Main storylines going into IndyCar Harvest GP weekend

The INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR and Indianapolis 8-Hour event are 1.5 weeks away – Oct. 1-4 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The event consists of two races for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, on Friday, Oct. 2 and Saturday, Oct. 3, and an eight-hour endurance race for the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli and its North American counterpart, GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS, on Sunday, Oct. 4.

The event also will showcase sports car drivers in SRO America’s Pirelli GT4 America, GT Sports Club America and the TC America series.

Welcome back, fans

Fans will be welcomed to a race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time in 2020 during the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR event weekend. Up to 10,000 spectators can be in the grandstands each day of racing action Oct. 1-4, per approval from the Marion County Public Health Department.

No fans last time

The massive facility, which holds more than 300,000 people, will provide two spectator zones with up to 5,000 fans in each. The zones will be located in Turns 1 and 4 of the oval, offering strong sight lines of the road course. Strict health and safety rules will be in place, including mandatory face coverings, temperature screenings before gate entry, social distancing in grandstands and other areas, and more.

Facility improvements

Fans who attend the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR event weekend will see a host of improvements made to the 111-year-old IMS facility this year since Roger Penske purchased the track.

Roger Penske has put his touch on the Speedway

Among the countless improvements that fans will enjoy during this weekend will be refreshed restrooms and concession stands, 5G connectivity and widened ingress and egress areas on Georgetown Road running parallel to the front straightaway of the oval.

Fall races

History will be made during the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR event weekend, as a major auto racing event will take place in October for the first time in the 111-year history of IMS.

The Harvest Classic, United States Grand Prix Formula One and Big Machine 400 at the Brickyard races all have taken place in past years during September on the IMS oval or road course. The Red Bull Indianapolis GP MotoGP event also raced in September at IMS.

But among major events, only the Red Bull Air Race World Championship for acrobatic airplanes has competed at the Racing Capital of the World during the cool, crisp, colorful days of October.

INDYCAR title up for grabs (Dixon a shoo-in)

The championship race for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES will continue to charge down the homestretch at the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR, as Scott Dixon will try to hold off his closest pursuers and either clinch or close in on his sixth series title.

Dixon leads reigning champion Josef Newgarden by 72 points, with Pato O’Ward 128 points behind Dixon in third. There’s plenty of opportunity for Dixon to gain or lose ground with two races scheduled on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course.

Scott Dixon won the GMR GP this tear at the Speedway

There are 54 points maximum available to a driver at each NTT INDYCAR SERIES race outside the double-points Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. So, with just the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Oct. 25 remaining on the schedule after the INDYCAR Harvest GP, Dixon will clinch the championship with a lead of 55 points or more after this weekend.

The mission is tough but not hopeless for two-time series champion Newgarden. He trimmed 24 points from Dixon’s lead during the Honda Indy 200 doubleheader weekend Sept. 12-13 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

King of the road

Scott Dixon won the first NTT INDYCAR SERIES race of 2020 at IMS, the GMR Grand Prix on July 4. It was one of the three straight victories with which he opened the season, as Dixon has never trailed in the championship standings.

Dixon could earn the rare distinction of being the first NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver to win three races in one year at the Racing Capital of the World with a sweep of the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR doubleheader.

Scott Dixon collects his 50th IndyCar win

Multiple INDYCAR races only have taken place in the same season at IMS since 2014, when the GMR Grand Prix joined the annual schedule along with the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge at the world’s most famous racetrack. Team Penske teammates Will Power and Simon Pagenaud swept the Grand Prix and “500” in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

The schedule shuffle created by the COVID-19 pandemic placed three INDYCAR events at IMS this season, giving Dixon the chance to make history with three wins in the same year at the Brickyard. Takuma Sato won the Indy 500 on Aug. 23, and he also could be the first three-time winner in one season at IMS among NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers with a sweep of the INDYCAR Harvest GP.

NTT INDYCAR SERIES star Colton Herta won all three Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires races in May 2018 at IMS, with two races on the road course and the Freedom 100 on the oval. Indianapolis native Johnny Aitken swept the Harvest Classic on Sept. 9, 1916, a single event comprised of three races. That event inspired the name of the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR.

Welcome back, Seb

One of the most popular veterans of INDYCAR racing will return to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES at the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR, as Sebastien Bourdais will drive the fabled No. 14 Chevrolet for AJ Foyt Racing.

Bourdais won four consecutive Champ Car titles from 2004-07 and was a mainstay and race winner in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES after nearly two seasons in Formula One. He will make his first INDYCAR start of 2020 with Foyt’s team in the doubleheader on the IMS road course and will drive for the team in the season-ending Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Oct. 25 in advance of a full season behind the wheel of Foyt’s car in 2021.

Sebastien Bourdais poses for a photo. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Frenchman Bourdais has produced three fourth-place finishes (2014, 2015, 2018) in six career INDYCAR starts on the IMS road course. He also won the inaugural Rolex Sports Car Series race at IMS in 2012, sharing a Riley-Ford Daytona Prototype with Alex Popow.

Tune in: With spectator attendance reduced for the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR due to the COVID-19 pandemic, fans are encouraged to tune in to watch or listen to both races if they can’t make it to the track. TV coverage plans for the weekend include a network TV showcase for the second day of INDYCAR action.

Race 1 will be televised on the USA Network at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Friday, Oct. 2, with Race 2 on NBC at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3. The Pennzoil INDYCAR Radio Network also will have live coverage of both races.

Briscoe’s back

One name on the Indianapolis 8 Hour entry list will be very familiar to Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indianapolis 500 fans – Ryan Briscoe.

2012 Indy 500 pole winner Briscoe, formerly a Team Penske driver in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, will share the No. 6 Vital Speed Ferrari 488 GT3 in the eight-hour endurance race.

Ryan Briscoe

This will be Round 2 of the 2020 Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli. The season opened Jan. 31-Feb. 2 at the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour in Australia. Two rounds remain after the IMS race, the Total 24 Hours of Spa on Oct. 22-25 in Belgium and the Kyalami 9 Hour on Dec. 10-12 in South Africa.

Long haul

The Indianapolis 8 Hour will feature the longest major race in the 111-year history of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as GT sports car teams will compete in an event governed by eight hours on the clock and not a lap count.

Ray Harroun won the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911 in a race that took six hours, 42 minutes and eight seconds. That remains the longest elapsed time of a race in IMS history.

Some of the world’s best GT sports car drivers will compete in the historic eight-hour race Sunday, Oct. 4, as the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli and GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS will be combined for the first time in an epic endurance classic on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course.

The Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli is the world’s only global GT3 championship. It features spectacular GT3- and GT4-spec machinery from evocative marques such as Acura, Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Bentley, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche

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