This Indy feels a little odd. Yes, it's the 100th anniversary of the Speedway (though not the 100th race because the race wasn't ran during the WWII and WWI as well IIRC). After a prior season with several positive PR moves and good buzz for the future the proverbial wheels seem to have gotten loose here lately.
Firestone announced this is their last in Indycar... then a 11th hour deal was announced to have them back for next season.
Trump announced as Pace car driver...then canned and replaced by AJ Foyt after a backlash over Trump. I suspect most of the PR damage from that hiccup will be local and short-lived because by the time the race rolls around national viewers will never even know Trump was going to drive the Pace Car and that there was a furor over it. They'll see Foyt in the Pace car and that will be that. Most locals are pleased to see Foyt in that role even if the path was a little rocky so that will help it blow over.
Meanwhile, talk of changes to allow the cars to potentially set track records again this year has died out over the winter. Roughly, qualifying speeds won't be much different than last year in all likelihood.
New cars are scheduled for next season. So it's one more season of sameness with the current chassis. But next year will allow different aero packages giving the cars different looks. ...Except the owners have now voted to hold off on that 1 more year. Boo Hiss... That's been the general fan reaction to the owner's desire. And it's understandable. IMHO the sooner Indy can get away from spec-racing the better... and every small step in that direction needs to be taken just as soon as possible. (Note: And I have no idea why they didn't open the rule book up in this season for these current model Dallaras and let the teams experiment). So, now the series is debating on listening to the fans or the owners on the aero package rules for next year.
At least the turbos are coming back next year and multiple engine manufacturers will be back on the track next season. ...Unless there's an announcement ready to take the wind out of the sails of that needed change.
So for a month of May that was looking like a bridge into a new era of Indycar, somewhere along the lines someone decided some cold water needed thrown into the mix.
That all said, this should be a strong lineup this year. You've got some really good one-offs trying to make the race along with what's been 26 or so regulars for the series. So there will be 40 or so cars and drivers trying to make the 33 car field. Bump day should be interesting. Let's hope the weather cooperates to make qualifying as dramatic as it should be. Give them plenty of practice days and a clear weekend of quals. There will probably be some series regulars spending time on the bubble as well as loading their car back on the hauler come 6PM next Sunday.
By the way... as important as "happy hour" has been to the fans and media throughout the years why can't anyone figure out that the track needs to be open until 7PM due to DST for "happy hour" to have the same impact it used to have with the cooling track temps and shadows making the track conducive for finding speed? Every year since DST I keep expecting them to make the change in the schedule but they don't. The only real reason I can see is so local TV news can cover the final hour during practice each day.
And BTW... I read that Helio isn't over his IRS problems yet. After the IRS losing in criminal court they are undeterred and proceeding in Civil court... and basically over the same issues that they lost in criminal court over. In Civil court he's facing no jail time but he's facing huge penalties and interest and a lower threshold for a guilty verdict. Makes me wonder if some of the questionable driving we've seen from his this year is because this troublesome stuff is sapping his focus?