IndyCar drivers adjust to August running of 2020 Indianapolis 500

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INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – MAY 27: Simon Pagenaud of France, driver of the #22 Team Penske Chevrolet poses with the Borg-Warner Trophy during the Winner’s Portraits session after the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 27, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – For the first time in the history of the Indianapolis 500, the race will run outside the month of May.

IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced Thursday the race is rescheduled for August 23 amid the coronavirus outbreak.

So far, drivers say they are adjusting to recent schedule changes well.

“Not being in May, it’s not going to be the same,” said Marcus Ericsson at Chip Ganassi Racing. “But, I still think IndyCar, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Indianapolis the city is still going to put on a great show.”

The Indianapolis 500 has run annually since 1911, except during World War I and World War II.

2019 Indianapolis 500 champion Simon Pagenaud says he feels fortunate to race at IMS again this year, as he eyes his second straight win.

“Having a date for the Indianapolis 500 is a blessing,” Pagenaud said. “I was really concerned whether we were going to race this year because it’s the biggest race in the world. If there was only going to be one race, I was hoping it was going to be Indy. And it’s my number one goal.”

IMS president Doug Boles hopes current health and safety concerns and restrictions due to the COVID-19 outbreak dissipate before the race.

“The most important thing for us is that everybody really pays attention. We really need to get this COVID-19 thing behind us. Best way to do that is to follow the advice of the CDC, our state leaders,” Boles said. “And what we want to be able to do is have an Indy 500 that when the Indy 500 starts, this is far enough behind us that people aren’t worrying about it.”

For drivers, like Scott Dixon, the thought of racing at IMS without fans is disappointing. Prioritizing fans’ safety, Dixon says he is not upset the race was postponed.

“I think it was a great move. It was a great decision,” Dixon said. “Yes, we want to make sure that they can be there. And that we can put on the best show for our fans.”

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