Every seat was
sold for the 100th
Running of the
Indianapolis 500 in
2016, but few were
being used as the
33 starters took the
green flag to start
a memorable race.
One thing’s puzzling Helio Castroneves
as the Verizon IndyCar Series prepares
to return to the 1.25-mile Gateway oval
for the first time since 2003.
“To be honest, I never understood why
we stopped coming to Gateway!” says
the Team Penske driver. “I’m so glad
IndyCar was able to make this happen.”
Technically, the veteran Brazilian will
start Aug. 26’s Bommarito Automotive
Group 500 as the race’s defending
champion, having beaten Tony Kanaan
by 0.847sec for the win in ’03.
After the win, the
celebrates his 2003
THUMBS-UP FOR GATEWAY’S RETURN
The fact that both men will be in the
field some 14 years later is testament to
their undiminished competitiveness, but
they’ll have some tough competition.
Castroneves’ new Penske teammate,
Josef Newgarden, got a taste of the track
during tire testing last fall and is looking
forward to the challenge it presents.
”It’s a fun track; it’s definitely
different,” says Newgarden. “It’s got a
little bit of everything. I love short ovals
anyway, so the more short ovals we can
add, the better I feel.”
A sell-out crowd for the 100th Running of
the Indianapolis 500 was a banner day
for the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series, and
the momentum being generated by the
fastest, most versatile form of racing in
the world is set to continue into 2017.
Other notables from last season
included a packed house for the return
of top-level open-wheel racing to Elkhart
Lake’s iconic Road America track, and a
record number of total TV viewers for
NBC Sport’s IndyCar coverage, including
2016 boosters point to continuing momentum for the Verizon IndyCar Series.
an increase in the 18-49 demographic.
The digital reach of IndyCar racing is
growing fast, too, with IndyCar streaming
and viewing on NBCSports.com and the
NBC Sports app hitting new highs in 2016.
At Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the
historic epicenter of American open-wheel
racing, ticket sales for the 101st Indy 500
are already strong, with another bumper
crowd anticipated for “The Greatest
Spectacle in Racing,” May 28.
“The momentum we had in 2016 for
the 100th Running has really carried over
into 17,” says IMS president Doug Boles.
“Since 2011 we’ve been on this trend of
more attendance, and right now this year’s
‘500’ is projected to be significantly
stronger than it was in 2015 for the 99th.”
Beyond Indianapolis, the Verizon
IndyCar Series has increased its schedule
to 2017 races with the addition of the
Gateway oval (see below), and continues
its TV broadcast partnerships with ABC
and the NBC Sports Network.