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


#359

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Sunday at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park - Day 2 of the Shootout…

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The weather was beautiful in Chandler this morning, as the 20 aspirants to the $200,000 scholarship up for grabs went out for their final on-track session before the finalists were chosen by the judging panel.
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Waiting for their session, (left to right) Jake Craig, Colin Mullan, Braden Eves and Ryan Norberg.

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The British Isles contingent hang out - (left to right) England’s Michael Eastwell, Ireland’s James Roe, England’s Matt Round-Garrido and Scotland’s Ross Martin:

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Judge Victor Franzoni inspects a school car before the final session for all drivers

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Road to Indy TV speaks to several drivers about what they represent:

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continued…

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#360

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Sunday at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park - Day 2 of the Shootout…(part 2)…

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After the final full-field session the judges huddled to decide who the finalists will be in 2018…

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The judges and Race Director Scott Elkins making their decision about the finalists

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Finally, the word came down and we had our finalists - 6 this year. They were England’s Michael Eastwell, Scotland’s Ross Martin, New Zealand’s Hunter McElrea, and Americans Flinn Lazier, Braden Eves and Jake Craig. Of the 6, Martin and Craig were also in the Shootout in 2017 and Craig was one of the 5 finalists that year, too.

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And here they are! Left to right, Michael Eastwell, Hunter McElrea, Jake Craig, Braden Eves, Flinn Lazier and Ross Martin

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Next, 3 drivers would qualify for the mock race, followed by the other three. Following that, all 6 were given a final run-through for the mock race on the Bob Bondurant School track at Wild Horse Pass. The mock race WINNER is NOT the automatic winner of the scholarship. That is determined by several factors taken into account all weekend long, and the mock race is just to show the judges how well each driver handles traffic - not whether they win or lose it.

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The final run-through is given by Race Director Scott Elkins as the finalists listen intently

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Following the mock race, the judges huddled for one more time. Finally a decision was made and they announced the 2018 WINNER of the Mazda Road to Indy Scholarship…

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continued…

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#361

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Sunday at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park - Day 2 of the Shootout…(part 3)…

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The WINNER of the 2018 Mazda Road to Indy Shootout Scholarship is …

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New Zealander Hunter McElrea!

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McElrea, the moment he hears his name called out

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Hunter with the men who have forever changed his life - his judges, left to right, Victor Franzoni, Oliver Askew, Andrew Carbonell and Tom Long.

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Said judge Tom Long of the decision, “Today was an incredible day. There was so much talent here for the Shootout. Hunter McElrea just rose to the top when it was time to shine, but our decision was very, very difficult. In the end, given all of the circumstances, we were able to make a pretty good decision and we are really, really proud of not only Hunter but our whole team here with Mazda to be able to grant this $200K scholarship for his opportunity in USF2000 next year.”

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And from our WINNER, “I can’t believe it. This is definitely the most exciting opportunity that I have had in my racing career. I cannot thank Mazda and everyone enough for making this possible for me. The fact that I am going to be on the grid next year thanks to them is a dream come true. They have given me the opportunity to prove myself in such a high level that I never even thought I would be able to reach. I have to thank Andersen Promotions, Cooper Tires, all of the judges, everyone from Mazda, the Bondurant Racing School and the other competitors, who literally pushed me to the limit. I am just so happy. It is still sinking in but I just can’t wait to get next year started, and I’ll be representing Mazda in that nice Soul Red USF2000 car.”
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That’s it - The final Mazda-sponsored Shootout with a fitting Champion. Next year, the Shootout is promised to continue with new sponsorship. Congrats to Hunter and a BIG thanks to Mazda for all three of the Shootouts they held.

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#362

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While we were watching the Road to Indy all last week, Will Power had a great moment…

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…as the driver for Team Penske and the 2018 WINNER of the Indy 500 got to be present when his likeness was revealed on the Borg-Warner Trophy at a ceremony at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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Will Power shows off his likeness on the Borg-Warner

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As has been the case for the last 29 years now, the sculptor foe the likeness was Will Behrends, who always does a full-size bust first, in order to get a better sense of the details that make a particular driver unique. With Power, it was the piercing eyes, more than anything else.

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Here is a close-up of “Willy P’s” visage on the trophy

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Will’s face is on the Trophy’s base, right next to 2017 Indy 500 WINNER Takuma Sato and Power was very pleased with the result: “That’s incredible when you think about some of the legendary names that are on there. Thank you, Will. It’s an amazing image. It looks like me, so that’s good."

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#363

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It happens every year at this time…

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…as Ed Carpenter of Ed Carpenter Racing drives Santa Clause to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis in an IndyCar two-seater for “Jolly Days”.

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Click on this to see the arrival:

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And here, Channel 13 acknowledges the great moment:

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#364

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He’s in it! IndyCar driver Conor Daly will be in the 2019 Chili Bowl…

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Conor has been looking for an IndyCar ride of one kind or another and is STILL looking, but he’s not letting the grass grow in the mean time. Announced earlier this week, Daly will drive a midget in the prestigious annual midget race in Tulsa, to be held January 14-19, 2019, with sponsorship from David Byrd.

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Conor Daly

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As a tune-up for the Chili Bowl, Daly will also run the dirt indoors at DuQuoin, Illinois, this weekend for Byrd. It will NOT be Conor’s first foray into the powerful and nasty open-wheelers, as Conor was at the Driven2SaveLives BC39 Midget event held at the temporary 1/4-mile dirt track built in the Turn 3 infield at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, last September.

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Conor at the DrivenToSavesLives BC39 in September

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Said Daly, “I got a taste last September at IMS, and the Chili Bowl is such a cool event and I want to try it. I don’t have any great expectations, but I liked trying the dirt and I’ll get some laps at DuQuoin before the Chili Bowl, so that will help."

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Daly drove at the 2018 Indy 500 for Dale Coyne and then helped Harding Racing late in the season with 3 runs for them. "I’m working on various partners and sponsors for 2019 and this is a big week, so hopefully I’ll have something good to talk about soon,” said the 27-year-old Indianan.
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#365

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Speaking of the DrivenToSavesLives BC 39…

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…as we did in the post above, Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles is announcing that the very popular and well-attended USAC event will return for 2019, again to coincide with the Brickyard 400 NASCAR weekend, in early September. The event will again honor late USAC champion and three-time Indy 500 starter Bryan Clauson and increase awareness of and participation in the Indiana Donor Network and Driven2SaveLives - two of Clauson’s personal causes.

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The midgets turning laps on the temporary Turn 3 dirt track at IMS

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In the inaugural event, two-time USAC National Champion Brady Bacon won the 39-lap feature race and earned the richest purse in recent Midget racing history. The race was very popular with locals, selling out the temporary infield grandstands even after the main event was shortened due to heavy afternoon rain, necessitating a finish in the dark.

Left to right, Bryan Clauson, Doug Boles and Brady Bacon

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It was also popular with participants, with an all-time record entry of 118 Midget cars. Competitors included eight former USAC Midget national champions. Boles is expecting a similar enthusiasm for 2019.

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#366

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The series is the same but the name is new…

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We’re talking about the new name for what has been called “Pro Mazda” - the middle rung series of the three series that make up the Road to Indy ladder system for training drivers to drive IndyCars. Going forward the series will be called "Indy Pro 2000."

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Originally called “Star Mazda” the series was renamed “Pro Mazda” in 2013, when Anderson Promotions took over the Road to Indy. But since Mazda has decided to end its affiliation with the Road to Indy, Dan Anderson, president of Anderson Promotions, has decided a new name is appropriate - one that has an element of the past but is also more inline with its IndyCar affiliation.

Dan Anderson

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Why Indy Pro 2000? All three series in the Road to Indy use 2-liter engines - 2000 cubic centimeters. USF2000 uses an Elite Engines-developed 2.0 liter four with 175 horsepower and 160 pounds of torque. Indy Pro 2000 uses an Elite Engines-developed 2.0 liter with 275 horsepower and 190 pounds of torque. Finally, Indy Lights uses an AER-developed Turbocharged 2.0 liter with 450 horsepower (with an additional 50 horsepower available with a “push-to-pass” feature) and 230 pounds of torque. NOTHING about the technical end of all three series is changing for 2019.

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The Tatuus PM-18 will remain the chassis for Indy Pro 2000 - one of the best junior formula chassis in the world

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For a while, we will refer to Indy Pro 2000 as “formerly Pro Mazda” whenever possible, so as to help identify it.

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#367

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Juncos Racing is enlisting some young talent for the IMSA endurance races…

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In post # 284 we mentioned that Juncos Racing has signed Pro Mazda alum and endurance racing champion Will Owen to run the full season of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series, driving their new Cadillac DPi V.R. in the P class.

Last week, Juncos announced that their 2017 Indy Lights Champion, Kyle Kaiser, would be on the squad for the 2019 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Kaiser drove in 4 IndyCar starts for Juncos in 2018, including his first Indy 500.

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Kyle Kaiser

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Today, Juncos further announced that Austrian Rene Binder would also be on the squad for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, as well as the other 3 races that make up the Michelin Endurance Cup - formerly known as the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup. Binder drove in 6 IndyCar races for Juncos in 2018.

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Rene Binder

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A fourth driver for the Rolex 24 at Daytona has yet to be named. Expect to see Owen, Binder and Kaiser at the pre-Daytona testing event, the Roar Before the Rolex 24 at Daytona in early January.

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#368

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Zachary Claman DeMelo is returning to Indy Lights in 2019…

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The 20-year-old Canadian drove two previous seasons of Indy Lights - 2016 for Juncos and 2017 for Carlin - with a best finish of P1 at Road America in 2017 before making a bid to get a full-time ride in IndyCars in 2018. ZCD was able to post 9 starts for Dale Coyne Racing in 2018, including his debut at the Indy 500, where he impressed all by legitimately leading the race for 7 laps.

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Zachary Claman DeMelo

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However, it wasn’t enough to secure a full-time ride in IndyCars for 2019. So, Zachary will be returning to Indy Lights in 2019, driving for Brian Beardi at Belardi Auto Racing. The plan is very simple - WIN the championship, and with it the 1.1 million dollars Road to Indy scholarship that will allow Zachary to return to IndyCars in 2020 - including another shot at the Indy 500.

Said ZCD, “I am very excited to be joining Belardi Auto Racing for the upcoming season. The team has a great track record for being very competitive and for getting drivers to IndyCar and keeping them there.

“Being back in Indy Lights will be good for my development as a driver and as a competitor. But my only goal going into this season is to win the championship.”

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Good luck,Zach!

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#369

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Pfaff is committing to the full season of the WeatherTech SprortsCar Championsip for 2019…

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During the Petit Le Mans weekend in 2018 Pfaff Motorsports made the announcement that the team would be moving from the Pirelli World Challenge series to do the sprint races of the GTD class of the IMSA WeatherTech series, with an all-Canadian squad of 2018 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada Champion Zacharie Robichon and 2018 Pirelli World Challenge GT3 Sprint Champion Scott Hargrove - a MUCH accomplished former Road to Indy ace driver, with multiple Porsche Cup titles.
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IndyCar guy Scott Hargrove (left) and Zacharie Robichon

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Today Pfaff made the announcement that they are now CONFIRMED to do the entire season, including the 4 Michelin Endurance Cup races - The Rolex 24 at Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring, the Sahlen’s 6 Hours at the Glen and the Motul Petit Le Mans. Pfaff will field a Porsche 911 GT3 R in the GTD class - the perfect mount for the Canadian duo.

The team will add Germany’s Lars Kern for all of the endurance events, and Norway’s Dennis Olsen as the fourth Rolex 24 at Daytona driver.

Lars Kern (left) and Dennis Olsen - Endurance muscle

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If Pfaff does their part, given how much Hargrove and Robichon have proven they can motor a Porsche with authority, the duo have to be considered favorites for a championship, now that they will do the full season.

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#370

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A BIG crongrats to IndyCar driver Katherine Legge…

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…as she becomes the first woman to race in Saudi Arabia this weekend. Katherine will be driving for Rahal Letterman Lanigan in the new Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY series, an all-electric support series to Formula E, which is also racing at Middle East Ad Diriyah, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh this weekend for the Ad Diriyah E-Prix.

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Katherine Legge

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Kat’s teammate for the season is going to be Bryan Sellers, who - with Madison Snow - beat out Legge for the GTD-class championship in the 2018 season of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship by 6 points.
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left to right, Bobby Rahal, Bryan Sellers and Katherine Legge

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While Selllers still hasn’t confirmed his 2019 season in IMSA, Katherine has. She will once again co-drive an Acura NSX GT3 for Heinricher / Meyer Shank Racing in the GTD class. Luckily, the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY series does NOT conflict with the IMSA series.

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#371

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IndyCar driver Helio Castroneves is headed to the International Race of Champions in 2019…

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Announced this week, the three-time Indy 500 winner will return in January to compete once again in the ROC, to be held for the first time at the Foro Sol, the amphitheatre forming part of Mexico City’s Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez Formula 1 circuit. Helio will partner 2016-2017 Formula E Champion Lucas di Grassi in the Nation’s Cup on Day 1, representing Brazil. Then on Day 2 Helio will go for the singular Champion of Champions.

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Helio Castroneves

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Castroneves becomes the 2nd IndyCar driver to enter the 2019 ROC, as 2018 Indy Lights Champion Patricio O’Ward is already in, and will race for Mexico in the Nation’s Cup.

Lucas Di Grassi (left) and Pato O’Ward joining the fun.

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#372

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Rahal Letterman Lanigan has best team result at Ad Diriyah …

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…in Saudi Arabia for the debut of the new Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY electric car series. The team took P3 with Bryan Sellers and P6 with IndyCar driver Katherine Legge - two finishers in the top-six, the most of any team entered in the race. WINNING the inaugural event was Simon Evans for Team Asia New Zealand while P2 went to Sergio Jimenez for Jaguar Brazil Racing.

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Bryan Sellers in blue and white RLL Jag hounding Simon Evans

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Qualifying was washed out due to heavy rains - yes, heavy rains in the desert - and the field was gridded based on the first practice times on Friday, with Sellers starting in P2 and Katherine starting in P9. (Too bad it wasn’t based on the Warm-Up, where Katherine was P4). Legge made the most passes in the race and set Fastest Lap several times, but she just had too many positions to make up.

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Katherine Legge in her Jaguar I-PACE for RLL - Fastest Lap

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Bryan Sellers (left) and Katherine Legge

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The next round of the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY for Sellers and Legge takes place in Mexico City on 16 February 2019, but prior to that Legge will be on the all-female Acura NSX GT3 squad for Heinricher / Meyer Shank Racing at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, The Brit’s co-drivers will be American Jackie Heinricher, Brazilian Ana Beatriz and Swiss Simona de Silvestro.

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#373

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Speaking of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing…

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…as we did in the post above, the team has announced their full-time squad for the GTLM class of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2019 and it once again includes Pro Mazda (now called “Indy Pro 2000”) alum and Team USA alum Connor de Phillippe. Connor will share the # 24 BMW M8 GTE with new driver Tom Blomqvist - the son of rally great Stig Blomqvist. The # 25 Bimmer will be piloted by Jesse Krohn and John Edwards, as was the case in 2018.
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Connor de Phillippe - back in the Bimmer for 2019.

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Left to right, Tom Blomqvist, Jesse Krohn and John Edwards - RLL boys for 2019

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Adding even more IndyCar talent to the roster, RLL will put 2-time Champ Car Champion Alex Zanardi in the # 25, along with Supercars great Chaz Mostert, for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

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Alessandro Zanardi

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Chaz Mostert

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And in the # 24, the 2018 Indy Lights Vice-Champion, Colton Herta, will join DTM driver Philipp Eng as the adds for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

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Colton Herta

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Philipp Eng

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As is always the case, the 2019 Rolex 24 at Daytona is shaping up to feature a bevy of IndyCar talent.

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#374

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Great day of testing at Ad Diriyah near Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Monday…

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All 11 teams competing in the ABB FIA Formula E series stayed on following the opening race weekend to do some testing at Ad Diriyah and adding significance to the testing was the presence of 9 great female open-wheelers, thanks to the efforts of the FIA Women in Motorsports Commission. IndyCar drivers Simona de Silvestro and Katherine Legge are already signed to do test driving this season, but the other 7 - including IndyCar driver Pippa Mann - were added into the test programs this day, thanks to FIA WiM.
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Left to right, FIA WiM Commission President Michelle Mouton (one of the greatest rally drivers of her time) IndyCar driver Pippa Mann, Tatiana Calderon, Amna Al Qubaisi, Carrie Schreiner, Carmen Jorda, Beitske Visser, Jamie Chadwick, and IndyCar drivers Simona de Silvestro and Katherine Legge.

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Pippa testing for GEOX Dragon FE

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Katherine testing for Mahindra FE

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Simona testing for Venturi FE

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In addition to her role as a test driver for Venturi FE all season, de Silvestro was recently named by ABB, the title sponsor of the Formula E championship, as its global ambassador, along with fellow Swiss, Sebastien Buemi.

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#375

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We got us a new IndyCar team for 2019!..

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The rumor has persisted for weeks that a new team would be coming to the Indycar series for 2019 and today that rumor was CONFIRMED, as SportsCar and endurance racers DragonSpeed Racing are going to field a Chevy-powered car in 5 IndyCar races, including the 2019 Indy 500, with an eye to going full-schedule in 2020. Their driver will be 33-year-old Brit Ben Hanley.

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Ben Hanley

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Hanley has been racing in SportsCars for DragonSpeed for the last 4 years, but has lots of European open-wheel experience in his past, including Formula Renault 3.5 and GP2.

As a team, DragonSpeed has had a lot of success, including WINNING the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge GTA championship and the 2017 European Le Mans Series LMP2 title. According to team principal Elton Julian, the team will also continue competing in the 2019 World Endurance Championship, which includes the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Elton Julian

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In addition to the Indy 500 DragonSpeed will grid for St. Petersburg, the GP of Alabama at Barber, Road America and the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, sticking principally to the twisty circuits. Welcome to the fray!

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#376

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It’s time for another 2018 “Speedy Award”…

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Every year, the bespeckled numbers-crunchers working for IndyCar are able to spot some outstanding race performances that aren’t so readily obvious without statistical analysis and when the season is over they let us know what those performances are in what they call the “Speedy Awards” We’ve been chronicling this year’s awards, with the last look in post # 305, where we did the Average Running Speed award.

This week, we do what they call the “Arie Luyendyk Speed Demons Awards”, given to the fastest trap speeds in races on road / street courses and ovals and the best driver using Push-to-Pass to overtake - 3 different awards.
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The best guy on the button in 2018 - most effective use of Push-to-Pass - was 4-time champion Sebastien Bourdais for Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser / Sulilivan. Bourdais was able to make 39 passes using Push-to-Pass (second among all drivers) and had an efficiency rating of 18.2% - (39 passes divided by 214 push-to-pass attempts). It’s that efficiency rating that gets him the award. When Seb’s on the button he makes it count the most.

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Sebastien Bourdais

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The Speedy Award for the best oval-racing trap speeds goes to veteran Tony Kanaan for AJ Foyt Enterprises. Tony posted the fastest trap speed in two oval races in 2018, and ranked among the TOP FIVE drivers at all six oval races. The Brazilian veteran can wheel it in a circle faster than anyone else, on average.

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Tony Kanaan

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Finally, the Speedy for the best trap speeds on the twisty circuits goes to Will Power for Team Penske. Will was the only driver to post the fastest trap speed on more than one road or street course in 2018, setting the fastest speed at Belle Isle-1 and the finale at Sonoma.

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Will Power

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More Speedys to come. Stay tuned!

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#377

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It’s time for some video to brighten up this December…

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…and let’s start with the 3rd installment of IndyCar driver Jack Harvey’s series, “You Don’t Know Jack”, wherein the former 2-time Vice Champion of Indy Lights let’s us in on his doings.

This episode, Jack let’s us in on his fitness regime. Most IndyCar guys go to Jim Leo’s Indianapolis motorsports-geared fitness club, PitFit Training, but Jack’s gotta be different and instead goes to group classes with Fit Flex Fly. Take look:

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Whatever his reason, It’s really working for him. At the time of this post he has already lost more than 20 pounds of weight, and Jack reckons that’s all the baby fat he’s been carrying for a number of years. He a lean, mean machine from Manchester, England.

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contnued…

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#378

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It’s time for some video to brighten up this December…(part 2)…

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Now, here’s a NEW series called “Behind the Visor”, presented by the phenomenal 2018 Indy Lights Champion, Patricio O’Ward. Pato is going to show us his wonderful season, race by race, starting with his first race of 2018, which was also his first WIN of 2018 - St. Petersburg - 1. He then goes on to describe St. Pete - 2, which was a bit of a disaster of his own doing.

Take a look:

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Excellent!. Let’s do another one…(continued)…

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