Indy 500 Schedule

Below is the current on-track schedule for the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. In addition to the listed television broadcasts, racecontrol.indycar.com will have live timing and scoring for all sessions.

For more coverage, also download the IndyCar app. When available, Pennzoil IndyCar Radio Network Coverage will be available on XM Channel 205 during qualifications weekend, Carb Day and Race Day. On Race Day, Sirius Channel 211 will also provide coverage.

Wednesday, Aug. 12 

11 a.m.-1 p.m.: Veterans practice 

1-3 p.m.: Rookie orientation and refresher tests 

3-5:30 p.m.: Open practice (NBC Sports Gold) 

Thursday, Aug. 13 

11 a.m.-5:30 p.m.: Open practice (NBC Sports Gold)

Friday, Aug. 14 

11 a.m.-5:30 p.m.: Open practice (NBC Sports Gold)

6:15 p.m.: Qualifying order draw 

Saturday, Aug. 15 

8:30-9:30 a.m.: Open practice (NBC Sports Gold)

11 a.m.-4:50 p.m.: Qualifying (NBC, NBC Sports Gold) 

Sunday, Aug. 16 

11-11:30 a.m.: Fast Nine Shootout practice (NBC Sports Gold)

1:15-2:15 p.m.: Fast Nine Shootout (NBC, NBC Sports Gold) 

3:30-6 p.m.: Practice (NBCSN/NBC Sports Gold) 

Friday, Aug. 21 

11 a.m.-1 p.m.: Carb Day practice (NBCSN/NBC Sports Gold) 

Sunday, Aug. 23 

2:30 p.m.: Green Flag (Telecast 1 p.m. on NBC) 

A Love Affair With Indy

Spencer Neff

Twitter:@NeffOnSports11

Fenway Park. Lambeau Field. Wimbledon. St. Andrews. All these sporting venues are the crown jewels in their respective events, a must-attend for millions of sports fans around the world. For auto racing, the biggest crown jewel venue is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Although the speedway has been around since 1909, my connection begins much later.

I was born in 1992, almost four months after the closest finish in the history of the Indianapolis 500, where Al Unser Jr. beat Scott Goodyear by .043 seconds. My love of racing began shortly thereafter, at Nazareth Speedway, near my birthplace of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and followed me in my move to Phoenix, Arizona.

The first Indianapolis 500 I recall watching was in 1998, at just five years old. The race was won by Eddie Cheever, who had 1992’s winning chief mechanic, Owen Snyder on his team that day. I even still have the VHS recording of the event and enjoyed watching it several times over the next few years.

In the years following the 1998 race, I had my own tradition of printing a starting grid for each running of the 500, wanting to see pictures of each of the 33 beautiful cars that embarked on the 500-mile trek each May. I even had several parties for the races, inviting friends and family over to share my love of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

In 2011, my love for the Indianapolis 500, and the speedway grew even more. While traveling to Indiana for my summer freshman orientation at Purdue University, I stopped for the day at the Speedway, spending the afternoon on a grounds tour, visiting everything from Gasoline Alley to the yard of bricks at the start-finish line.

Eleven months after my visit, I attended my first Indianapolis 500. Despite near-record heat, I could not have been more thrilled to finally be at my favorite race. The race turned out to be one of the most exciting in several years, with Dario Franchitti winning his third and final 500 after Takuma Sato crashed in Turn 1 on the final lap attempting to snatch the lead away from Franchitti.

Three years after Franchitti’s win and just 15 days removed from my graduation from Purdue, I attended my second 500. This one ended with Juan Pablo Montoya adding a second 500 win to his legacy in a thrilling duel with teammate Will Power and 2008 500 Winner Scott Dixon.

This year makes the 100th running of the race, and I will be attending my third 500. What I look forward to the most about this running is not only how the race will pay tribute to its past and simultaneously look toward the future, as it does that like almost no other sporting event in the world.

Few other events have part of its original venue still used in its current iteration, even more than 100 years later. Each lap run will begin and end with a yard of bricks that dates back to the first running of the race won by Ray Haroun in 1911. I have also begun to partake in this theme, watching several race broadcasts as I anxiously await the historic race next month.

The 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 will conclude with a celebration that integrates a tradition dating back to 1936. Following the event, Louis Meyer requested a glass of buttermilk to quench his thirst after winning his third 500 on a scorching hot day.

Like several elements of the race, the milk tradition is a perfect example of looking back and going forward at the same time. Several cars are adorned with the logos of energy drink, soda and beer companies. However, at the end of the race, the most talked about beverage at the race remains a bottle of milk that is served in a bottle reminiscent of those from an era long gone, but hardly forgotten.

Of the more than 250,000 fans that will be in attendance for this year’s race, there will be many differing opinions on their favorite 500 memories. Some may enjoy the vintage roadsters of the 50s and 60s, when names like 1953 and 54 champion Bill Vukovich and 1963 winner Parnelli Jones dominated.

Others may be of a younger generation, and enjoy the new-age machines of the 21st Century, driven by superstars like three-time 500 champion Helio Castroneves and 2013 victor Tony Kanaan. Regardless of what your preference is, our memories of the race are what help to continue to breath life into the speedway and give it a legacy to share for many decades to come.

Some of you who have experienced the 500 before may be watching the race from the grounds of the speedway, or viewing the race on television. Next month will be another time for those of you, like me, to add to your list of 500 memories. Maybe, if the 100th 500 is your first time viewing the race in some fashion, this is the time to start making some memories of your own.

Feel free to share some of your favorite Indianapolis 500 memories.

 

 

 

Promoting Kenseth’s Wreck: Fair or Foul ?

Spencer Neff

Twitter:@NeffOnSports11

Yesterday, Martinsville Speedway released a commercial promoting their upcoming race weekend, which takes place in two weeks following the weekend off. Now, this commercial would hardly have created much news outside of the racing itself, but it did feature a controversial clip. The clip in question was of Matt Kenseth wrecking Joey Logano while Logano was in the lead late in the November race, with that serving as the climax in a feud between the two dating back a few weeks.

The most controversial aspect of the clip’s appearance was not the wreck itself, but what resulted because of the wreck. Kenseth’s actions resulted in a two-week suspension by NASCAR and its CEO Brian France condoning Kenseth’s actions as unacceptable.

Now, it’s highly likely that Brian France was not directly involved in Martinsville Speedway’s decision to air the wreck as part of their promotional materials, it is yet another black eye for a sanctioning body that many feel is inconsistent in its rulings and often times makes up the rules as they go along.

Overall, the issue in question is not whether Martinsville should be allowed to use the wreck in its advertising, they should be allowed to use just about any footage they feel is appropriate and helpful in promoting their events. The real issue is that NASCAR uses these wrecks as promotional material, while it simultaneously condones behaviors like Kenseth’s and people inside the sport have condoned fans for wanting more cautions and possibly wrecks.

If NASCAR and other motorsports sanctioning bodies are to frown upon these wrecks and fans wanting them, then they should cut back on their use of crash footage in advertising, or if they are going to use such footage, not be so quick and harsh in condoning such behavior by their drivers.

Have a great Race Day and see you soon.

Changing Things Up in NASCAR: Good or Bad ?

Spencer Neff

Twitter:@NeffOnSports11

Thank you for reading and I hope you are doing well.

Over the past six years, NASCAR has seen countless changes, ranging from the points structure to how starting spots are awarded for each race. Fans of the sport, notoriously vocal about  new ideas, have recently expressed displeasure in NASCAR’s ever-changing landscape and opting to take their time and money elsewhere.

Although some of these ideas, such as Darlington’s throwback weekend in September, have paid homage to the past, several such as the Chase and new charter system, are aimed at attracting new fans and protecting the investments owners and sponsors make into racing.

The desire by NASCAR to try new ideas is of course admirable given the ever-changing consumer demands. There does come a problem with these ever-changing ideas.

Newer fans who are attracted to the sport by the new playoff system and other new ideas may be interested in NASCAR for a short time, but with the NFL’s dominance of Sunday television during the Chase and emergence of other sports leagues, keeping the sport in the mainstream consciousness may be even more difficult and even more-so if its most loyal fans have begun to take their money and television viewing time elsewhere.

In order to get anywhere near the success of the NFL, NASCAR will have to not only make sure that on-track changes like the new low-downforce package add excitement to the racing, including adding parity. Much of the later part of the season was dominated by two teams. Football (both college and NFL) have prided themselves on the “Any Given Saturday/Sunday” mantra.

Although that has been true for NASCAR at times, making sure that the racing has a solid element of unpredictability will help NASCAR keep the new fans they so covet, as well as some of the older fans who have grown frustrated with certain drivers and teams winning the majority of races.

Implementing changes to benefits drivers, crews and owners is one thing, but fans are still the main factor in determining the sport’s long-term success.

How this changes will affect the sport from all sides will be determined over the next nine months. Regardless, NASCAR may begin to lose even more longtime fans if the headline at this time next season is again about an off-season of changes, one of only a handful of changes NASCAR must avoid at all costs.

See you soon.

 

2016 Motorsports Predictions

Spencer Neff

Twitter:@NeffOnSports11

Thank You for reading and I hope everyone is having a great New Year so far. With the Rolex 24 at Daytona one week away, motorsports season is almost here. With that in mind, here are some predictions for motorsports in 2016.

Scott Pruett Breaks Hurley Haywood’s Daytona Wins Record: One of the bigger stories in sports car racing leading into this year has been the return of Ford with Chip Ganassi Racing at Le Mans. At the other 24 hour race, it will be one of Ganassi’s former drivers making the headlines.

Pruett comes into the season tied with Hurley Haywood at a record five wins in the prestigious event. Now with Action Express Racing, Pruett will be teammed with  2014 winners Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi, as well as Filipe Albuquerque and the team’s experience puts them among the favorites to win next week at Daytona.

Tony Stewart wins Pole, Kyle Busch wins Daytona 500: Much attention will be paid to Tony Stewart in what will be his 18th and final attempt to claim that elusive Daytona 500 win. Don’t be surprised if Stewart is able to start the race up front. The favorite to win the event could be Stewart’s former teammate and 2015 Sprint Cup Champion. Before his injury in the Xfinity Series race, Busch was among the fastest cars leading up to the Daytona 500. Now at full health, Busch will look to start 2016 like he ended 2015 and win the Great American Race for the first time.

Chase Elliott Goes Winless, Jimmie Johnson Wins Seventh Title: Replacing the retired Jeff Gordon at Hendrick Motorsports is 2014 Xfinity Series Champion Chase Elliott. Elliott, the son of 1988 Cup Series Champion, comes in with big expectations. It is increasingly harder to win in NASCAR’s top series, and it may take some time for Elliott to get used to the series.

After the learning curve, Elliott will have a great chance to become NASCAR’s next superstar. Elliott’s teammate, Jimmie Johnson will finally master the new Chase format and tie Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty with seven titles, also passing Dale Earnhardt’s 76 career wins (Johnson has 75).

Low-Downforce Brings Excitement Back to Cup Series: In the last few years, the lack of on-track action has been a major concern among fans. At Kentucky and Darlington, low-downforce packages were introduced and the results were so positive, the package was implemented for all non-restrictor plate races in 2016. The setup will continue to make for close racing and bring fans back to the sport.

Caution Clock is Tried in Other Series: On Tuesday, NASCAR announced that a 20-minute countdown clock will be implemented in the Truck Series, with a caution automatically being displayed if 20 minutes passes between cautions. This idea has been widely criticized by fans, but don’t consider it impossible that this idea may transfer to the other national touring series, despite its flaws.

Brittany Force Wins the Top Fuel Championship: The only one of NHRA legend John Force’s daughters to not have followed him into Funny Car, Brittany has gone two seasons without a win. Earlier this week, it was announced that renowned tuner Alan Johnson will be working with Brittany during the season. Johnson has won titles with Gary Scelzi, Tony Schumacher, Del Worsham and Shawn Langdon. Look for Brittany to add her name to the list of Johnson’s championship drivers.

Will Power wins 100th Indianapolis 500: The Greatest Spectacle in celebrates the century mark on May 29. Last year, Juan Pablo Montoya held off Will Power to win his second Indianapolis 500. This year, Power will finish one spot better and a driver who dominated road and street courses throughout his career will finally win the biggest oval race in the sport.

Helio Castroneves Retires: Before 2015, Castroneves had been runner-up in the points during the 2013 and 2014 seasons despite just one win each year. After 19 wins in his first 13 seasons, the 3-time Indianapolis 500 winner has just four wins in the last five years. Expect Castroneves to be competitive at Indianapolis in May, but this may be the last year for one of the best at the speedway.

Have a Great Weekend and see you soon.

Sunday Night Quick Takes

Spencer Neff

Twitter:@NeffOnSports11

Thank You for reading and I hope you had a great weekend. Here are the top headlines from the weekend in racing.

  1. Kyle Busch held off Kevin Harvick for the win at Homestead and with it, took his first career championship. Busch’s championship has been one of the biggest comebacks in the sport’s history. Busch broke his leg and foot at Daytona in February, missing the first 11 races of the season. Busch won four out of five races from Sonoma to Indianapolis during the summer and rode that success to his fifth win and the title on Sunday. Sunday also marked the last race for Jeff Gordon, who finished sixth in the race and third in the championship. Gordon has been one of the sport’s greatest ambassadors and his retirement certainly marks the end of a great era in the sport’s history.
  2. Chris Buescher clinched his first Xfinity Series title on Saturday with an 11th-place finish at Homestead. Buescher has been remarkably consistent and has been running at the finish of every race this year. Although his 2016 plans have not been finalized, Buescher has proven the ability to compete in the sport, even serving as a substitute driver for Front Row Motorsports throughout the year.
  3. Matt Crafton’s win on Friday night was not enough to secure his third consecutive Truck Series title, as Erik Jones finished sixth to become the youngest champion in series history. Jones was able to parlay fast runs into wins as they season went on after not being able to do so early on in 2015. Jones will be moving on to the Xfinity Series next year and could be one of the sport’s biggest stars if his recent success continues.

Have a great week and see you soon.

Pre-Weekend Quick Takes

Spencer Neff

Twitter:@NeffOnSports11

Thank you for reading and I hope you had a great week. Here are the top headlines for the weekend in racing.

  1. The Chase for the Sprint Cup Series comes down to one final race and four drivers at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday. Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. are looking for the title and whoever finishes best will take it.Although Gordon is the sentimental favorite to win in his final race, Harvick could be the one to beat as defending champion of the race and series.
  2. Chris Buescher has an 18-point lead over defending champion Chase Elliott in the Xfinity Series. Buescher, who has won twice this year, has been remarkably consistent and is just one solid finish away from taking the series title on Saturday at Homestead.
  3. Ford Championship Weekend kicks off Friday night with the Truck Series. Erik Jones is 19 points ahead of Tyler Reddick and 31 ahead of two-time defending champ Matt Crafton. Crafton, who is on pole tonight, will need some help to make it three titles in a row. The run Jones has been on this season has been impressive and he has cemented his status as one of the top young drivers in the sport.

Have a great weekend and see you soon.

Top 10 Tuesday: NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship Battles

Spencer Neff

Twitter:@NeffOnSports11

Thank you for reading and I hope you are having a great week.

On Sunday, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. will battle at Homestead for the 2015 Sprint Cup Championship, with the highest finisher winning the title. The 2015 championship is the latest in a long history of exciting championships. Here is a look at the  most memorable championship battles in series history.

10. 1996: Terry Labonte vs. Jeff Gordon- Despite only winning two races to his teammate’s 10, Labonte was still in prime position to win his second career championship. Labonte finished fifth and Gordon third, giving Labonte the title by 37  points.

9. 1989: Rusty Wallace vs. Dale Earnhardt- Wallace held onto his points lead with a 15th-place finish in the last race at Atlanta to clinch his first and only championship by 12 points over Earnhardt.

8. 1990: Dale Earnhardt vs. Mark Martin-Despite a controversial 46-point penalty following his Richmond win early in the year, Martin was still in contention for the title. After a win at Phoenix, Earnhardt took the lead and finished third in the Atlanta finale to clinch his fourth title.

7. 1980: Dale Earnhardt vs. Cale Yarborough- After falling down a lap early at Riverside, Earnhardt made it up and finished fifth, two spots behind Yarborough and took his first championship by 21 points.

6. 1997: Jeff Gordon vs. Dale Jarrett vs. Mark Martin- Despite winning 10 races in 1997, Gordon still needed to hold off Jarrett and Martin at Atlanta to take his second title. Gordon finished three laps down in 17th, but still clinched the championship by 14 points over Jarrett.

5. 1979: Richard Petty vs. Darrell Waltrip- Waltrip was leading the championship before the final race in Riverside, but lost the lead after spinning during the race and finishing a lap down in eighth. Petty finished fifth and won his seventh title by eleven points.

4. 2014: Kevin Harvick vs. Denny Hamlin vs. Ryan Newman vs. Joey Logano- The first year of the winner-take-all Chase format lived up to its name, as Harvick held off Ryan Newman to win the race at Homestead and his first championship.

3. 2004: Kurt Busch vs. Jimmie Johnson vs. Jeff Gordon- The first championship utilizing the Chase format would be decided between Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. Despite a loose wheel early in the race, Busch would finish fifth at Homestead and win the title by eight points over Johnson.

2. 1992: Alan Kulwicki vs. Bill Elliott- Six drivers were in the running for the 1992 championship prior to Atlanta, but Davey Allison, Bill Elliott and Alan Kulwicki were the main contenders. After Allison was involved in a wreck, Bill Elliott won the race, but Kulwicki finished second and led the most laps and  won the title by just ten points.

  1. 2011: Tony Stewart vs. Carl Edwards- Headed into the Chase, Tony Stewart had under-performed most of the 2011 season. After four wins in the first nine races of the Chase, Stewart needed to make up three points at Homestead to take his third title. Stewart did so by finished first ahead of Carl Edwards in the race and the championship on a tiebreaker (five wins to one).

Enjoy the rest of your week and see you soon.

Sunday Night Quick Takes

Spencer Neff

Twitter:@NeffOnSports11

Thank you for reading and I hope you had a great weekend. Here are some of the top headlines from the weekend in racing.

  1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. won a delayed and rain-shortened race at Phoenix on Sunday night. His win meant that no Chase drivers would be elligible to advance via the win. Along with Martinsville winner Jeff Gordon, the other three drivers who advanced on points were Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. This Sunday’s finale will have no shortage of great storylines as the title is decided. Ending the race may have been the right call, but it was certainly a disappointing way to get to the last race.
  2. Nico Rosberg won his second race in a row at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday. Rosberg’s fifth win of the season guarantees him second place to teammate Lewis Hamilton in the championship standings. In two weeks, the season will close in Abu Dhabi, as the Mercedes team will look to close out the season in a dominant fashion.
  3. The NHRA closed out their season as Andrew Hines Won his record-tying fifth Pro Stock Motorcycle title and Del Worsham became the third driver to win titles in Funny Car (won on Sunday) and Top Fuel (2011), joining Top Fuel’s Antron Brown and Pro Stock’s Erica Enders-Stevens as 2015 title winners. Worsham was the only champion to win  on Sunday, as he was joined by Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Kraweic. Three months from, the 2016 season will begin at Pomona where the 2015 edition ended today. One interesting story to watch will be the introduction of electronic fuel injection to Pro Stock in place of carburetors.

Have a great week and see you soon.

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