By: Jeff Majeske – Managing Editor

No 89 — John Martin — 1973 Unsponsored McLaren/Offy

John Martin was one of the few drivers capable of working on his car – fairly rare in 1973 and unheard of today.

A fixture in the Indy lineup from 1972-76, the hard-working Martin made the most of his equipment. Like many others, Martin was involved in the first-lap Salt Walther accident, but was able to make repairs and wound up eighth, his best result at Indianapolis.

The next year, Martin actually landed a sponsor, resulting in the tongue-twisting Sea Snack Shrimp Cocktail Special.


Photo credit: Indianapolis Motor Speedway


By: Jeff Majeske – Managing Editor

No. 44, Dick Simon, –1973 TraveLodge Eagle/Foyt.

I miss guys like Dick Simon around the Speedway. Energetic and enthusiastic, Simon was an outstanding ski jumper and parachutist before he pursued a career in Indy cars. Had the X Games been around in, say, the 1960s, he probably would’ve been a star.

As for Indianapolis, Simon usually was saddled with marginal equipment that he had to hustle into the show. His 1973 mount was pretty decent, though, and Simon ran up front before piston failure sent him to the sidelines for a 14th-place finish.

Toward the end of his career, Simon obtained better cars and that led to better results – he was sixth and ninth in his last two races in 1987 and 1988, respectively. Simon is bald, but during the 1970s he picked up sponsorship from LAN, maker of hairpieces, so he donned a toupee.

#This is May#Indy500

Front Row of the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 — Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter and Simon Pagenaud — IndyCar Image by Chris Owens

INDIANAPOLIS (Sunday, May 19, 2019) – Simon Pagenaud continued on his roll this May, winning the pole position for the upcoming 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. Two-time Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso, however, will be a spectator for the May 26 race after failing to qualify.

In a drama-filled Sunday afternoon that featured separate qualifying sessions to fill opposite ends of the 33-car starting grid, Pagenaud completed a four-lap Fast Nine Shootout qualification run on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway superspeedway at 229.992 mph to earn the NTT P1 Award, the 11th pole position of his 11-year Indy car career and first at the Indy 500.

Meanwhile, Sage Karam, James Hinchcliffe and Kyle Kaiser drove their way into the field with the best qualifying efforts in the Last Row Shootout.

Pagenaud delivered the 18th Indianapolis 500 pole position for Team Penske, extending the benchmark NTT IndyCar Series program’s record that stands at 13 more than any other team. In addition, Pagenaud became the first Frenchman in a century to capture the Indy 500 pole, since Rene Thomas in 1919.

“Team Menards & Team Penske have been phenomenal, giving me the best equipment,” said Pagenaud, who turned 35 on Saturday. “I can’t thank them enough and my teammates for always pushing me to the limit. This is incredible. This is the biggest race in the world, so obviously I’m on Cloud Nine.”

Pagenaud is the hottest driver in the NTT IndyCar Series, fresh off a May 11 win in the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS road course. Driving the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet on the oval on Sunday, he outperformed a trio of Ed Carpenter Racing drivers who qualified second through fourth.

Pagenaud edged out Ed Carpenter, who qualified the No. 20 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet at 229.889 mph and narrowly missed winning the Indy 500 pole for a fourth time. Spencer Pigot, fastest in first-day qualifying on Saturday, ranked a career-best third Sunday in the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet at 229.826 mph. Ed Jones was fourth in the No. 63 Ed Carpenter Racing Scuderia Corsa Chevrolet at 229.646 mph.

“I was hoping one of the three of us was going to get the pole, but finishing 2-3-4 is the next best thing,” team owner/driver Carpenter said. “I’m really proud of the whole team to give us the cars we had, which put us in the position to go out and qualify the way that we did.” 

Rookie Colton Herta repeated his stellar effort from Saturday, qualifying fifth on Sunday at 229.086 mph in the No. 88 GESS Capstone Honda for Harding Steinbrenner Racing. Will Power, the 2018 Indy 500 winner, rounded out the second row by qualifying sixth in the No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Chevrolet (228.645 mph).

Sebastien Bourdais posted the seventh-best run in the No. 18 SealMaster Honda (228.621 mph), ahead of NTT IndyCar Series points leader Josef Newgarden in the No. 2 Shell V-Power Nitro Plus Team Penske Chevrolet (228.396 mph) and 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda (228.247 mph).

Pagenaud will lead the closest field in Indianapolis 500 history to the green flag. The time separating Pagenaud’s four-lap qualifying attempt and that of slowest qualifier Pippa Mann was 1.8932 seconds, breaking the previous mark of 2.1509 seconds in 2014. The 228.240 mph speed average of the 33 qualifiers is fourth fastest in Indianapolis 500 history.

Rain delayed the start of Sunday’s two qualifying sessions more than four hours. The Last Row Shootout to decide the final three drivers in the field preceded the Fast Nine Shootout, and it ended with Alonso and McLaren Racing on the outside looking in. Returning to the Indy 500 for a second time in a bid to win the last leg of racing’s Triple Crown, Alonso was knocked from the field when Kaiser posted a four-lap qualifying run 0.019 of a mph faster.

Six drivers vied for the last 3 positions in the field. Alonso, the third to try, completed his run at 227.353 mph in the No. 66 McLaren Racing Chevrolet. It placed the Spaniard second to Hinchcliffe at the time.

Karam qualified at 227.740 mph in the No. 24 DRR WIX Filters Chevrolet, dropping Alonso onto the bubble as the 33rd qualifier. In a backup car cobbled together by his Juncos Racing crew after Kaiser crashed the primary No. 32 Chevrolet in Friday practice, Kaiser ran four laps at 227.372 mph to take the last spot away from Alonso.

“Obviously, it would be nice to be in the race next Sunday,” Alonso said. “We came here to race and to challenge ourselves, and we were not quick enough. I congratulate all the other guys that did a better job, and hopefully we’ll see a nice show next Sunday.

“We are all disappointed, and we will try to do better next time. But it’s that kind of things that you learn. I said before, I prefer to be here – even 34th – than being at home like last year.”

Kaiser called the days since his crash “the most emotional 48 hours of my life.” The 2017 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires champion qualified for his second Indianapolis 500 with the small-budget Juncos team.

“I don’t think I can wrap my mind around what we just did,” Kaiser said. “Like I keep saying, all the credit to the team. They’ve been working nonstop trying to get this car ready for us and they did everything we needed to get us in this field. I’m so proud of them, so proud of everybody that helped make this happen.”

The field of 33 has a two-hour practice scheduled for noon ET Monday that streams live on INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold. The final practice, held traditionally on Miller Lite Carb Day, has been expanded to 90 minutes starting at 11 a.m. Friday and will be televised on NBCSN.

The 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 airs live at 11 a.m. Sunday, May 26 on NBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Sunday 19 May

“This experience will only make us stronger as a team, and we want to come back”

McLaren Racing and Fernando Alonso will not progress to the 2019 Indianapolis 500, following the Last Row Shootout today. The shootout for the final three spots followed a challenging qualifying weekend for the team and resulted in Fernando posting an average speed of 227.353mph which at the time of his run placed him 32nd. Sage Karam then put in a 227.740mph to go fastest in the session and pushed Alonso down to the ‘bubble’ position in 33rd. Patricio O’Ward was not able to better Fernando’s time but it was then Kyle Kaiser who pushed Fernando out of the field by just 0.019mph.

Fernando Alonso, #66

“It has been a very long qualifying, nearly 56 hours from yesterday morning. Yesterday, we were 31st instead of 30th. Today, 34th instead of 33rd by a very small margin, and unfortunately, we were not fast enough on both days. I’m disappointed now, obviously, it would be nice to be in the race next Sunday.

“I want to thank the team for all the efforts, we kept pushing. We came here to race and to challenge ourselves and we were not quick enough. I congratulate all the other guys that did a better job, and hopefully, we’ll see a nice show next Sunday, with everyone safe. I will be enjoying from the TV, unfortunately.”

Gil De Ferran, Sporting Director

“This has been a very emotional and difficult experience, not only for me but for the whole team. I want to take this opportunity to apologize and thank the fans, not only here in the U.S. but globally, who have been following our progress. I want to thank our team: the guys been have been working for several months, and particularly this last month or so have put in a tremendous effort and worked all the hours in the day.

“This is a very difficult sport. We certainly didn’t underestimate it. We knew this was going to be a tremendously hard challenge. I’ve been here before. I’ve seen some incredible people not make the race. So we were certainly very aware of how difficult this was going to be.

“I want to apologize and thank our partners who have been fantastic, and incredibly supportive through this journey. I thank also the whole IndyCar community, who welcomed us with open arms. All the way from the officials, safety people, all the other teams, everyone in and around INDYCAR, it was nothing but a warm feeling and a lot of support.

“I think last but not least, I want to thank Fernando. We didn’t give him a car that was fast enough but he drove like the champion we know he is, particularly these last three days. It has been incredibly tense and very difficult, and we couldn’t have asked anything more from him.

“In my 35 years of racing, this is the most painful experience I’ve ever had but we are racers. We respect this place and it is one of the toughest challenges in racing. This experience will only make us stronger as a team, and we want to come back.”

Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso is almost out of chances to make this year’s field for the Indianapolis 500 – Photo credit: Dana Garrett/Indianapolis Motor Speedway

By Jeff Majekse — Managing Editor / SpeedwaySighitngs

INDIANAPOLIS – A young American driver known only to hardcore fans of the NTT IndyCar Series and one of the most famous drivers in the world highlighted a wild first day of qualifying for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 on Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Pigot, in the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara/Chevrolet, has the provisional pole after notching a four-lap average of 230.083 mph. While Pigot’s place in the field of 33 is secure, two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso is in serious jeopardy of not making the race.

Despite five attempts, Alonso failed to post a speed fast enough to make the top 30 in the McLaren Racing Dallara/Chevrolet.

“It was a difficult day and a difficult week in general,” said Alonso, who crashed on Wednesday.

All hope is not lost for the Spaniard, though. Alonso and five other drivers, including James Hinchcliffe, will fight it out for the final three spots in the field.

Weather permitting, the pole, the first three rows (positions 1-9) and the last row (positions 31-33) will be decided in qualifying on Sunday. Thunderstorms are forecast, however.

If Sunday is a total washout, positions 1-30 are considered set. The last row will be contested on the next available day, with each car getting one attempt.

In addition to Alonso, the other participants in the Last Row Shootout are:

  • James Hinchcliffe, No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Dallara/Honda
  • Sage Karam, No. 24 Dreyer and Reinbold WIX Filters Dallara/Chevrolet
  • Patricio O’Ward, No. 31 Carlin Dallara/Chevrolet
  • Kyle Kaiser, No. 32 Juncos Racing Dallara/Chevrolet
  • Max Chilton, No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Dallara/Chevrolet

In addition to Pigot, the rest of the Fast Nine Shootout is:

  • Will Power, No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet
  • Simon Pagenaud, No. 22 Menards Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet
  • Josef Newgarden, No. 2 Shell Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet
  • Colton Herta, No. 88 Harding Steinbrenner Racing Dallara/Honda
  • Ed Jones, No. 63 Ed Carpenter Racing Scuderia Corsa Dallara/Chevrolet
  • Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Preferred Freezer Services Dallara/Chevrolet
  • Alexander Rossi, No. 27 Napa Auto Parts Dallara/Honda
  • Sebastien Bourdais, No. 18 SealMaster Dallara/Honda

“It feels great to be on top of the speed charts and to have all three Ed Carpenter Racing cars in the Fast Nine Shootout again for the second year in a row,” Pigot said.

Pippa Mann, who like Hinchcliffe missed last year’s race in gut-wrenching fashion, held on to the 30th and final starting position available Saturday with a 227.244 mph average.

“All that was going through my head was, ‘Not again. Not again,” Mann said.

INDIANAPOLIS – Will Power picked up where he left off a year ago from his life-altering Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge win by leading opening practice on Tuesday for the 103rd running of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

The Team Penske driver turned a best lap of 229.745 mph to take honors on the first of four practice days ahead of qualifications to set the 33-car field. All 36 entered drivers were on track and completed a total of 3,003 laps on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval.

A year ago, Power delivered team owner Roger Penske his record 17th Indianapolis 500 victory. The 2014 NTT IndyCar Series champion was pleased to start his repeat bid well, but knows that most of Tuesday’s speeds weren’t representative because they came with the aid of aerodynamic tows from leading cars.

“All the big speeds came from big tows,” Power said.

“It’s kind of hard to judge the true speeds of cars right now by themselves,” he added. “You don’t know what aero configuration people are running, whether they’re doing qualifying sims or they’re in race trim. We don’t know where we stack up, honestly, as far as true speed.”

Power, in the No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Chevrolet, led a charge of four Chevrolet-powered Dallaras atop the speed chart, three from Team Penske. Simon Pagenaud, fresh off a triumph Saturday in the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS road course, was second fastest at 229.703 mph in the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet and three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves fourth in the No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevy (228.441 mph).

Ed Carpenter, the team owner/driver and pole winner in 2018, was third on the speed chart at 228.653 mph in the No. 20 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet. Ed Jones, Carpenter’s teammate in the No. 63 Ed Carpenter Racing Scuderia Corsa Chevy, clocked the fastest lap without the aid of a tow, 224.542 mph.

“There is always more you can get done, but today was a really good start,” Carpenter said. “The baseline setup was good and we were able to work through everything that we wanted to try today. Not only on my car, but the other two as well.  “All things considered, where we are starting Day 1, speed-wise and race setup-wise, we are in a decent place.”

Rookie Colton Herta topped the Honda contingent, fifth overall at 228.284 mph in the No. 88 GESS Capstone entry for Harding Steinbrenner Racing.

“I think today we were more towards trying to figure out the race car, and that’s how I want to kind of go,” said Herta, who became the youngest race winner in Indy car history in March at Circuit of The Americas. “I think we have a good qualifying car already; we were kind of fast on our own. I was really struggling in traffic, though, and that’s when it’s going to count, in the race.”

Two midday hours were set aside for rookie orientation and non-regular veteran refreshers. Patricio O’Ward endured mechanical problems in the No. 31 Carlin Chevrolet and did not complete his rookie program, but will be permitted track time Wednesday morning to do so.

Practice continues Wednesday through Friday, from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. ET each day, with a livestream on INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold. Saturday’s first day of qualifying decides the first 30 spots in the field and streams live on INDYCAR Pass starting at 11 a.m., with NBCSN picking up coverage at 5 p.m.

The second qualifying day on Sunday, broadcast live from noon-3 p.m. on NBC, features the Last Row Shootout to establish the final three grid spots, followed by the Fast Nine Shootout to determine the pole sitter and starting order of the first three rows of three.

The 103rd Indianapolis 500 takes place Sunday, May 26. NBCSN offer prerace coverage at 9 a.m., with NBC taking over for its first-ever Indy 500 broadcast at 11 a.m. NBCSN will also have a postrace show beginning at 4 p.m.

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