News for the Week of February 29, 2016 – March 6, 2016

CHECK OUT THE 2016 VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES LIVERIES HERE

Urrutia fastest in final Lights preseason test – Santiago Urrutia’s lap of 1:12.4479 was the fastest lap of Indy Lights testing at Barber Motorsports Park over the weekend. The rest of the Top 5 was Rosenqvist, Hargrove, Enerson, and Jones. Full results at the link. – Indy Lights – (3/7/2016)

Busch still considering 500 attempt – Kurt Busch told reports this weekend that while there’s no definitive update he is still interested in an attempt at racing in the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. “Nothing new on Indy. Part of the reason for staying here in Vegas extra is a few different meetings have popped up,” said Busch. “We are going to go through some of the meetings, even bumped into (Verizon IndyCar Series team owner) Sam Schmidt today. There is definitely the interest, the intrigue, but nothing to announce right now.” – FOX Sports – (3/5/2016)

Dome skid mandate causing concerns – RACER’s Marshall Pruett reports that INDYCAR’s mandate of the use of “dome skids” on superspeedways will be a major controversy by the time the series heads to Indianapolis. While the intention for their use is to reduce flight risk in the event of a high speed crash some drivers and teams feel they will actually increase both the likelihood of a crash and the dramatic results afterwards. “Listening to one driver who sampled a Dallara DW12 fitted with dome skids on a superspeedway, the problems created by the units might outweigh the intended safety benefits. With chassis adjustments made to fit the dome skids, he described the handling characteristics at 215 mph as less than safe and said it felt like the steering wheel wasn’t connected to the tires. He also said when he turned into the corners and waited for the front of the car to react, it felt like the front tires weren’t touching the ground once the chassis changed direction.” Check out the full report at the link. – RACER – (3/5/2016)

Aleshin tweets newly approved visa – Mikhail Aleshin tweeted a picture of his recently approved visa on Friday morning seemingly clearing the way for him to return to the No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda/Dallara next weekend in St. Pete. Gabby Chaves had filled in for the team while Aleshin awaited clearance for his visa. The tweet referenced has since been removed from Aleshin’s account but that’s likely due to it being a picture of his actual visa. – NBC Sports – (3/4/2016)

Pruett’s Phoenix recap – RACER’s Marshall Pruett posted a great recap of Verizon IndyCar Series testing at Phoenix. His engine analysis is excellent as he goes in detail about Chevy’s power (and reliability issues) compared to Honda still using reliability-minded 2015 spec engines. Check it out at the link. – RACER – (3/4/2016)

Firestone GP names Buccaneers’ McCoy Grand Marshall – “Organizers of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg have named Gerald McCoy, four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as Grand Marshal of the 2016 event, which runs March 11-13. As Grand Marshal, McCoy will be involved in the pre-race ceremonies and will make the famous “Drivers, start your engines!” call to start the season-opening Verizon IndyCar Series race on March 13. Members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders 2015-2016 squad will also join in the opening festivities for the Verizon IndyCar Series race to serve as Grid Girls.” – Firestone GP – (3/3/2016)

Lee to host charity kart event – “Fastimes Indoor Karting in Indianapolis and 93.5/1070 The Fan radio are teaming up to present “The Kevin Lee Grand Prix,” on Tuesday, March 8, from 6-10 p.m. ET. The event will raise money for children’s cancer research with funds going to The Caroline Symmes Cancer Endowment at Riley Hospital for Children. “The Kevin Lee Grand Prix” is also in honor of Ben Burchard, a 12-year-old quarter midget racer from Brownsburg, Indiana, who recently lost his battle to Osteosarcoma.” – NBC Sports – (3/3/2016)

IMS announces Skrillex to headline 500 Snake Pit – “Global electronic music icon Skrillex will headline the Indy 500 Snake Pit presented by Coors Light during the monumental 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. Fast-rising superstar Martin Garrix and popular acts Zed’s Dead and DJ Mustard will join him in packing the infield with thousands of excited fans on Race Day.” Full details at the link. – IMS – (3/3/2016)

Final preseason Lights test set for Saturday – The last preseason Indy Lights test will take place on Saturday, March 5th at Barber Motorsports Park. 16 cars are set to take part in the test including the unconfirmed test drivers Andre Negrao and Heamin Choi for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. See the entry list for the test here. – Indy Lights – (3/2/2016)

KVSH targeting more wins and title hunt in ’16 – NBC Sports’ Tony DiZinno posted a great interview with KVSH Racing co-owner Jimmy Vasser and it’s obvious the team is confident as they enter the season with only one car to focus on (Bourdais in the No. 11). “For the season, first, we’re keeping the nucleus of our team together with Seb,” Vasser said. “We really believe we’re in a position to fight for the championship, for the first time, maybe, in the history of KV Racing. We won two races last year and one the year before. I think we can win four races this year.” – NBC Sports – (3/2/2016)

IMS announces Fuzzy’s Vodka sponsorship for Turn 2 suites – “For decades at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Turn 2 suites have entertained guests during “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” and other major motorsports events. Those highly coveted spaces will now be named “Fuzzy’s Vodka Turn 2 VIP Suites,” after Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka, the Official Vodka of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race and Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, and a primary sponsor with Ed Carpenter Racing in the Verizon IndyCar Series. The rebranding includes a refreshing of the suites’ exteriors including new paint and a reimagined look of the suites’ entrances, exteriors and stairways.” Image at the link. – IMS – (3/2/2016)

Trackside podcast 3/2/16 – 1070 The Fan’s Trackside with Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee show from 3/2/16 is available at the link. Jon Beekhuis is a guest on the show. – 1070 The Fan – (3/2/2016)

Jakes named as Manor WEC driver – James Jakes’ potential opportunities to compete in the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series will be limited after the following news today. “British driver, James Jakes, will return to Manor this season for his debut in the FIA World Endurance Championship. James had previously driven with the team during 2007 in Formula 3 and 2010 in the GP3 series, visiting the podium a number of times, before heading to the USA to compete in the IndyCar Series for the past 4 seasons.” – Manor – (3/2/2016)

Miller’s Mailbag 3/2/16 – RACER’s Robin Miller’s weekly fan Q&A is a great read as always. – RACER – (3/2/2016)

Opinions vary on ideal Phoenix downforce levels – David Malsher reports that INDYCAR VP of competition and engineering Bill Pappas told Motorsport.com that the series will use the downforce levels used in the recent Phoenix test for the race weekend as well. “I canvassed opinions and certainly heard from both sides of the fence but there was no decisive thing that everyone said would make things better or worse,” said Pappas. “So the conclusion has to be to leave the spec as it stands and let’s see how things shake out. Speaking to drivers, they said ‘It’s going to be tough but we like it tough; leave it alone and let’s go race.’” – Motorsport.com – (3/1/2016)

Pruett breaks down aero kit changes/similarities – RACER’s Marshall Pruett has an excellent piece breaking down the changes for both the Chevy and Honda aero kits for 2016 and how they compare to both each other and their 2015 versions. Too good to shorten so check it out at the link. – RACER – (3/1/2016)

Opinions vary on ideal Phoenix downforce levels – Bruce Martin reports that opinions vary on what the ideal downforce levels should be for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ return to Phoenix. Michael Andretti: “We’re not going to make a good show if we go with the downforce they have currently, so that’s why we’re pushing for more downforce for the race.” Scott Dixon: “We need to have the ability for the good cars and packages to get away from those that are not so good. The problem with more downforce is it gets too easy. It would be a mini ‘pack race’.” Will be an interesting story line to follow… – AUTOSPORT – (3/1/2016)

IMS/Hoosier Lottery announce “Official Indy 500 Scratch-Off Game” – “The Hoosier Lottery is teaming up with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to launch the official Scratch-off game of the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. This is the first time fans will have the opportunity to purchase Indianapolis Motor Speedway themed Hoosier Lottery merchandise. The tickets are available at Hoosier Lottery retailers statewide beginning today and feature six different collectible scenes commemorating the 100th Running of The Greatest Spectacle in Racing®. They are priced at $5 apiece. Players can win instant cash prizes up to $100,000, including thousands of $100 prizes, as well as a variety of truly epic race experiences through the mylottery second-chance promotion.” More at the link. – IMS – (3/1/2016)

Chaves to fill in for Aleshin again at Sebring test – Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has confirmed that Gabby Chaves will continue to fill in for Mikhail Aleshin at the Sebring test on Wednesday as Aleshin continues to work through his visa issues. “Chaves will again fill in for Aleshin at the Verizon IndyCar Series test on Wednesday at Sebring International Raceway. The team will then return to the SPM shop to prepare the cars for the IndyCar and Indy Lights season openers next week. The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will take place on Sunday, March 13 at 12:30 p.m. ET. The race will be broadcast live on ABC.” – SPM – (3/1/2016)

Filippi embracing oval challenge – David Malsher of Motorsport.com has a story on Luca Filippi’s first “proper” oval test at Phoenix and reports “although Filippi has not yet been confirmed in Dale Coyne Racing’s #19 car, a deal is thought to be close”. Filippi is embracing the oval challenge that would await him if he’s a full-time driver this year. “We have five ovals in IndyCar this year, and none of them are very similar to another,” said Filippi. “So there will be a lot to learn. I am still at the start of a long learning process, but we have limited time, so at a certain point I have to just go and make it up. But it’s looking good.” – Motorsport.com – (2/29/2016)

Franchitti “impressed” by Chilton so far – RACER’s Marshall Pruett posted an interesting piece on Dario Franchitti’s role in mentoring new Ganassi driver Max Chilton thus far. Dario likes what he sees. “He’s done a great job,” Franchitti told RACER. “At Sebring the other day he did a really good job; Fontana is always difficult to judge, but he went about things very methodically. It’s been the same here [at Phoenix]. I thought it would be a real challenge, but he’s approached it in his usual calm way. So far, high marks.” Much more at the link. – RACER – (2/29/2016)

Mario happy with direction of INDYCAR – In an interview with NBC Sports’ Tony DiZinno, Mario Andretti expressed that he believes INDYCAR is building some positive momentum. “I’m very happy with what I’m seeing right now. It’s been a long time coming,” said Andretti. “The staff that’s in place right now is really good, in my opinion. It’s experienced, and I see a lot of common sense. I think we’ll be great. Going into this season this year, it’s better than I’ve felt in years. That’s my personal opinion. You know I’ve been very critical in the past. But good things are happening.” Much more at the link. – NBC Sports – (2/29/2016)

Helio fastest in final session and overall in Phoenix testing – Helio Castroneves’ lap at 190.894mph topped the charts in the final session of the Verizon IndyCar Series Test in the West at Phoenix International Raceway. Andretti, Hunter-Reay, Sato, and Munoz composed the rest of the Top 5. Jack Hawksworth made contact with the wall in Turn 2 with around 30 minutes remaining. Full results here and combined results for the test here. – INDYCAR – (2/27/2016)

KVSH Racing confirms deal for Bourdais – KVSH Racing announced on Saturday that Sebastien Bourdais will return to drive for team in a one year deal. Bourdais being the team’s driver wasn’t a surprise but their was hope that it would be a two year deal. – NBC Sports – (2/27/2016)

Andretti working towards 5 cars for the 500 – Tony DiZinno reports that while Andretti Autosport’s goal of adding a car for selected racesfor their Formula E driver, Robin Frijns, is off the table due to taking on the BHA No. 98 the team would still like to have five cars for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. “We’re working on it. We’re working on five,” Michael Andretti told NBC Sports during Indy Lights testing at Phoenix International Raceway. “We were close on one deal that just fell apart, unfortunately. But there’s a few other irons in the fire. The goal is get to five.” Frijns may still race for the team’s Verizon IndyCar Series program later in the season. – NBC Sports – (2/26/2016)

Urrutia tops the charts in open Practice 2 in Phoenix Lights testing – Santiago Urrutia’s lap at 167.341mph was good enough for P1 in the second open practice session for Indy Lights testing at Phoenix International Raceway. The rest of the Top 5 was Negrao, Serralles, Stoneman, and Kaiser. Andre Negrao, the P2 finisher, was just a test driver for SPM this weekend so it will be interesting to see what his impressive showings will do for a team that may field an additional full-time entry. – Indy Lights – (2/25/2016)

INDYCAR working hard on improving driver head protection – Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star reports that “materials being tested this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway” in “IndyCar’s pursuit of driver protection from flying debris”. “I don’t see (installation) this year, but we certainly could see some testing this year,” said INDYCAR president Jay Frye. Much more at the link. – SPM – (2/25/2016)

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