LIVE BLOG: Grand Prix of Indianapolis

IndyCar, IndyCar commentary — By on May 9, 2014 10:45 pm

2:20 PM ET — A couple of quick notes while qualifying is happening. I forgot to mention one note from the Michael Andretti press conference, and that is the high praise he had for Marco’s abilities here at Indianapolis. He called his son’s talent here “extraordinarily” and went so far as to say “I think he’s better than I was.” High praise indeed.

Just before qualifying, I stopped by the ArmsUp Motorsports transporter in the USF2000 paddock for a quick tour with MFW blogger Aaron Telitz. The whole team were very welcoming, including Aaron’s teammate, Peter Portante (who also writes a blog, by the way, over at The guys let me sit in while they reviewed their data from qualifying, which was interesting but would have been more so if they weren’t essentially throwing all of the data away because they’re expecting very different conditions for their race later on. After Peter left (and tried to run Aaron over with his scooter in the process), Aaron showed me some of the changes on the USF2000 cars for this year, including the sequential shifters (which reportedly are causing some headaches but are still better than the old ones). It was great of the team to open their doors to me. If you’re at the track and have time, be sure to go by and pay them a visit.

Quick update on Indy Lights qualifying: looks like Matthew Brabham has finally found what he’s looking for in his car as he’ll sit on pole for today’s first race at 5:30 PM. He’s joined on the front row by Gabby Chaves and they’re followed by Jack Harvey, Luiz Razia, Zach Veach, Alex Baron, Juan Piedrahita, Zack Meyer, Juan Pablo Garcia, Scott Anderson, and Lloyd Read. (Might as well give you the full grid — it’s not hard to type 11 names. Looking forward to seeing these grids grow soon.)

IndyCar qualifying is ongoing. I’ll update things as quickly as I can, but we go from here right into one race after another, so things will be hopping this afternoon here at Indianapolis Motor Speedway!


12:52 PM ET — Just a quick drop in to update before I run off to another appointment. Busy day today (and I couldn’t be happier about it!)

Michael Andretti had media availability late this morning hosted by Honda. He mainly addressed two key topics: the Indianapolis 500 (of course) and the prospective new event at NOLA Motorsports Park that Andretti Sports Marketing will be promoting.

On the 500, Andretti addressed his team’s tendency to field five cars and said they find it to be more helpful than hurtful because of the amount of extra data it gives them. For that reason, he doesn’t think it will take Kurt Busch long to get up to speed since he’ll have information from four other cars to draw from. Andretti feels that KuBu is capable of a top 5 finish here. He also feels that Kurt is a just plain nice guy. He spoke pointedly about being able to relate to being painted as a bad guy when members of the media stick a microphone in your face in a moment of adrenaline just to get a story out of it.

On NOLA Motorsports Park, he says everyone involved is very excited for the event. It’s a key market that is interesting to sponsors who want to entertain there, and the event has government support in the area as well. The facility is planning changes to its layout to make it more racy for IndyCars. Andretti said that the Andretti Sports Marketing presented NOLA with several options for events to promote, but NOLA insisted it was most interested in IndyCar.

I also spoke to Pippa Mann, who was in the Honda tent just after the press conference. As you can imagine, she’s extremely excited to get into the car on Sunday and gratified that things came together in time (it was evidently a bit of a time crunch). There had been some hope that there could have been merchandise and other fundraising efforts to get more donations to Susan G. Komen, but because of how late the deal came together that won’t be happening this time around. There is already talk that this partnership could extend to next year’s 500, though, in which case there would be time to get those things together. It’s worth noting, though, that although there is clearly an eye to the future, this is an Indy-only deal — Pippa won’t be draped in pink in any other races she may appear in this season.

I was just handed a note about yet another press conference tomorrow (about a reveal of Townsend Bell’s Robert Graham firesuit and livery), and it dawned on me just exactly why this event is such a big deal for IndyCar. Even if the road course is boring and draws no one, it gives the series the opportunity to make some noise about the 500 before a captive media audience. I wouldn’t say the media center is packed, but the usual suspects are here as well as representatives from all of the major Indianapolis outlets. If done properly, this could pay off for IndyCar in the Indianapolis market in a big way.

The USF2000 series qualified this morning. Here’s the top 10 for the grid for race 1, which goes off at 3:30 PM today: Henrik Furuseth, Florian Latorre, Colton Herta, Tim Hollowell, Jake Eidson, Victor Franzoni, Austin Cindric, Aaron Telitz, Daniel Burkett, RC Enerson — that’s the series points leader starting five rows back.

And Pro Mazda qualifying just wrapped up, so here’s the top 10 from that session for their first race at 4:30 PM today: Spencer Pigot, Scott Hargrove, Shelby Blackstock, Garett Grist, Pipo Derani, Kyle Kaiser, Jose Gutierrez, Neil Alberico, Kyle Connery, and Ryan Booth.

Indy Lights qualifying is about to get under way with Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying following immediately afterward at 2 PM.


NEXT PAGE: Earlier updates from the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Indianapolis

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