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


#338

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Monday at Homestead-Miami Speedway - the first of two days of Road to Indy testing…(part 2)…

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For USF2000 the TOP TIME of the day was posted by Cameron Shields, from Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia, driving for Cape Motorsports. Cam’s T-3 session time was 01:24.8199s for a speed of 93.799mph. The 17-year-old is the 2018 Vice-Champion of Australian F3 and was also 4th in Australian F4, despite NOT driving in the last 6 races. Shields was P2 in both T-1 and T-2, as well, so he was on it all day long.

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Cameron Shields

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P2 on the day was another guy from down under, as Kiwi Hunter McElrea posted a time of 01:24.8908s for a speed of 93.720mph in the T-3 session - only a scant 0.0709 seconds off of Cam Shields. Hunter owns the 2018 Australian Formula Ford title. Today he was driving for Pabst Racing and was P4 in the T-1 session and P3 in T-2.

Hunter McElrea

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P3 for the day was American Braden Eves who posted the TOP TIME of 01:24.9370s for a speed of 93.669mph in the middle T-2 session. Braden, in the other Cape Motorsports car, was also P3 in both the other sessions, T-1 and T-3. Making this even sweeter for Braden is the fact that this is his first outing since having surgery that kept him from going to England to compete for the United States, despite WINNING a Team USA Scholarship in 2018. Braden is back!

Braden Eves

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Topping the T-1 session was Kyle Dupell for BN Racing with a time of 01:25.6134s for a speed of 92.929mph, but Kyle fell off to P7 in the T-2 session and P6 in the T-3 session, so he ended the day P6 overall in USF2000. if Dupell answers the bell in 2019 he will be a sophomore, having driven for Team Pelfery in 2018.

Kyle Dupell

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The weather will be clear on Tuesday morning but by Noon the rain will likely be on the way, making the sessions for the day a good mix of wet and dry. Stay tuned.

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#339

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Tuesday at Homestead-Miami Speedway - the second day of Road to Indy testing

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Tuesday on the road course at Homestead- Miami Speedway started out great - cooler than yesterday and optimal for speed - and that translated into better times for all three of the series that make up the Road to Indy. But, as predicted, the rains came in the mid-day but they came with a ferocity that caused the teams to think twice and NOT come out in the drenching, and risk damaging their cars.

USF2000 was able to get in 2 full test sessions of the 3 scheduled on the day but Pro Mazda and Indy Lights were only able to get in one session each. Let’s see who topped the day in each class, starting with Indy Lights;

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Top Time for Tuesday and for the two days in the Lights was turned in by the 2018 Pro Mazda Champion, Rinus VeeKay, driving for Juncos Racing - the guys that got him to his title. The 18-year-old Nederlander posted a time of 01:15.3269s for a speed of 105.620mph.

Said Rinus, 'The car felt way better than it did yesterday. I used all the grip I had from the new tires, so it was a good way to end the two days of testing.”

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Rinus VeeKay - top time of the test

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David Malukas, driving for BN Racing, topped the charts yesterday and he beat his own Monday time today, but it was a scant 0.0230 seconds shy of VeeKay’s time, at 01:15.3499s for a speed of 105.587mph.

David Malukas - P2 on Tuesday and for the whole test

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Rookie Julien Falchero was P3 for the day on Monday and the Frenchman, driving for Andretti Autosport, did it again today, impressing everyone with his quick study of the Dallara IL-15 Lights car and just beating his experienced teammate, Ryan Norman. Julien’s time was 01:15.3674s for a speed of 105.563mph.

Julien Falchero - French speed

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in Pro Mazda the TOP TIME for the day and for the test was turned in by rookie Parker Locke, driving for Exclusive Autosport. Parker didn’t even make the TOP THREE yesterday, so he really stepped it up today, after digesting all he learned yesterday. His time today was 01:20.1072s for a speed of 99.317mph. The San Antonian raced in both F4 United States and F3 Americas in 2018.

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Parker Locke steps up!

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P2 on the day and for the test as a whole was Rasmus Lindh for Pabst Racing. The 17-year-old Swede topped Monday but was a scant 0.0324 seconds off of Parker today. Rasmus posted a time of 01:20.1396s for a speed of 99.277mph.

Rasmus Lindh

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P3 on the day and for the test was young Antonio Serravalle for Jay Howard Driver Development. the 16-year-old Canadian sophomore posted a time of 01:20.2341s for a speed of 99.160mph. Antonio was the ONLY Pro Mazda driver to attempt to drive in the rain in the T-5 test session and as such topped that session, though a full 15 seconds off his T-4 session time.

Said Antonio of the drive, "Today was my first time in the rain. I have never driven a Pro Mazda car – or raced – in the rain before. I was really surprised. This car is really good in the rain. It handles really well.”

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continued…

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#340

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Tuesday at Homestead-Miami Speedway - the second day of Road to Indy testing…(part 2)…

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USF2000 got in Test Session 4 and Test Session 5 before the rains came and New Zealander Hunter McElrea TOPPED both of 'em. His T-4 session time was his best and the best of the two days, at 01:24.4448s for a speed of 94.215mph.

The 19-year-old is next headed to the Mazda Road to Indy Shootout, and driving the winged and slick-tired USF2000 car is a great preparation for that. Said Hunter, “I have been racing on a treaded tire with no aero all year, so that is going to be a big help preparing for the Formula Mazda at the Shootout which have slicks and wings. I can’t wait to put what I learned to use in Phoenix.”

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Hunter McElrea

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P2 on the day and for the test was Australian Cameron Shileds, who was TOPS on Monday. In the T-4 session, Cameron well beat his own Monday TOP TIME by a decent 0.3272 seconds but at 01:24.4927s for a speed of 94.162mph, he was a mere 0.0479 seconds off of Hunter, today. Cam was also P2 in the T-5 session.

Cameron Shields

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P3 on the day and for the test was American veteran Colin Kaminsky, driving for Pabst Racing. Colin’s T-4 session time was 01:24.7899s for a speed of 93.832mph. The 19-year-old dropped to P6 in the T-5 session. Colin drove a partial season for Kaminsky Racing in 2017 and a full season for DEForce Racing in 2018, so he has the experience. If he can hook up with the ‘‘Speed Boys’’ at Pabst Racing for 2019 he will have his best shot yet.

Colin Kaminsky

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That’s the LAST Road to Indy test for 2018. Next up, in about a week, is the 2018 Mazda Road to Indy Shootout, where one of 20 or so junior racing series champions from all over the world will compete for the prize - a $200,000 scholarship from Mazda to be applied to a full season of USF2000 in 2019.

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#342

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The Homestead-Miami test - What did we learn?..

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The temptation to compare September’s Chris Griffis Memorial Test with the just-concluded Homestead-Miami test is great but it would be feckless, to a certain extent, because the list of participants is not the same, with a few exceptions. We can mention the performance of those who did both tests but we cannot compare them with those who only did one or the other.

And, as always, it has to be said that with few exceptions we don’t yet have confirmations on where each of these drivers will drive in 2019 - if at all. Still, we have the raw data and it is important. We can score each driver by their performance - the lower the score, the better they did, so let’s do it!

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In the Indy Lights the best score was turned in by Chicago’s David Malukas, driving for BN Racing. The rookie’s score was 8 - Two P1s, a P2 and a P4. David was at the Chris Griffis, driving for Belardi, but he was mid-pack in performance at best, so he has really stepped it up.

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David Malukas

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Right behind David was another rookie, Rinus VeeKay, driving for Juncos Racing. Rinus scored 9 points - a P1, two P2s and a P4. Rinus was also at the Chris Griffis and much like David, was middling in performance. The 2018 Pro Mazda Champion is getting better in the IL-15 with each outing.

Rinus VeeKay

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Coming in 3rd in points was veteran Ryan Norman for Andretti Autosport with a score of 11 - a P1, a P2, a P3 and a P5. Ryan was also at the Chris Griffis and he creamed it, besting all the competition. Though he scored less here, he was so close to the two rookies that he has to be considered a sure bet going into 2019.

Ryan Norman

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In Pro Mazda it wasn’t even close. Rasmus Lindh for Pabst Racing destroyed everyone else with a score of 6! - two P1s and two P2s. Rasmus did something similar at the Chris Griffis so he is THE major threat going into 2019.

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Rasmus Lindh

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Kyle Kirkwood, driving for Abel Motorsports did NOT do all 4 sessions of Pro Mazda, so it’s harder to score him. He got 8 points for the three sessions he did - a P1, a P2, and a P5. If we average those we get 2.66, so adding that to his 8 gives us 10.66, which would put him 2nd to Rasmus. Of course, we have no idea if that is even close to reality. Kirkwood was not at the Chris Griffis.

Kyle Kirkwood

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Young Antomio Serravalle was 3rd in score, with 13 points - a P2, two P3s and a P5. The Canadian teen, driving for Jay Howard Driver Development, was the only guy to go out for Session 5 in the heavy rain, so his P1 for that doesn’t tell us anything and isn’t factored in. Antonio was not at the Chris Griffis.

Antonio Serravalle

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In the crowded USF2000 field the TOP score was turned in by Australian Cameron Shields, driving for Cape Morosports. Cameron posted a score of 9, and that’s with no less that 5 sessions - a P1 and four P2s. He was not at the Chris Griffis.

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Cameron Shields

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Very close to Cameron was Hunter McElrea, driving for Pabst Racing. Hunter, born in the USA but raised in New Zealand, posted a score of 11 - two P1s, a P2, a P3 and a P4. Hunter was at the Chris Griffis and he was TOPS in USF2000 there, so this is a harbinger of great things to come from the lad. Hunter is going to be a contestant in the Mazda Road to Indy Shootout, this coming week.

Hunter McElrea

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3rd best score was turned in by Braden Eves, driving for BN Racing. Braden scored 14 points - a P1, three P3s and a P4. Braden was having surgery when the Chris Griffis was ongoing. He, like Hunter, is going to be a contestant in the Mazda Road to Indy Shootout, this coming week.

Braden Eves

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Keep in mind that the only two CONFIRMED drivers for 2019 are Dave Malukas for BN Racing and Ryan Norman for Andretti Autosport. There are a LOT of probables here, but the team and driver decisions are either yet to be made or being kept out of view.

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#343

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We’re itchin’ to do yet another “Speedy Award”…

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The statistical mavens who work for IndyCar have kept track of some outstanding, but not-so-easy-to-see performances in 2018, They are finally letting all the rest of us know what was evident to them all season and they call them the “SpeedyAwards.” We last looked at one in post # 293, if you want to catch up.

This week we’re looking at the Average Running Position Award, given to the driver who had the best average after adding driver position on each lap – then dividing it by the laps run in each race.

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3rd best in this category for the year was 2019 Champion Scott Dixon for Chip Ganassi. Scott had an average running position of 6.36 during the 2018 season and had an average finish of P4.2. With a TOP FIVE average it’s no wonder the Kiwi picked up another title.

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Scott Dixon

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Rookie Robert Wickens for Schmidt Peterson had no less that 7 TOP FIVE finishes in the 14 races he ran in 2018 and had an average running position of 6.36 for those races, tying him with Scott Dixon.

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Robert Wickens

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Like those boys, Josef Newgarden for Team Penske started the majority of his races up in the front pack, with an average starting position of 5.2 and his average running position of 6:03 proves that he was able to stay up front, most of the time. He was 2nd best in this category for the season.

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Josef Newgarden

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With a terrific average starting position of 2.8, Team Penske’s Will Power started at or near the front at every race in 2018. But he also stayed near the front when his car was able to run, and it was only some bad luck that made it unable to run on some occasions. Power’s average running position of 5.39 was best among all drivers in 2018.

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Will Power - Best Average Running Position of 2018

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More Speedies to come. Stay tuned!

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#344

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The 2018 Mazda Road to Indy Shootout is this weekend…

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So we need to finish introducing the participants for this year. We left off with Raghul Rangasamy in post # 296. The next is…

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Dario Cangialosi, the 2018 Champion of the USAC F1600 Championship Series. The 18-year-old American took the title with 5 WINS, 13 podiums, 4 poles and 4 Fastest Laps in the 21-race season.

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Dario Cangialosi

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Dario drove for USAC powerhouse team K-Hill Racing. Making his year even sweeter, Dario was one of 6 finalists for the Team USA Scholarship program. Prior to this year, Dario was a karter, so his title in his rookie year of car racing speaks volumes.

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Dario in his K-Hill Mygale Honda

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continued…

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#345

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The 2018 Mazda Road to Indy Shootout is this weekend…(part 2)…

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The SCCA National Run-Offs always produce a few entrants and this year is no exception. We have THREE drivers from the Run-Offs, First…

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Jason Reichert was the 2018 SCCA National Run-Offs Champion for Formula Continental

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19-year-old Jason from Las Vegas, Nevada, has spent the last two years battling in the Pacific F2000 series, with a best year of 3rd in 2018, with 2 WINS and 6 podiums, but it was his Run-Offs victory in the same Van Diemen RF03 he drives in F2000 that got him his entry ticket to the Shootout.

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Jason in his Van Diemen for DFR

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Another Run-Offs Champion for 2018 with an entry ticket is Flinn Lazier, who took the 2018 SCCA National Championship Runoffs, Formula Enterprises 2 title. Flinn is the 19-year-old son of Indy 500 WINNER Buddy Lazier.
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Flinn Lazier (right) with papa Buddy Lazier

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Flinn has been driving various formula cars for years, as one might expect. He drove 2 races in USF2000 for Newmsan Wachs Racing in 2017 and has been a Vice Champion at the Run-Offs in the past.

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Flinn in his Formula Enterprise Van Diemen at Sonoma, taking his SCCA title

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The 3rd SCCA Run-Offs Champ is Bryce Cornet, the 2018 SCCA National RunOffs, Formula Mazda Champion.

Bryce Cornet

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The native of Norman Oklahoma just turned 25 years old and thus makes the age cut for this year. Prior to 2018 Bryce has been a karter, so his Formula Mazda title is outstanding.

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Bryce in his Elan 13B Formula Mazda at Sonoma

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#346

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There’s one more Team USA guy going to the Shootout…

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We’ve already featured Jake Craig and Colin Mullan - Team USA Scholarship WINNERS who are going to the Mazda Road to Indy Shootout - in posts # 287 and # 288, but there is a 3rd guy. Meet…

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Braden Eves - WINNER of the 2018 Team USA Scholarship.

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Eves, 19, from New Albany, Ohio, was outstanding in selected F1600 Championship Series races, F4 United States races and one USF2000 weekend before being awarded a Team USA Scholarship for 2018. He was unable to take his place in England while recovering from surgery and had to be replaced for the usual journey to England to drive at the Formula Ford Festival and the Walter Hayes Trophy, and that’s why this year there are THREE Team USA guys, instead of just two. He gets to go to the Shootout for being selected as one of them.

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Braden in his Crawford F4-16 for Jay Howard Driver Development at Circuit of the Americas.

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#347

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Another Mazda Road to Indy Shootout entrant for 2018…

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…will be American Tyler O’Connor, from New Hartford, Connecticut. Tyler was the Vice-Champion of USAC’s F1600 Championship series, with 7 WINS, 13 podiums, 2 poles and 8 Fastest Laps, driving for K-Hill Racing.

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Tyler O’Connor

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The 21-year old is a Mazda-choice at large entrant, due to the fact that F1600 Championship series Champion Daniel Cangialosi is already in the Shootout, but like Cangialosi, O’Connor was one of the 6 Team USA Scholarship finalists for 2018 and Mazda figured he had thus earned a shot at the Shootout, as well.

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Tyler in his Mygale Honda for K-Hill Racing

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continued…

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#348

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Another Mazda Road to Indy Shootout entrant for 2018…(part 2)…

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…will be Courtney Crone, the 2018 Formula Car Challenge Formula Speed Champion, with a dominating 9 WINS and 14 podiums in 14 races. She also WON the Formula Speed Triple Crown National Championship with 3 WINS and 6 podiums in 6 races.

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Courtney Crone

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The 17-year-old from Corona, California is a racer’s racer, starting her career at the age of 4. She’s driven everything from dirt and pavement Midgets to dirt motorcyles to karts - anything with 2 or 4 wheels on it. She holds several different track records and in 2018 she was nominated as one of the 2018 Team USA Scholarship entrants - the only woman yet so honored. She is also the first woman to earn a Mazda Road to Indy Shootout entry ticket.

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Courtney in her FFC Gen 2 Formula Speed for World Speed Motorsports

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continued…

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#349

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Another Mazda Road to Indy Shootout entrant for 2018…(part 3)…

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…will be Ireland’s James Roe, the Vice-Champion of USAC’s F2000 series, with 3 WINS and 7 podiums.

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James Roe

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Born in Naas, County Kildare, Ireland, the 20-year-old started racing rather late, at the age of 16, driving in Ginetta Junior, WINNING the prestigious Allied Irish Finance trophy at the Leinster Trophy in that 2014 rookie season. He took the Vice Championship in 2015, while simultaneously competing in rallycross and WINNING there, too.

IN 2017 James had multiple WINS in Formula Fords in both the Irish and the British Championships. He is the holder of several track records both in Great Britain and the USA. In 2018, in addition to his USAC racing he competed in 2 USF2000 races for Swan / RJB Motorsports at Road America and earned a TOP FIVE in his series debut.

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James in his Elan for ArmsUp Motorsports at Summit Point

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continued…

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#350

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Another Mazda Road to Indy Shootout entrant for 2018…(part 4)…

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…Is Stuart White, the 2018 Champion of the Investchem South African Formula 1600 Championship, with 7 WINS in 14 outings, driving for Fantastic Racing.

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Stuart White

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16-year-old Stuart from Bloemfontein, South Africa, has only been racing in formula cars for 2 years. making his title all the more impressive. In 2018 he became the youngest-ever winner of an endurance race in South Africa when he drove the Fantastic Racing Maui Formula Renault he shared with Craig Jarvis and Stephen Young to victory in the Mopar African Endurance Phakisa Six Hour race in Welkom.
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Stuart White in his Mygale F1600 for Fantastic Racing at Zwartkops

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continued…

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#351

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Another Mazda Road to Indy Shootout entrant for 2018…(part 5)…

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Every year in the United States there are several regional and national karting champions in various classes and sections of the nation - far too many to select one person as the national champion. Mazda thus decided to let the guys at EKarting News - THE authority in karting in America - select an at-large candidate to the Shootout to represent American karting at its best, based not only on 2018 performances but also on one’s karting career, as a whole.

This year, the EKarting News selection went to reigning Superkarts! USA Pro Tour champion Ryan Norberg, the website’s current #1 ranked driver in the TaG category.
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Ryan Norberg (center) with EKarting News’ Rob Howden and David Cole.

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The 20-year-old from Orlando, Florida, won his unprecedented third straight SKUSA Pro Tour championship this season, putting him at a level no other driver has been able to reach in the last decade.

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Ryan Norberg at work

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continued…

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#352

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Another Mazda Road to Indy Shootout entrant for 2018…(part 6)…

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The title for the 2018 Australian Formula Ford Championship went down to the last race of the last weekend of racing and WINNING the title - and with it a coveted entry ticket to the Shootout - was American-born but NewZealand-raised Hunter McElrea, with 13 WINS, 16 podiums, 3 poles and 7 Fastest Laps in the 21-race season.

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Hunter McElrea

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The 18-year-old, now living at the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia, started in karts at the age of 9 but transitioned to formula cars by the time he was 15. He’s been WINNING races ever since. He recently tested a Tatuus USF-17 for Pabst Racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway against good competition (post # 304) and in 5 sessions posted two P1s, a P2, a P3 and a P4 - fast, indeed.

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Hunter in his Mygale SJ10A for Sonic Motor Racing Services

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#353

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The last entrant we want to introduce for the 2018 Mazda Road to Indy Shootout is…

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Michael Eastwell, the 2018 Champion of the Formula Ford Super Series Shootout, in Great Britain. There are so many Formula Ford championship in the British Isles that every year a Shootout is held at Silverstone for worthy competitors from all over the Isles. It is a combination of physical tests and simulation work in front of a panel of judges.

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Michael Eastwell, (left) with James Beckett, organizer of the Champion of Brands

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To be considered, Michael was not only the Vice-Champion of BRSCC Formula Ford in 2018 but he was also a four-time 2018 Champion of Brands WINNER - unprecedented. The 21-year-old from Southampton, England, started a bit late, at the age of 12, in karts, but transitioned to formula cars at the age of 15 and has been advancing ever since, as his 10 WINS in this one year attest.

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Michael Eastwell after his 4th Champion of Brands WIN

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That’s it! We have now introduced all 20 of the 2018 Road to Indy Shootout entry ticket holders. The competition starts on Saturday, at the Bondurant Racing School in Chandler, Arizona. STAY TUNED!

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#354

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The 2018 Mazda Road to Indy Shootout is underway!

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Today and Sunday, Mazda will host their final Road to Indy Shootout - the opportunity for one young talent to WIN a $200,000 scholarship to be applied to a full season of racing in 2019 in the first rung of the Road to Indy ladder system, USF2000. This is the most sought-after prize in junior formula racing in the world and the 20 participants are the best of the best - the Champions or Vice-Champions from several official feeder series of the Road to Indy from around the globe.

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The venue is the Bob Bondurant Racing School at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Arizona - Just South of Phoenix. The 20 entrants will be given three on-track outings on Saturday and a final session on Sunday morning in identically-prepared Bondurant School cars - Formula Mazda cars equipped with Cooper racing tires:

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The 20 entrants will be given three on-track outings on Saturday and a final session on Sunday morning, all under the watchful eye and coaching of 4 esteemed judges, after which the field will be narrowed to 5, 6 or so drivers and those finalists will compete in two qualifying rounds followed by a mock race. The winner will then be announced at approximately 6 pm ET Sunday.

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The judging panel - Mazda IMSA drivers and representatives Andrew Carbonell and Tom Long, Indy Lights race winner and 2017 Pro Mazda champion Victor Franzoni, and inaugural shootout winner and 2017 USF2000 champion Oliver Askew. All know what these kids will be going through and what they hope to achieve. They are there to HELP them all succeed, but also to judge what they show - both in racing talent and also in deportment, as the WINNER will represent Mazda in 2019.

The judges - left to right, Andrew Carbonell and Tom Long…

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…and Victor Franzoni and Oliver Askew.

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continued…

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#355

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The 2018 Mazda Road to Indy Shootout is underway!..(part 2)…

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The event actually started on Friday night, as all 20 participants went to dinner with the judging panel, and yes the judges WERE paying attention to the kids, scoping out their speaking abilities and their ease in a crowd, as they will need to be able to carry themselves well, as the Scholarship winner.

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The dinner - the drivers, their families and their judges

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Judge Oliver Askew listens to three young talents at the dinner

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On Saturday morning, 18 of the 20 young talents took the Class of 2018 picture:

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…and the in-car sessions began.

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#356

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Saturday at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park…

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The Shootout began in earnest this morning as the 20 participants all got their first look at their cars and then got their first runs on track…

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The drivers meet their cars…

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Race Director Scott Elkins gives everyone the last word, before they drive…

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Finally, they head out!

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continued…

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#357

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Saturday at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park…(part 2)…

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Following each session, the drivers get a debrief with one of their judges. At this time each will receive comments, criticisms and advice on what they showed and how to improve their runs.

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Ross Martin debriefs with Judge Victor Franzoni. (left) Martin was also at the 2017 Shootout.

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Courtney Crone debriefs with Victor Franzoni. Courtney is the first woman to make the Shootout.

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Jake Craig debriefs with judge Oliver Askew. (left) This is Jake’s 2nd Shootout, following 2017, where he was a finalist.

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All of the judges are respected by the kids, but Oliver Askew has the added benefit of being the embodiment of their dream. He was the very first Shootout WINNER, and with his scholarship, went on to be the 2017 Champion of USF2000.

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continued…

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#358

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Saturday at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park…(part 3)…

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More sessions, followed by more debriefs throughout the day…

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Super-karter Ryan Norberg gets advice from Mazda’s talented SportsCar driver and judge Tom Long

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Oliver Askew debriefs Brit Michael Eastwell following his 2nd run in the School car…

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…as the other drivers wait their turn for their own debrief, and get to know one another.

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Click on this vid to hear from a few of the participants, thanks to Road to Indy TV:

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More to come on Sunday…STAY TUNED!

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