The World’s Greatest Racecourse will soon be very busy, with a full slate of on-track activity beginning next week. For teams and drivers of the NTT IndyCar Series, they will prepare for two full races in what is the penultimate race weekend of the 2020 season at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Another doubleheader awaits in the Harvest GP after being added to the schedule during the pandemic. The season will conclude on the streets of St Petersburg on October 25.
The Harvest GP will consist of one practice session on Thursday, and qualifying for Race 1 on Thursday evening. Friday’s race will air on USA Network at 3:30 PM ET. Qualifying for Race 2 will take place on Saturday morning, with Race 2 scheduled to begin at 2:30 on NBC.
The entry list has yet to be released, but there are many changes heading into the Harvest GP weekend. It was announced a couple of weeks ago that Sebastien Bourdais would be driving the No. 14 car for AJ Foyt Racing for the remainder of the season, and full-time in 2021. Dalton Kellett will still drive for the team, as he will pilot a third entry (No. 41) alongside Bourdais and Charlie Kimball.
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing also announced recently that they will be back at IMS this week with Sage Karam. The team had committed to doing more races this season, and they are doing just that, despite all of the setbacks and obstacles of COVID-19. It is still unclear whether or not they will race in the season-finale at St Petersburg, where they were set to race prior to the start of the season. A good (or bad) result in these two races at IMS could be the determining factor for how that goes. As for now it is full steam ahead with primary sponsor Oil2Soil.
A big domino fell earlier this week when Zach Veach announced he would relinquish his seat in the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda, after learning he would not be returning to the team next season. Veach explained that he was stepping out of the car early so that the team could work with another driver. That driver ended up being James Hinchcliffe, who drove a one-off entry for the team in the No. 29 car at Texas and the Indianapolis 500 this year. The popular Canadian will finish out the final three races of the season, and is a strong candidate to fill that full-time seat next year.
The next bit of news was that of Arrow McLaren SP driver Oliver Askew stepping out of the car for this event after dealing with concussion-like symptoms following his incredible crash in the Indy 500 nearly one month ago. The rookie stated that he was dealing with balance and coordination issues following the Mid-Ohio race, which led to his being examined by medical personnel. He is now subject to IndyCar’s Return to Racing Protocol. Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves will fill his seat in the No. 7 Chevrolet for the Harvest GP races. The last time Castroneves drove an IndyCar for a team other than Team Penske was in 1999 with Hogan Racing.
The veteran has been good in this event, despite not winning. Aside from his disappointing result last year, he has finished 3rd, 6th, 2nd, 5th, and 6th while leading 46 laps. Only Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, and Scott Dixon have led more laps in this race. It will be an adjustment for a lot of people next week, but it will be hectic in every aspect of the word. There will be plenty of action before, during, and after IndyCar is on the IMS road course.
This weekend was originally scheduled to belong to the Intercontinental GT Challenge and GT World Challenge Maerica. They will now share the weekend with IndyCar and the Skip Barber Formula Series. The action will be non-stop across all series from Thursday through Sunday, with the final event being the headliner 8-hour endurance race. The schedule was organized by SRO Motorsports Group that also features the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour (Australia), Total 24 Hours of Spa (Belgium), Suzuka 10 Hours (Japan) and Kyalami 9 Hour (South Africa). The event also will showcase drivers in SRO America’s Pirelli GT4 America, GT Sports Club America, and the TC America series.
The world’s only global GT3 championship celebrates its fifth season in 2020 racing across five continents. The series will reward the manufacturer and drivers who achieve the best collective results in the world’s greatest endurance events, featuring iconic entries from Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes-AMG, and Porsche. There will be plenty of high-profile names driving in the 8-hour race, including Renger van der Zande, Dane Cameron, Shelby Blackstock, and Colin Braun.
Another name many IndyCar fans will recognize is Ryan Briscoe. The 2012 Indy 500 pole-sitter and 7-time race winner will be driving a Ferrari 488 GT3 with the Vital Speed race team. Briscoe only raced on the IMS road course once in his IndyCar career. That was the inaugural race in 2014 where he started 14th and finished 6th driving for Chip Ganassi.
Manufacturers’ championship leader Mercedes-AMG hasthree entries split between GT World Challenge America front-runners DXDT Racing and Intercontinental GT Challenge stalwarts SunEnergy1 Racing. Both Walkenhorst BMWs will make the trip from Europe, the team’s second M6 set to be shared by Martin Tomczyk, Nick Yelloly and David Pittard confirmed for its first Intercontinental GT Challenge appearance, while Honda Racing adds further full-season flavor alongside domestic team Racers Edge Motorsport.
Porsche – the reigning manufacturers’ and drivers’ champions – once again enlists the services of Wright Motorsports and Black Swan Racing, which represented the marque in the California 8 Hours. Squadra Corse’s GT World Challenge America title contenders Martin Fuentes and Rodrigo Baptista will pilot the other Ferrari machine, as Briscoe teams with Trevor Baek and Jeff Westphal in the aforementioned 488 GT3.
The 8 hour race will begin at 10 AM on Sunday, and tickets are currently still available on the IMS website. The speedway is allowed to have 10,000 fans in attendance each day, which will be separated into two zones in the Turn 1 and Turn 4 oval portions of the track. Visit IMS.com to purchase tickets and view the full schedule for the week.