MADISON, Ill. – The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 is less than two weeks away, and drivers and fans are gearing up for the excitement.
IndyCar is nearing the end of its 2018 season, so there’s a lot of pressure heading into the Bommarito Automotive Group 500. This could be a make or break for the leaders in the series.
“The depth and talent in the drivers is unprecedented right now, and also the teams. I mean, it’s not predictable at all as to who will be able to win. It’s just such a level playing field. The competition is very keen and that’s what it’s all about,” says racing legend Mario Andretti.
The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 will run on the 1.25-mile superspeedway track at Gateway Motorsports Park. It's one of just three superspeedways on the schedule this season.
“You might have two ovals that are almost exactly the same, but they'll drive totally different. And, like I said, I’ll drive one way one day and completely different the next. It’s an ongoing change and that’s what keeps the interest up,” says Rick Mears.
Gateway Motorsports Park owner Curtis Francois hopes to make his unique with some state-of-the-art upgrades.
“With brand new pavement, they have great grip and so they’re going faster than they have ever gone at Gateway and we expect again new records to be broken,” says Francois. “We’re doing a special prep on the race track for them so that's part of the reason we really just expect to see the best Indy 500 race ever a gateway.”
Some would argue a single pass made by Josef Newgarden at last year's Bommarito Automotive Group 500 defined his road to victory and, ultimately, his championship. But are there any favorites for this year's race?
“Oh, you’ll never know who’s going to be the leader at the end of the season especially at Gateway Motorsports Park. That track is so unique so different and really calls every bit of aspect of those drivers and their skill to really perform,” says Michael Young, an announcer on the IndyCar Radio Network.
"Tongues are dragging. It’s getting towards the end of the year so hopefully we're in a position that we're fighting for the championship then I will be working really hard to win the race," says team owner Sam Schmidt.
But at the end of the day, no matter who wins, organizers like John Bommarito want to celebrate St. Louis in the victory lane.
“You want people from around the country to work, live here, and do business and actually aspire to be a part of St. Louis and live and visiting us,” he says. “What a better thing that you can get back to your own city? We're using world-class racing as that vehicle to do that and we feel obligated from the Bommarito Automotive Group, that is our obligation, to showcase our city not only locally but around the country,"
Last year there were 40,000 fans watching as the cars crossed the finish line. This year they expect even more.