CP MOTORSPORTS: TOP STORYLINES HEADED INTO SUNDAY'S INDY 500
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After nearly a three-month delay, it’s finally Indy 500 race week. For the first time in history, the historic race will take place outside of the month of May.
Restrictions on large gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic forced the event to be postponed for nearly three months, and are also why the race will take place without spectators for the first time in history.
While these changes are unfortunate, make no mistake, 33 cars will still race for 500 miles on the most historic racecourse in the world. Sunday’s Indy 500 will still live up to its title as ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’.
Below are the top storylines heading into the 104th running Indy 500:
An End of the Andretti Curse? - The Andretti name may be synonymous with the Indy 500, but only once has a member of the famous racing family actually won the event.
Mario did so in 1969, and ever since the family has experienced bad luck. From mechanical failures to crashes and even a last-lap pass, the Andrettis have seen it all.
However, Marco Andretti, Mario’s grandson, looks to finally end the curse.
Last Sunday, Marco became the first Andretti to win the pole at Indy since Mario did so in 1987.
Like his grandfather and father Michael, Marco has experienced his own share of bad luck at Indy. In 2006, he was leading the race with one lap remaining only to be passed by Sam Hornish Jr. on the last lap.
Marco has not experienced the same level of racing success as his father and grandfather, but a win at Indy would forever change his life.
The Roger Penske Era Begins - Team Penske made their Indy 500 debut in 1969, and since then they have gone on to win the prestigious event a record 18 times. After 50 years of figuratively owning the speedway, team owner Roger Penske became the literal owner of IMS this January by purchasing the facility from the Hulman-George family.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly thrown a wrench at the 2020 IndyCar schedule, Penske’s business successes and passion for the series ensure the sport is in good hands.
However, all four Penske drivers will have their work cut out for them if any of them hope to score the team’s 19th Indy victory this year. Defending IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden qualified the highest out of Penske’s four starters in Sunday’s race and will roll off from the 13th position.
Same Car, New Look - All 33 cars competing in this year’s race will look a bit different than they have in years past.
Starting this season, all cars competing in any IndyCar Series event are required to utilize a new cockpit protection system called the Aeroscreen.
The new canopy-like safety device was developed by Red Bull Advanced Technologies and Dallara and protects each driver’s head and upper torso from flying debris.
While the Aeroscreen has changed the appearance of the cars, drivers have praised its addition, stating that it does not affect visibility or how the cars drive.
Fernando’s Baaaaack - Fernando Alonso will forever be known as a two-time Formula One World Champion, but over the last few years, he has dipped his feet in other forms of motorsport.
The Spaniard won back-to-back 24 Hours of Le Mans titles in 2018 and 2019 and also won the 24 Hours of Daytona last year. This January, Alonso competed in the Dakar Rally for the first time, finishing 13th in his class.
While this year’s Indy 500 will be Alonso’s third attempt at conquering the Brickyard, it will be only his second time actually competing in the race. Last year, Alonso embarrassingly failed to qualify for the race after a disastrous month of May.
Locked into the field this year, Alonso hopes for a strong finish in what may be his final Indy 500 for the foreseeable future. He returns to Formula One next season with Renault, a team that does not want him participating in “outside distractions” while competing for them. Alonso starts 26th in Sunday’s race.
Where to Watch - Race coverage of the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 begins this Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on NBC, with the green flag scheduled to wave at 2:30 p.m. ET.
When NASCAR returns to Richmond Raceway (Richmond) for three days of racing with all three national series on Sept. 10-12, fans will not be in attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. #RoundyRoundNews - https://t.co/Mac4wbo1so pic.twitter.com/bHJQ2Wo15E— CircleTrackPlus (@CircleTrackPlus) August 21, 2020