The first round of consecutive doubleheader race weekends for NTT IndyCar Series will begin Saturday at Road America, and the circuit finally will have an in-person audience.
The REV Group Grand Prix will be the first IndyCar event held with fans this season after the first two races at Texas Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course took place without crowds.
Though fans will be restricted from entering the paddock and pits, drivers are enthused about hearing cheers from the campgrounds around the sprawling road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Simon Pagenaud said it was a “strange” atmosphere finishing on the podium at Texas and Indy without the typical postrace celebrations.
“It’s like being at a test session,” the Team Penske driver said. “Without the hype from the crowd, you don’t get the feeling of being a gladiator or a superstar. It doesn’t have that racing feel. To me, race fans make racing interesting. It’s a party every weekend when we go, racing and without them, it is not.
“I’m excited about going to Road America, and for the first time, we are going to open up the gates. It is a great place to have people and for them to camp and see us racing around that beautiful track.”
Here are the details and IndyCar Road America Saturday start times (all times are ET):
—IndyCar practice: 11 a.m., NBC Sports Gold
—IndyCar qualifying: 2:15 p.m., NBCSN, NBC Sports Gold
—REV Group Grand Prix #1: 5 p.m., NBCSN, NBC Sports Gold
COMMAND TO START ENGINES: 5:08 p.m.
GREEN FLAG: 5:15 p.m.
DISTANCE: The race is 55 laps (220.77 miles) around Road America’s 14-turn, 4.014-mile, road course.
PUSH TO PASS: 200 seconds of total time, with a maximum time of 20 seconds per activation.
TIRE ALLOTMENT: Nine sets primary, five sets alternate for use during the race weekend. Teams must use one set of primary and one set of alternate tires for at least two laps in the race.
FORECAST: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 81 degrees with a 15% chance of rain at the green flag.
DEFENDING RACE WINNER: Alexander Rossi
DEFENDING POLE WINNER: Colton Herta, 1 minute, 42.9920 seconds, 140.306 mph
QUALIFYING RECORD: Dario Franchitti, 1:39.866, 145.924 mph, Aug. 19, 2000