By Frank Santoroski, Staff Writer
This coming weekend the Verizon IndyCar Series will kick off the Month of May with the 3rd running of the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis. The race is slated for May 14, 2016.
About the Race
The Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis is race five of sixteen (or fifteen, pending a replacement for the Boston Grand Prix) for the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2016. The event is held on a permanent road course, one of five such events in 2016.
The defending race winner is Will Power. The Penske driver is the 2014 series champion, and holds 22 wins in the series.
The race will consist of 82 laps for a race distance of 199.998 miles. Support races include action from Pro Mazda, US F2000, and the Indy Lights Series.
About the Track
The race is held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway which was constructed in 1909. In order to host Formula One, an infield road course was added in 1999, and the facility became the home of the United States Grand Prix from 2000-2007.
The course was modified in 2008 to make it more palatable to hosting Moto GP. After a feasibility test for running the Verizon IndyCar Series, the course was further modified in 2013.
The current version of the infield circuit features 14 turns and measures 2.439 miles around. The track utilizes much of the oval’s front straight, as well as portions of turns one and two. The track runs clockwise, in contrast to the oval races held at the Speedway.
Other than the 9.2 degrees of banking in the oval turns, the course is relativity flat, offering fine viewing for spectators.
The thought of hosting the IndyCars on the infield road course began soon after the 2000 Formula One debut at the facility. Early speculation gained more momentum after the Indy Lights Series began utilizing the circuit in 2005 with the Liberty Challenge; a support race for Formula One.
The idea continued to be tossed about for nearly another decade. In late 2013, the event became a reality when it was announced on the Series’ 2014 schedule.
The inaugural run was won by Simon Pagenaud, in a race that was marred by a crash at the start. Utilizing a Formula One style standing start, the pole winning car of Sebastian Saavedra stalled at the green. Now a sitting duck, he was subsequently plowed into by both Carlos Munoz and Mikhail Aleshin.
The second running, this time with a traditional rolling start, featured a turn-one melee when Scott Dixon spun in front of the entire field. The remainder of the race ran caution-free as Will Power dominated the event taking the win.
About the Field
The 2016 Verizon IndyCar Field represents one of the strongest, talent-packed top-to-bottom lineups we have seen in years.
Twenty-five drivers are expected to take the green for the Grand Prix. This includes the 21 full time drivers of the Verizon IndyCar Series, with the addition of Spencer Pigot, Matthew Brabham, Alex Tagliani and J.R. Hildebrand, who are running part-time schedules.
Simon Pagenaud and Will Power, both on the Team Penske roster in 2016, are the only former winners of the event. Coming into Indianapolis, Pagenaud holds a healthy lead in the point standings, having taken consecutive wins in the last two IndyCar Series events.
Sixteen of the entered drivers are IndyCar race winners, six have won championships in IndyCar or CART/Champcar, and five are Indy 500 winners. There are three drivers running for Rookie of the year honors; Max Chilton, Conor Daly, and Alexander Rossi.
Drivers in the series represent eleven different countries around the globe, making it a truly international field.
About the Series
The current Verizon IndyCar Series was born out of the Indy Racing League, which absorbed the rival ChampCar World Series in 2008. In the years since the reunification, the series has seen slow, but steady growth.
Over the past several seasons the racing produced by the series has been second to none, and the Championship battle has gone down to the final race.
Without the benefit of a gimmick like the Chase, the Verizon IndyCar Series has produced enough close racing and drama to satisfy the racing fan.
The positive growth in recent years bodes well for the Series that is owned by Hulman and Company. The centerpiece of the series is the Indianapolis 500, which will have its historic 100th running this coming May.
Teams in the series use a common chassis, the Dallara DW-12, named in honor of the late Dan Wheldon, who did much of the development testing of the car. The chassis has aerodynamic components that differ according to the engine manufacturer.
Chevrolet and Honda are the engine partners for the Series with each supplying a 2.2 Liter V-6 turbocharged engine to the teams that are capable of producing 700 hp at 12200 rpm. All cars in the series run Firestone Firehawk tires.
Where and When to Watch
Tickets for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis may be purchased through imstix.com. General Admission tickets are $30.00, and grandstand seating ranges from $41.00 – $87.00.
Race Day television coverage will be provided through ABC-TV beginning at 3:30 PM Eastern on Saturday May 14.
Other coverage options include Sirius XM radio (Sirius:209, XM:212). Timing and scoring can be found at www.indycar.com and fans can keep up with all of the action on the IndyCar Mobile app provided by Verizon Communications.
Image: Chris Owens/INDYCAR