It was a quick and busy afternoon at the World’s Greatest Race Course as drivers prepared for the second annual Open-Wheels 500 presented by Mitchell Transmissions on Wednesday. In total, 68 drivers posted laps at the virtual Indianapolis Motor Speedway in anticipation for the November 15 iRacing event.
Brazilian driver Marco Aurelio Brasil was quickest on the day, posting a draft-aided lap of 232.618 miles per hour during the late afternoon session. Drivers were allowed on-track from 12:00 to 3:00 PM Eastern, then from 4:00 to 7:00 PM Eastern to close the day. All sessions were shown live by Open-Wheels TV on their Twitch and YouTube platforms.
Rounding out the top five fastest laps of the day were Tim Doyle (232.384 mph), Dakota DiCienzo (232.234 mph), Sileo Angelo Luigi (232.156) and AJ Burton at 232.001 mph. Across the 68 participants, 2,994 laps were completed on the afternoon and there were a total of 11 drivers with 100-or-more laps logged.
One driver who put in a thorough test day was DiCienzo, the Total Downforce Racing with Team Talent driver who made his way into the 2019 field by qualifying 27th overall last year. On Wednesday he joined the OWTV broadcast and spent a few moments explaining why qualifying for the Open-Wheels 500 is such a challenge.
“It is really stressful but at the same time it is really fun… Knowing that you only have three attempts to get it, it definitely adds to everything,” said DiCiezno. “When you are doing practice runs you want to make sure you are hitting everything perfect, and hopefully the muscle memory is there for when you do your actual runs.”
On the other side of last year’s coin, Irish driver Niall McBride fell just short of qualifying for the 2019 race as he was bumped from the field late in the afternoon on Bump Day. McBride took to the track on Wednesday to shake down his No. 41 Team Talent Chevrolet while beginning his effort towards qualifying for the 2020 race – and avoiding the fate that he endured last November.
“I was just short on preparation (in 2019)… which is what you need a lot of to do qualifying on iRacing,” said McBride. “I had a lot of things going on last year – came back from Brazil and I wasn’t really sure when I’d be able to do qualifying with work and other stuff going on. This year, I know that I’m off for the weekend of qualifying and the race, so hopefully this time I’ll have a better chance of making the field.”
Excitement is building around the possibility of a new track record at the Open-Wheels 500, as the increased engine boost implemented with the new aeroscreen on the Dallara IR-18 is expected to produce qualifications runs in excess of 230 miles per hour. Last year’s four-lap average pole speed set by Yang Ou registered at 229.925 miles per hour.
DiCienzo predicted that even the new iRacing Indianapolis 500 record set in May – also held by Ou at 231.529 mph – could be bested next month at the Open-Wheels 500.
“Especially with that one warm-up lap, instead of using half of the track to get up to speed, now you have the whole track. That first (timed) lap will be a lot faster and it will help that average out. I do expect it to be really fast, and a lot faster than May.”
In total there were 19 drivers who posted laps faster than 230 miles per hour, and the entirety of those participants were piloting the Dallara IR-18 chassis. The fastest driver in a Dallara DW-12 was Richard Giacomotti – who was 41st-quick at 225.096 mph – and the quickest Dallara IR-05 pilot was Nick Mumley at 214.031 mph (65th overall).
Across the two sessions on Wednesday, Jesper Öhrman tallied the most laps with 165 to his name. Öhrman was 14th fastest on the day with a best lap at 230.751 miles per hour.
The next time drivers will hit the track will be for Opening Day on Sunday, November 1. Coverage of practice will begin at 2:00 PM Eastern on Open-Wheels TV, followed by the first airing of Today at the 500 at 8:00 PM Eastern. The first week will culminate in the Pit Lane Parley Qualifications Weekend, featuring Pole Day on Saturday, November 7 and Bump Day on Sunday, November 8. RaceSpot TV will offer live, final-hour coverage of each day beginning at 5:00 PM Eastern.
The 2020 Open-Wheels 500 presented by Mitchell Transmissions will be held on Sunday, November 15. The Today at the 500 Pre-Race Show will begin at 9:00 AM Eastern on Open-Wheels TV, followed by the live worldwide broadcast of the Open-Wheels 500 on RaceSpot TV at 11:30 AM Eastern. Drivers interested in registering for the race still may do so by visiting Open-Wheels.com/Register – the deadline for entries is Monday, October 26 at 6:00 PM Eastern.