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

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Saturday at Lime Rock Park - the Michelin Pilot Challenge race…

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…was one of the most hotly contested MPC races of the season, as on the small Lime Rock circuit the TCR class cars were often as fast as the GS class cars, and that created lots of packs of cars, all vying for top spots on the island of pavement. In the end the WINNERS of the GS class and overall were starter Jeff Mosing and closer Eric Foss in the # 56 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT GT4. P2 at the end was Stevan McAleer in the # 23 Notlad Racing by RS1 Aston Martin Vantage GT4 he co-drove with Patrick Gallagher, while P3 went to hard-charging IndyCar driver Jan Heylen in the # 16 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport he shared with Ryan Hardwick. Heylen made up 4 spots in the last stint to claim his 4th podium in 5 season races, launching him into a tie for first place in the points with Bill Auberlen and Dillon Machavern.

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The key for the Murillo boys was to take on only two tires on their final pit stop, following the 4th full-course caution. Foss was also blessed with great timing, able to pass a large scrum of cars right at the restart, while McAleer was stuck behind tyraffic long enough for Foss to make his escape. Once past the crowded field, McAleer was actually faster than Foss, but ran out of time to catch him. The last WIN for Jeff and Eric was in the old ST class at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in 2017.

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Your happy GS class podium - Left to right, That’s Stevan McAleer & Patrick Gallagher in P2 on the left, Jeff Mosing & Eric Foss in P1 in the middle and Ryan Hardwick & Jan Heylen in P3 on the right:

MPV GS class

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The WINNERS of the TCR class were starter Taylor Hagler and closer Michael Lewis in the # 77 Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Veloster N TCR. Closer Tim Lewis chased Michael Lewis to take P2 with teammate and starter Roy Block in the # 5 KMW Motorsports w/ TMR Engineering Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR - the car’s first podium of the season. P3 went to Tyler Maxson in the # 27 Copeland Motorsports Hyundai Veloster N TCR co-driven by Tyler Gonzalez, who started from pole.

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TCR class was a close battle all through the race and right to the finish line, as Michael Lewis made the pass for the lead with six minutes to go and finished off the hectic final stint to win by just 0.134 seconds. It was the first season WIN for Hagler and Lewis and extended their points lead in the class.

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Your happy TCR class podium - left to right, that’s Tim Lewis & Roy Block in P2 on the left, Taylor Hagler & Michael Lewis in P1 in the middle and Tyler Gonzales & Tyler Maxon in P3 on the right:

TCR Podium

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With these results, here are the TOP THREE in points in each class, leaving Lime Rock Park:

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GS class -

1 - Bill Auberlen, Dillon Machavern, 1540
1 - Jan Heylen, 1540
3 - Robby Foley, Vincent Barletta, 1490

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TCR class -

1 - Michael Lewis, Taylor Hagler, 1850
2 - Ryan Eversely, 1600
3 - Parker Chase, 1560

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Next up for the Michelin Pilot Challenge will be the Road America 120 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, August 7th.

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Saturday at Lime Rock Park - The WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race…

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…was cut short by lightning and gave starter Roman De Angelis and closer Ross Gunn their 2nd unorthodox WIN this season in the GTD class in the # 23 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3. The # 1 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo of starter Madison Snow and closer Bryan Sellers was second while the # 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RCF GT3 of closer Jack Hawksworth and qualifier Aaron Telitz - both IndyCar guys - rounded out the podium.

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De Angelis had a great first stint and was the class of the field when he brought the car in for its only race stop and the driver exchange. Gunn took over and kept the pace up until lightning shortened the scheduled 2 hour, 40 minute race to just 90 minutes. The red flag came out and despite a long wait by IMSA, the race was finally called.

This is the 2nd WIN of the season for Heart of Racing Team, which also WON at Detroit when the P1 car was disqualified after post-race inspection. De Angelis and Gunn take over the points lead, as a result. Previous points-leaders Bill Auberlen and Robby Foley had a fairly miserable day, with a penalty at the start of the race and not much luck thereafter. They would finish in P5, nonetheless.

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Your happy, lightning-free GTD class indoor podium - left to right, that’s Bryan Sellers & Madison Snow on the left in P2, Ross Gunn & Roman de Angelis in P1 in the middle and Jack Hawksworth & Aaron Telitz in P3 on the right:

GTD Podium

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In the top GTLM class the WINNER in class and overall was the # 3 Corvette C8.R of closer Antonio Garcia and starter Jordan Taylor, while P2 went to the # 4 Corvette with starter Tommy Milner and closer Nick Tandy, both cars for Corvette Racing. P3 went to the # 79 WeatherTech Porsche 911 RSR - 19 with Cooper MacNeil starting and Mathieu Jaminet closing. The WIN just extends the points lead for Gacia and Taylor, who have WON all but 1 race, this season.

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Corvette WIN

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Your happy, lightning-free GTLM class indoor podium - Left to right, that’s Nick Tandy & Tommy Milner in P2 on the left, Jordan Taylor & Antonio Garcia in P1 in the middle and Cooper MacNeil & Mathieu Jaminet in P3 on the right:

GTLM Podium

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With these results, here are the TOP THREE in points in each class, leaving Lime Rock Park:

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GTLM class -

1 - Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor, 1852
2 - Nick Tandy, Tommy Milner, 1661
3 - Cooper MacNeil, 1604

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GTD class -

1 - Roman de Angelis, Ross Gunn, 1606
2 - Bill Auberlen, Robby Foley, 1578
3 - Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow, 1536

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The IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship will now head to Road America on August 5-8.

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On friday, the 16th, Sage Karam married Abigail Guman…

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…and the IndyCar driver had a bunch of his fellow competitors there to cheer him on…

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left to right, Sage, Marco Andretti, Sage’s dad Jody and Abigail
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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - Left to right, Marco Andretti, Alexander Rossi and Sage Karam - sox were optional.

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Sage, Abigail and their pastor Dr. Jarrod Spencer

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Buds holding Sage up, left to right, Conor Daly, Alexander Rossi, James Hinchcliffe, Marco Andretti, Josef Newgarden and Tony Kanaan.

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Sage’s last IndyCar race was the 2021 Indy 500, where he took the Dreyer & Reinbold # 24 Chevrolet from a 32nd place starting spot on the last row to P7 at the end. Will someone PLEASE get this guy a full time ride???

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CONGRATS to Sage and Abby Karam!!

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He’s back!..Santino Ferrucci will drive for Rahal Letterman Lanigan at Nashville…

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…for the innaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix. Ferrucci has driven the Hy-Vee Groceries-sponsored # 45 Honda 4 times previously in 2021 with a P6 at the Indy 500, a P7 and a P10 at the Detroit double-headers and a P9 at Mid-Ohio.

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Said Santino, “I’m super excited to be back driving for RLL and Hy-Vee. It’s going to be an incredible race as it’s our first time racing in the streets of Nashville. The track has an incredible layout that has us racing over a bridge. I have been to the track before on a scooter so I at least know a little about the layout. I’m excited to get the chance to continue with consistent top-10 finishes for the team but I definitely think we can challenge for a win if the weekend goes smoothly.”

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Santino Ferrucci
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With the exception of the Indy 500, the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix will have the highest number of starters at 28 (or more) since the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in 2013. The addition of Ferrucci justs ramps up the WOW factor.

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IndyCars at Laguna Seca today…

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Between now and the Big Machine Music Grand Prix at Nashville on August 8th, the IndyCar community will be testing at various tracks. Today, 11 cars showed up at Laguna Seca to test, including the four Andretti Autosport cars of Colton Herta, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe, the four Team Penske cars of Will Power, Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud and Scott McLaughlin, making his Laguna Seca debut, and the three cars of Rahal Letterman Lanigan, with Graham Rahal, Takuma Sato and Santino Ferrucci.

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They’re just concluding their day but we have a few pieces of video of Graham Rahal making a lap.

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And here, Santino Ferrucci pushes it past the limit and spins in the Corkscrew, but keeps it on the island and keeps it running:

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Santino’s reply? “Working on my hand brake 360 turns”

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We’ll bring you any info we can get.

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Laguna Seca test results - unofficial, of course…

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In a private test session times are never released by the IndyCar series, but that doesn’t prevent anyone with a stopwatch and a notepad from getting unofficial times, and we have such info from yesterday’s IndyCar test at Laguna Seca.

We were supposed to have 11 drivers out there but Takuma Sato for Rahal Letterman Lanigan was unable to travel, and that left Santino Ferrucci and Graham Rahal alone to run up the RLL flag, while the four Team Penske cars of Will Power, Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud and Scott McLaughlin and the four Andretti Autosport cars of Colton Herta, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe also circulated.

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Here was the order of speed for the IndyCar test at Laguna Seca, with times for all: [R] denotes rookie

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1 - Josef Newgarden, Team Penske - time of 01:11.55s
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2 - Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport - time of 01:11.65s
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3 - Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske - time of 01:11.71s
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4 - Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport - time of 01:11.89s
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5 - Scott McLaughlin [R], Team Penske - time of 01:12.02s
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6 - Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport - time of 01:12.21s
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7 - Santino Ferrucci, Rahal Letterman Lanigan - time of 01:12.26s
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8 - Will Power, Team Penske - time of 01:12.41s
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9 - Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan - time of 01:12.48s
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10 - James Hinchcliffe, Andretti Autosport - time of 01:12.87s
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Notable:

  • Note the nice mix between Andretti guys and Penske guys, but without any Chip Ganassi Racing guys on site, it’s hard to guage if these big teams are ready to WIN the remaining series races. Josef Newgarden certainly looks that way, coming off his WIN at Mid-Ohio.

  • Nice showing for rookie Scott McLaughlin who had only seen Laguna Seca on TV before this day.

  • Santino Ferrucci is certainly making his bid to be the proposed 3rd full-season car at RLL in 2022. We think he deserves it.

  • There were lots of spins but nothing that damaged cars or egos.

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The next test will be at World Wide Technolgy Raceway - aka Gateway - on July 27th, where all four Andretti cars will be joined by two each from AJ Foyt Enterprises, Ed Carpenter Racing and Dale Coyne Racing, as well as Scott McLaughlin for Team Penske. One of the Dale Coyne cars SHOULD BE rookie Romain Grosjean, taking his first bite of the oval apple, to decide his future on them.

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It was bound to happen, sooner or later, and great to see…

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…as the now FOUR IndyCar veterans who have WON four Indy 500s got together for a historic picture.

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Left to right, AJ Foyt, Al Unser, Rick Mears and the newest member of the club, Helio Castroneves:

Four

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What are the chances of adding a fifth driver to the club anytime soon?

Living three-time WINNERS of the Indy 500 are Bobby Unser, Johnny Rutherford and Dario Franchitti - all retired from racing. Living two-time WINNERS of the Indy 500 are Emerson Fittipaldi, Al Unser Jr, Arie Luyendyk, Juan Pablo Montoya and Takuma Sato. Only Montoya and Sato still drive and both are capable of another WIN or even two, given the opportunity.

Takuma is 44 years old and JPM is 45. Al Unser was 48 when he WON # 4 and Helio was 46, so realistically, Takuma and Juan Pablo need to WIN TWICE in the near future, to join the club.

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But, of course, Helio can WIN # 5 and put himself pretty much out of reach. It boggles the mind.

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One-word description: Cheeky!

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Very nice piece from IndyCar - Romain Grosjean at Mid-Ohio…

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The Dale Coyne rookie IndyCar driver thought he might be terminally damaged in the lap-1 shunt that temporarily sidelined Ryan Hunter-Reay and Felix Rosenqvist but Romain soldiered on with some nose damage to finish a remarkable P7 from his P18 start.

Take a look:

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WHOA!..Big Silly Season news released today, as it’s Helio in and Jack out…

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…at Meyer Shank Racing for 2022. That’s right, Helio Castroneves will be a full season driver at MSR in the # 06 for 2022, but Jack Harvey will NOT be the full time driver of the # 60 Honda for the team. He will finish out the '21 season with the team and apparently has a better deal for '22 elsewhere, as he recently backed out of renewal negotiations at the last minute, when the team thought he was sewn up.

NO WORD yet on who will drive the # 60 at MSR and NO WORD yet on where Jack is going, but he is apparently taking AutoNation sponsorship with him. MSR will soon announce their replacement for Jack and it MAY also have AutoNation sponsorship for the # 60’s new driver.

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Helio in…
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…and Jack out, but going to where???
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Jack immediately wrote a very gracious letter thanking Jim Meyer and Mike Shank and the team for everything they have done for him and everything they have done together to make MSR a top performing team, capable of WINNING the Indy 500, which it did in 2021, but with Helio driving.

There is a ton of speculation on where Jack is going and who will be replacing him. Among the possibilities being thrown around:

  • Jack goes to Andretti Autosport to replace Ryan Hunter-Reay while Kyle Kirkwood will replace James Hinchcliffe.

  • Jack will go to Rahal Letterman Lanigan to replace Takuma Sato in the # 30 while Santino Ferrucci gets the # 45 car with the team. (Sato recently missed the team tesing at Laguna Seca, fueling that speculation.)

  • Jack will go to RLL to replace Takuma Sato and Oliver Askew will take over the # 45 for the team, with a test at Barber Motorsports Park in the works, right now.

  • Jack will go to Arrow McLaren SP to replace Felix Rosenqvist OR become a third Chevrolet car with the team. (much less likely, as Honda likes Jack).

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Meanwhile, Helio’s fans are over the moon at the prosepct that the veteran will get another full season in IndyCars, with a “Drive for Five” go at a fifth WIN at the 106th Indy 500 in 2022. There’s nothing so fascinating to watch as IndyCar’s Silly Season.

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Conr Daly will drive in the BC39 for the third time this August…

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One of the reasons Daly is among the most popular IndyCar drivers is his willingness to try other forms of racing, unafraid to look like the rookie he is in them. In 2018 and in 2019 Conor drove a Midget on the 1/4 mile dirt oval situated in the Turn 3 corner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the Driven2SaveLives BC39 - a USAC-sanctioned race dedicated to the late Bryan Clauson and the organ donor cause he is now associated with. The Ed Carpenter Racing driver is also a two-time veteran of the Chili Bowl, racing in the indoor Midget classic in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2019 and 2020.

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Conor Daly
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Daly has signed up for his 3rd BC39, driving the # 47D Midget fielded by Diaedge Racing. He will be joined in the race by reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott who will compete in his first-ever Midget Championship event, driving the # 9 entry fielded by Paul May Motorsports.
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Conor’s Midget

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Chase Elliott joins the fun
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Chase will be there because the race, on Thursday the 19th, follows the big IndyCar / NASCAR weekend, August 13-15 at the Speedway, where the NASCAR Cup and XFinity cars join the IndyCars to all compete on the Indianapolis Road Course - the first time for the Cup cars.

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