In the Osburn family and for IndyCar fans, it is our holiday season. For there’s no better celebration than the Indianapolis 500.
Although I have kept a close eye on the 18+ hours of practice this week, I haven’t written much about it. I began a new job in the racing industry as a PR and Marketing Manager and in-turn have been focused on my work.
That being said…I cannot let the lead-up to the Indy 500, my favorite day of the year, pass! So, let’s break down what’s happening in Indy 500 practice days.
A New Marco Andretti
At the end of last season, it was announced Marco Andretti would no longer run a full season in IndyCar. Since then, he has taken on a more administrative role, but we know that the Andretti curse is still alive in the month of May and he plans to run this race until he wins.
In the past, Marco has dominated practice sessions at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). He is often at the top of the charts, putting up the fastest laps. Some years it seems no other driver can meet his speed.
In 2020, the Andretti curse seemed to be broken, with Marco pulling pole position for the 104th running. Evidently, he didn’t win, but it seems this year he’s changed his strategy. Marco is no longer putting-up monster numbers, instead he is focusing on race set-up. Marco is seeing how his car moves in traffic, what it can do with a tow and how he can best position himself to win this race, something he has been trying to do since 2006.
Maybe this is the year the curse will be broken, for an Andretti hasn’t won since 1969.
Vindication for J.R., Hildebrand
One of my favorite Indy 500s was in 2011. Rookie J.R. Hildebrand was leading the race into the final corner when he grazed the wall, letting the late Dan Wheldon speed by, securing his second Indy 500 win.
Since then, Hildebrand has proven to be a force at IMS. Although no longer a fulltime IndyCar driver, this man knows how to deliver speed at the speedway. This year, Hildebrand is with A.J., Foyt Enterprises and for the Foyt team, superspeedways like IMS are their bread and butter. Although the team has had trouble in the past an experienced, intelligent and passionate driver like Hildebrand may be just what they need.
As of yesterday, Hildebrand was sitting 25th on the charts, but after having to re-take his IMS orientation earlier in the week it was obvious that he has a magnificent handle on his car.
Is it possible vindication for 2011 in 2021?
Scott Dixon Scott Dixon
Although coming close last year (it still hurts me), Scott Dixon has only won one Indy 500. Winning in 2008, Dixon has since become the ultimate IndyCar driver. Quiet, competitive and consistent, he is the best in the series.
For some reason, Dixon’s domination seems to fade when the month of May comes around. Although fans know his time is coming, I can’t help but hope it’s this year. Coming off his sixth series championship, Dixon is hot. He is leading the series in points, which is no surprise, and put up the fastest lap in yesterday’s practice.
The Chip Ganassi team is smart. They don’t show their speed until it counts, until they are racing, but I think they are already putting on a brilliant show in practice. Since Monday, he has been in the top-ten of speeds.
After missing my first Indy 500 in over 10-years last season, I cannot wait to be trackside.