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IndyCar kicks off the Month of May back in Indianapolis! ATRL’s Eline Luna takes a look at this weekend’s action at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course.

Eline Luna

May 9, 2024

As teams gear up for the Indy 500, IndyCar kicks off the Month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend. But instead of the famous oval, the drivers will be racing on a road course at the complex.

Built in 1909, Indianapolis Motor Speedway is over 100 years old and has seen major changes over the years as racing develops. Originally the racing surface consisted of crushed stone sprayed with tar. However, this was quickly changed to bricks which is also why the track is sometimes referred to as ‘The Brickyard’. 

Drivers going three-wide at the Yard of Bricks in 2023 (James Black/Penske Entertainment)

 

In 1939 the track was resurfaced again to asphalt, only leaving a small stroke of the original bricks. That line of bricks, known as the Yard of Bricks, remains part of the track that drivers will race over this weekend.

Since 2014 IndyCar has raced on this configuration of the circuit 15 times, with the race this weekend being the 16th. The race is run on a slightly different layout than when Formula 1 raced at the venue, however, drivers describe the track as feeling quite European in its style, which might help drivers such as rookie Marcus Armstrong perform well at the track.

Incorporating portions of Turns 1 and 2 of the oval as well as the front straight, the track is technical and doesn’t create many overtaking opportunities. Racing on the track is mainly characterized by high speeds and big braking points. The track also has a very smooth surface which is not always the case on IndyCar road courses.

Dana Garrett/Penske Entertainment

 

With relatively low tyre degradation at the track this time of year, drivers can race flat out all through their stint and don’t have to conserve as much. Pit strategy is also quite straightforward. Unless the weather switches anything up, the race will likely be a 3 stopper.

Cautions are always able to shuffle things up at any track. At the IMS Road Course, Turn 1 will be a big trouble maker, especially during the start and restarts. It’s rare everyone comes out of that corner cleanly.

 

What to look out for?

Andretti’s Colton Herta leads the championship by a single point over Team Penske’s Will Power. Both have won at the track before though Power has won a total of five times making him the most successful driver at the track. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Álex Palou is only 2 points behind Power while Palou’s teammate Scott Dixon is a further 4 points behind him. 

After the disqualification at St. Petersburg, both Scott McLaughlin and Josef Newgarden have a great amount of points to make up to close the gap to the top. Their team, Team Penske, has a great record at the track, so both of them will have the chance to score some good points. 

David Malukas was signed by McLaren during the off-season but was injured through a mountain biking incident before he could race with the team. For the opening races of the season, he was replaced by Callum Ilott and Théo Pourchaire with the hopes that Malukas would return as soon as possible.

David Malukas and Callum Ilott during the open test for the 2024 Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Photo by Joe Skibinski | IMS Photo)

 

However, a clause in his contract meant missing four races could have his contract terminated, which happened following the race at Barber at the end of last month. Théo Pourchaire has been announced as his full-time replacement, bar the Indianapolis 500. It is not yet confirmed who will be driving the 500, although many suspect it will be Callum Ilott. 

After making his IndyCar debut at Barber Motorsports Park, Luca Ghiotto will once again drive for Dale Coyne Racing this weekend.

 

Past Winners

2023: Álex Palou (R1), Scott Dixon (R2)

2022: Colton Herta (R1), Alexander Rossi (R2)

2021: Rinus VeeKay (R1), Will Power (R2)

Amber Pietz/Penske Entertainment

 

Race Information

  • Race Length: 85 Laps | 207.32 Miles
  • Turns: 14
  • Track Length: 2.439 Miles (3.925 km)
  • Most Wins: Will Power (5)
  • Race lap record: 1:09.3888 (Josef Newgarden, 2017)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eline follows a variety of motorsports from Formula E to IMSA to Nascar to WEC. They hope to study Mechanical Engineering to work in motorsports one day.

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