8:51 AM ET (Paul) – Allow me to reiterate what Steph has already said. Welcome to Race Day at Indianapolis!
One of the great parts of the morning is getting to the track before very many of the fans filter in and watching the facility fill up minute by minute. There is a palpable buzz of excitement in the air and the sense that something big is about to happen grows by the minute.
Though we are still nearly five hours away from the drop of the green flag, Gasoline Alley has already been a busy place this morning with teams searching and examining one final time every last night inch of their cars to make sure no undetected flaw makes it onto the starting grid. Those who weren’t directly working on the cars generally had at least one eye on the TV and keeping track of the action from the Grand Prix of Monaco. Meanwhile, both the pit lane and the grandstands are slowly filling in as fans snap final pictures and make their way to their seats.
From a weather standpoint, it appears we are in for another glorious day. Temperatures are currently in the low 60s with substantial, but not threatening, clouds rolling in from the west. All indications are that we should expect temps to max out in the low 80s with plenty of sunshine.
James Black of 16thandGeorgetown.com and I have been talking this morning about who we feel will find their way to victory lane. In a rare moment of unanimous agreement, we have thrown our chips down on Yellow 25. I realize that might be the kiss of death for his chances today, but I’ve been on the record with Marco since our Season Preview Podcast back in March, and I’ve seen nothing to make me reconsider my choice. I could easy pick any one of another 12 guys for the win, but I think Marco is as good a bet as any of them.
Already on track at this hour is the Parade of Bands. Jim Nabors will be giving a press conference shortly and then the formal introduction of celebrities begins at 9:30. Additionally, cars will be moved to pit road starting at 9:30 and must be in their pit boxes no later than 9:55. “On the Banks of the Wabash,” the song that traditionally signals teams to push their cars to the grid, is at 10:15.
Back with more shortly.
7:01 AM ET (Steph) – It’s race day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway!
If I may pat myself on the back for a moment, I was very happy with my decision-making this morning. I woke up at 5:00 AM, was out the door from my hotel in Castleton at 5:30, and after a stop at a Starbucks to fuel up (thank goodness the entirely City of Indianapolis gets race day!) I sailed right down to the Speedway and was at the gate by 6:15. That said, there were plenty of pixelboards set up on the interstates telling motorists how to access the track via their designated zones, so between that and the enhanced gate entry procedures in place for this year I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear reports of much smoother fan movement into the facility this year. Let’s hope.
I had desperately hoped to make it to Lucas Oil Raceway last night, but I was sidelined by other commitments. I therefore didn’t learn the results until I got back to my hotel last night, and imagine my delight when I learned that two of our Mazda Road to Indy bloggers, Aaron Telitz of ArmsUp Motorsports in USF2000 and Garett Grist of Andretti Autosport in Pro Mazda, both scored their first wins of the season! Those race reports will be posted here on More Front Wing very shortly, and we can’t wait to hear from both of them to find out in detail how things went for them!
Friends and colleagues are beginning to filter in, so it’s time to head out and take in the traditions of race day. Don’t forget the Indy Fans Tweet-up in the Pagoda Plaza at 9:30 AM as part of your race day morning schedule. Hope to see lots of you there!
NEXT PAGE: More coverage from race weekend for the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500