PREVIEW: 2020 NTT IndyCar Series – Indianapolis 500

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Photo Credit: Joe Skibinski / Courtesy of IndyCar

After many delays and cancelations plagued this month of NTT IndyCar Series news, drivers are finally back on track for the most prestigious event on the calendar – the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500. Here’s everything you need to know before the race for the Borg Warner trophy.

What Happened in the 2019 Indianapolis 500?

Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud would start on the pole for the 103rd Indianapolis 500, and would go on to lead over half of the race. 

Despite leading for most of the race, Pagenaud had to deal with his Chevrolet powered machine not getting the same kind of fuel mileage like the charging Hondas of Alexander Rossi and Scott Dixon behind him. 

After the final pit stops had been made, Pagenaud needed a lucky caution to be able to make it to the end of the race on fuel. He got it as Graham Rahal and Sebastian Bourdais came together on Lap 177 triggering a massive wreck that collected the likes of Felix Rosenqvist and  Zach Veach, and damaging Charlie Kimball and Scott Dixon. 

The caution period as well as the red flag to clear debris off the track gave Pagenaud enough fuel to make it to the end. Pagenaud and Rossi then had a thrilling 13 lap shootout to win the race once the green flag came out again, swapping the lead back and forth, but it would be Pagenaud by two-tenths of a second who would go on to win his first Indianapolis 500. 

You can read all the reports from the 2019 Indianapolis 500 here:

What should I look out for this Sunday?

I sound like a broken record at this point saying this, but Marco Andretti is the man to beat this weekend. He’s been the fastest driver all weekend, topping the charts on Fast Friday, Saturday qualifying, and both the Fast Nine shootout and practice session on Sunday. It’s been 33 years since an Andretti started on the pole, and Marco will look to take that pole to a win and break the 51 year “Andretti Curse”. Growing up not too far from Andretti’s hometown of Nazareth, Pennsylvania, he’s my pick to win and bring a Borg Warner back to the Keystone State.

Andretti Autosport as a whole is also worth looking out for, putting four Andretti affiliated cars in the Fast Nine and five cars in the top ten. If not Marco, the likes of Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe, Alexander Rossi, or maybe even Colton Herta could be in with a shot at winning.

The only man able to stop this Andretti stranglehold has been the man with the stranglehold on the season so far, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon. Dixon was beaten to the pole on Sunday by only 0.017 mph, and has been right behind Andretti in multiple sessions. Currently holding a 49 point lead in the championship, Dixon has a very strong chance to grow that lead even further, which will be tough to overcome in this shortened 2020 season.

Team Penske, as well as all Chevrolet powered cars will be worth looking at this weekend as well. In multiple practice sessions so far, Chevy has only had one or two cars in the top ten or even the top fifteen. They also only managed to get one car into the fast nine, driven by Rinus VeeKay. The highest qualifying Penske car would be Josef Newgarden, starting thirteenth.

Optimistically, Chevy machines showed some slightly better race pace in the Sunday practice session, so teams will be hoping that they can make their way through the field. A win might require a risky strategy if they can’t win on pace alone.

And of course I would be crazy to not mention Fernando Alonso here, as the two-time Formula 1 World Champion tries again for the triple crown of motorsport. His No. 66 Arrow McLaren SP entry has struggled for pace as all Chevys have, and he even had a late crash in Practice 2 last Thursday. He will start from twenty-sixth place. 

What is the schedule for the weekend?

Friday 21 August

11:00 EST / 16:00 GMT – “Carb Day” Final Practice

Sunday 23 August

13:00 EST / 18:00 GMT – Pre-Race 
14:30 EST / 19:30 GMT – Race

Where can I watch the 2020 Indianapolis 500?

In the UK, the race will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Main Event. In the United States, television coverage for the Indianapolis 500 will be shown on NBC.

Coverage for Carb Day will be shown in the United States on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold.

Where can I keep up with all the action?

You can keep up to date with all the action across the weekend right here at The Checkered Flag.

Be sure to also follow IndyCar on Twitter (@IndyCar) for live updates throughout the event.

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