IMS empty on usual Indianapolis 500 race day

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INDIANAPOLIS – The main gate at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was almost unrecognizable Sunday morning considering it was the day before Memorial Day.

Cars whizzed by on 16th Street without turning into the tunnels of the fabled Brickyard for the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

The 104th Indianapolis 500 has to wait until August 23 this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It doesn’t even feel like May, so at that time I probably won’t even be aware that we are supposed to be racing,” said 2018 champion Will Power when asked what he’ll be thinking when the race should have started. “If I happen to think of it, I’ll think that’s just strange.”

“I don’t know how I’m going to feel,” last year’s winner Simon Pagenaud said. “I’m certainly going to feel excited despite not racing. The biggest thing I’m going to think about is how I’m going to be in August at the same time and try to control my emotions as best I can.”

This year’s race will be the first not run on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend since rain forced the 1997 Indy 500 to Tuesday and the first ever not held in May. The event was canceled for four years during World War II.

While the main gate was quiet, it was a different story at gate one. Fans gathered to take pictures, wave checkered flags and listen to the Gordon Pipers. Other fans lined the surrounding streets and neighborhoods sitting in lawn chairs and hanging out under tents.

The next scheduled event at the speedway is NASCAR on July 4th weekend. The IndyCar series will race on the road course the day before the Brickyard 400.

Pagenaud is not looking back, but forward to his title defense.

“The situation we’re in is what it is,” said Pagenaud. “We going to race in August and I’m focused on that. I’m 100-percent ready. More ready than ever. I’m looking at the chance I have to prepare so well and I’m looking at the fact that we have a chance to race this year, which is incredible.”

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