Notes for 7-March
It's a sign that the INDYCAR season is near when there's almost more news than we have time to talk about, but let's dive in.
So the news today is around the confirmation that the qualifying format for the Indianapolis 500 will change.
Summarized - the field will be set on Saturday, on Sunday the starting order within the field will be set. I know this is different and we haven't gotten any mails from people liking the change, but it's not a change that has me totally up in arms. Perhaps I'm just numb to the importance of qualifying, but I'm willing to give it a shot.
But I will be interested to see how the change affects the stories that everyone follows in the lead-up to and during qualifying.
For instance, let's say someone has a mechanical issue during their run on Saturday. While they might have been able to take some time to get it fixed and know they could qualify on Sunday, that option is now gone.
And heaven forbid a driver crash on Saturday - the odds seem high they might miss the Indy 500, especially if they don't have a backup car.
So there's almost always been drama in the past, and I at least expect the same level of drama this year.
Mario Andretti To Serve as Grand Marshal for 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
Mario Andretti, one of the most recognizable names in the history of motorsport, will serve as Grand Marshal for the 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, April 13, saying the most famous words in auto racing - "Drivers, start your engines!" - just prior to the start of the featured IndyCar Series race.
Considered by many to be the greatest race driver in the history of the sport, Andretti's list of accomplishments on the track are numerous. He won the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500, the Formula One World Championship and the Pikes Peak Hillclimb. He won the IndyCar National Championship four times and was a three-time winner at Sebring. He won races in sports cars, sprint cars and stock cars - on ovals, road courses, drag strips, on dirt and on pavement. He was victorious at virtually every level of motorsports since he arrived in America from his native Italy at age 15.
"It is totally appropriate to have Mario as Grand Marshal for our 40th race," said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. "Over the years, he has been an important part of our history and heritage, and we're happy to honor his contributions to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in this way."