Watching your first IndyCar race Saturday? Here are some basics. _lowres

Advocate photo by VERONICA DOMINACH -- Graham Rahal practices Saturday at NOLA Motorsports Park.


A road-racing strategy is flipped upside down of what you would expect during an oval race. A road-course race strategy tends to be based on the simple question of what is the earliest you can pit and run to the end of the race without stopping. The race, therefore, is theoretically run in reverse, where many teams will pit early and run their remaining stints flat out based on how far they can run on a tank of fuel. Because this race is 75 laps long, expect this race to be a three-stop race, unless there are caution periods.

Full-course yellow

Full course yellows are called when an accident has taken place or if a car is in a dangerous position and cannot be removed from the circuit without a safety crew being called to assist the driver. The pace car comes out of the pits and goes in front of the leader while all other cars line up behind the leader. Pit stops may take place, and this is when the crew earns its chance in the spotlight.

Pit stops

The two front tire-changers are already out in the pit box before the car goes in. The outside rear tire-changer runs behind the car while another crew member activates the air jacks by plugging in an air line that raises the car a few inches off the pavement. The fueler pushes a fuel hose into the side of the engine cover, dumping fuel into the 18.5-gallon tank.

Changing tires

The tires are changed via air guns that spin a central wheel nut off. After the four tires are changed, the car is adjusted and the fuel tank is filled, the chief mechanic will signal the driver to leave once there is a clear spot in traffic heading out of the pits.