Indy 500 2012: The Expected Record Heat Wave Will Make for an Interesting Race

Sam R. QuinnSenior Analyst IIIMay 23, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 19:  Ryan Briscoe the driver of the #2 IZOD Team  Penske car celebrates after winning the pole during qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 19, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

It's going to be an absolute scorcher at the Indianapolis 500 this Sunday and that's going to have some interesting effects on the race.

There are plenty of intriguing story lines. Can Ryan Briscoe grab the checkered flag after winning the pole by the skin of his teeth? Will Helio Castroneves be able to win his fourth Indianapolis 500, tying A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears for the most ever?

But the most interesting of all is what kind of impact that the expected heat wave will have on the drivers and the cars.

Temperatures are expected to be well into the 90s by the noon start time on Sunday and could surpass the highest ever recorded at the Indy 500. The current record race-time temperature was seen in 1937 at 92 degrees. The temperature is expected to be 93 degrees by the time the race starts.

One of the main problems that the high temperature will bring about is the reduction of traction. Hot air is less dense, meaning that the cars will not be pressed down onto the Indy track as much as they typically are when the weather is cooler.

That issue might put J.R. Hildebrand at a psychological advantage as he surely has had flashbacks to his last-second crash in 2011 that cost him a victory.

The heat also has a substantial effect on the efficiency of the engines. Horsepower will be decreased and it will be fascinating to see how the drivers cope with this. Will it have an effect on the Chevrolet engines that ran incredibly well during qualifying? We'll have to wait and see.

The single most important problem that the heat wave will pose is driver fatigue. It's already hot enough in the cockpits without summer-like heat and you can bet that the drivers and their crews will be focused on staying hydrated.

If not, we could see some pretty horrifying crashes, as fatigue causes a delay in reflexes, something that is of the utmost importance in the IndyCar series.

Officials at the Indy 500 have begun to install misting stations in an effort to keep fans cool fans all around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. in preparation for the race.

While the weather is always unpredictable, experts are pretty sure that we're in for a real hot 2012 Indy 500 and there will almost certainly be some compelling outcomes caused by the heat.