Top Gun Racing Hopeful for Bump Day Miracle

R.C. Enerson sits on the tire of the Top Gun Racing Chevrolet ahead of Tuesday’s ROP session from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Photo: Chris Jones and Indianapolis Motor Speedway Media)

After three full days of practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the small team known as Top Gun Racing is hoping to pull off an upset during this weekend’s qualifications for the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Top Gun’s Road to Indy

Top Gun Racing’s first entry on the NTT IndyCar Series grid hasn’t been the smoothest ride so far. After delaying their debut for almost a year, the team made their first official laps together just earlier this month at a private test in St. Louis, on the World Wide Technology Raceway.

R.C. Enerson is the driver of the No. 75, being connected with the team for over a year now. The team and Enerson originally planned to debut during the postponed 2020 Indy 500. Several issues got in the way, including the COVID-19 pandemic, which gave the team time to rethink their strategy and began focusing on the 105th edition of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

Practice Week

With Thursday’s on-track activity complete, the Top Gun Racing No. 75 Chevrolet sits last out of all 35 cars.

On opening day from the speedway, Tuesday, May 18, two hours were allotted to three drivers and teams yet to pass the Indy 500 Rookie Orientation Program (ROP). Enerson, who has only four career starts in the IndyCar Series — all coming on road courses — was one of the three drivers after the team missed the April open test from IMS.

The Indianapolis-based organization struggled, however, and Enerson didn’t pass ROP on day one. Instead, grease leaked out of the car’s left rear on the pit lane. The crew repaired the issue overnight Tuesday and completed ROP first thing Wednesday, but never returned to the track for the rest of the day.

Finally, the No. 75 turned 50 laps in the six-hour session on Thursday.

With 35 cars entered for the 33 positions, Top Gun’s odds to qualify for the race that kicks off in ten days seem low based on pure speed. The best lap the 24-year-old driver turned averaged 217.444MPH around the 2.5-mile brickyard, more than 5MPH slower than the 34th-place car of Dalton Kellett.

Fast Friday

R.C. Enerson drives the No. 75 Top Gun Racing Chevy during Fast Friday’s practice session. The “Johnny Lightning Special” throwback livery honors Al Unser’s 1970 and 1971 Indianapolis 500 victories. (Photo: Luis Torres / TPF)

The Top Gun team placed last again in the Fast Friday session from IMS with a best lap average of 226.055MPH. Enerson turned 33 laps in the final six-hour session of the month with overheating problems plaguing the day for the start-up entry.

Outlook

Just because they don’t have the speed now isn’t the end of the world, though. On-track accidents are no stranger to IMS, especially with the horsepower boost that began on Fast Friday. An accident or two like Santino Ferrucci’s Thursday can help Top Gun have a shot when two-day qualifying rolls around Saturday and Sunday.

The 24-year-old Flordia driver stands on pit lane Tuesday before practice. (Photo: Chris Owens and IMS Media)

In 2019, the last time bumping happened at the Indy 500, Fernando Alonso, Max Chilton and Patricio O’Ward all failed to qualify for the race and all had experienced crashes in practice beforehand. Plus, Kyle Kaiser and Juncos Racing upset Alonso and the McLaren team. After crashing, Kaiser was able to bump Alonso out of the field in an under-budget ride. Top Gun Racing hope to light the same fire this weekend.

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Adam Coon

Since being 15 years old, Adam Coon has been apart of the NASCAR Media scene and has been covering racing content online since 2016. At 18 years old today, he now covers the IMSA WeatherTech Championship and IndyCar Series for The Podium Finish.

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