Friday is Day One of the two-day Verizon IndyCar Series season’s finale MAVTV 500 race at Auto Club Speedway in Southern California, where the fast track times will be as hot as the ambient temperature which is already almost 80 degrees in mid-morning.
The overall schedule is very light – IndyCars on track Friday for a mid-morning 75-minute practice session, early afternoon qualifying and one late afternoon half-hour final practice. The last practice was just changed from running 6-6:45pm PDT, to a later time of 7:15-7:45pm PDT.
Afterwards a season-ending informal casual party will be held for participants, with live entertainment including musicial and comedic interludes from Drivers James Hinchcliffe No.28 United Fiber and Data Andretti Autosport Honda and Mikhail Aleshin No.7 SMP Racing Honda, among others.
Sunday’s schedule is even lighter – Gates open at noon, IndyCar autograph session, live-streamed Driver’s Meeting, and the live TV broadcast of the 250-lap race beginning at 7:20 pm PDT. NBC Sports Network is airing the race.
The only other track activity is the Historic indycars, all on display in one of the garages.
All of the 22 IndyCar drivers tested Wednesday at the Speedway in the last Open test of the season. Last week’s Sonoma Raceway IndyCar winner, Scott Dixon No.9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet topped the charts in each of the two sessions, and overall, running a total of 94 laps, with a best lap of 00:32.8075/219.462 mph. All drivers were fastest in the second session.
The top Rookie was Mikhail Aleshin, tenth overall. Sebastien Bourdais No.11 Hydoxycut KVSH Racing Chevrolet turned the fewest overall laps – 71, and he was twenty-first overall. Title contender, Helio Castroneves AAA Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet ran the most laps – 142, for fifth overall. Points leader, Will Power No.12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, ran 112 laps
for ninth overall. The only other driver with a far-shot mathematical shot at the title, Simon Pagenaud No.77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda, was sixteenth overall, with 93 laps.
Throughout the paddock things are underway for the first practice session. The Safety/Fire Rescue/Medical teams had their morning briefings, as did the IndyCar Course Observers who are stationed around the two-mile banked oval speedway. Two of them hail from San Francisco Region SCCA and have been working as Observers for many years. Randy Gruening has been doing it for 30 years, and Pete Wagner has 24 years at it.
At the other end of the communications loop is Race Control, with Beaux Barfield, Gary Barnhart and Jo Anne Jensen.