The month of May has arrived and that means some of the biggest races of the season are getting near. During the month we get treated to the All-Star Race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, followed the next week by NASCAR’s longest race the Coca-Cola 600. Prior to the 600, we get treated to the Greatest Spectacle in Racing with the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the IZOD IndyCar Series.
Let’s start with the Indy 500 and what is on tap for the month with practice and qualifying. Here is the schedule for the IndyCar Series leading up to their longest race of the season as well:
5-14 Opening Day
5-15 through 5-19 Indianapolis 500 Practice
5-20 Fast Friday Practice
5-21 Pole Day (First 24 Spots Filled)
5-22 Bump Day (Spots 25 – 33 Filled)
5-27 Miller Lite Carb Day (Final Practice and Pit Stop Competition)
5-29 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race (12:00 PM Eastern on ABC)
Indianapolis is always an exciting event to follow during the month. Over the last couple of years, some of the qualifying days and practice days have been shaved off of the schedule. Although these days have been reduced, the excitement this year should be second to none.
Forty two cars at this time have been entered for the event. With only 33 spots available, Bump Day should be on every race fans must watch. Now I realize that Bump Day is an entire day’s event. If you cannot attend in person, I would recommend tuning in for first part of the day when the field is finally filled, and then tune in for the last 60 to 90 minutes to watch the drama unfold.
So what do I see coming for the 100th Anniversary of the Indy 500? I see this race being one of the most competitive we have seen in some time. I also see the days leading up the race being extremely competitive as well. I also look forward to seeing some of the surprises that usually come along with May in Indy. I would not be surprised to see Sam Hornish Jr. pacing around the paddock at some point during the month. I am not going to say he is in a car, but I think there will be cameras and speculation he might climb in.
I also look forward to the story that no one sees coming. That story can be like Herdanicaship (A.K.A. Danica Patrick) last year blaming everyone for a lack of speed but herself. There is also the opposite story where someone not expected to have a lot speed is near the top of the charts. There are also so many opportunities to destroy cars, I look forward to see who pushes it over the edge and finds a piece of the safer barrier.
Be sure to check back at www.troubleinturntwo.com for frequent updates from all the action at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Frequent commenter and occasional writer Dave will be bringing all the action to the site directly from the track. Also follow @troublinturntwo on Twitter for at the track updates.
The Sprint Cup Series gave us an interesting race at Richmond last weekend. For the life of me, I cannot figure out Jeff Gordon this year. One week his car looks like a top five car all race, the next week they cannot find the handle on the car if their own lives depended on it. Gordon had a great car last week and watched it all evaporate into the backstretch wall. The wreck was his own doing for not backing out of a three wide situation on a short track. I can understand why he was aggressive and did not back out, but he had the car to make it back towards the front if he had backed out. Gordon is officially on notice at this point in the season. If he plans on making The Chase, a couple more wins and consistent top ten finishes are going to be needed prior to returning to Richmond.
Ryan Newman and Juan Pablo Montoya had an interesting weekend. They both seemed to have magnets in their cars that pulled them towards each other all night long. Each of them took the opportunity to make sure neither car would end the race in a good finishing position. I rather enjoy when two drivers decided that they are going to get payback on each other. Some higher speed tracks are coming, so not sure the feud will continue in the immediate future, but look for bumping and banging out of them again in the near future.
Safer barriers around race track walls have been a great innovation to reduce the risk of injury when a car crashes. I have a quick comment that I have noticed over time since the barriers have been installed. I cannot understand why any walls that are part of the race track where cars are at speed are not lined with the safer barrier. If cars are going at green flag speeds, those cars can end up anywhere in the wall on the track. Just ask Jeff Gordon and the fact that he seems to find all the places on race tracks where the safer barrier is not located. Hopefully in the future we will see the barrier on all wall surfaces at all tracks.
Here are a couple of quick news and notes for the end of this post. Trevor Bayne is unlikely to race this weekend at Darlington. Bayne continues to be hospitalized at the Mayo Clinic in order to determine what may be causing his illness. The IndyCar owners voted unanimously this week to wait until 2013 to implement the new car bodies in the series. Will Power won the postponed Sao Paulo race on Monday morning in Brazil. Power equaled his win total in the first four races from last year with his second win.
Check back with us on Friday morning for the weekend What to Watch For. Have a great rest of the week, and I am already looking forward to the weekend.