 guys are pissed right now and one guy is happy. That’s the reality.
“Could have they have called (the red) earlier? Yes. Could have, should have, would have, but we ended under green, and that’s what the fans kept asking us every time. I won under yellow, and everybody hated it at some point.”
Ericsson is angry — and rightfully so — but he shouldn’t be surprised that IndyCar wanted the race to end under green. His complaint actually should be how many laps were wasted before deciding to stop the race and a lack of standard guidelines from the series as to how red flags will be applied universally going forward.
CONCORD, N.C. (AP) — Jumping into the crowd to celebrate a big race victory appears to have become a Team Penske thing.
Ryan Blaney held off William Byron to win the rescheduled Coca-Cola 600 on Monday at Charlotte Speedway, giving team owner Roger Penske a sweep of the Memorial Day weekend’s top races in the United States.
Josef Newgarden won a record-extending 19th Indianapolis 500 on Sunday for Team Penske. Like Newgarden, Blaney jumped out of his car and climbed into the crowd to celebrate the win with fans.
“I only did it because Josef did it,” Blaney said. “I was pretty fired up. I don’t get that excited very often, but I was super pumped. I loved how Josef did it Sunday. … I said, ‘I am going to go in the stands like Josef did and have some human contact.’”
Blaney compared it to jumping into a mosh pit at a metal concert.
A few moments later, he tried to hold back tears with the weight of 59-race winless streak lifted from his shoulders.
“You start to get to feel like you can’t win anymore,” Blaney said. “We hadn’t won in awhile and that can get hard. I want to thank the 12 (team) for believing in me.”
Blaney took the lead from Byron on a restart and led the final 26 laps to win his first Cup Series race since the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona in August of 2021.
Byron finished second, followed by Martin Truex Jr., Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick.
Truex said Blaney’s emotions are understandable.
“He’s under a lot of pressure to perform,” Truex said. “They’ve won a lot of races since his last race. I’m sure he questioned himself through some point during that streak that he was on. He’s had many opportunities to win and they’ve slipped away. Those are the hardest to think about so he’s probably thinking, ‘we finally did it.’”
It is the first time Team Penske has swept the Indianapolis-Charlotte doubleheader.
“The pressure was on us to try to sweep the weekend,” said Blaney, who said he texted Newgarden after the Indy 500 win. “So that was the goal. Fortunately we executed well enough to get it done.”
Blaney’s win came just days before Penske hosts a weekend of racing on the downtown streets of Detroit. The return of racing in downtown Detroit is Penske’s gift to the city he calls home. Then, the 86-year-old heads to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, one of the very few events he’s yet to win.
The 5 1/2-hour race included five wrecks in the final 50 laps, including one with 26 to go when last week’s All-Star race winner Kyle Larson spun and took out defending Cup champion Joey Logano, Kyle Busch and Christopher Bell.
Blaney had passed Byron on the previous restart, and then got the jump on him again on the final restart and ran away with the checkered flag.
It was a rain-soaked weekend at Charlotte, which washed out practice and qualifying and postponed the race to Monday. That meant drivers began the race without ever having turned a lap in the NextGen cars at the 1.5-mile oval for the first time in Coca-Cola 600 history.
More rain caused the race to be red-flagged for nearly an hour after 158 laps, making the longest Cup race of the year even longer.
Defending race champion Denny Hamlin was left fuming after his day ended with a wreck on lap 186, prompting him to call for NASCAR to suspend its most popular driver Chase Elliott.
Hamlin claimed the Hendrick Motorsports driver intentionally wrecked him by hooking his right rear bumper following a dust-up earlier in the race.
“It’s a tantrum and he shouldn’t be racing next week,” Hamlin said of Elliott. “Right rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. I don’t care.”
Elliott denied intentionally wrecking Hamlin in retaliation.
Hamlin wasn’t the only one fired up.
During the rain delay television cameras caught Aric Almirola throwing punches at Wallace after the two exchanged words. Wallace refused to say what sparked the altercation, and said he wasn’t surprised at what unfolded.
“When you walk around with two faces, that’s what you get,” Wallace said.
Johnson’s team struggles
It was a rough night for Jimmie Johnson and his new Legacy Motor Club team.
After saying he has never been more ill-prepared for a race due to his inexperience in the NextGen car, Johnson spun out on lap 78 in a single-car crash. He took his No. 84 Chevy behind the wall a few laps later and was joined by there by Legacy teammates Erik Jones and Noah Gragson, who suffered radiator damage.
After Johnson returned, he crashed into Gragson and spun out a second time and went behind the wall again. He finished last.
“I think I learned a lesson with this aero package that I didn’t know about,” Johnson said. “Much different than the car I have driven in the past.”
Harvick’s last run
Kevin Harvick finished 11th in his final Coca-Cola 600.
Harvick, who is retiring after the season, won the race in 2011 and 2013. He started Monday’s race on the front row, but quickly fell back to the mid-20s and was never a major factor in the race.
The Cup Series heads to Madison, Illinois, on Sunday, where 2022 Cup champion Joey Logano outdueled Kyle Busch in overtime to win the inaugural race at World Wide Technology Raceway.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Josef Newgarden celebrated his first Indianapolis 500 win Sunday night.
He cashed in Monday at the race’s annual victory dinner.
The two-time IndyCar champ earned a record $3.666 million for the biggest win of his career, an increase of more than $500,000 over last year’s race winner, Marcus Ericsson. Newgarden’s win also extended Team Penske’s record total to 19.
Indy’s total purse of $17,021,500 also broke last year’s mark by more than $1 million.
Race organizers estimated more than 330,000 attended the race. It was the second-largest race-day crowd since 2000 though actual attendance figures are not announced.
“This is the greatest race in the world, and it was an especially monumental month of May featuring packed grandstands and intense on-track action,” Penske Entertainment President and CEO Mark Miles said in a statement. “Now, we have the best end card possible for the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500: a record-breaking purse for the history books.”
Ericsson took home $1.043 million as the runner-up after coming up just short to be the first back-to-back 500 winner since Helio Castroneves in 2001-02. If the race finished under yellow instead of a final lap restart, Ericsson would have collected an additional $420,000 from BorgWarner. Ericsson is in a contract year with Chip Ganassi Racing and has said he would like to stay with the team.
Benjamin Pedersen continued A.J. Foyt Enterprises big month as he was selected as the race’s rookie of the year. He collected $215,300, including a $50,000 bonus for the award. Pedersen’s teammate, Santino Ferrucci, made the six-car pole shootout and finished third in the race — the best showing by a Foyt driver since 1999.
Ferrucci is the only driver who has completed all 200 laps and posted a top-10 finish in each of the past five 500s.
The average payout for Sunday’s race was $500,600, which also topped last year’s average by more than $15,000.