IndyCars - Austin: A new "classic" for our times

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The IndyCars are this weekend coming to Austin, Texas to do their first-ever race at the beautiful Circuit of the Americas racetrack, just South of town. The series and the track have both decided that the race is destined to become iconic and have dubbed it…

"The IndyCar Classic" at COTA

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Since opening, just a few short years ago, the circuit has hosted many forms of racing, including motorcycle racing, SportsCar racing, Supercar racing and, of course it is the home of the Formula One United States Grand Prix, but this will be the inaugural IndyCar race.

COTA is large, at 3.41 miles in length, with 20 turns and an elevation difference of 133 feet, from the high to the low, with Turn 1 at the end of the front straight being the highest point on the track. The following corners are modeled after Silverstone’s Maggotts-Becketts-Chapel complex - mess up the entry and you mess up all the following corners. The longest straight is on the back end of the circuit, followed by a large turn section modeled after Hockenheim. Then it’s back down hill towards the front straight. All drivers who have raced there have high praise for the track and the facility.

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COTA has a lot of fun planned for the weekend, including lots of music for attendees, as befitting an Austin racetrack. But race fans will also gt to see lots of racing, as many races are scheduled, along with practices, heats and qualifying. They will include:

  • USAC .25 Midgets - Heats and Mains all day Saturday, final Mains on Sunday
  • Mazda Global MX-5 Cup - 2 races on Saturday and Sunday
  • Speed Energy Stadium Super Trucks - 2 races on Saturday and Sunday
  • Indy Lights - 2 races on Saturday and Sunday

…and, of course, the IndyCars will race on Sunday. The weather is predicted to be a mixed bag, with a cloudy Friday, a good chance of rain on Saturday and a much smaller chance of rain on Sunday.

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Let’s take a look at that support racing:
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USAC .25 or “quarter” midgets - are very small and quick open-wheel Midgets that are a training ground for USAC drivers. Run on both dirt and paved surfaces, they produce fast and safe racing for kids interested in a career in Sprints and Midgets. COTA has set up a demo track for the .25s in Parking Lot H of tha facility and there will be continuous racing on Saturday, to get to the Mains on Sunday. Though quite small, the racing - like with karts - can get to be very hairy and a lot of fun to watch.

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Quarter Midgets

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Mazda Global MX-5 Cup - Though sanctioned by IndyCars, MX-5 Cup is really a great training ground for SportsCar drivers. All driving identically-prepared Mazda Miata race cars, the series has huge fields and lots of action, with the goal ultimately to capture the series Cup and with it a huge scholarship to be applied to a racing career in SportsCars.

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Mazda MX-5 Cup cars in action

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Both the Quarter Midgets and the MX-5 Cup folks have no IndyCar drivers in them, so we will wish thenm safe and happy racing and concenttrate on the rest…

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continued…

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Support racing…(continued)…

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Speed Energy Stadium Super Trucks - IndyCar driver Robby Gordon got his start in off-road racing and he still competes in the biggest races of the year, but he spends the rest of the year running this series he created, based on the old Micky Thompson series. Take a 600 hp off-road truck and race it inside a stadium on a man-made dirt track against other identically-prepared trucks.

But, when no dirt track is available that doesn’t stop the fun, because Robby’s guys will set up metal jump ramps on paved tracks and the trucks race on them, as well, often leaping more than 25 feet in the air for hundreds of feet distance. In fact, the Stadium Super Trucks have become a fan favorite support series wherever they run - especially with the kids. This is the first race of the year for the SSTs and we follow them because of Gordon but also because other IndyCar guys will show up to race - Inclding 2018 Champion Matthew Brabham, a Road to Indy ace with multiple wins and titles.

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Matt Brabham and his Super Truck

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Indy Lights - The top rung of the ladder training system known as the Road to Indy, The Lights are the last step a driver takes before going up to IndyCars. The cars are the Dallara IL-15 chassis with AER-crafted engines of 2.0 liters size, turbo-charged to produce 450 hp. The cars also have the same Push-to-Pass feature as the big cars, giving drivers an additional 50 hp for certain circumstances, making for greater passing opportunities. These cars handle much like the big cars, with driver skill being more important than sheer aerodynamics in keeping the cars on the island.

This is a great training ground when transitioning to the big cars and that is borne out by the fact that so many current IndyCar drivers were recent Indy Lights drivers. Following a P1 and a P2 at the season openers at St. Petersburg, the points leader is veteran Zachary Claman, driving for Belardi Auto Racing, but close on his heals is rookie Rinus VeeKay, the 2018 Indy Pro 2000 Champion. VeeKay, driving for Juncos Racing, earned a WIN and P5 at St. Pete.

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Zachary Claman at St, Pete in the Belardi # 13
ZCD

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Friday will be a day of practice for evceryone. Let’s get this thing GOING!

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Friday morning at Austin - The Indy Lights come out for practice…

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Practice is that time when the driver and the race engineer work together to optimize their car for the particular track configuration, the current track condition and the expected weather for the race weekend. With a good practice a car will be at its best. Without it, the whole race is a crap shoot.

First out to practice today were the Indy Lights. They will get this one session before they have to qiualify, later today, so it’s important.

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Here are the results of the Indy Lights P-1 session, with times forthe TOP FIVE: [R] denotes rookie

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1 - Oliver Askew [R], Andretti Autosport time of 1:56.3844s for a speed of 105.478mph
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2 - Toby Sowery [R], BN Racing / Team Pelfrey - time of 1:56.6179s for a speed of 105.267mph

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3 - David Malukas [R], BN Racing - time of 1:56.9856s for a speed of 104.936mph

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4 - Rinus VeeKay [R], Juncos Racing - time of 1:57.2113s for a speed of 104.734mph

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5 - Robert Megennis [R], Andretti Autosport - time of 1:57.2171s for a speed of 104.729

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6 - Ryan Norman, Andretti Autosport
7 - Zachary Claman, Belardi Auto Racing
8 - Dalton Kellett, Juncos Racing
9 - Lucas Kohl [R], Belardi Auto Racing
10 - Julien Falchero [R], Belardi Auto Racing

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Notable:

  • The Lights held a series test here at COTA in mid-February and Oliver was the TOP DAWG in two of the three test sessions, so his top time is no surprise.

  • Julien Falchero was tops in the third February test and P2 in the other two, but he was driving an Andretti Autosport car at the time, and that seems to be the difference.

  • Toby Sowery has no contract and is driving race to race. He posted a P2 and P3 in the first two series races at St.Pete, and he is already doing well here at COTA. The English driver should be in this series full time, obviously. His fate is in his hands.

Oliver Askew (left) and Julien Falchero

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The Lights will qualify for Race 1 early this afternoon. Next up, the IndyCars hold their first of three practices, this weekend…

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Frfiday morning at Austin - The IndyCars hold their first practice of the weekend…

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The big cars got their first shot at the track this morning and a lot happened in the 1-hour session to make news. First and foremeost, rookie Colton Herta had a great session, leading most of it with authority, right up until the moment his Honda engine blew up - the 3rd grenading of a Honda engine this year, following two expirations at St. Pete in the season opener. Herta’s misfortune brought out a red flag that shortened the session.

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Here was the order of speed for the IndyCars P-1 session, with times for the TOP FIVE: [R] denotes rookie

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1 - Josef Newgarden, Team Penske - time of 01:48.6567s for a speed of 112.980mph
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2 - Colton Herta [R], Harding Steinbrenner Racing - time of 01:48.7939s for a speed of 112.837mph

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3 - Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport - time of 01:49.0456s for a speed of 112.577mph

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4 - Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport - time of 01:49.5011s for a speed of 112.108mph

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5 - Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan - time of 01:49.5076s for a speed of 112.102mph

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6 - Felix Rosenqvist [R], Chip Ganassi Racing
7 - Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske
8 - Will Power, Team Penske
9 - Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing
10 - Max Chilton, Carlin

11 - Marcus Ericsson [R], Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
12 - James Hinchcliffe, Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
13 - Matheus Leist, A.J. Foyt Enterprises
14 - Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter Racing
15 - Santino Ferrucci [R], Dale Coyne Racing
16 - Pato O’Ward [R], Carlin
17 - Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport
18 - Zach Veach, Andretti Autosport
19 - Takuma Sato, Rahal Letterman Lanigan
20 - Sebastien Bourdais, Dale Coyne Racing w / Vasser Sullivan

21 - Jack Harvey, Meyer Shank Racing with Arrow SPM
22 - Tony Kanaan, A.J. Foyt Enterprises
23 - Kyle Kaiser, Juncos Racing
24 - Ed Jones, Ed Carpenter Racing

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Notable:

  • Colton Herta topped 3 of 4 test sessions in the pre-season IndyCar test at COTA so his speed, despite his status as a rookie, is not unexpected.

  • There are four drivers in this field who have actually raced at COTA before, by virtue of their being ex-Formula One drivers - Alexander Rossi, Marcus Ericsson, Max Chilton and Santino Ferrucci. Ferrucci also has two WINS at COTA as a driver in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo series.

  • Not here this weekend are Charlie Kimball in the # 23 for Carlin and Ben Hanley in the # 81 for DragonSpeed, but added in are Pato O’Ward in the # 31 for Carlin and Kyle Kaiser in the # 32 for Juncos Racing. Both are former Indy Lights Champions.

Left to right, Joseph Newgarden, Pato O’ Ward and Kyle Kaiser

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The IndyCars will hold their P-2 session later, this afternoon. Next, the Stadium Super Trucks hold a practice and then the Indy Lights come out to qualify for Race 1…

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Friday adternoon at Austin - the Indy Lights qualify for Race 1, Season Round 3…

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Each race in the Road to Indy gets its own qualifying session. It’s a little more expensive and complicated than just using one session for multiple races, but it also give the teams a chance to adjust their cars between qualifying and that makes for better racing. Today, the Lights are qualifying for their first of two races this weekend.

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Here is the way the Indy Lights will grid for Season Round 3, with times for the TOP SIX: [R} denotes rookie

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Row 1

Pole - Oliver Askew [R], Andretti Autosport - time of 01:55.5454s for a speed of 106.244mph

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P2 - Ryan Norman, Andretti Autosport - time of 01:56.0648s for a speed of 105.769mph

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Row 2

P3 - Robert Megennis [R], Andretti Autosport - time of 01:56.0833s for a speed of 105.752mph

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P4 - Toby Sowery [R], BN Racing / Team Pelfrey - time of 01:56.2692s for a speed of 105.583mph

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Row 3

P5 - David Malukas [R], BN Racing - time of 01:56.3964s for a speed of 105.467mph

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P6 - Rinus VeeKay [R], Juncos Racing - time of 01:56.3969s for a speed of 105.467mph

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Row 4

P7 - Lucas Kohl [R], Belardi Auto Racing
P8 - Julien Falchero [R], Belardi Auto Racing

Row 5

P9 - Dalton Kellett, Juncos Racing
P10 - Zachary Claman, Belardi Auto Racing

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Notable:

  • Oliver got a pole at St. Pete, too, so this is 2nd pole of the season. Oliver now holds the track record for Indy Lights at COTA, as this is the first official attempt at a record.

  • Whatever magic Askew found in the morning free practice was apparently also applied to his teammates, as Andretti cars took the TOP THREE spots.

  • Rinus VeeKay had suspension problems early in the qualifying and never got to challenge for the pole.

  • Points leader Zachary Claman had a fuel issue and didn’t put in any time, and will have to start from the tail end.

ZCD - fuel issues

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The Lights will come out bright and early Saturday morning to qualifiy for Race 2 and then they will run Race 1 Saturday, just before 1:00 PM. Next, the big cars hold their 2nd practice session…

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Friday afternoon at Austin - The IndyCars hold their 2nd practice…

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…and after the 1-hour practice, they also did an additional 30-minute Warm-up, which included at least three pit stops for each car - great practice for the squads. Everyone went faster in the P-2 session, except for Colton Herta, who went fastest in the Warm-up, as did Tony Kanaan. With that in mind we present the P-2 / Warm-up COMBINED results:

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Here was the order of speed for the IndyCars P-2 / Warm-up session, with times for the TOP FIVE: [R] denotes rookie

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1 - Will Power, Team Penske - time of 01:47.4401s for a speed of 114.259mph

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2 - Felix Rosenqvist [R], Chip Ganassi Racing - time of 01:47.6150s for a speed of 114.073mph

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3 - Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport - time of 01:47.9311s for a speed of 113.739mph

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4 - Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport - time of 01:48.1209s for a speed of 113.540mph

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5 - Ed Jones, Ed Carpenter Racing - time of 01:48.1597s for a speed of 113.499mph

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6 - Zach Veach, Andretti Autosport
7 - Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske
8 - Takuma Sato, Rahal Letterman Lanigan
9 - Colton Herta [R], Harding Steinbrenner Racing (Warm-up)
10 - Josef Newgarden, Team Penske

11 - Sebastien Bourdais, Dale Coyne Racing w / Vasser Sullivan
12 - Pato O’Ward [R], Carlin
13 - James Hinchcliffe, Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
14 - Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan
15 - Jack Harvey, Meyer Shank Racing with Arrow SPM
16 - Max Chilton, Carlin
17 - Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing
18 - Marcus Ericsson [R], Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
19 - Matheus Leist, A.J. Foyt Enterprises
20 - Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport

21 - Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter Racing
22 - Santino Ferrucci [R], Dale Coyne Racing
23 - Tony Kanaan, A.J. Foyt Enterprises (Warm-up)
24 - Kyle Kaiser, Juncos Racing

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Notable:

  • A big improvement for both Ed Jones and Zach Veach over their P-1 session. Same for Takuma Sato who went forward as his teammate, Graham Rahal also went faster, but not as much.

  • Colton Herta’s blown Honda engine kept him out of the P-2 session, but he was in the Warm-up and the car was fast.

  • Team Penske is still on top, but more Andretti Hondas are creeping up on them. Only Marco Andretti is out of the TOP TEN.

Left to right, Will Power, Zach Veach and Takuma Sato

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The IndyCars will have their final practice in the morning on Saturday and then will qualify in the early afternoon - rain or shine. Next up, the Stadium Super Trucks qualify…

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IndyCar has released a highlight video of the day’s practice sessions and Warm-up…

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Racer magazine’s Marshall Pruett interviews 2018 Lights Champion Pato O’Ward…

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…as he gets set to make his 2019 IndyCar debut for Carlin at Circuit of the Americas:

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Racer magazine’s Marshall Pruett and Sebastien Bourdais give us their Friday report…

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Thanks. boys.

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Saturday morning at Austin - The Indy Lights do qualifying for Race 2…

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First guys on track today are the Lights, and they are qualifying for the 2nd race of the weekend, to be run on Sunday. The weather is cooler, as there is a lot of cloud cover that will likely turn into rain, later today.

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Here is the way the Indy Lights will grid for Season Round 4, with times for the TOP SIX: [R] denotes rookie

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Row 1

Pole - Oliver Askew [R], Andretti Autosport - time of 01:54.6863s for s speed of 107.040mph

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P2 - Robert Megennis [R], Andretti Autosport - time of 01:54.8621s for a speed of 106.876mph

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Row 2

P3 - Rinus VeeKay [R], Juncos Racing - time of 01:55.0874s for a speed of 106.667mph

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P4 - Ryan Norman, Andretti Autosport - time of 01:55.1658s for a speed of 106.594mph

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Row 3

P5 - Toby Sowery [R], BN Racing / Team Pelfrey - time of 01:55.6388s for a speed of 106.158mph

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P6 - Zachary Claman, Belardi Auto Racing - time of 01:56.0148s for a speed of 105.814mph

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Row 4

P7 - Dalton Kellett, Juncos Racing
P8 - Julien Falchero [R], Belardi Auto Racing

Row 5

P9 - Lucas Kohl [R], Belardi Auto Racing
P10 - David Malukas, BN Racing

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Notable:

  • Oliver Askew gets his second pole (third of the season), and breaks his own track record in the process

  • Rinus VeeKay had suspension problems yesterday, during qualifying for Race 1. Today, without the problems, the Nederlander is able to intrude on the Andretti Autosport party, a bit.

  • David Malukas was not able to put in any time and will have to start from the rear, on Sunday

Dave Malukas

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The Lights will hold Race 1 just after Noon, today. Next, the big cars return to the track for their 3rd and final practice, before qualifying,later today…

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Sautrday morning at Austin - The big cars hold their final practice…

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It was their last chance to figure out how to go fast before the qualifying session, later this afternoon. That session may be in the rain, so everythingvthe teams learned here may be all for naught. Everyone went faster in the P-3 session than all previous runs, except for Will Power, whose P-2 time was still his best.

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Here was the order of speed for the IndyCars P-3 session, with times for the TOP FIVE: [R] denotes rookie

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1 - Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport - time of 01:46.9148s for a speed of 114.820mph

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2 - Felix Rosenqvist [R], Chip Ganassi Racing - time of 01:47.0536s for a speed of 114.672mph

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3 - Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan - time of 01:47.4397s for a speed of 114.259mph

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4 - Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport - time of 01:47.5363s for a speed of 114.157mph

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5 - Josef Newgarden, Team Penske - time of 01:47.5372s for a speed of 114.156mph

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6 - Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing
7 - Will Power, Team Penske
8 - Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter Racing
9 - Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske
10 - Sebastien Bourdais, Dale Coyne Racing w / Vasser Sullivan

11 - Zach Veach, Andretti Autosport
12 - Colton Herta [R], Harding Steinbrenner Racing
13 - Takuma Sato, Rahal Letterman Lanigan
14 - Pato O’Ward [R], Carlin
15 - Ed Jones, Ed Carpenter Racing
16 - James Hinchcliffe, Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
17 - Marcus Ericsson [R], Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
18 - Jack Harvey, Meyer Shank Racing with Arrow SPM
19 - Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport
20 - Santino Ferrucci [R], Dale Coyne Racing

21 - Matheus Leist, A.J. Foyt Enterprises
22 - Max Chilton, Carlin
23 - Tony Kanaan, A.J. Foyt Enterprises
24 - Kyle Kaiser, Juncos Racing

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Notable:

  • The TOP FOUR cars are Hondas but Team Penske has all three of their Chevrolets in the TOP TEN, along with Spencer Pigot for Ed Carpenter, so there is near parity on engines.

  • As a precaution, Alexander Rossi got a new Honda engine to start the session - a hedge against the problem the make has had, lately.

  • Felix Rosenqvist continues to best his teammate, Champion Scott Dixon, though not by much. The guy is scaring the hell out of everyone with his obvious ability.

  • Arrow Schmidt Peterson is still searching for speed, but Rahal Letterman Lanigan seems to have a handle on what works and Sebastien Bourdais for Dale Coyne is also comfortable.

Alexander Rossi (left) and Sebastien Bourdais

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Qualifying will be later today, at 3:00 pm EASTERN time, and will be carried LIVE on NBC-SN. On track now, the Stadium Super Trucks are doing their qualifying Shootout. Following tat, the Indy Lights hold Race 1 of the weekend. The grid for this race is in post # 5…

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Saturday afternoon at Austin - the Indy Lights hold as barn-burner!..

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If the Indy Lights Race 1 is a forecast of Sunday’s IndyCar race, there will be no way to watch all the action on track as it happens - There’s just too much! And this was only ten cars.

Oliver Askew for Andretti Autosport ran away at the start from pole and was never challenged, winning by 24 seconds, but behind him the entire field was on fire. P2 at the end was Rinus VeeKay for Juncos Racing from a P6 start, while Rob Megennis for Andretti finished P3 from P3.

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The race started with Ryan Norman for Andretti spinning his car on the warm-up lap, putting him dead last, instead of P2. At the green flag Zachary Claman for Belardi Auto Racing made a bold move from his now P-9 start to the inside of Turn 1, but only mamanged to hit and spin his teammate, Lucas Kohl. ZCD would thus earn a drive-through penalty. Toby Sowery for BN Racing / Team Pelfrey would leap past Rob Megennis to take P2.

By lap 3 a battle developed for the P4 spot between Rinus, David Malukas for BN Racing and Ryan Norman, with each slotting in repsectively, P4, P5 and P6. As Dave and Ryan battled late in the lap Malukas got squeezed between VeeKay and Norman, and bent his front suspension, putting him out. On lap 5 Dalton Kellett for Belardi and Zachary came together in Turn 1 with Kellett getting a puncture.

By lap 5 a great battle for the P2 spot began between Rob and Toby. The two exchanged the spot many times - sometimes three times a lap. This went on until lap 14, when Rinus VeeKay slipped up to them, in P4. He was positioned to take Sowery out for P3 and did so, only to lose it a few seconds later. Toby and Rinus then began the over/under dance, taking and losing the P3 spot. By Lap 17 Veekay was finally past Sowery and going after Rob.

Rinus and Rob then exchanged the P2 spot several times until the Nederlander finally secured it in lap 18. On the final lap of the race Julien Falchero for Belardi and Ryan Norman were full of Push to Pass and thus able to take Toby for P4 and P5, respectively.

WOW! They don’t get much more entertaining than this one, despite the easy WIN for Askew.

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Notable:

  • Oliver took advantage of all the battling behind him and sailed away with smooth driving.
    He starts on pole again, tomorrow,

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Here is your happy podium - That’s Rinus VeeKay in P2 on the left, Oliver Askew in P1 in the middle and Robert Megennis in P3 on the right:

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The Indy Lights will hold Race 2 on Sunday, early in the morning. Next up, the IndyCars qualify! This will be broadcast on NBC-SN live, stsarting at 3:00pm EASTEN time.

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It’s time for the IndyCars to qualify!..

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…and that means it’s time for the obligatiry qualifying explanation page. We present this for everyone who has no idea what IndyCar is doing, making this so complicated. Well, we don’t expect to help, but we soldier on, anyway. If you already know this stuff…move on!. But if not, you takes yer chances, right here…

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So, how does this work? Around ovals qualifying is simple: One car at a time runs the fastest they can for 2 hot laps (after a warm-up lap) and the fastest average speed is the pole sitter, but…

On road and street courses it gets complicated…

The Firestone Fast Six


Qualifying at COTA is done in three segments of TWELVE MINUTES for the first two and EIGHT MINUTES for the last. Today, there are 24 cars attempting to qualify. In Segment One, the first 12 cars will be sent out for twelve minutes. During that time they will run as fast as they can, being timed. The fastest SIX advance to Segment Two. Then, the 12 remaining cars are sent out for twelve minutes to do the same. The fastest SIX from that group also advance to Segment Two. The 12 cars that did NOT advance line up in grid spots P13 through P24, based on their times.

In Segment Two, the 12 that advanced once again run as fast as possible for twelve minutes. The fastest 6 of this group advance to Segment Three. The other 6 line up on the grid on spots P7 through P12, based on their times.

Segment Three is also known as The Firestone Fast Six. These cars go out and run as fast as they can for only eight minutes and then line up P1 through P6 on the grid, based on their times, and that is how pole is set.

Don’t screw it up! - You have to go as fast as you can but you CANNOT afford to over-cook it: If a car causes a red or full course yellow condition in any segment, the car’s best two timed laps of the segment will be disallowed and that car will not be allowed to advance to the next segment. If a car causes two red or full course yellow conditions in any segment, all segment times shall be voided and the car shall not be permitted to participate in the remainder of qualifying.

Qualifying can be very exciting to watch, as it looks like a very fast race going on, but the cars try to stay separated from each other, so as to get the best possible time without someone mucking up their hot laps. You will see the pole switch SEVERAL TIMES from car to car, as the time runs down.

The pole winner not only gets to start on pole but wins the NTT P1 Award and the valuable series point that goes with it.

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A big payday!

Circuit of the Americas has added a big bonus for whoever get pole, today. If the pole-winner is able to also WIN the race on Sunday, he will earn a $100,000 bonus!

Of course, today we will automatically set the IndyCar track record, for now, as this is the first-ever qualifying here.

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Saturday afternoon at Austin - The IndyCars are quailfied!

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And, as usual the system we know as the Firestone Fast Six made for a great show, with a few surprises along the way.The skies were dark and cloudy but no rain spoiled the show and the temps may have enhanced it. Just like at St. Petersburg, a red flag in the Q1, Group 2 session was a factor.

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Here is the way the IndyCars will grid for Season Round 2, with times for the TOP SIX: [R] denotes rookie

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Row 1

Pole - Will Power, Team Penske - time of 01:46.0177s for a speed of 115.792mph

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P2 - Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport - time of 01:46.1761s for a speed of 115.619mph

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Row 2

P3 - Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport - time of 01:46.3228s for a speed of 115.460mph

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P4 - Colton Herta [R], Harding Steinbrenner Racing - time of 01:46.3594s for a speed of 115.420mph

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Row 3

P5 - Felix Rosenqvist [R], Chip Ganassi Racing - time of 01:46.5680s for a speed of 115.194mph

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P6 - Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing - time of 01:46.9375s for a speed of 114.796mph

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Row 4

P7 - Josef Newgarden, Team Penske
P8 - Pato O’Ward [R], Carlin

Row 5

P9 - Zach Veach, Andretti Autosport
P10 - Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan

Row 6

P11 - Santino Ferrucci [R], Dale Coyne Racing
P12 - Matheus Leist, A.J. Foyt Enterprises

Row 7

P13 - Max Chilton, Carlin
P14 - Takuma Sato, Rahal Letterman Lanigan

Row 8

P15 - James Hinchcliffe, Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
P16 - Marcus Ericsson [R], Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

Row 9

P17 - Sebastien Bourdais, Dale Coyne Racing w / Vasser Sullivan
P18 - Ed Jones, Ed Carpenter Racing

Row 10

P19 - Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter Racing
P20 - Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport

Row 11

P21 - Kyle Kaiser, Juncos Racing
P22 - Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske

Row 12

P23 - Jack Harvey, Meyer Shank Racing with Arrow SPM
P24 - Tony Kanaan, A.J. Foyt Enterprises

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Notable:

  • This is Will Power’s 2nd pole of the season and the 56th in his remarkable career. He now has a shot at winning $100,000 if he also WINS Sunday’s race, thanks to a bonus thrown in by Circuit of the Americas.

  • Felix Rosenqvist set the new track record In the Q2 session with a blistering time of 01:45.4542 seconds for a speed of 116.411 mph.

  • Both Foyt drivers Tony Kanaan and Matheus Leist had great runs in their Q1 Group 2 session with Matheus moving on to the Fast 12, but as Tony completed his lap, getting him also into the Fast 12, he spun in Turn 19, bringing out a red flag that negated his run.

  • The red flag in Q1, Group 2 caught out Sebastien Bourdais and Simon Pagenaud, unable to put in their planned fast laps to advance to Q2 - pretty much just like what happened to them at St. Pete.

Matheus Leist (left) moved on, TK didn’t…

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…and Sebastien Bordais (left) and Simon Pagenaud paid a price

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The race is scheduled for broadcast to start at 1:00 PM EASTERN time on NBC-SN. A re-broadcast of this qualifying session can also be seen on NBC-SN from 11:30 am to 1:00pm EASTERN time. Next, the Super Trucks hold their first race of the season…

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Saturday at Austin - The Super Trucks Race 1…

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The Stadium Super Trucks had both a practice and a qualifying session, on Friday and we have the results of both.

Here was the order of speed for the Super Trucks practice session, with times for all:

1 - Robby Gordon - time of 2:03.412s
2 - Jeff Hoffman - time of 2:03.963s
3 - Matt Brabham - time of 2:04.419s
4 - Gavin Harlien - time of 2:04.714s
5 - Ryan Beat - time of 2:06.455s
6 - Bill Hynes - time of 2:06.646s
7 - Jessie Johnson - time of 2:11.596s
8 - Blade Hildebrand - DNP
9 - Cole Potts - DNP

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Stadium Super Trucks in action
SSTS

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Following the practice the trucks qualified. On Saturday morning the Trucks then had a qualifying shootout that finally sets the grid for Race 1. In the series, the qualifiers are reversed on the grid. That is to say that Matty Brabham was the fastest qualifier, so he starts last, while Travis Pecoy will start in the traditional pole position.

Here is the way the Stadium Super Trucks qualified for Race 1:

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Row 1

Pole - Matthew Brabham
P2 - Jeff Hoffman

Row 2

P3 - Robby Gordon
P4 - Ryan Beat

Row 3

P5 - Gavin Harlien
P6 - Blade Hildebrand

Row 4

P7 - Bill Hynes
P8 - Travis Pecoy
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And here is the race!

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Great race! Lot’s of fun. The only thing missing is the incredible sound of these 600 horsepower trucks. We’ll detail the podium tomorrow, after everyone gets a chance to view the race.

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This was the last on-track activuty of the day.

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IndyCar has released qualifying highlights from Saturday…

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Racer magazine’s Marshall Pruett and Sebastien Bourdais comment on Saturday…

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Thanks, guys.

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Spotter’s Giude - Changes in livery since the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg…

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Most of the IndyCars we watched at St. Pete will be recognizable at Austin, but a few have changed their livery and a coupe of cars are new to the grid, this week. Let’s see who they all are:

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Josef Newgarden drove the white and black Hitachi car at St. Pete, but he comes to COTA in a blue and white car sponsored by PPG Paint:

JosefCar2

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Graham Rahal was driving a blue and white car for United Rentals in Florida, but comes to Austin in the red, black and white TOTAL car:

GrahamCar2

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Santino Ferrucci’s stunning all-chrome car returns after its debut in St.Pete, but the sponsor, “David Yurman,” is now on a red background, instead of black:

SantinoCar2

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Takuma Sato also keeps his St. Pete colors of white and two-tone blue but his sponsor goes from Seeman Holtz to MiJack:

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Pato O’Ward is new to the grid this week, in a white, green and red unsponsored car with some Chevy badging - the colors are of the Mexican flag:

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Kyle Kaiser is also new to the grid this week, driving the Juncos car with their regular colors of green and white with orange accent and sponsored by NFP:

KyleCar

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Sunday morning in Austin - the results of the Super Trucks race…

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Yesterday’s SuperTrucks race was the first race of the season, setting a tone for the rest of the weekend and the rest of the season, and as usual, it was frenetic and fun.

The first WINNER of the season is young Blade Hildebrand, who was able to hold off the master, Robby Gordon, who took P2, while P3 went to rookie Ryan Beat.

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The SSTs on the first ramp at Turn 1 - a down-hill plunge
SST%20in%20race%201
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Your Super Trucks happy podium - That’s Robby Gordon in P2 on the left, Blade Hildebrand in P1 in the middle and Ryan Beat in P3 on the right:

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SSTrace1

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The SSTs will race again, this morning, following the Indy Lights, and here is the way they will line up : [C] are Continental tires, while [T} are Toyo tires

  1. Gavin Harlien [C]
  2. Jeff Hoffman [C]
  3. Matt Brabham [T]
  4. Bill Hynes [C]
  5. Travis Pecoy [T]
  6. Ryan Beat [C]
  7. Robby Gordon [T]
  8. Blade Hildebrand [T]

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Next, the Indy Lights hold Race 2 of their weekend. The grid for this race is in post # 10

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Sunday morning in Austin - The Indy Lights do it again…

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We thought it would be hard to match the great racing that the Lights put on in Race 1 yesterday, but damned if they didn’t do it in Race 2, this morning, as Oliver Askew for Andretti Autosport sweeps the weekend, taking Race 2, but with much less lead. Taking P2 only 2 seconds off Askew was teammate Rob Megennis while P3 went to David Malukas for BN Racing, in a remarkable drive from dead last, due to no time put in during qualifying.

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Oliver takes another WIN
Askew

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The race started with P2 starter Rob Megennis getting a great jump at the start and taking away P1 from Oliver. Starting badly was Rinus Veekay for Juncos, who fell from P3 to P6 in the first turn, while Toby Sowery for BN Racing went from P5 to P3. For the next several laps the field settled in and it looked like we might have a parade, but on lap 6 things heated up, as first Oliver took back P1 from Rob in Turn 14, while Zachary Claman for Belardi Auto Racing took P4 away from Ryan Norman for Andretti.

On lap 10 Ryan and Rinus were fighting over the P5 position, and did so for a full lap, while Dave Malukas took P7 away from Julien Falchero for Belardi. On lap 11 Rinus tried and over/under maneuver on Ryan but ended up off track in Turn 15, dropping to P7 ahead of Julien. A lap later David took Ryan for P5.

Lap 13 saw Oliver just out of Rob’s Push to Pass range of 1.5 seconds and safe, as long as he made no mistakes. Rinus was abe to take P6 from Ryan in Turn 15 at the end of the lap. On lap 15 Zachary pulled off course with a broken transmission, bringing out a Full-Course Caution and bunching up the field, erasing Oliver’s safe lead. By this time Dave was up to P3, ahead of teammate Toby Sowery.

On the lap 16 restart, Toby dropped from P4 to P7 in Turn 1, allowing Rinus, Julien and Lucas Kohl for Belardi to pass him, though he would get back past Lucas in a few turns. Oliver got away clean and began to stretch out another lead on Rob and David. David would hound Rob, nose to tail, for the rest of the race. On lap 19 Ryan would spin in Turn 19 after contact with Dalton Kellett for Belardi, but would recover in P9 as the race stayed green for the final lap, with no further passes made.

Whew! Just like Saturday’s race, it was hard to know where to look, there was so much going on - another great one! .
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Notable:

  • Oliver got both poles and both WINS and leaves COTA in the points lead over Rinus VeeKay who finished in P4 today

  • There were 43 passes for position in the race. Watching those passes develop over time until execution made for a great fan day at the track.

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Here is your happy Race 2 podium - That’s Robert Megennis in P2 on the left, Oliver Askew in P1 in the middle and David Malukas in P3 on the right:

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With this result, here are the TOP TEN in points leaving Austin:

1 - Oliver Askew 98
2 - Rinus VeeKay 92
3 - Zachary Claman 82
4 - Toby Sowery 77
5 - Robert Megennis 74
6 - David Malukas 71
7 - Julien Falchero 66
8 - Ryan Norman 58
9 - Lucas Kohl 52
10 - Dalton Kellett 50

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The next two races for the Indy Lights will be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, May 9-11, in support of the IndyCar Grand Prix. Next, the IndyCars race! The grid for this race is in post # 14.

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