3:47 PM ET (Steph) – I missed the early portion of the TAGHeuer pit stop competition — as inconvenient as it is, a girl’s gotta eat sometime — but I managed to get back to be right next to the action before the semifinals. Sage Karam’s Chip Ganassi Racing/Dreyer & Reinbold/Kingdom Racing No. 22 one-off crew bested the No. 12 Team Penske crew of Will Power in the first semi-final round, which provided an underdog to cheer for against Scott Dixon’s No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing team after they knocked the No. 3 Team Penske car of Helio Castroneves out in the second semi-final. But in the end, the No. 9 team prevailed for the second time in three years with a total time of 11.658 s. — the fastest of the day by half a second — over the No. 22 crew’s 12.163 s.
I’m stuck in the media center for a bit while I wait for my phone to charge, so I think I’ll stick around here and wait for the Speed Energy Formula Off-road race (which you may know better as the Stadium Super Trucks, the series created by Robby Gordon). I’m very curious to see how that works out here at IMS. Last I heard, the race was meant to run partly on the front straightaway and partly on the infield road course. I know some people think the series doesn’t belong here, but I enjoy it. It’s always fun.
Speaking of fun, there’s a ton of it being had by the massive crowd out there. Pagoda Plaza is so packed that I’ve taken to detours around the area so that I can get to where I’m going. (I’m not complaining — it’s a great problem to have!) A lot of the people there are staking out spots for the Sammy Hagar and the Wabos concert later this afternoon, of course, which is happening at the Pagoda Stage. Those who opted to give up those early prime spots to sit in Tower Terrace for the pit stop competition were having a great old time. Most of the stand was packed with people, and they were all on their feet dancing and singing along to the tunes that were being spun. The vibe here today is just awesome.
When I gave you that list of times, I forgot one! For Canadian race fans or those with access to the internet, I’ll be calling in to Raceline Radio back home in Toronto to provide a trackside report on Sunday night after 8:00 PM. The show is hosted by Erik Tomas and runs out of Sportsnet 590 The Fan in Toronto and is syndicated across the country. You can also listen live at the Sportsnet 590 The Fan website. If you catch it, reach me on More Front Wing’s social media channels and let me know what you think!
2:01 PM ET (Steph) – The Freedom 100 had another fantastic finish again this year as Gabby Chaves nipped Matthew Brabham right at the line by 5/1000 of a second — simply incredible. It’s impossible not to feel heartbroken for Matt, who lost his grandad this past weekend and was no doubt hoping to pay tribute to him with an oval win today. But the victory was absolutely well-deserved by Gabby. He’s in the middle of the post-race press conference as I type this, and he just told the media that his voice is hoarse because he spent the entire cool-down lap screaming and he thinks he’s about to wake up from a dream. This also marks the second Freedom 100 victory in a row for Belardi Auto Racing, so some hefty congratulations are due there as well.
The race was marred by an enormous crash by Chase Austin, who was also racing with Belardi. He lost control exiting turn 1 and hit the end of one of the road course retaining walls head-on so hard that he ended up underneath the tires during the crash and his car was in pieces by the time he stopped at the exit of turn 2. He was treated at the scene, taken to the infield care center and diagnosed with a broken left wrist (and, we can hope, that’s all, which would be incredible), and was transported to IU Health Methodist Hospital for further treatment. We’ll update you as we receive further word on his condition.
Earlier today, Mark Shambarger of Bryan Herta Autosport was presented with the Clint Brawner Mechanical Excellence Award. From BHA:
Mark Shambarger, Crew Chief of the No. 98 Integrity Energee Drink car for BHA/BBM with Curb-Agajanian, was presented with the Clint Brawner Mechanical Excellence Award today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The award, which is presented annually during the traditional Carb Day festivities by the Clint Brawner Foundation and supported by Firestone Racing, recognizes an Indy 500 chief mechanic who “exemplifies the mechanical and scientific creativity, ingenuity, perseverance, dedication, enthusiasm and expertise” of its legendary namesake. … Shambarger’s career highlights include the 1996 Indianapolis 500 win as chief mechanic for Buddy Lazier and the 2011 Indianapolis 500 win as a crew member for the late Dan Wheldon.
When asked how he felt about winning the Clint Brawner Award, Shambarger said he was confident that the BHA team could overcome Jack Hawksworth’s pre-qualifying crash. “We are a small team that has proven to be relentless in the past and I knew we could do it,” said Shambarger. “With speeds approaching 230 miles per hour just days afterward, I knew we had done our job and I was very proud of everyone on the team.” …
Team co-owner Bryan Herta commented, “We’re all so proud and happy for Mark Shambarger to win the Clint Brawner Award. It’s such a tremendous recognition of his work, directly from his peers. In my career, I’ve been associated with three Clint Brawner Award winners – Craig Baranouski from AJ Foyt Enterprises when I was a rookie at IMS, then our own Don Lambert won it at our first year at the Speedway in 2010. Now to have Mark join the roll call of really legendary crew chiefs at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I couldn’t be happier for him and it’s incredibly well deserved.”
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