IndyCar head Mark Miles said Hulman and Co., which owns Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the open wheel series are not currently considering a return of the Indianapolis 500 to the traditional 11 a.m. start time to facilitate drivers competing “The Double,” in conjunction with the NASCAR Coca-Cole 600.
The topic flares sporadically, but found a fresh news cycle recently when Team Penske president Tim Cindric told Motorsport.com that he believed more drivers would attempt the historic feat with more time between the Indianapolis start and the early evening NASCAR start in Charlotte.
Just four drivers have attempted it, most recently NASCAR driver Kurt Busch, who finished sixth in the 500 for Andretti Autosport in 2014. The endeavor is currently still possible with proper logistical effort including private helicopter travel to speed arrival to Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“We aren’t revisiting whether the Indianapolis 500 is going to move into the morning,” Miles told USA TODAY Sports. “We are always open to see what can be done to help make it easier for somebody who could do it now with a 12 o’clock start, to do as it’s scheduled now, helicopters out, expediting, if they win, that sort of thing. But we’re not thinking about revisiting the time for the 500.”
Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski tested organizational teammate Simon Pagenaud’s car last year at Road America and expressed an interest in open wheel racing in the proper circumstance. Pagenaud, the current IndyCar champion, has NASCAR interest, as does new Penske driver Josef Newgarden and Schmidt-Peterson’s James Hinchcliffe. Kyle Larson, a NASCAR driver for Ganassi Racing, which also fields an IndyCar team, has also noted his interest.
“Would bringing it forward by an hour mean that we’d suddenly have a flood of NASCAR drivers trying to race at Indy that weekend? No, I doubt it,” Cindric told Motorsport.com. “But I think even one would make a difference. And there’s three to five drivers out there who would like to do it one day, and have openly talked about it.”
Among other topics from a Thursday a phone conversation with USA TODAY Sports:
- Miles said with “a little bit of deregulation,” competitors will be given greater latitude beginning this season in finding new vendors or building certain parts themselves to save costs and stoke competition.
- The chairman said that a rendering of the uniform aerodynamic body kit to be used by both Chevrolet and Honda in 2018 could be shown to competitors as early as May and tested on-track by June. “All of that is pretty far along and we feel good about it,” Miles said. “Wherever it ends up, exactly, it’s going to be very cool and fans will love it.”
- IndyCar has been holding discussions with two foreign manufacturers.
“We have open conversations with very high-level folks in two right now,” Miles said. “If they bore fruit, it would be for ’18. But it’s too soon to know if they will.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!