Home Editor's Picks IndyCar, NASCAR Trucks & Others Ready to Compete at WWT Raceway This Weekend

IndyCar, NASCAR Trucks & Others Ready to Compete at WWT Raceway This Weekend

by Brian Ledford

This weekend is shaping up to be pretty significant for World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois with the return of national professional motor sports to the area.

Activity is projected be closely monitored, as the three-day feature at the 1.25 oval will arguably contain the largest amount of attendees at a local sporting event since the pandemic began.

With zero attendance recorded at home St. Louis Cardinals games and St. Louis FC holding public soccer matches in front of a limited percentage of season ticket holders, a new benchmark for spectators is anticipated.

This makes the weekend at the Madison facility – which features a pair of NTT IndyCar Series races and individual sprints from the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, the Indy Pro 200 Series and the ARCA Menards Series – followed in a sporting world that has been severely limited to the public.

“Despite the unprecedented challenges we all face, (this weekend will) enable us to provide a historic event for our city in a safe environment,” said track owner and CEO Curtis Francois. “Safe social interaction is at the core of our event and we are doing everything possible to make sure our fans have a worry-free experience.”

The marquee events, the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 identical 200-lap races from the NTT IndyCar Series, take place Saturday and Sunday with a 2:40 p.m. green flag.

Those that had bought advanced tickets for the August event prior to the pandemic were notified via e-mail earlier this summer that they could either request a seat change exchange to improve social distancing or turn in the pre-purchased ticket to receive credit towards a future event.

Gauging a potential head count this weekend will be tough. No doubt, the annual IndyCar event will not even reach the 50,000 spectators that attended last year.

But given the outdoor setting, the expansive seating and the facility’s procedures of fan safety – mandatory masks and temperature checks at entry and additional sanitation practices – put into in place, an attendance of five figures is not out of the realm.

The NTT IndyCar Series hold the eighth and ninth rotations of their shortened dozen-race schedule with the pair of Bommarito 500s that will have 23 drivers competing.

Takuma Sato (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing) won last Sunday’s Indianapolis 500, and last year’s Bommarito 500, and is considered a top contendethat seeks a second straight duke.

“St. Louis is a great track,” said Sato, who one his second career Indy 500 six days ago. “It’s quite challenging. Turns 1 and 2 and Turns 3 and 4 have quite different characteristics, and that makes for great fun for all of us. It is good to return to defend our win after having just won the Indy 500 for a second time.”

Current points leader Scott Dixon (Chip Gannasi Racing) has won three of the seven IndyCar races this season and holds a 84-point lead over Josef Newgarden (Team Penske) in the standings (335-251).

Eyes will be watching rookie Pato O’ Ward (Arrow McLaren SP), who currently sits third in points (218) and has five Top 10 finishes in his ledger.

“The last time I was there was in 2018 with Indy Lights, and I had a solid run, finishing in third,” he said. “The whole team is going to be pushing hard to get to the top step of the podium this weekend.”

Graham Rahal (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing), who currently sits fourth in the standings, is having one of his most productive seasons to date with a runner-up finish at the GMR Grand Prix on July 4 and back-to-back third place results at the last two IndyCar races.

“I feel like we’re in a really good spot in fourth, and we’ve got some bright days ahead,” said Rahal. “We’ve had a really consistent year. It will be great to have fans back in the stands at World Wide Technology Raceway. We anticipate a great weekend of racing with the doubleheader. Hopefully, everyone will come out and have some fun.”

The weekend’s supplemental events also bring plenty of action.

Sunday’s NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series CarShield 200 presented by CK Power is also projected to have intrigue with its 160-lap feature that starts at 11 a.m.

Current points leader Austin Hill (Hattori Racing Enterprises) has a 515-474 edge over rival Zane Smith (GMS Racing). Hill has one win on the season while Smith has two.

Other potentials to reach the winners circle include Sheldon Creed and Grant Enfinger, who have each posted a pair of wins in the first eleven races of an adjusted 19-race schedule.

Locally-sponsored Jordan Anderson also hopes for a high finish in his No. 3 Chevy Silverado.

Saturday’s IndyCar event is bracketed by a pair of open-wheeled developmental races.

The Indy Pro 2000 Series continues their season with a 55-lap feature that launches Saturday at 1 p.m.

This marks the seventh race of an adjusted 17-race docket that currently finds Canadian rookie driver Devlin DeFrancesco sitting atop the series standings. The Andretti/Steinbrenner Autosport pilot has three podium finishes but has yet to claim checkered flags.

“I’m hugely excited for the weekend,” said the 20-year-old that finished fourth in his first oval race at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis last Friday. “This weekend, it’s about getting up to speed as quickly as possible and making sure we start the way we left off last weekend, with a very well-balanced car.”

Other drivers looking to claim a victory Saturday include USAC Silver Crown star Kody Swanson, who made his Indy Pro debut at the aforementioned Friday race with an impressive victory, as well as Sting Ray Robb, Artem Petrov and Daniel Frost, who have also won races this season.

The ARCA Menards Series Dutch Boy 150 follows Saturday’s IndyCar race with a 120-lap event that has a 5:15 p.m. green flag.

Current standings leader Michael Self has a pair of wins on his ledger while Bret Holmes and Drew Dollar have each claimed checkered flags at solo races.

Broadcast coverage of each day’s IndyCar events begin at 2 p.m. on NBC Sports Network.

WEEKEND SCHEDULE – (Schedule Subject to Change)           

FRIDAY, AUGUST 28 — OPEN TO WEEKEND TICKET HOLDERS ONLY

9:15 am — Indy Pro 2000 practice

11:30 am — Indy Pro 2000 practice

2 pm — Spectator gates open for weekend ticket holders

2:15 pm — Indy Pro 2000 practice

3:30-4 pm — NTT INDYCAR SERIES rookie practice

4-5 pm — NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice (all cars)

5:30 pm — Indy Pro 2000 qualifying

SATURDAY, AUGUST 29

7: 30 am – Spectator gates open

9:05 am – Indy Pro 2000 Series practice

10 am – ARCA Menards Series practice

11 am – NTT INDYCAR SERIES qualifying

1 pm – Indy Pro 2000 race (55 laps or 40 minutes)

2:25 pm – Bommarito Automotive Group 500 opening ceremonies begin

2:40 pm – NTT INDYCAR SERIES Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta and Valvoline (200 laps, 250 miles)

5:15 pm – ARCA Menards Series Dutch Boy 150

SUNDAY, AUGUST 30

7:30 am – Spectator gates open

9 am – Vintage Indy Registry Open Wheel Icons on track

10:30 am – NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series opening ceremonies begin

11 am – NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series iHeart 200 (160 laps, 200 miles)

2:25 pm – Bommarito Automotive Group 500 opening ceremonies begin

2:40 pm – NTT INDYCAR SERIES Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta and Valvoline (200 laps, 250 miles)

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