Monday, 22 May 2017

The Field is set for the 101st Indy 500

All go for the 101st.

Scott Dixon thrilled Indianapolis 500 qualifying fans like they haven't been in more than two decades, capturing the pole position for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil with the fastest average speed since 1996.
The four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion and fourth-winningest driver in Indy car history completed four on-the-edge laps around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway 2.5-mile oval at 232.164 mph. The 10-mile run in the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda was the best speed seen at IMS since Arie Luyendyk set the track record of 236.986 mph in second-day qualifying on May 12, 1996.
"It feels fast," Dixon said. "Any speed (above) 215 or 220 around this place feels really fast, but I think you just block it all out. You're constantly just trying to feel how the car is, see where you can place it, see if you can improve the next lap. It's been so intense this weekend just trying to hold on to the car for the four laps. I think that's where all the focus has been.
"But I think for the Verizon IndyCar Series, it's cool to see these speeds gradually creeping up. It's good to see we've made a big improvement. I think I did a 227 average last year, so it's a nice little jump."
It is Dixon's third Indy 500 pole position - he won from the front spot in 2008 - and the 26th of his 17-year Indy car career, moving the 36-year-old New Zealander past Paul Tracy and alone into 11th place on the all-time poles list.
The third-fastest driver in first-day qualifying Saturday, Dixon was the seventh of nine to make an attempt in the Fast Nine Shootout under late-afternoon Indiana sunshine today. His first lap of 232.595 mph was also the fastest official lap recorded at IMS since the 1996 Indy 500 race. Luyendyk still holds the single-lap standard, 237.498 mph, also set during his record qualifying run.
Dixon will start on point for the third-fastest field in Indy 500 history, with a 228.400 mph average. Joining him on the front row are Ed Carpenter in the No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet and defending Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi in the No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Honda.
In the process of taking the top spot, Dixon ended a string of six straight Verizon IndyCar Series race poles won by Team Penske, dating to the 2016 season finale at Sonoma Raceway. It also marked the 88th pole in Indy car history for Chip Ganassi Racing and its fifth at the Indianapolis 500.
Though qualifying points aren't officially awarded until after the race completion, Dixon has the provisional points lead by 21 over 2016 series champion Simon Pagenaud heading into Indy 500 worth double the normal race points.
"Today, we managed to get it done and we're starting in the right place," said Dixon, the 40-time Indy car race winner. "The hard part now is to keep it there."
Carpenter, fastest in first-day qualifying, put together a four-lap run of 231.664 mph to collect his third front-row start in the Indianapolis 500. He was the 2013 and '14 pole sitter.
"That's all she had," Carpenter said. "Would it have been fun to win a third pole? Yes, but at the same time to be in the middle of the front row with two former 500 champions, hopefully I can convert from the front row this time and earn a victory." 
Rossi started 11th as an Indy 500 rookie a year ago, fell back midway and won the 200-lap race on a risky fuel strategy. He qualified third at 231.487 mph to secure a career-best start in a Verizon IndyCar Series race - his previous best was fifth earlier this season at Long Beach - and the first front-row start of his Indy car career.
"You're always disappointed if you're not in front, but I think it's a good effort from the team," Rossi said. "Seeing Scott's speed is pretty impressive; I know we couldn't have done that. We've got to be content with the front row."
Rossi was one of four Andretti Autosport entries to compete in the Fast Nine Shootout. Teammates Takuma Sato (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda) and Fernando Alonso (No. 29 McLaren-Honda-Andretti Honda) earned the fourth and fifth starting positions, respectively, with Marco Andretti (No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda) qualifying eighth.
Alonso had the most eventful day of the Andretti drivers. His car underwent a lightning-quick engine change following the pre-qualifying practice session, but it didn't unnerve the two-time Formula One champion making his Verizon IndyCar Series and oval track debut. The 35-year-old Spaniard was the first of the Fast Nine drivers to surpass 231 mph with a four-lap average at 231.300.
"The practice felt good on the car and then we spotted some issues with the engine," Alonso explained. "At one point in the morning, we didn't know if we were able to run in qualifying because we had to change the whole engine. But the team was amazing. They were guys from all six (Andretti) teams working on car (No.) 29 just to make it possible, so thanks to all that teamwork, I was able to go for qualifying."
Rounding out the top nine qualifiers were JR Hildebrand (No. 21 Preferred Freezer Service Ed Carpenter Chevrolet) in sixth, 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan (No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) seventh and Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet) ninth.
Andretti Autosport landed a fifth driver in the top 10 when 2014 Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay led Group 1 qualifying to determine race starting positions 10 through 33. The driver of the No. 28 DHL Honda ran four laps at 231.442 mph, which would have been good enough for fourth had it come in the Fast Nine Shootout. As it stands, Hunter-Reay will start on the inside of Row 4, with Ed Jones (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Dale Coyne Racing Honda) and Oriol Servia (No. 16 Manitowoc Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda) alongside.
Team Penske, with a record 16 Indianapolis 500 wins, struggled in qualifying. Power was slowest in the Fast Nine Shootout and starts on the outside of Row 3. Two-time Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya qualified on the outside of Row 6 and three-time winner Helio Castroneves on the inside of Row 7, Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud occupying the inside and middle of Row 8.
Thirty-two cars qualified today. The 33rd position on the grid will be filled by James Davison, named today to replace the injured Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 18 GEICO Honda for Dale Coyne Racing. Bourdais sustained multiple pelvic fractures and a fractured right hip when he crashed making a qualifying attempt Saturday.
According to Dr. Geoffrey Billows, INDYCAR medical director, the four-time Indy car champion underwent successful surgery Saturday night at IU Health Methodist Hospital. Bourdais released a statement today.
"I want to thank everybody for the support and the messages," the 38-year-old with 36 career Indy car wins said. "Quite a few drivers have already dropped by. It's going to take time, but I'm feeling pretty good since the surgery. I'll be back at some point. Just don't know when yet."

Thanks for quotes ex IndyCar Media
Photos from David Turner collection Indy Grand Prix 2017

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Breaking News

Dixon takes Indy 500 Pole.

New Zealand Scott Dixon took his third Indy 500 pole today in the fast nine shootout and will start next weeks 101st Indy 500 from the front row in his Honda powered car.

More to come along with the full field.

Davidson will step in to the Dale Coyne Racing  seat for the injured Seb Bourdais

Saturday, 13 May 2017

The 2017 Indy Grand Prix

Will Powers weekend.

Saturday May 13th and two weeks before the running of the 101st Indy 500. The Grand Prix marks the fifth round of the 2017 Indy Car Championship and the thousands of fans were treated to a beautiful spring day. Starting with a cool crisp morning leading to a wonderful afternoon of sun and racing. After what the locals tell me has been weeks of rain the day was blessed with a superb day dry and no wind at all – just magic. Looking slightly ahead and Pole day for the 500 next week has a chance of the weather closing in again but hey a week is a long time isn’t it?

The vibe around the speedway was kind of hints of the upcoming 500 even though this race means so much in the championship the thought in people’s minds had to be in two days time we go in 500 modes. Many of the one off entries for the 500 sitting quietly in the garage area and looking gleaming in brightly coloured paint schemes.

I even found this collection of Andretti pieces ready for the arrival of one Mr Alonso.

Grand Prix day kicked off very early with all three-support classes in the Road to Indy Series having races. Pro Mazda kicked things off at 8am followed by US F2000 then the Indy Lights battled it out for 35 laps. Two drivers completed weekend victory sweeps in the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires development ladder races today. 
Oliver Askew of Cape Motorsports won for the second straight day on the IMS road course and for the fifth time in six Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship races this season. Victor Franzoni (Juncos Racing, making their 500 debut) captured his second race of the weekend in the Pro Mazda Championship. Askew and Franzoni lead their respective championships.

In Indy Lights also presented by Cooper Tires, the top level of the Mazda Road to Indy, Kyle Kaiser of Juncos Racing drove to victory a day after Nico Jamin of Andretti Autosport won the first race of the weekend. With today's win, Kaiser took over the championship lead by 13 points over Jamin.  All in all a very busy two days for these teams. The Indy Lights return for the annual Freedom 100 race on the famed oval on Carb Day Friday.

Watching cars go the other way around after years of covering the 500 takes a little bit of getting used to but it’s a good sight and the track is so super smooth and looked stunning. It certainly feels a lot different to any 500 day that’s for sure, why you might ask? Yes the crowd is a part of it, yes the direction is part of it too but most of all its that sound of hearing cars at 223mph+ on the throttle all the time and it’s a sound that you can only ever associate with this place.

To the Grand Prix and for kiwi fans of Scott Dixon it was heart-beating moments as he stalled on the first of the two formation laps. He got going within seconds and took his P4 qualifying position. It was to be all about Will Power who dominated the IndyCar Grand Prix on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course to collect win No. 30 in his 13-year Indy car career. The milestone victory pushed the 36-year-old Power ahead of current teammate Helio Castroneves and retired Team Penske legend Rick Mears for sole possession of 11th place on the all-time list. For the first time in the history of the event the field made it past turn one so a new record was set there as well.

Power, making his 175th career start, led 61 of the 85 laps in the caution-free race and cruised across the finish line 5.283 seconds ahead of Scott Dixon in the No. 9 NTT Data Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing. Power has now won at least one race in 11 straight seasons and becomes the fifth different driver to win in as many Verizon IndyCar Series races this season.

"It feels really good to finally have a good day," Power said. "Everyone on this team has been working really hard. We should have had a couple of wins by now.
"I think that is (win) No. 30; that is a good number. I want to make it 31 by the end of this month."
Power owned the Grand Prix weekend. He was fastest in every practice session, earned the pole position Friday with a track-record lap in Verizon P1 Award qualifying and set a race record speed average of 120.813 mph. Amassing the maximum possible points, Power advanced two positions into fifth in the standings in his quest for a second series championship.
"After (morning) warm-up, I was thinking, 'Wow, I've actually been quickest in every session. Yeah, it would be amazing to win the race.'
"It's funny, momentum, once your whole team and crew believes that you have a shot at winning races - which we have had all year - but when you execute it, it definitely gives them confidence. It's just good (to) get a win and very, very good for everyone."

Dixon made his 275th career start and extended his consecutive starts streak to 212 races, breaking a tie for the second-longest all-time run with Jimmy Vasser. Only Dixon's current teammate Tony Kanaan - who started his 270th straight race today - has run more Indy car races consecutively.
"I think today we got the most out of it," said Dixon, the four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion. "The car was pretty strong, we had good pace, but we just couldn't hold on to the rears. I think the Honda was just too much for the (Firestone alternate) red tires for the most part.
"Good points for everybody on the NTT Data car, great day for Honda. Obviously not a win, but very close." Again in my eyes Dixon and his team are the number one men at Ganasii that’s for sure.

Ryan Hunter-Reay moved from eighth on the starting grid to finish a season-best third in the No. 28 DHL Honda. It marked the 100th top-10 finish of the Andretti Autosport driver's career and gave the 36-year-old American a feeling of momentum heading into Indianapolis 500 competition that starts with practice on Monday.
"It's certainly a nice feeling," said Hunter-Reay, the 2012 Verizon IndyCar Series and 2014 Indianapolis 500 champion. "This group isn't happy if we're not on the top step (of the podium), but we've had a lot of bad luck this year, a lot of misfortune. It's been a frustrating start to the year, but we kept our heads down and today we came home with a solid result.
"This is nice to roll into the next two weeks, preparing for the biggest race in the world."

Pagenaud now has 191 points to Dixon's 181. Team Penske drivers Josef Newgarden (152), Castroneves (149) and Power (145) hold the third through fifth spots, respectively.

Teams will spend tomorrow Sunday setting cars into oval spec and the track will also be returned to oval spec ready for Monday’s first practice for the 500, the season is now alive.

While I have the chance a big shout out to two men turning heads in this series. The Julian brothers from New Plymouth New Zealand. Blair who is crew chef for Scott Dixon and has been with Scott all this time since he arrived in the US and risen to the role of Crew Chef and his brother Anton now returning to the series after been the Crew Chef at Andretti Autosport then Sarah Fisher Racing, Anton makes a one off appearance as Crew Chef this time for someone you might of heard of Mr Alonso. Well done boys, know your mum and dad are very proud.

Indy Grand Prix Friday, 2017

Power's track record in INDYCAR Grand Prix qualifying earns Team Penske pole No. 250

Indianapolis and the ev of the 2017 Indy Grand Prix and Team Penske reached a milestone earning its 250th pole position in Indy car history as well as extending its Verizon P1 Award domination on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season.
Will Power, driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, broke his own track record with a lap of 1 minute, 7.7044 seconds (129.687 mph) in the Firestone Fast Six, the last of three knockout qualifying rounds to determine the Verizon P1 Award winner. It gave Team Penske its third straight pole position on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn circuit and made the team 5-for-5 in pole qualifying at all tracks this season.
"In the Fast Six, the car had a fantastic balance and did a really neat lap," said Power, who collected his third Verizon P1 Award this season. "I was actually up on the second set and then got too greedy at the end. But yeah, really cool to start at the front again."
Power headed a Team Penske logjam at the front of the grid. Teammate Helio Castroneves qualified second in the No. 3 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, Josef Newgarden was third in the No. 2 hum by Verizon Team Penske Chevy and Juan Pablo Montoya fifth in the No. 22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Team Penske Chevy. Defending INDYCAR Grand Prix and Verizon IndyCar Series champion Simon Pagenaud brought up the rear of the Team Penske contingent, qualifying seventh in the No. 1 Menards Chevrolet.
Newgarden was the first to break Power's 2016 track record of 1:08.6746 in the first round of qualifying. Power re-established himself as the record holder in the second round, with the first official lap of less than 1:08 on the circuit, then bettered it in the Firestone Fast Six to earn the 47th pole of his 13-year Indy car career - the fifth most all time.
"Really determined to have a good race," said Power, the 2015 INDYCAR Grand Prix winner whose only top-10 finish thus far in 2017 was two weeks ago at Phoenix Raceway. "I've been knocking on the door every week, and one is going to go our way here soon. You put yourself in that position, it'll happen. That's the plan."
Power and Castroneves have alternated winning the pole at the first five races this season. The Brazilian, who turned 42 on Wednesday, was relegated to starting second in Saturday's fourth annual INDYCAR Grand Prix but will be on the front row for the fourth straight race in 2017.
"There is nobody in front of me, that's great," Castroneves said, "so we're looking forward to a good start. Excited for tomorrow. Hopefully we have a good, clean start and see what happens in the race."
Scott Dixon qualified fourth in the No. 9 NTT Data Honda. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver has reached the Firestone Fast Six at all four road/street events this season. Sebastien Bourdais, the four-time Indy car champion and winner of the season opener at St. Petersburg in March, qualified a season-best sixth in the No. 18 Sonny's BBQ Honda for Dale Coyne Racing.
Its going to be a great Saturday afternoon race with plenty of track action (with a total of four races across four classes) starting at 8am with the second of the Pro Mazda Races. The weather forecast for the day is great after loads of recent rain so all is looking good for the start of the month of May.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Alonso, Phoenix and Dixon

Alonso, Dixon Phoenix and More.

After spending the last week in Las Vegas at a Television Expo and Conference (my real job) what better thing to do than jump in the car and shoot over to Phoenix for two days it’s only a short little drive just a few hours so easy.

Worth it? Heck yes. This great one-mile dogleg oval in the desert is demanding interesting scary and cool all wrapped up into one that’s for sure. Even the pit lane for the IndyCars stretches along the main straightaway and into turn one so some teams are even pitting on a curve. Now that requires focus from the driver that’s for sure. More on that soon.

News surrounding the 101st Indy 500 seems to be all focused around one thing ‘Alonso’ and anything about him. News from a very good source is that at the Honda simulator test he did last week before heading back to Europe for this weekends Russian F1 Grand Prix he was on it. Not in a little way either he was straight into his work and started really turning good times and positive feedback to everyone at Honda. Naturally of course come May 3rd and his private test at the speedway it might be a different ball game but the gut feeling is this guy could be on the verge of something very special indeed. I watched him last week at Alabama and his associated press conferences and I have never seen him so relaxed, so free to talk and meet the fans and that can only mean one thing to me, take note everyone this guy is here to turn heads and win a race that’s for sure.
Recently in the US Media he commented how amazed he is from the fan base in the US. He spoke of his F1 trips here where hardly anyone knew who he was, while this trip during a flight delay at a New York airport he had masses of people come up and wish him the best and complement him on the road ahead. Such a different thing for him. He is in for many different things in the coming weeks the U.S. media do things different to F1, the fans are different as well and above all the series is different but its one he is welcomed to and one he seems to be very happy with and so very relaxed about the job in hand. It all bodes well for a great showing at Indy that’s for sure. The pressure will really be on for the Andretti Autosport team as the prepare a total of six cars for the 500 that’s a massive undertaking at any time but now with the world watching on around this one driver the task will be no mean feet for the team to cope with along with looking after its regular drivers and the additional fifth car for Jack Harvey which was always planned for.

Now to Phoenix and Dixon the defending winner here and he is firmly after his first win for season 2017. On the podium every race this season but not the top step (yet) but this is a great start for him in the quest for another championship. Clearly the number one at Ganassi as well when you judge it on pure performance over his teammates in my view.
Friday saw a new twist in the Indy Car series a single two-hour practice session and then a two-hour break and then straight into qualifying.
Practice was mid afternoon and it was hot very hot and several dust storms halted the running at times as the wind built but Dixon was strong in this session and rounded out the afternoon in the sixth spot but it was last weekends race winner Newgarden that topped the afternoon timesheets.

Come qualifying and the evening cooled rapidly as the teams lined up for the single car dash. It was Helio Castroneves that simply stunned every one taking pole position "People don't realize that qualifying is extremely difficult. I took it to the limit - I had one eye closed and one eye open. Experience is a big part of this and today was really, really good. The conditions were really difficult today in practice - the gusting winds were horrendous. We worked mostly on the race setup (in practice). My engineer did a phenomenal job and obviously everybody at Team Penske - the REV Group car was really fast. Qualifying is one thing - the race is another - but I'm really confident going into tomorrow."

As for Dixon they slightly miss read how cool it was going to get and he lines up in the eight spot for the race "The ambient conditions changed a lot from practice to qualifying. We found a lot and learned that we were a bit too conservative in qualifying. We came up a little short and we know we can trim out a bit more for the race in the NTT Data No. 9. It was a little bit too easy which means we have room to go faster which is good for the race tomorrow."

Race day dawned another typical day for the area and was in the upper 20s temperature wise. 4pm saw the 100 lap race for the USAC Silver Crown Cars featuring regular visitor to the New Zealand Speedway scene Jerry Coons Jr, he was to finish the race 5th “The big thing obviously is the change in the back straightaway. When we first started running it, we were kind of used to being really flat. You could run flat-footed through the dog leg and then back up out of it. In first practice with a full load of fuel you could flat-foot it through there, but in practice it was a little bit hairy trying to run through it flat-footed. Our car got a little bit light coming out of it, so that was probably the biggest change, just having to kind of breathe it though there.”
Bobby Santos took the win in a great last 12-lap battle amongst the top 4 cars. It was awesome to see Silver Crown cars return to the track and the history they have with this track and the return of growth to the USAC pavement series.

As the skies darked and the sun set it was time to get into the 250-lap IndyCar race and the fourth of the season for the series. Just as it had the night before as the sun went down the temperature went with it.

It was to become the story of the bright yellow car of Pagenaud that claimed this one and control the race from a pitstop that fell at just the right time. New Zealand’s Scott Dixon battled hard all race and become the “best in class” as he called it becoming the first Honda powered car home in 5th but the big thing for Dixon fans is the points haul and the fact only Dixon and Pagenuad are to have top five finishes in every race this season. One can kinda sense where this might be heading even now.

So it was the reigning series champion Pagenaud who drove away from the field in the final half of the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix taking the race win by 9.1028 seconds over teammate Will Power and assuming the points lead after four races of the 2017 season. 
He collected his 10th win of his IndyCar career and led a Chevy sweep of the top four positions on the 1.022-mile oval that has hosted 63 Indy car races dating to 1964. It was also win No. 450 for Team Penske in all racing competitions and its 100th on Indy car ovals.
"I can't explain how excited I am," Pagenaud said. "Ovals are not my specialty - I grew up in Europe racing go-karts. I learned about ovals when I was 26 years old so I had to learn the skill and the technique that I didn't know. 
"Man, this is incredible. What a win!"
Pagenaud really took control midway through the 250-lap race, running longer while other frontrunners had to stop for fuel and tires. Pagenaud pitted on Lap 140 with a one-lap advantage on the field under a caution period caused when Takuma Sato's car made contact with the Turn 4 barrier. Pagenaud returned to the track in first place and led the final 114 laps. It certainly is a track that did not provide a lot of passing that’s for sure and there was a lot of talk about the drivers saying let us have more power and less down force here and force us to race harder and pass. Running the road course spec aero on this little oval proved that the grip was there but sadly the passing wasn’t.

Team Penske's four drivers led all 250 laps, the first time a team has paced every lap in a race since Team Penske did the same thing in the first race of Belle Isle doubleheader last year. Power led 59 laps in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet before finishing second. "It was good night considering where we've finished the last few races," said Power, whose best result this season prior to tonight was 13th. "I'm happy to finish second and get some points."

Pole sitter Helio Castroneves led 73 laps in the No. 3 REV Group Team Penske Chevy and finished fourth. Josef Newgarden, the winner of last week's Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, led two laps in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevy and ran up front most of the night until contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay forced an unscheduled pit stop and Newgarden finished ninth.

JR Hildebrand finished third in the No. 21 Fuzzy's Vodka Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet the best result for Hildebrand since his memorable runner-up finish in the 2011 Indianapolis 500 when he crashed while leading on the final lap. Hildebrand was pleased with the nights showing after he sat out last week's race at Barber Motorsports Park while a broken bone in his left hand mended from an April 9 crash in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. "The car was just awesome all day," Hildebrand said. "Excited to get the result for the team, for sure. The car was bitchin'. I think at the end of the race we had obviously one of the top three, but I think we might have had the best car on the track."

Pagenaud now holds an 18-point advantage in the championship over Scott Dixon, who moved up to second in the points table. Newgarden sits third in the standings, 26 points out of first place.

After the race Dixon said "Obviously, it was a tough night for the No. 9 NTT Data car, and all the Honda entries I think. Chevy had a leg up on us here and they showed that tonight. We tried to keep our nose clean but just didn't have anything for them tonight. Hopefully we can get some momentum back at the Grand Prix of Indy next month."

Sebastien Bourdais of Dale Coyne Racing, who led the points entering the night, was caught in a five-car incident on the opening lap when Mikhail Aleshin spun and collected the cars of Bourdais, Marco Andretti, Max Chilton and Graham Rahal in Turn 2. No drivers were injured. Bourdais finished 19th and dropped to fourth in the standings.

The Verizon IndyCar Series heads to an open test on Tuesday at Gateway Motorsports Park, where the series will race under the lights on Aug. 26th so busy times ahead as the month of May kicks off.

The season is now and truly alive and kicking and now we will see who is strong and can cope and who gets lost along the way.

Phoenix great track that’s for sure just needed some passing added to the mix but as for the venue a gem in the sand that’s for sure.

Photos all David Turner Phoenix  2017

Friday, 7 April 2017

Long Beach IndyCar -- Day 1 Practice

Round 2 of the 2017 IndyCar Series from Long Beach Day .

Friday April 7th Long Beach.  Experience paid off on opening day at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, with all seven past race winners entered this year finishing in the top eight on the combined speed chart.
Will Power, a two-time Long Beach race winner, posted the best lap in the second of the two 45-minute practice sessions. Driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, Power navigated the 11-turn, 1.968-temporary street course in 1 minute, 7.0800 seconds (105.617 mph). The quick lap is within a half-second of the track record set by Helio Castroneves in 2015 (1:06.6294). Kiwi Scott Dixon topping the time sheets in the first practice of the day.
“Sometimes you get it right, like the setup,” said Power, the 2014 Verizon IndyCar champion and Long Beach winner in 2008 and 2012. “You know, it's only practice. (By being fastest,) you can show everybody where they're lacking, they'll go back and study it. I was hoping (other drivers) would go quicker, but they didn't.
“But, yeah, it's a cool track. Enjoy it, street course, just try to put the pieces together.”
Marco Andretti, who ran second today with a lap of 1:07.3576 (105.182 mph) in the No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda, was the only driver in the top eight who hasn’t won at Long Beach. The Andretti Autosport driver’s best finish in eight previous starts was sixth in 2009.
“The UFD car is on edge, but I think that’s where we need to be to be quick,” Andretti said. “I like the predictability of the car. I felt like I could drive it to the limit, which is important to be able to wring it out in qualifying. I’m pleased with the pace and the pace we had all through testing, so it’s good to keep the pace here and back it up. We really need to convert this pace into results, and I really think we can.”
Following Andretti on the speed chart combining both practices were the six other past Long Beach winners: Simon Pagenaud (2016), Takuma Sato (2013), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2010), Castroneves (2001), Sebastien Bourdais (2005-07) and Scott Dixon (2015). All but Dixon logged their fast lap in the second practice, when most drivers opted to use the additional set of Firestone red-sidewall alternate tires provided this season on road- and street-course weekends.
“The (additional set of) reds, that's a new thing this year,” Andretti explained. “I'm a fan of it because it takes the guessing out of it for (qualifying) tomorrow. Being able to try the reds today, I'm a big fan of. I think that way everybody is absolutely rung out and you're not sort of guessing at the balance.”

'What They're Saying' from the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Practice Day .

CONOR DALY (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Chevrolet): "We had a really big improvement in the second session which was nice. Sadly we had an overboost (penalty) and traffic on our fastest lap, so we lost a great deal of time which puts us down the order more than we should have been, but at least we have that in our back pocket, but it was a good improvement. This car still doesn't suit my driving style that well we just have to make a few adjustments or fine tune it for how I like to drive it and hopefully it'll be okay."

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): "Solid first day for the Arrow Electronics crew. This afternoon wasn't exactly what I was hoping for; the track conditions changed, I think more than we were expecting, which caught us off-guard a little bit. With these really short sessions, it's tough to learn much out there. So we'll regroup and hopefully tap back into the speed that we saw this morning and be in a good position for tomorrow." 

MIKHAIL ALESHIN (No. 7 SMP Racing Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): "I think that today we had a really interesting day. I mean, the first time on the track was pretty legendary. It's a street course, and what we're testing is so specific. We were pretty competitive today. At the end of the day I was on the Firestone reds, and we had quite a few red flags, so we couldn't reach our full potential; I think we'll be able to show it tomorrow."

MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Gallagher Honda): "I think we are all kind of scratching our heads a bit about the practice times today. We're working hard on the balance of the Gallagher car, just like our three teammates. We will go back to look at the data tonight and have a game plan to move forward up the grid tomorrow for qualifying."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 NTT Data Honda): "I was obviously happy with the car this morning, but like I always say, practice doesn't pay anything for winning. In the second session we had a fast NTT Data car as well, but an untimely red flag caught us out on our fast lap which left us down the timing sheets."

TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Honda): "Today was definitely a busy day for the No. 10 NTT Data Honda. We made some pretty big changes that didn't play out the way we wanted them to but the practice days are the days where you can take those bigger swings. We definitely have some work to do tonight to get the car ready for qualifying tomorrow but I'm confident the NTT Data guys will have us ready to go."

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "Yeah, you only get a set of reds for this one session. It's really important for qualifying. It's such a different tire, a lot softer. The car feels comfortable. We'll work on it. It kind of sucks if you're quickest because you don't get details, you know. Wish I was fifth or something, it would have been much better. You don't want to show people what you got too soon."

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): "We started pretty good in Practice 1, but we had a few little issues then we made some changes for Practice 2 and it didn't really work. So we have to re-think for tomorrow. Like always the Verizon IndyCar Series is really tight, the times are really close so tomorrow you have to have the perfect lap time."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 PennGrade Motor Oil Honda): "Today was what we will refer to as a character builder. In the first session, I didn't think that we were that bad. We just didn't get a run on the second set of tires. We are definitely challenged for lateral grip, challenged to get the car to bite into the road surface. In the Verizon IndyCar Series right now, it's so competitive. If you are three-tenths (of a second) off, that could be the difference between being first and 15th place. We have to be on top of our game each and every time we go out on track and on Friday I'm not sure that we accomplished that goal. We will work hard tonight and come back stronger tomorrow."

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Trench Shoring Honda): "I was really surprised and very happy about the way we unloaded this morning. The No. 18 Trench Shoring Honda was hard to drive but it was quick, and then it just felt like the track was starting to get away from us a little bit. We started losing track of balance and the way things evolved. We've slipped back a little this afternoon and we don't seem to be as strong out there on the reds (Firestone alternate tires) so we are going to have to work on that a bit. Long Beach is a tough place because it evolves very rapidly and you can only get a few changes in, so we're going to have to think long and hard about it tonight and see what we're going to do."

ED JONES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): "It's good to be back in Long Beach. It's a great track and event. We've made some progress from St. Pete and this morning went quite well. This afternoon with the temperatures changing so much, the track changed and I struggled a huge amount. (Sebastien Bourdais) was still all right, so we can look at that after the session and fix the issues."

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka Chevrolet): "It was fun to be back out on track here at Long Beach. I really enjoy the circuit, but we had a difficult day. We have some areas we need to improve so we'll be working hard tonight to make sure we get going in the right direction for tomorrow."

JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Preferred Freezer Service Chevrolet): "I feel like we have made a lot of progress since the first race. We looked back at St. Pete and saw some things we needed to focus on to make our weekend a bit better. We have also had some tests since then, including a pretty good test at Sebring a couple of weeks ago. Coming here, I felt good about what we had planned and our ability to make the car better. At the end of the first practice today, we knew what we need to improve on. For me, this is still just about making progress over the course of the race weekends. We ended the second practice in the top 10 and our aim is certainly to qualify there tomorrow. We are slowly but surely making our way forward."

TAKUMA SATO (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda): "It was a good day. It's always good to be back in Long Beach. This is a special event and it's always fun. We had a busy Practice 1 but we got it sorted out, and in the second session, it felt much better. We tried various setups across the car and it was quite a productive day. Today was actually the first time that I tried the red (alternate) tires in practice because I missed the opportunity in St. Pete. It was a good feeling and I feel prepared for tomorrow."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda): "The UFD car is on edge, but I think that's where we need to be to be quick. I like the predictability of the car. I felt like I could drive it to the limit, which is important to be able to wring it out in qualifying. I'm pleased with the pace and the pace we had all through testing, so it's good to keep the pace here and back it up. We really need to convert this pace into results, and I really think we can."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): "We seemed to overstep it a little that session, just got a little bit too aggressive with the car. I was starting to protect the entry too much where I'm trying to turn in and the rears always threatening and on a street circuit you just can't drive that way. It's something that we need to pay attention to, make the right decisions and try to guess right for tomorrow. Make it so that I can really hustle the car. I almost felt like in that session it was starting to drive me, I just couldn't attack it. We just need to make some changes and I have faith that if we make the right ones, we can get the No. 28 DHL car in the front row."

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Tresiba Honda): "Well, it's not the result we wanted for today. I know the No. 83 team is going to work hard tonight to figure out what's going on and be ready for tomorrow.  We found a little bit of speed at the end there, but we weren't on fresh tires so we'll look at it. I've got a little bit to learn overnight and it's nice to have fast teammates with Scott (Dixon) and Tony (Kanaan) being a little quicker. We'll look at their data and learn from that. I'm a little frustrated because I want to come out and start Friday off right but as Dario (Franchitti) says, it's all about recovery."

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Honda): "It was a mostly positive day. On black (primary) tires, I think, we're in the top-three cars. I missed the balance there a bit on the red (alternate) Firestones, but that's the positive of using the red tires this year in practice - you can have an understanding of what they have to do before you go in to qualifying. If we just adjust that overnight, then the NAPA Auto Parts car will be looking good."

Quotes from IndyCar Media Services and Photo from the David Turner Collection.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

IndyCar the next generation and the 101st 500.

INDYCAR unveils exciting images of 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series car design.

Announced in  Indianapolis on Wednesday 29th March the exciting latest pics of the design of the car to be used in Verizon IndyCar Series competition in 2018 is coming more into focus.
INDYCAR, sanctioning body for the premier North American open-wheel racing series, released new images today of the universal aerodynamic bodywork kit that will be used by all competitors in 2018. Following along with this year's INDYCAR theme of "NEXT," the computer-generated images are the next evolution of the car's development process and provide more detail than concept sketches released in January.
"While this remains a work in progress, we are encouraged with where the development of the 2018 car stands," said Jay Frye, INDYCAR president of competition and operations. "The look of the car is bold, the performance data from simulations is meeting targeted goals and safety enhancements built into the design will be substantial."
Frye said INDYCAR is on target to begin testing the car by mid-summer. Verizon IndyCar Series teams will still choose between Chevrolet and Honda engines for competition next season, but all cars will be outfitted with the universal kit that covers the Dallara IR-12 chassis that has been used since the 2012 season. As with the current aero kits provided by Chevrolet and Honda through the end of this season, the universal car will come in two configurations: one for superspeedway ovals and the other for street courses, road courses and short ovals. 
The supplier of the universal kit has yet to be announced, but its look is sleek and reminiscent of past Indy car favorites. Tino Belli, INDYCAR director of aerodynamic development, said the kit has been successfully reverse-designed to start with its desired appearance and build in functionality from there.
"We've been working on the aerodynamics to suit the look, rather than the other way around," Belli said.
A key component of the new car is for it to generate most of its downforce from underneath instead of on top. This will improve racing and passing opportunities by decreasing the turbulent air that the Indy car leaves in its wake.
"We're working on creating more of the downforce from the underwing," Belli said. "The hole in the floor (of the undertray on this year's car) will be sealed for the road courses and short ovals, but will still be open for the superspeedways."
Belli added that simulations show the new car meets INDYCAR's aerodynamic targets and additional safety enhancements include side impact structures in the sidepods and repositioned radiators to assist in reducing the severity of side impacts by crushing on impact.
Other noticeable features in the new car images include a lower engine cover that provides "a more traditional Indy car look," according to Belli. Turbocharger inlets are moving to the inside of the radiator inlet ducts.
The rear wing and front wing main plane are smaller in the new car look and the centerline wicker from the nose of the car to the cockpit is tapered. The rear wing in the road course/short oval configuration is lower and wider. The fins on the leading edge of the sidepods of the current car will be removed or minimized on the 2018 car.
Though there is still work to be done, Belli feels that INDYCAR has achieved "97 percent" of its goals when it set out to create the new car's look and efficiency.
Things certainly seem to be progressing and in a great way as well. Its sure to be a very exciting 12 months as we await the new design.

Expected Entires for the 101st Indy 500.

                                                           Pre race at Indy May 2016.

The field for May's 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 just got a little bigger. 

On Tuesday this week, Dale Coyne Racing announced that is bringing back Pippa Mann for the fifth straight year.

Mann's addition brings the unofficial car count for the 500 to 28 and there will be more to follow.

Remember, some teams are expected to add more cars -- and other teams could join the fray -- but here's where things stand as of Tuesday, March 28.

Team Penske will have a massive FIVE entrants: Juan Montoya, Helio Castroneves, Josef Newgarden, Will Power and Simon Pagenaud.

Chip Ganassi Racing will have its series four entrants: Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Max Chilton and Charlie Kimball.

Andretti Autosport will have four entrants: Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Takuma Sato and Alexander Rossi. I wonder if that may become five with drivers such as Townsend Bell  to join in as he has the past few years.

Ed Carpenter Racing will have two entrants: Ed Carpenter and J.R. Hildebrand.

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports will have three entrants: James Hinchcliffe, Mikhail Aleshin and Jay Howard (sponsored by Tony Stewart Foundation).

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing will have two entrants: Graham Rahal and Oriol Servia.

Dale Coyne Racing will have three entrants: Sebastian Bourdais, Ed Jones and Pippa Mann.

A.J. Foyt Racing with have two entrants:Carlos Munoz and Conor Daly. Could this increase to the three they have run in  the past few years by adding Alex Tagliani in recent times?

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing will have one entrant: Sage Karam.

Juncos Racing will have one entrant (confirmed, but could still be two in the ex KV cars) with a driver to be named .

Stefan Wilson will also compete in the Indy500, but he has yet to declare a team.

Its shaping up and the 101st will be equal to any other 500 -- why because simply this its the Indy 500!

IndyCar Media Release ex Indy Car Media Services  and Indy 500 Entry as currently know and Photo ex the 100th indy 500 and the David Turner Collection