The Indy cars practice from 11 to noon. This is normally the last chance to setup the car for the race. Although it is perfect weather today, the teams are looking ahead to what the weather will be like for Sunday, where rain is still in the forecast. Most drivers have commented that Sunday's temperatures will be much cooler.
The Indy Lights will run the Freedom 100 at 12:30 today. Reba McEntire, the mother of Shelby Blackstock, will be singing the National Anthem before the start. Blackstock will be driving the number 51 entry for Belardi Auto Racing and starts on the outside of row 5 today.
The annual TAG Heuer Indianapolis 500 Pit Stop Competition on Miller Lite Carb Day pits over-the-wall crews in a head-to-head, drag race-style event Friday with teams vying to claim the winner’s share of $50,000 from a total purse of $100,000.
In addition to the purse, participating crew members are eligible for individual awards from sponsors such as Firestone, Spyder, Lenovo and NAPA Auto Parts/Carlyle Tools.
“It’s a great way for the pit crews, the unsung heroes of IndyCar racing, to showcase their talents and skills on a stage of their own," said Jay Frye, INDYCAR’s president of competition and operations. “It isn’t just about the driver in this competition. Just like the race, you have to be on your game every stop or you’ll be knocked out."
In a new twist, the final round will be a best-of-three showdown to claim the United Race Parts Golden Gun given to the winning team. Teams will change lanes between rounds. Lane choice is determined by the team with the fastest time in the semifinals, while the team with the best time in the final will have lane choice if there is a winner-take-all third round.
“If you’re the fastest, it won’t matter what lane you’re in," Frye said. “You’ll sweep the finals."
Six teams qualified based on performance during the 2016 season and 2017 races prior to the Indianapolis 500. Each earned automatic bids into the quarterfinals. Those teams are: the No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team of James Hinchcliffe; No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing team of Ed Carpenter; the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team of Graham Rahal; No. 28 Andretti Autosport team of Ryan Hunter-Reay; No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing team of Scott Dixon and the No. 12 Team Penske team of Will Power.
The remaining four teams were invited based on being the second-highest-ranked team of a full-time entrant or an Indianapolis 500 competitor. Those four will meet in the first round with defending champion, the No. 3 Team Penske team of Helio Castroneves meeting the No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team of Sage Karam in one first-round matchup and the No. 83 Chip Ganassi Racing team of Charlie Kimball meeting Mikhail Aleshin’s No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team in the other matchup.
Team Penske and Castroneves beat Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Aleshin to win the competition in 2016. It was the eighth time in 16 starts that Penske and Castroneves have won the event.
Jimmy Vasser and his business partner in racing, James 'Sully' Sullivan, are at the race track looking at their next opportunity in the racing world. The former IndyCar team owners are regrouping and looking at their options before getting back into some form of racing. Vasser also owns the V12 Winery in The Sonoma valley, which he said is doing quite well selling his products.
AR1 will keep you updated throughout the day.
Lucille Dust reporting live from Indianapolis