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


#298

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Sunday at Sebring - The Encore holds a final practice and then qualifies…

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Sebring International Raceway was this morning the scene of the final practice for the Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore, the 4-hour non-points-paying event that will introduce fans and drivers alike to the Michelin brand of tires that will dominate the IMSA proceedings in 2019. Following that practice was two qualifying sessions for the race - one for the contest’s LMP3 cars and one for the GT4 and TCR-class cars. We have the skinny on all that here, starting with LMP3:

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Tops in the final practice session for the LMP3 class was young Roman de Angelis driving the # 13 Ligier JS P3 for ANSA Motorsports that he shares with USF2000 Champion Kyle Kirkwood, but when it came time to qualify the pole went to 17-year-old Nederlander Kay van Berlo driving the # 26 Ligier for K2R Motorsports with a time of 01:57.102s for a speed of 113.761mph. This is the same car that topped the P-3 practice session and the day on Saturday. Kay’s co-drivers are Matt Bell and James McGuire Jr. The P2 spot on the grid will be the # 13 Ligier thanks to the efforts of Roman de Angelis. Roman was off by 1.161 seconds to Kay. P3 will be the # 84 Ligier started by qualifier Guy Cosmo who shares the car with Patrick Byrne. They drive for JDC Motorsports.

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K2R Motorsports’ Ligier JS P3 - TOPS in P-3 and on pole for the Encore

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In the GT4 class the TOP TIME in the P-4 practice was turned in by Dean Martin in the # 60 Ford Mustang GT4 for Roush Performance / KohR Motorsports. Martin took that speed into qualifying and put the big Ford on the pole with a time of 02:11.352s for a speed of 101.420mph. Dean’s co-drivers are Kyle Marcelli and Nate Stacy. Dean bested Jason Bell in the # 22 Audi R8 for GMG Racing by a very healthy 3.007 seconds. Jason shares the Audi with James Sofranas and Andy Lally. P3 on the grid will be the # 93 Audi R8 for CarBahn Motorsports, with Sameer Gandhi, Jeff Westphal and qualifier Mark Siegel.

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Three Roush / KohR boys dominating GT4 and on the pole

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In the Touring Car class the RABBIT in the final practice was Stephen Simpson driving the # 54 Audi RS3 LMS TCR for JDC-Miller Motorsports - a car he shares with Pro Mazda alum Michael Johnson - but when it came to qualifying it was the # 82 Mark Motors Racing Audi driven by Marco Cirone that took pole with a time of 02:14.426s for a speed of 99.101mph, besting Michael Johnson by a scant 0.197 seconds. Marco’s co-driver is Remo Ruscitti. P3 on the grid will be the # 31 Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR for Rumcastle LLC. The car is driven by brothers Luke and Tanner Rumburg.

On pole for the Encore, the # 82 Audi RS3 LMS TCR for Mark Motors

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The race will be from 12:00 Noon to 4:00pm EASTERN time today, Sunday.

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#299

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The Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore is over…

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…and the WINNERS - overall and in the LMP3 class - are 2018 Porsche Cup USA / Canada Vice-Champion Roman de Angelis and 2018 USF2000 / 2018 F3 Americas Champion Kyle Kirkwood, driving the # 13 Ligier JS P3 for ANSA Motorsports. The boys led most of the 2nd half of the race and cruised home a mere 2.278 seconds ahead of early race leaders Matt Bell, Jim Maguire Jr and Kay van Berlo in the # 26 Ligier for K2R Motorsports. P3 at the line was the # 40 Ligier of IndyCar driver Katherine Legge and David and Keith Grant - all driving for Polestar.

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The WINNING Ligier for ANSA

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This is Roman’s 2nd WIN this year for ANSA, as he drove to victory in the IMSA Prototype Challenge season-opener at Daytona in January, but this is Kyle’s first-ever SportsCar race.

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The WINNERS - Roman de Angelis and Kyle Kirkwood

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In the GT4 class the race was led almost exclusively by the pole-sitting # 60 Ford Mustang GT4 for Roush Racing / KohR Motorsports, driven by team owner and qualifier Dean Martin, with season regulars Nate Stacy and Kyle Marcelli, and those boys brought it home with better than 16 seconds on the GMG Racing Audi R8 of James Sofronas, Jason Bell and Andy Lally. Lally ducked into the pits late to take on fresh Michelins but wasn’t able to make up more of the considerable gap to the dominant Ford. Kenny Wilden, Rod Randall and DJ Randall completed the GT4 podium in the # 59 Roush Performance / KohR Motorsports Mustang.

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The GT4 WINNERS for Roush / KohR

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In Touring Car class the race was the most hotly-contested with no one ever more than a few seconds in the lead for the entire race. Most of that lead was held by the pole-sitting # 82 Audi RS3 LMS TCR of Mark Motors Racing, with their Porsche GT3 Cup drivers Marco Cirone and Remo Ruscitti doing the honors. Late in the race The # 54 Audi for JDC-Miller took the lead and held it, with Stephen Simpson driving, until 2 laps from the end, when Simpson started to lose fuel pressure and had to duck into the pits, allowing the Mark Motors car to take the lead and the WIN. Simpson and co-driver Michael Johnson took P2 for their 7th podium finish of the year. P3 were the boys from Rumcastle LLC, Luke and Tanner Rumburg, 2 laps down in their Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR.

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The Mark Motors Audi led most of the race, but barely.

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That’s it for the Encore and for IMSA racing until 2019 when the Roar Before the 24 Hours takes place in January, in preparation for the 2019 24 Hours of Daytona.

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#300

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The Road to Indy will be bringing the goods in 2019…

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When Mazda announced that they would be ending their participation in the Road to Indy ladder system in 2018 the big fear was that this would also end the scholarships that make it possible for the champions of each of the three rungs on the ladder to advance to the next level. Well, Dan Anderson, who heads the Road to Indy, has announced that the scholarships are alive and well.

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Dan Anderson

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Mazda used to give each champion a cash prize that had to be applied to a season effort in the next level. Much of that cash went to buying equipment and paying personnel, but a good part of it was used to purchase the number one consumable of any race team - Tires. The new scholarships are going to be more cash for Indy Lights and less cash for USF2000 and Pro Mazda but Cooper Tires will donate a season’s tires as well, negating the need to buy them. The net result is the same for the teams and driver. This new system is all due to the efforts of Chris Pantani, the head of Cooper Tires’ Racing division.
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Chris Pantani (right) with Dan Anderson, John Doonan and Pato O’Ward (center)

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Here’s the new breakdown:

  • For the 2019 USF2000 Champion the scholarship will be $305,600 that includes a $250,000 scholarship and $55,600 in Cooper tires and entry fees for a 2020 season of Pro Mazda.

  • For the 2019 Pro Mazda champion it will be $596,700, consisting of a $500,000 scholarship and $96,700 in Cooper tires and entry fees toward a move to Indy Lights in 2020.

  • For the 2019 Indy Lights Champion the prize is going to be cash only, as the next level - the IndyCar series - does not use Cooper tires. The 2019 Lights Champ will get $1.1 million dedicated to at least a three-race program in the 2020 IndyCar Series, and that includes a try at the 2020 Indy 500.

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Great news for all the participants, this scholarship program is one of the main reasons that the Road to Indy is one of the most attractive ladders in motorsports. It provides a direct path to advancement that negates the usual impediment - lack of funds.

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#301

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Ryan Norman is returning to Andretti Autosport in 2019…

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The 20-year-old Ohio native announced on Monday that he will stay in Indy Lights for a 3rd season and drive once again for Andretti Autosport.

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Ryan Norman

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2018 was Ryan’s best year in the Lights, with 4 podiums, including his first WIN at Gateway, a pole at Portland and 13 TOP FIVES. He finished the season in 4th, behind in order teammates Pato O’Ward and Colton Herta and Belardi’s Santiago Urrutia.

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Ryan with his Journey-sponsored Andretti IL-15 at Indy for the 2018 Freedom 100

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Andretti Autosport was obviously the team to be with in 2018, with the Champion and Vice Champion on their roster. Norman is the team’s first confirmation for 2019 and he hopes to be the Champion at the end of the year. He knows how to WIN and he knows the team. He figures it’s his year:

“I’m really excited to finally make it official that I’ll be returning to Andretti Autosport for my third season competing in Indy Lights. We’ve built a solid foundation over the past two years and I’m ready to fight for wins, podiums and ultimately the championship, with such a great group of people who have become like a family to me.”

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#302

I suspect the views on this thread are just to get it off the unread feed. That’s the only reason I click on it.


#303

A bunch of Indycar fans?

Fantastic. Me too.

I’ll start at the beginning.


#304

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Jordan King finds a ride for the Indy 500…

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When Ed Carpenter Racing made the decision to use Ed Jones to drive the # 20 on the road and street course for 2019 (see post # 225) that left Britain’s Jordan King - the guy who did that same duty in 2018 - without a ride. Since then, Jordan has been looking for a full-season ride with anyone else, to no avail.

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Jordan King

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On Tuesday Jordan announced that while he is still looking for that elusive season, he will be at the Indy 500 in 2019, driving a 3rd car for Rahal Letterman Lanigan, beside regulars Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato. This will be Jordan’s first 500 and first oval race, as of course Ed Carpenter drove those races in the # 20 in 2018. It will also be a switch from Chevy to Honda for the first time for Jordan. Of course he will have two very speedy tutors in Rahal and Sato.

Said King, "I’m really happy and excited to announce that I’ll be driving in the 2019 Indy 500 with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. This race is one that I have been working towards and a race I have always dreamt of racing in as it’s the jewel in the crown of IndyCar.

"I was at the race last year and I really enjoyed the whole weekend and knew straight away it was something that I had to be a part of so to be able to go there next year is definitely a huge moment in my career.”

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King showed a lot of speed in his rookie season with ECR, grabbing two Firestone Fast Six appearances during qualifying and a number of legitimate leading laps in races. He figures a good showing at the 500 can only improve his resume, showing he can be the complete IndyCar driver.
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#305

Wait a second.

All of these posts are by the same person???


#306

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2018 Indy Lights Champion Patricio O’Ward is going to the ROC for Mexico…

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On Tuesday Pato O’Ward let it be known that he has been invited to the Race of Champions for 2019, to be held in Mexico City for the first time. This makes Pato the first CONFIRMED IndyCar driver for 2019 in the annual international event.

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Pato O’Ward

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Pato will join fellow Mexican pilots Daniel Suarez of NASCAR, sports car veteran driver Memo Rojas and rally driver Benito Guerra in the Nation’s Cup first day of festivities and will be going for the individual Champion of Champions on Day 2. The site for the Jan. 19-20 event is the Foro Sol, the former baseball stadium turned amphitheater located inside the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course - the current site of the Formula One Mexican Grand Prix.

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Several IndyCar drivers have been in the ROC in the past and it is likely more will join Pato there, this year, too.

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#307

What’s going on in here?


#308

Read the first post, please. It explains the thread

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#309

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Indycars MAY be going back to Surfer’s Paradise in the near future…

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From 1991 to 2008 Indycars went to Queensland, Australia and did the Gold Coast Indy 300 on the streets of Surfer’s Paradise. For most of its existence the race was very popular with locals and very popular with IndyCar fans viewing it on TV. The layout was 2.78 miles and 20 turns, and was considered very challenging and very fun to watch. The race lost favor during the “split” between Champ Cars and the IRL and was dropped for 2009 and beyond.

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Paul Tracy takes flight at Surfer’s Paradise in his Lola B02/00 Honda for Team Green in 2002

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When Will Power WON the 2018 Indy 500 for Team Penske he made time for a trip back home to Australia to make the rounds for the local press and while visiting the Gold Coast he was asked by the Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, ‘‘What do we need to do to get IndyCar back here?’’ Power said, ‘‘Meet with (IndyCar CEO) Mark Miles.’’

And so, a message went out and Mark Miles and Stephen Starks, IndyCar’s VP of promoter relations, are today in Australia to meet with the Queensland government and TV broadcasters for a possible return to Oz in 2020.

The track, currently in use for Virgin Australia Supercars, has changed since the last tine IndyCars drove there. It is now shorter, at 1.85 miles with 15 turns. Essentially, a portion of the old tack was just chopped off. Because of a new rail line, it cannot return to the old layout. Here is a comparison:

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Surfer’s in 2008

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Surfer’s today

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Will Power, who is one of the current drivers who has raced on the old layout, went to Surfer’s and drove the current track in a rental car during his visit and he says that the new layout is perfectly suitable to IndyCar racing and has a feel similar to the street course at St. Petersburg.

Will Power

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With the current Indy 500 Champion being an Australian and the current IndyCar Champion being a New Zealander this seems like a no-brainer. The biggest challenge is finding the right date. Miles wants a February date and The Gold Coast would love an October date, so as to double-bill with the Supercars. Okay folks. MAKE IT HAPPEN!

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#310

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Alexander Rossi is driving in Mexico today…

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…as the IndyCar driver competes in his first-ever Baja 1000, driving with Jeff Proctor in his factory-backed Honda Ridgeline with co-drivers Johnny Campbell and Pat Dailey. The Ridgeline is a Class 7 truck, which is for unlimited, six-cylinder, production-appearing trucks or SUVs.

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Alexander Rossi (left) with teammates Jeff Proctor, Johnny Campbell and Pat Dailey

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…and sitting on the back of the # 709 Ridgeline

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Rossi has already driven a stage in the truck and went well, but during it he also had what has to be a real awakener: While cresting a hill at very high speed Rossi found himself looking at another SUV driving leisurely up the road going in the opposite direction, seemingly completely oblivious to the race going on. Rossi and the SUV passed each other with no more than an inch or two between them. We’d love to show you the video, but there is too much swearing going on.

We urge you to go to Rossi’s Instagram and check it out!

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As of the time of this post the race was 15 hours in and the Ridgeline was P3 in class, with Jeff Proctor driving. Stay tuned!

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#311

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Hey, we found a clean version…

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…of the video from Alexander Rossi’s stint in the Baja 1000 on Saturday. We mentioned it in the post above. When we watch it we have to hold our breath, as we are sure Alex did. You can actually see pieces of the SUV’s mirror flying into space. That’s how close they were.

Follow this link, and click on “not now” under “create new account”:

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#312

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How about another “Speedy Award”?..

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The Speedy Awards are the unofficial awards handed out by IndyCars’ statistics gurus. These guys see trends and performances that the rest of us can only suspect are happening. We need the data that they readily have in hand. In post # 260 we detailed the 2018 Speedy Award for the Best Closer of the year. So let’s do another one. This one is the “Tony Kanaan Restarter of the Year” award, named after a guy who has over his long career made great restarts after a race lull - a yellow flag or even a red flag. Who gets the most out of a restart?

The rankings are based on the average speed of the first two laps after a restart at every venue:

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Alexander Rossi had the fastest average restart at the most races - four races - Long Beach, Belle Isle-2, Mid-Ohio and Pocono. He ranked sixth among all drivers on road/street restarts and oval restarts. His average speed - combining his road and street average with his oval average - was 125.001 mph.

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Alexander Rossi

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2018 Champion Scott Dixon’s average was a bit better at 125.561 mph over the 17 races of 2018. He was his best on road and street courses, where he ranked second among the whole field. He was the best restarter at Belle Isle-1 and at Toronto.

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Scott Dixon

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The 2nd best restarter for 2018 going by average was Graham Rahal. We kinda suspected that as young Rahal made up a lot of ground every time a green flag fell. His average was 127.321 mph and he did his best work on the ovals.

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Graham Rahal

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The best restarter for 2018 was Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud. The Frenchman’s average speed over the whole season was 127.389 mph, combining his oval average of 198.116 mph with his road and street average of 105.267 mph. He was the best guy at Texas. Simon was also the 2nd Best Closer, (post # 260) so it looks like he was valiantly making up for lesser qualifying performances…and that’s kinda the way we remembered it, too.

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Simon Pagenaud - 2018’s Best Restarter

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More Speedy Awards to come. Stay tuned!

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#313

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We’re getting close to the 2018 Mazda Road to Indy Shootout…

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The Shootout is the annual competition put on by the Road to Indy ladder system to reward one of 20 or more junior open-wheel racing series champions with a $200,000 scholarship to be applied to a full season of USF2000 - the first rung of the ladder on the road to a career in IndyCars.

The entrants, from all over the world, are awarded a coveted “entry ticket” to the Shootout by being their latest series Champion or Vice-Champion and also by fitting within the age limits of 14 to 25 years old. The Shootout will take place December 8th-9th at the Bondurant Racing School main track – a 1.6-mile, 15-turn road course located at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Arizona.

It time to start introducing this year’s crop of entrants and letting you know how they got here, so let’s started with…

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Introducing Ross Martin, the 2018 Formula Ford 1600 Scotland Champion. The 17-year-old from Kilmaronock, Scotland took the 2018 title with 13 WINS out of 13 races, with 5 poles - a truly dominating season, Ross amassed 334 points to closest rival Sebastian Melrose’s 197 points.

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Ross Martin

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This will be Ross’ 2nd Shootout, as he was in the 2017 version due to taking the same title, but with 9 WINS in 13 races.

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Ross Martin in his Ray GR17 at Knockhill, Scotland

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More to come!

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#314

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He is happy he went and happy to be alive…

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Over the weekend IndyCar driver Alexander Rossi participated in his first Baja 1000 in the Class 7 Honda Ridgeline of former 2-time Champion Jeff Proctor. Co-drivers in the truck were Johnny Campbell and Pat Dailey. Alex took the first stint and ran great but almost had a head-on collision with an errant fan who was going up the race course in the wrong direction. (see post # 276).

The # 709 Ridgline finished the race P3 in class, giving Alexander his first off-road podium in his first off-road race.
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Rossi gets interviewed, post-race.

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Said Alex, “Here’s a badass photo (without a Jeep headed straight at me!) Silt, jumps, whoops…words can’t explain how much I enjoyed my first off-road experience. Legendary race with legendary teammates.”

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What we like most about Rossi is his complete willingness to try anything - especially if it means driving in a race.

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UPDATE! - After SCORE levied all their points and race penalties the # 709 truck ended up P2 in class for the race. We can also report that Alexander Rossi, who drove the truck’s first stint, handed it off in P1 at that time. Way to go, Alex!

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#315

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Shift Up Now is expanding BIG!..

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After returning from her South American vacation IndyCar driver Pippa Mann announced that she will be part of an all-female driver line-up in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill, this December, sponsored by the organization Shift Up Now, the goal of which is to get more women involved in motorsports. The trio of drivers were Mann, Ashley Freiberg and Shea Holbrook. Their mount was to be a 1989 Mosler Consulier GTP, but the best laid plans… It was finally determined that no amount of restoration in the time allowed would fully prepare the GTP for the grueling race.

So, Shift up Now didn’t give up. Instead they expanded their effort and found 2 new cars to enter and an additional 6 women to helm them! The new line-up for the # 7 - now a Mazda MX-5 - will be Mann, Holbrook, Freiberg and new additions Sarah Montgomery and Amy Dilks. That tasks each gal with 5 hours apiece in the endurance race.

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The # 7 Mazda MX-5 team (left to right) Pippa Mann, Shea Holbrook, Ashley Freiberg…
Pippa Shea Ashley

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…and Sarah Montgomery and Amy Dilks:
Sarah Amy

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Shift Up Now’s second entry will be a 1990 BMW E30 driven by an all-amateur squad of Karen Salvaggio, Mandy McGee, Kristina Esposito, and Shift Up Now founder Lynn Kehoe. The drivers may also cross from one car to another, depending on the team’s needs during the long race.

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The # 5 BMW team, (left to right) Karen Salvaggi and Mandy McGee…
Karen Mandy

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…and Kristina Esposito and Lynn Kehoe.
Kristina Lynn

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The 25 Hours of Thunderhill will take place December 1-2.

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#316

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More IndyCar women making the news…

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…And this is all about electric cars. Last month, IMSA Vice-Champion driver and former Champ Car driver Katherine Legge accepted a ride in the new electric car racing series, the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY series, the world’s first production-based electric vehicle race series. Kat will drive one of two Jaguars for Rahal Letterman Lanigan. The series will be in support of Formula E, driving on the same tracks and on the same weekends as the formula cars. This duty will be in addition to her driving duties for Meyer Shank Racing in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship, driving the Acura NSX GT3 in the GTD class.

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Katherine Legge

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Today the Brit has announced she’s adding even more load, as she will be the test driver for Mahindra Racing’s Formula E team for next month’s in-season test on the streets of Ad Diriyah, which will take place on the day following the opening race of the 2018-2019 Formula E season, the Ad Diriyah E-Prix.

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And another indyCar lady is making her way back to Formula E, as Simona de Silvestro has announced that she will be a test driver for Venturi Formula E during the 2018-2019 season, while simultaneously driving her Nissan Altima L33 for Kelly Racing in the Virgin Australia Supercars series.

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Simona de Silvestro
simona

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DeSilvestro will have it a bit easier than Legge, as she will do most of her testing in a simulator in Monaco, rather than following the Formula E parade around the globe. Simona last drove for Andretti Formula E in the 2015-2016 season, but in a year-old car that was not even close to competitive. She switched to Supercars in 2017.

Said Simona, “The next 12 months will be really busy for me with both Formula E and my Australian Supercars commitments but I’m ready for the challenge and it’s a joy to be working with such a well connected and committed team as Venturi.’’

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#317

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It’s time for another Mazda Road to Indy Shootout entrant!..

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We started looking at this year’s crop of Shootout participants in post # 278. Let’s catch another one:

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Meet Allan Croce, who won the Brazilian Kart Open (the Indy 500 of Brazilian karting) in the Graduated category on June 23 this year. The 18-year-old is a native of Jaú, in the interior of São Paulo, Brazil.

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In the competition at the Granja Viana kart track in Cotia, Sao Paulo, Croce, who began racing at the age of 12, dominated the two qualifying rounds and the final race.

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Allan leads the whole way in the Kart Open

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Said Allan, referring to the Shootout, “It’s incredible because drivers do not have many opportunities like this. It’s a huge chance to demonstrate your skills and determination. My grandfather is the person I most follow as an example to this day. Without a doubt, I was influenced by him. I have a love for this sport and I intend to pursue a career in racing.”

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Allan’s grandfather was Fernando Croce, one of Brazil’s best karters in his day.

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