Monday, May 13, 2013

Weather, Late Programs Equal A 500 Puzzler

I went out to Indianapolis Motor Speedway yesterday for Day 2 of practice. Opening Day had been cold, but warmed nicely. Day 2 saw the sun come out, but when the wind gusted, it was pretty chilly. The kids were freezing, so we didn't stay all day, but we got to see some runs from Ryan Briscoe and the Andretti boys. It was cool to see Carlos Munoz lead practice as a rookie, and even better to see him avoid a scary incident by a little grass-cutting. 

We had such sweltering weather last year at the track, and this year has ranged from fair to downright frosty in comparison. If we can hit a happy medium by the weekend, I'll be thrilled. But the weather has also brought a lot of uncertainty with it. A number of team members I spoke to over the weekend indicated they were limiting their running until Monday or Tuesday. Of course, there's nothing to say that race weekend wont be 50 degrees and windy, but it doesn't seem as if there's a whole lot of deep progress being made out there. The wind doesn't help it; there were some nasty gusts, and several drivers took to social media to talk about getting shoved around out there.

The other part of the equation, which was touched on a bit on Saturday, is the fact that teams are still assembling and prepping after Brazil. Pippa Mann and the #63 Dale Coyne team decided to wait another day to get some laps in. The other two Coyne drivers, Ana Beatriz and Justin Wilson, have likewise not taken laps. Conor Daly won't turn a lap for his Rookie Orientation until likely this afternoon. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing's entries have turned just over a dozen laps apiece. Outside of rookie AJ Allmendinger, Team Penske has run very little. We won't see Buddy Lazier's program until Wednesday, and if the #99 of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports runs, it will be a late entry indeed.

If there's a common thread here, it's that it all adds up to a big puzzle. We don't know how the Coyne cars will run. We don't know what Buddy Lazier and the Great Hemelgarn/Conquest/Other Hybrid team can muster. We don't know if a new look for Dragon Racing will accompanied by a new direction on the year. We're not certain what will happen to teams when the boost is turned up for qualifying, or what the Foyt entries can must, or what Penske and Ganassi are doubtless hiding up their sleeves. Weather, winds, and works in progress equal only speculation for the die hard Indy fan.

As if to punctuate an already wild season, the first few days at the Greatest Race Course in the World have told us little about how the remainder of the month will go. From looks of it, we'll have to take our bits and pieces of information as they come. With wind expected in the early week a few nice days, and the specter of showers headed into the weekend, every day could very well take place under markedly different conditions.

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