IndyCars - The off-season: Series news and comment until the March 2014 kick-off


#277

Are you writing these things, or are you cutting and pasting someone else’s work here? Looks like cut and paste job.


#278

I write everything here and have been doing so since 2014. Why do you ask?

Mark


#279

Ok, I was curious. Do you do it for a publication? It’s definitely not in the “voice” you use here in other threads.


#280

I do it for the love of the sport and to promote the sport, as much as any fan can. This is the Sports Forum, It’s not supposed to be political.

M


#281

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Team USA is ready to race this weekend at Silverstone…

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This weekend at the iconic English track the 18th annual Walter Hayes Trophy will take place and Colin Mullan and Jake Craig - our Team USA Scholarship boys - will once again be representing the United States in the huge international field of over 100 entries from more than a dozen nations. The Walter Hayes Trophy - like the Formula Ford Festival contested two weeks ago - is one of the premiere Formula Ford events in the world. The best of the best from the discipline will be in it.

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Colin Mullan (left) and Jake Craig

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Team USA has spent the last two weeks sight-seeing in and around the London area, with a stops at the McLaren Technical Centre, the Mecerdes AMG/Petronas headquarters, the Ilmor Engineering shops and the Carlin racing shops - all must-sees for open-wheel drivers visiting Old Blighty.

But the last three days have been devoted to testing at Silverstone in their Cliff Dempsey Racing Ray chassis, adorned with patriotic colors. On Saturday, Craig will start his weekend of racing in Heat 5 while Mullan will contest in Heat 6. From there all depends on how they do.

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Americans driving for Team USA have done well at the Walter Hayes Trophy in the past, with WINS from IndyCar driver Conor Daly in 2008, IMSA driver Connor de Phillippe in 2009 and IMSA driver Tristan Nunez in 2012. Good luck tomorrow, boys!!

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M


#282

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Team USA does great in the heat races at Silverstone on Saturday…

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Today at Silverstone in England the 6 heat races designed to winnow the huge field of Formula Ford drivers participating in the 2018 Walter Hayes Trophy were held and Jake Craig and Colin Mullan - the Team USA Scholarship boys representing the USA - had good heats and will be in the Semi-finals as a result.

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Jake Craig (left) and Colin Mullan - Team USA

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Both drivers ended their respective heats where they started them, with Jake finishing P2 in Heat 5 and Colin finishing P5 in Heat 6. In qualifying for his heat Jake’s lap time, 01:02.491s, was the fifth fastest of the day overall and he then posted the 2nd fastest lap of his heat and of the all the heats, at 01:02.485s. Jake’s on fire.

Colin also had a great race and was able to advance as far as P2 in a five-way battle for the lead but eventually fell behind eventual heat WINNER Roger Orgee, Nico Gruber, Formula Ford Festival winner Josh Smith and superstar Oliver White - a former Road to Indy Shootout finalist. At this level, it is often a case of give up a spot or simply collide.

With their performances Jake will start in Semi-final 2 on Sunday in the P4 spot, right behind USF2000 driver Julian van der Watt, while Colin will start in Semi-final 2 from P14 out of 27 starters - a much harder task that Jake’s, but he’s undanted. Said Colin, “Rain is in the forecast for tomorrow, and I’m hoping to pick up some positions in the semifinal. Our pace was quick in the rain during practice, so we should be able to run up front.”

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Colin Mullan at Silverstone on Saturday in his Cliff Dempsey Racing Ford

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Good luck boys!

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M


#283

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The cat’s out of the bag - David Malukas is going Indy Lights racing in 2019…

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Though they haven’t yet made the official announcement, it looks like BN Racing will field a single car in the Indy Lights in 2019 for their 2018 Pro Mazda pilot, Chicago’s David Malukas, making BN Racing the only team that will have cars in all three of the Road to Indy ladder series.

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17-year-old David Malukas

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While we knew that BN Racing’s chief, Bryn Nuttal, had purchased a Dallara IL-15 Lights car last month, it was not known if David was to be the driver, or instead take a sophomore year in Pro Mazda for the team. Now, Dave himself has let it be known he’s to be the guy.

2 years ago David was driving karts for Nuttal in England when the team decided to go car racing in the Mazda Road to Indy, starting Dave in a USF2000 Tatuus USF-17 car. Then last year David moved up to drive one of the team’s brand new PM-18s in Pro Mazda, finishing the season with 3 WINS.

At the 2018 Chris Griffis Memorial Test David drove a Lights car convincingly for Belardi Auto Racing, with coaching from 2017 Pro Mazda Champion Victor Franzoni, allowing David the chance to show he was able to take on the much-more powerful car. That convinced Nuttal to give him the 2019 Lights ride.

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David has always moved up to the next level as quickly as possible, so as to compete against drivers much better than himself, as he finds that the best way to learn. But even he has stated that the leap from PM-18 to IL-15 is MUCH bigger than was the leap from USF-17 to PM-18. He might even be willing to spend all of 2 years in the Lights!

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M


#285

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IndyCars come to COTA for the first tests…

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On Monday Tony Kanaan for AJ Foyt Racing and Alexander Rossi for Andretti Autosport were the first guys to bring IndyCars to Circuit of the Americans in Austin, Texas in anticipation of the inaugural IndyCar race at the venue this coming March.

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Kannan at speed

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Alexander Rossi readies himself for a run

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A few comments from the boys:

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Alexander Rossi is actually the first contesting driver to ever run at COTA when he came to the track in 2013 to test a car for Caterham F1.

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M


#286

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Team USA has an inglorious day at Silverstone on Sunday…

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Sunday started out great for Colin Mullan and Jake Craig, otherwise known as the Team USA Scholarship WINNERS and representatives of the United States in the prestigious Formula Ford Walter Hayes Trophy race at Silverstone, in England.

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Colin Mullan (left) and Jake Craig - Team USA

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Both were entered in Semi-final 2, which ran in dreary and damp conditions, with Jake starting P4 and Colin starting P14. On the opening lap Jake moved to P3 and then fell to P6 on lap 2 while challenging for the lead. He was able to regain all he lost and then some by lap 9, coming up to P2 right behind leader Julian van der Watt of South Africa - a Road to Indy USF2000 driver for Team Pelfrey. As Jake and Julian went into the final lap they were side by side up the Wellington straight when Jake made a last-ditch effort at Brooklands corner but spun off into the weeds. He was able to recover to a P11 finish while Julian went on to the WIN of the Semi.

Julian van der Watt - USF2000 muscle for the WIN

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Colin at first also made gains in Semi-final 2 and had advanced from P14 to P9 when he tangled with England’s Josh Fisher at the corner called Becketts and dropped back to P12 at the finish. Nevertheless, he posted the 2nd fastest lap of the Semi. However, with their finishes, their task in the Final was made all the harder, starting 21st for Jake and 23rd for Colin.

Both got great starts in the Final with Jake making up 6 positions on the opening lap, but once again he was undone at Brooklands. This time Briton Roger Orgee was knocked off course, spinning in front of and collecting Jake’s car, destroying his right-side suspension. Colin faired better and advanced in the race from P23 to a P12 finish - just too much ground to make up for any better.

Briton Michael Moyers WON the Final, his 2nd Walter Hayes Trophy WIN in a row. P2 was Matt Cowley, a former Road to Indy Shootout contestant, while P3 went to Ireland’s Jordan Dempsey - brother to Indy Lights driver Peter Dempsey and son of Cliff Dempsey, whose team cars are the mounts for Team USA.

(left to right) P1 Michael Moyers, P2 Matt Cowley and P3 Jordan Dempsey

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As WINNER of the Walter Hayes Trophy Moyers would automatically be entered in the Mazda Road to Indy Shootout in December, but he is too old to qualify for that chance at a $200,000 scholarship, so 20-year-old Matt Cowley will likely be the entrant, instead - his 2nd Shootout in a row. (Cowley went to the Shootout in 2017 by virtue of WINNING the F1600 Championship in the USA.)

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With their England adventure over, both Jake and Colin wanted to express their gratitude to Jeremy Shaw and the Team USA Scholarship he founded, and to Cliff and Michelle Dempsey, who not only gave them great cars to drive but also hosted them in their home all this month. They now return home and will prepare for the Mazda Road to Indy Shootout, which they are automatically entered in by virtue of being Team USA.

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#287

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IndyCar is handing out the 2018 “Speedy Awards”…

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At the end of every season the Champions in both driver and team categories get their awards from the series, but soon afterwards the series statisticians go to work and come up with additional TOP performers in several other categories. These are known as the “Speedy Awards” and we’d like to let you know who WON them, starting with the “Alex Zanardi Overtaker of the Year” award - the award for the guy who did the most on-track passes of the season.

The 3rd most passes for the year were turned in by 2017 Champion Josef Newgarden, driving for Team Penske. Josef had no less than 257 on-track passes in 2018. He was the TOP passer at Long Beach and was in the TOP FIVE passers at Indianapolis, Texas and Portland.

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Josef Newgarden

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The 2nd best passer of the year was rookie Zach Veach for Andretti Autosport. Zach pulled off 261 on-track passes. We thought he was good but we didn’t know he was this good! He was the TOP passer at Gateway and was in the TOP THREE at Iowa, Portland and Sonoma.

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Zach Veach

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The very best passer of 2018 was 2018 Vice-Champion Alexander Rossi for Andretti Autosport, with an astonishing 321 on-track passes. Alex was the TOP passer at St. Petersburg, Phoenix, Toronto, Pocono and Sonoma, and tied for the TOP SPOT at both Barber and Texas! His passes at the Indy 500 were simply amazing, scary and unbelievable.

TOP PASSER Alexander Rossi

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What makes these 3 guys even more impressive is that it is clear they were great passers on both ovals and twisty circuits. They can do it well, wherever they need to do it. Stay tuned for MORE Speedy Awards…
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M


#288

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The O’Garas are coming to the rescue!

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IndyCar driver Sarah Fisher and husband Andy O’Gara are HUGE believers in karting as a path to a racing career - so much so that a few years ago they developed Speedway Indoor Karting in Speedway, Indiana, almost in the shadow of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway grandstands.

Sarah Fisher & Andy O’Gara

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Growing up, Andy was a patron of Whiteland Raceway Park, located about 18 miles south of downtown Indianapolis, as were racers Tony Stewart and John Andretti. Whiteland may be the oldest existing karting track in the United States and on a recent visit Andy found the place in disrepair and about to be sold - likely to be torn down and plowed under.
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Whiteland Raceway Park

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Andy and Sarah said, “NO WAY. We have to save Whiteland!”, and they have done just that, reviving and improving the track’s facilities and the proof was 3 weeks ago when the improved WRP reopened for the first races. They were MOBBED. More than 500 visitors came to watch 165 entries of all ages and classes racing all day and night on the 9-turn road course that has the only banked turn in karting. The cars of visitors and competitors spilled out way past the facility and onto the highway. Take a look:

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Karting is one of the GREAT family sports, often with all members of the family getting involved, and that was a principal impetus for the O’Garas.

Said Sarah, “It’s more about the karting community, and more selfishly, about my own kids. It was a little overwhelming to see so many people so excited about it. So many people were thankful and made it a point to come up and say thank you. We want it to be a family establishment. We’re a racing family ourselves and we want to keep that. It was meaningful to us that we were fair to everyone.”

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The O’Garas and partner Wink Hartman plan to repave and revive the entire track, add 20 garages and a new fleet of 20 rental karts from Italy, from the same supplier of their Speedway facility, to be ready for Spring. Well done!

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#289

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IndyCar guys are going for the Lexus in IMSA in 2019…

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Last month former IndyCar Champion driver and team owner Jimmy Vasser announced that he and partner James “Sulli” Sullivan were partnering with Canada’s AIM Autosport to form AIM Vasser Sullivan - a new team made to compete in the GTD class of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Shortly after that Lexus announced that they were going to drop 3GT Racing as the unofficial factory GTD-class team and go with AIM Vasser Sullivan to campaign their Lexus RCF GT3 in 2019.
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Jimmy Vasser (right) and Sulli Sullivan

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This week AIM Vasser Sullivan announced their first of four picks to drive their cars in 2019 and he is none other than British IndyCar driver Jack Hawksworth. Hawksworth has been 3GT Racing’s anchor man for the last two years and in that time he has been the primary developer of the RCF GT3, earning the car 4 poles and 5 Fastest Laps in 2018 alone. AVS couldn’t have picked a better man to again anchor the squad.

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Jack Hawksworth - New bosses, same car for 2019

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Jack in his 3GT Racing RCF GT3

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Jimmy Vasser is a 24 Hours of Daytona class WINNER himself, (1992) but that was a long time ago, so this will be a virtually new SportsCar experience for him. But he and Sullivan are also partnered with Dale Coyne Racing in the IndyCars for Sebastien Bourdais’ car, and that relationship will continue. The rest of the AVS squad will be announced soon. Stay tuned!

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#290

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Last Saturday, one of the iconic people in Motorsports left us…

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…as Mari Hulman George, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Chairman of the Board Emeritus, died at the age of 83. Mari was beloved by all of the sport’s professionals and any of the fans that got to meet her. IndyCar has released this nice tribute to Mari:

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A great gal!

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M


#291

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You don’t know Jack!..

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No, that’s not an opinion. That’s the name of English IndyCar driver Jack Harvey’s informational video series - a way for fans to get better acquainted with the two-time Indy Lights Vice-Champion, before the 2019 season starts and you see Jack plying his trade for Micheal Shank at Meyer Shank Racing with SPM.

Jack released his first vid earlier this year and we posted it in Post # 200. Now, he’s got another one and this one is all about his sponsors, and why he likes having them as sponsors, beyond the obvious reasons.

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More to come from Jack…Stay tuned!

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M


#292

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Speaking of Jack Harvey, he got some great news this month…

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…as Meyer Shank Racing with SPM has purchased a second DW-12 chassis for the team. No, it’s not for a 2nd driver for the season. It’s for Jack! This is going to be the team’s dedicated Super Speedway car - a car that will ONLY be used for driving on super speedways, principally the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Jack Harvey at the 2018 Indy 500

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Jack has up to now had to make do with taking his road and street chassis and converting it to a super speedway car. Of course that all works but it never works as well as a dedicated chassis that can have every seam and body panel massaged, every bearing tailored, every suspension piece dedicated to going very, very fast on a big oval for several hours. Such dedicated cars are typically 1 to 3 miles per hour faster than a chassis that switched back and fourth. That difference, lap after lap, adds up. Team owner Micheal Shank figures that such a car is the difference between running at the 500 and WINNING the 500 and he wants to give Jack the chance to WIN.

Jack Harvey (left) and Michael Shank

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The Super Speedway chassis will begin its transformation and massaging right away, but will not actually get a shake-down until May. The car will also be able to make a difference at both Texas and Pocono - the other 2 super speedways on the schedule.

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M


#293

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This weekend, IMSA is giving fans a big, wet kiss to end the year…

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As they will hold the inaugural Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore at Sebring International Raceway. This is a 4-hour non-points-paying event that is just to give folks yet another chance to sample great SportsCar racing.
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The cars will be LMP3 cars, GT4 cars and TCR-class cars, all on track at the same time. The drivers can come from any discipline, but they cannot be Platinum-rated, and every car in the field will ride on Michelin tires, which will mark the first event for the new Official Tire of IMSA ahead of their first full season in 2019. Teams must field a minimum of 2 drivers and a maximum of 3 in each car.

The entry list for drivers is changing almost hour by hour but we do know that several IndyCar-affiliated drivers will be there. This is what we know so far, starting with the LMP3 class:

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LMP3 class - USF2000 driver and 2018 F4 United States Champion Dakota Dickerson will partner with veteran IMSA driver Jon Brownson, the 2018 IMSA Prototype Challenge MPC class Champion, in the # 2 Ligier JS P3 for ANSA Motorsports. Dakota is familiar with SportsCars, coming off a 2017 WIN in class at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill.

Dakota Dickerson

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2018 USF2000 Champion and reigning F3 Americas champion Kyle Kirkwood will share a Ligier JS P3 with Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA Vice-Champion Roman de Angelis. This will by Kyle’s SportsCar debut.

Kyle Kirkwood

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Pro Mazda alum Max Hanratty will drive the # 33 Ligier JS P3 with Lance Willsey for Extreme Speed Motorsport. Max ended the 2018 season of IMSA Prototype Challenge in 3rd place.

Max Hanratty

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IndyCar driver Katherine Legge will drive the # 40 Ligier JS P3 for Polestar Motor Racing Inc. Polestar was the team that started Kat’s Formula car career in Formula Atlantics, so it’s old-home week for her. Her co-drivers will be Keith Grant and David Grant. Katherine is the 2018 IMSA GTD-class Vice Champion in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Katherine Legge

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Also look for Jan Heylen, Alex Barron and Bruno Junqueira - all former Champ Car drivers - in the LMP3 class.

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In the TCR class Pro Mazda alum and paraplegic Michael Johnson will drive the # 54 Audi RS3 LMS TCR for JDC-Miller Motorsport. This is the same car that Micheal drove to several podiums in 2018, including his first series WIN. No word yet on who will co-drive.

Michael Johnson

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Friday will be a promoter test day open to all participants. On Saturday there will be 3 one-hour practice sessions, with a fourth 30-minute practice planned for Sunday, prior to the 20-minute qualifying sessions. The race will be Sunday, of course.

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This should be fun and that’s the idea!

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M


#294

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More driver confirmations from Sebring …

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As we said in the post above, the driver entry list for the Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore is a fluid thing and names keep popping up.

First and foremost is the entry of another IndyCar guy, as Kyle Kirkwood has announced that joining him and Dakota Dickerson at ANSA Motorsports will be Indy Lights driver Neil Alberico, though it isn’t yet clear which of ANSA’s 3 cars will get his service. The # 4 car already has its max of 3 drivers - an all-Canadian team of Dean Baker, 2018 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada Champion Zacharie Robichon and veteran MPC pilot Michal Chlumecky.

That means Neil will either join Kyle and Roman de Angelis in the # 13 Ligier JS P3 or he will join Dakota and Jon Brownson in the # 2 Ligier JS P3. Time will tell.

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left to right, ANSA boys Kyle Kirkwood, Dakota Dickerson and Neil Alberico. All three are former Team USA Scholarship WINNERS:

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We can also now confirm that Pro Mazda alum Michael Johnson will get his regular season co-driver Stephen Simpson for the Encore. In the 2018 season of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Michael and Stephen drove to 6 podiums, including a WIN at Lime Rock Park, in the same # 54 Audi RS3 LMS TCR for JDC-Miller Motorsports, TCR class.

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Michael Johnson (left) and Stephen Simpson - partners again.

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More when we get it…

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M


#295

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It’s time for another Speedy Award…

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In post # 252 we detailed the first of many 2018 “Speedy Awards” - the unofficial awards handed out by IndyCars statisticians. First was the Alex Zanardi Overtaker of the Year award and that went to Alexander Rossi. This time we will look at the TOP CLOSER of the year, also known as the "James Hinchcliffe ‘“When It’s Time to Go, You Go”’ award. This is the award for the driver who gained the most positions in the final 10 percent of each race…getting on it when it matters the most.

The third best closer for 2018 was Max Chilton for Carlin. Max gained at least one position in the final 10% of 9 of the 17 races this season and had 10 total positions gained. Not only that, but Max is the only full-time driver never to LOSE a position in that final sprint to the end. Max picked up an average of 0.53 positions per race.

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Max Chilton

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The 2nd best closer for the season was Simon Pagenaud for Team Penske. Simon gained spots late in 6 races and finished the year with 11 total positions gained and a position gained average of 0.65. Better yet, his best race in this category was the Indy 500 where Simon gained 4 spots, going from P10 to P6 in those last 50 miles.

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Simon Pagenaud

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The BEST closer of the year was Takuma Sato for Rahal Letterman Lanigan. At St. Pete Taku gained 3 spots in the last 10% of the race. At Barber he doubled that, gaining 6 spots. Takuma finished the season with 13 total positions gained in the final 10% of all races, for an average gain of 0.76 positions per race. He’s the guy you want in the car for the end of the race.

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Takuma Sato - Best closer of 2018

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More Speedy Awards to come…Stay tuned!

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M


#296

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Saturday at Sebring…The entire field have practice for the Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore

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All three classes of the Encore at Sebring held practice sessions today - 3 sessions on the day - and the P3 session turned out to be the fastest one, with TOP TIMES of the day in all three classes. The classes are LMP3, GT4 and TCR class.

The LMP3 cars were the TOP performers of the IMSA Prototype Challenge series in 2018 and will be the ONLY class for the series in 2019. GT4s are from the Grand Sport class - the TOP CLASS cars from what was the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series. The TCR cars are the Touring Car class from the CTSC. The CTSC will be known as the Michelin Pilot Challenge going forward.

We have today’s TOP PERFORMERS in all three classes from the Encore, with all three sessions combined, starting with the LMP3 class:

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The TOP TIME of the day in LMP3 - and overall - was put in by Britain’s Matt Bell driving the # 26 Ligier JS P3 for K2R Motorsports. Matt will share the car with co-drivers James McGuire Jr. and Kay van Berlo. Matt’s P-3 session time was 01:58.579s for a speed of 112.344mph, and that was 0.347 seconds to the better of Roman de Angelis’ P-1 topping time in the # 13 Ligier for ANSA Motorsports. Roman shares that car with USF2000 Champion Kyle Kirkwood. The 3rd fastest time of the day was put in by Kenton Koch in the # 25 Ligier that he shares with Joel Janco and Jonatan Jorge. Kenton topped the P-2 session.

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Matt Bell wheels the K2R Ligier to bad ass of the day status

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In the GT4 class the RABBIT on the day was Canadian Kyle Marcelli who drove the # 60 Ford Mustang GT4 to a P-3 session time of 02:11.339s for a speed of 101.430mph. Kyle drives for Roush Performance / KohR Motorsports and his co-drivers are Nate Stacy and Dean Martin. Kyle bested the TOP TIME of the P-2 session put in by Jeff Westphal in the # 93 Audi R8 for Carbahn Motorsports by a healthy 1.763 seconds. Jeff will share that car with Sameer Gandhi and Mark Siegel. The 3rd fastest time of the day was the other Roush Performance / KohR Motorsports Mustang GT4, the # 59, thanks to the efforts of Canada’s Kenny Wilden in the P-3 session. Kenny’s co-drivers are the Rod Randall and DJ Randall.

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Kyle Marcelli TOPS the day in GT4

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Finally, in the TCR class the TOP DAWG for the day was Canadian Porsche Cup driver Remo Ruscitti in the # 82 Audi RS3 LMS TCR for Mark Motors Racing. Remo’s P-3 session time was 02:14.937s for a speed of 98.725mph. Remo shares the car with fellow Canadian and fellow Porsche driver Marco Cirone. The P-3 time that was eclipsed by Remo was put in by Stephen Simpson in the # 54 Audi RS3 LMS TCR for JDC-Miller Motorsports and it was 0.231 seconds short. Stephen’s co-driver is Pro Mazda alum Michael Johnson, who topped the P-2 session. Tanner Rumburg was the 3rd fastest guy on the day, due to his P-1 session time in the # 31 Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR for Rumcastle LLC that he shares with his brother Luke Rumburg.

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Mark Motors Racing tops the day in Touring Car

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On Sunday a 4th practice will start the day, followed by qualifying and then the 4-hour Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore…

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#297

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It’s the return of Fred to Indy…

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Announced on Saturday, team McLaren will return to battle in the 2019 Indy 500 and their steed will be mounted by 2-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso. This will be Fernando’s 2nd attempt to drive in the 500, following his 2017 drive in a car that was co-entered by McLaren and Andretti Autosport. In that effort Fernando - nicknamed “Fred” by his friends and competitors - actually led the race for 27 laps but later succumbed to a blown Honda engine.

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Fernando Alonso - back in an IndyCar for May

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The big difference this time is that this will be strictly a McLaren entry and effort, according to team boss Zak Brown, and he hasn’t ruled out entering a 2nd car:

“This will be done by McLaren Racing. It’s a whole separate racing team that will be created and we are a large racing team with a lot of resources and I am extremely confident or we would not have entered, that we can give maximum effort in our F1 effort as well as Indy without one compromising the other.

“It is going to be people that are not currently on our Formula 1 team. It will be built up from relationships that we have. It’ll be a new McLaren entry."

Zak Brown

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For Alonso, this is in service to his task of pulling down the unofficial Triple Crown of racing - WINNING the Monanco Grand Prix, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Indy 500, as has only been done once, by the late Graham Hill. Fernando only needs to WIN the 500 at this point to equal Hill.

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