Indianapolis Motor Speedway Image by Wm. LaDow

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Image by Wm. R. LaDow

KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (July 18, 2016) – Tony Stewart’s 2016 NASCAR swan song has already given motorsports fans the indelible memory of a last-corner pass at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway in June that preceded one of the more emotional victory lane celebrations of the season. 

It was a victory that likely earned the 49-time winner a place in NASCAR’s 2016 Chase for the Sprint Cup playoffs and, given recent success and his historic prowess in Chase races, the three-time champion will likely add to his career highlight reel this summer and fall.

Since announcing in September he would make 2016 his 18th and final season of Sprint Cup racing, it was obvious this Sunday’s Brickyard 400 at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway might be one of the landmark races of the season. After 17 Brickyard 400s, five Indianapolis 500s, three IROC races and a lifetime of reverence, Tony Stewart will say a final farewell to the track he’s admired since his boyhood growing up in nearby Columbus, Indiana.

- Photo by Jim Haines

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Image by Jim Haines

Some of the greatest sports figures in the history of Indiana include names like John Wooden, Oscar Robertson, Larry Bird, Peyton Manning, Bob Griese, Bobby Knight, Jeff Gordon and Stewart. Watching one of the state’s greats make a final shot, throw a touchdown pass or take a final lap around the revered speedway is never easy, but tens of thousands of Hoosiers will gather Sunday at the Brickyard to say goodbye to one of their own. “I grew up and lived my whole life in Indiana,” Stewart said. “I didn’t move to Indiana. I didn’t move away from Indiana. I’m the only NASCAR driver in the Cup Series who’s from Indiana and who still lives in Indiana, and I’m proud of where I was born. I’m proud to be back. I still live in the town I was raised in. I take a lot of pride in that. I think the state of Indiana takes a lot of pride in that, and that’s why it makes it a big weekend.”

But spare him the emotional goodbyes.

Stewart, who’ll drive the No. 14 Mobil 1/Chevy Summer Sell Down Chevrolet this weekend, insists, “I’m not going away. I’ll be around. I just won’t be driving in NASCAR. Heck, around Indiana, the fans will probably have more chances to watch us race on dirt than they would if I stayed racing in NASCAR. I’ve got a lot of racing left in me. I look at it like 2017 will begin the second half of my driving career.”

Stewart understands the historic significance of Sunday’s race and the role he’s played at the world’s most famous racetrack. The former USAC & IndyCar Series champion grew up about 45 minutes from the historic track and once drove a tow truck while trying to make ends meet as an aspiring USAC driver. Stewart would drive down Georgetown Road toward 16th Street, running parallel with the speedway’s 3,330-foot-long frontstretch wondering what it would be like 300 feet to the left running at 200 mph. 

“I’m not going to downplay it because it’s one of the most important weekends of the year for me, being at home and racing in front of friends and family for the last time there. It’ll be an emotional weekend, for sure, but I’ve got a plan on how I’m going to approach the weekend, and I’m just going to stick to that plan and go about our work.” 

Like one of the sports stars he admires, Peyton Manning, Stewart wants to walk out of his final season with his head held high carrying a trophy. He arrives at Indianapolis after finishing second at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon last weekend. The performance is the latest in several consecutive weeks of running at the front of the field. Stewart has the second-most points of any driver in the last five races and the eighth-most in the last 10.

Because he missed the first eight races of the season after sustaining a burst fracture of the L1 vertebra in a Jan. 31 all-terrain-vehicle accident, Stewart’s first race in 2016 didn’t occur until April 24 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. NASCAR granted Stewart a medical waiver that made him eligible for the 2016 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup playoffs. After the Sonoma victory, Stewart now must race his way in by ending NASCAR’s 26-race regular season in the top-30 in driver points. Heading into this weekend, Stewart is 28th and leads 31st-place Brian Scott by 67 points.

Photo by Wm LaDow

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Image by Wm. R. LaDow

History says Stewart will be a favorite this weekend. He has one pole, two wins, three top-three finishes, seven top-fives, 11 top-10s and has led a total of 227 laps in 17 career Sprint Cup starts at Indianapolis. He only has four finishes outside the top-12 – a 17th-place result in 2001, a 23rd-place finish in 2008, a 17th-place run in 2014 and a 28th-place finish last year. His average Sprint Cup start at Indianapolis is 14.6, his average Sprint Cup finish at Indianapolis is 9.6. His lap-completion rate is 100 percent. His open-wheel career at Indy is impressive, as well. In five Indy 500s, he earned three top-fives and only finished outside the top-seven once. He led four of the five races for 122 of 1,000 laps.

Questions posed to Stewart as he prepares for his final Brickyard 400 …

Q: Did winning the 2005 Brickyard 400 lift a weight off your shoulders ?

A: “I think back in 2005 I was fairly realistic that I was never going to get back to Indianapolis in an Indy car. The one thing that was always on the top of my resume was a blank spot that said Indy 500 winner. I think winning the Brickyard that year took the sting out of not winning there in an Indy car. It didn’t replace it, but it just took the sting out of it. To finally win at home, and to win at a facility that all my life was the holy grail when you grow up in Indiana, to finally be able to check that off the list, to do it a couple of times, now, they are definitely two of the highlights of my career.”

Q: How special was to finally kiss the yard of bricks in 2005 ?

A: “It was everything to me. My whole life, since I was a kid, that’s what I wanted to do. Not that I had some fascination with kissing bricks as a child, but my fascination to do it (at Indianapolis) was pretty obsessive.”

Q: Whats different about driving the Indianapolis Motor Speedway ?

A: “When you come down the front straightaway, there are grandstands on both sides. Visually, it makes turn one seem like you are driving down a dark alley. It’s very intimidating when you are coming down the front straightaway. The back straightaway is, dimension-wise, exactly the same, but there are no grandstands on the inside. The sun, when it is setting in the west, comes across and gives you a better perspective of seeing around the corner. Man, that front straightaway, especially where the start-finish line is, if you are leading that race and you come off turn four, that’s a long way to the checkered flag. If a guy isn’t right behind you, you have a lot of time to savor that moment driving underneath the double checkered flags and the yard of bricks. Man, that’s a once-in-a-lifetime feeling.” 

Q: Why retirement ?

A: “I have spent my whole time doing this. I’ve been racing since I was 8 years old. I definitely feel like we’ve earned it. But I don’t know that it’s an earned deal. I mean, I still want to be a racecar driver. I still want to drive racecars. I still want to be active in racing. But the time demands, I mean, every year – I can tell you over the last 17 years how much more gets added on and added on and added on, and every time they add something, that’s less time we get to do the things we want to do, and I’m just finally to the point where I’m ready to regain some of my time back.”

Q: Will you run in the Indianapolis 500 again ?

A: “Absolutely not. Every year somebody asks me that, and every year I tell them absolutely not, and for some reason they don’t seem to get it. I don’t think 45 years old is an age to try to revive an IndyCar drive. The good thing is, if I want to go to the Indy and watch the 500, now I have the opportunity to go to the Indy 500 again as a spectator and watch, and then get on a plane and fly down and watch our cars race at the Coke 600.”

Q:When you raced in USAC, you had an eye pointed toward Indianapolis, but only in regard to running an IndyCar. Now drivers running in USAC still seem to have their sights set on Indy, but its in regard to running a stock car. What caused this change ?

A: “Jeff Gordon was probably the biggest influence. He had a lot of success in USAC – won a lot of races. He wasn’t just handed an opportunity in NASCAR. He earned his way down there. When he got the opportunity to go to NASCAR, he opened up a lot of opportunities for drivers like myself. And the TV package that USAC had at the time with the Thursday Night Thunder Series on ESPN, it brought guys from all over the country because of the recognition that could be earned from running USAC. We had guys coming from Pennsylvania, California, Colorado, Wisconsin and Illinois to participate in USAC races because of Jeff’s success and the opportunity that he had to come to NASCAR. Indy cars weren’t an option at the time because, unless you brought a big-dollar sponsor, you weren’t going to get a ride. When Jeff had his success down South, it boosted everybody’s spirits and helped show everyone in USAC that it was a reality and that if they had the same kind of results that Jeff had on the track, then it could happen to them, too.”

Q: Does your experience at Indianapolis in both NASCAR and IndyCar make it the more comfortable to you, or is it just another track where you have a couple of victories ?

A: “No, it’s definitely not just another victory to us. It’s a big deal to us to win here. This is an event that I definitely circle on the schedule and emotionally have a lot invested in it. To us, it’s definitely not just another stop that’s on the calendar and on the schedule. You don’t just pull in and say, ‘we’re going to go in, try to win the race and then pull out of here.’ When you’re here, you’re amped up because you’re at Indianapolis.”

Q: What was your first childhood memory of Indianapolis ?

A: “I came with my father. We were in some bus that had a luggage rack in the top of it. You had to get up at o-dark-30 to get on the bus to ride up to Indy for race day. They threw me up in the luggage rack. Somebody gave me a pillow and everybody started throwing their jackets on top of me to keep me warm. The ride home wasn’t nearly as cool because, after a long day at the track, everybody but my dad and I were kind of rowdy. I was probably 5 years old. We sat in turns three and four. We were two rows up, right in the middle of the short chute. The hard thing was you could hardly see anything. The cars were so fast. They were a blur. But to see those cars under caution and smell the methanol fumes and everything, it was still pretty cool.”

Data Provided by True Speed Communications

2016_400_FansInStands_1600x800

Dear Race Fans,

As temperatures this weekend could be warm, please take note of these preventative measures. The best defense against heat related illness is prevention.  As you prepare to attend the Brickyard 400 consider the following:

  • Conditioning
    • Slowly build up your exposure to hot, humid environments the week prior to the race so that your body has a chance to acclimate
  • Dress
    • Wear light, loose fitting clothing
    • Wear a wide brimmed hat
  • Fluids
    • Drink more fluids regardless of activity level
      • Don’t wait until you feel thirsty
      • Hydration is a continuous process
      • Electrolyte drinks (sports drinks) are best
    • Drink it. Don’t pour it!
      • While pouring fluids over your head may temporarily feel great, it will not help restore your body fluids or lower your temperature.
    • Avoid or limit alcohol and caffeine
      • Alcohol and caffeine both act to increase fluid losses through a process called diureses which will worsen dehydration
      • Alcohol will alter your mental status and judgment and may mask symptoms of serious exposures
  • Protect yourself from the sun
    • Protect you eyes from UV radiation with sun glasses
    • Apply sunscreen frequently
  • Take frequent shade breaks
    • Take advantage of shady areas under stands or trees
    • Take advantage of the misting stations situated around the property
  • Know the symptoms of heat illness
    • Seek treatment if you or anyone around you becomes ill
    • Identify in advance the nearest first aid station to your seats
    • If you need help summon the nearest safety patrol

Please remember that individuals at both extremes of age (very young and very old) are at much greater risk for developing heat related illness.  Use the “buddy system” and check frequently on your friends and family members and make sure they are doing everything they can to keep themselves hydrated.  Remember, never leave anyone in a parked closed vehicle.

If you take these simple precautions, you can help make the weekend enjoyable and safe for yourself and your family and friends.

Sincerely,

Geoffrey L. Billows, MD

Medical Director

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Brickyard 400

Hauler Parade – Thursday, July 21, 2016

This event located on Main Street in Speedway, Indiana, is FREE with a suggested donation of a backpack or school supplies benefiting the Haughville Back to School rally.

Download IMS Mobile to stay up to date during your stay at IMS

Schedule of Events
  • 5:00pm – Hauler Parade Begins
  • 5:30pm – Doug Boles Q&A with Crown Royal Hero Jason Redman
  • 6:00pm – Haulers Arrive on Main Street
  • 6:00pm – 87 Southbound Concert
  • 7:00pm – Greta Sparks Concert
  • 7:55pm – Haulers Depart Main Street
  • 8:00pm – Hauler Parade Ends

Hauler Parade

NASCAR Practice – Friday, July 22, 2016

Download IMS Mobile to stay up to date during your stay at IMS

Schedule of Events
  • 8:00am – Public Gates Open
  • 8:00am – 06:00pm – IMS Midway Open
  • 8:00am – 09:30am – Chevy Driver Autograph Session Wristband Distribution – Chevy Display
  • 9:30am – 10:30am – Chevy Driver Autograph Session – Chevy Display
  • 12:00pm – 01:25pm – NASCAR XFINITY Series Practice
  • 1:30pm – 02:55pm – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice
  • 3:00pm – 03:55pm – NASCAR XFINITY Series Practice
  • 4:00pm – 05:25pm – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice
  • 6:00pm – Public Gates Close

Purchase Practice Tickets

Tony Stewart

Lilly Diabetes 250 Race and NASCAR Qualifying – Saturday, July 23, 2016

Hot pass in effect from 1 p.m. to conclusion of Lilly Diabetes 250 race.

Download IMS Mobile to stay up to date during your stay at IMS

Schedule of Events
  • 8:00am – Public Gates Open
  • 8:00am – 05:05pm – IMS Midway Open
  • 9:00am – NASCAR XFINITY Series Autograph Session Wristband Distribution – Pagoda Plaza
  • 10:00am – 10:45am – NASCAR XFINITY Series Autograph Session
  • 10:00am – Youth Only NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Autograph Session Wristband Distribution – IMS Kids Zone
  • 11:40am – 01:00pm – NASCAR XFINITY Series Qualifying
  • 12:00pm – 12:30pm – Youth Only NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Autograph Session – IMS Kids Zone
  • 1:45pm – 02:45pm – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Qualifying
  • 2:30pm – 03:00pm – NASCAR XFINITY Series Driver Brick Walk
  • 3:00pm – Driver Introductions
  • 3:30pm – Presentation of Colors
  • 3:30pm – Invocation – Rev. Byron Fritz
  • 3:31pm – “National Anthem” – performed by Amanda Jo
  • 3:32pm – “Drivers Start Your Engines”
  • 3:49pm – Lilly Diabetes 250 Heat Race #1 (20 Laps)
  • 4:26pm – Lilly Diabetes 250 Heat Race #2 (20 Laps)
  • 5:09pm – Lilly Diabetes 250 Feature Race (60 Laps)
  • 6:00pm – Concert Gates Open
  • 7:00pm – Parmalee Concert
  • 8:00pm – Kid Rock Concert
  • 9:00pm – Public Gates Close

Purchase Saturday Tickets

Lilly Diabetes 250

Crown Royal presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard – Sunday, July 24, 2016

Hot pass in effect from 2 p.m. to conclusion of Crown Royal 400 at the Brickyard race.

Download IMS Mobile to stay up to date during your stay at IMS

Schedule of Events
  • 10:00am – Public Gates Open
  • 10:00am – 03:19pm – IMS Midway Open
  • 11:30am – 12:45pm – Track Walk – Need Pass to enter. Enter North Pit Gate, Exit South Pit Gate
    Purchase Track Walk
  • 2:00pm – 02:30pm – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Brick Walk
  • 2:05pm – Military Silverado Laps
  • 2:05pm – Jason Redman Speech – Victory Podium
  • 2:30pm – Driver Introductions
  • 2:57pm – “America the Beautiful”
  • 3:00pm – Presentation of Colors
  • 3:00pm – Invocation – Howard Brammer
  • 3:01pm – “National Anthem”
  • 3:07pm – “Drivers Start Your Engines”
  • 3:19pm – 23rd Running of the Crown Royal presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard (160 Laps)
  • 6:00pm – Public Gates Close

Purchase Race Day Tickets

130-A

Virtually all the Chrysler Stock Cars seen in the videos below, have one thing in common …

They began their racing lives at the Nichels Engineering — “Go-Fast Factory” in Griffith, Indiana …

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Photographs property of the Nichels Engineering Archives

The podium of Will Power, Helio Castroneves, and James Hinchcliffe hoist their trophies in Victory Circle following the Honda Indy Toronto -- Image by Joe Skibinski

The podium of Will Power, Helio Castroneves, and James Hinchcliffe hoist their trophies in Victory Circle following the Honda IndyCar Toronto — Image by Joe Skibinski

TORONTO (Sunday, July 17, 2016) – Will Power feels he’s been on the wrong side of enough caution flags in the IndyCar Series that he’ll gladly accept the timely one that helped him win the Honda Indy Toronto.

The 2014 series champion claimed his 3rd win of the season and 3rd on the streets of Exhibition Place by 1.5275 seconds over teammate Helio Castroneves, driving directly into the 2016 championship discussion in the process. Power now sits 2nd in the standings despite missing the season opener, 47 points behind teammate Simon Pagenaud.

“Getting close, that’s good,” said Power, who sat out the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in March with an inner-ear infection after winning the pole in qualifying. “It’s good to get this momentum for the team going forward for the rest of the championship. Five (races) to go, all good tracks for me. “If we can close that gap going into (the season-ending GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma in September), we can do this, we can win this championship, absolutely.”

Scott Dixon leads the field into Turn 1 at the start the Honda Indy Toronto -- Image by Joe Skibinski

Scott Dixon leads the field into Turn 1 at the start the Honda IndyCar Toronto — Image by Joe Skibinski

Starting fourth, Power trailed pole sitter Scott Dixon, Castroneves and Pagenaud most of the first two-thirds of the 85-lap battle on the 1.786-mile temporary street course – the 32nd Indy car race in Toronto. Power was running third on Lap 58 when race strategist Tim Cindric ordered him to the pits just before a full-course caution came out when Josef Newgarden’s car made contact with the wall in Turn 5, closing the pits.

Power cycled ahead of Dixon and Pagenaud – who had to wait to for their stops until the pits were opened during the caution period – then the Australian waited in 2nd place until leader Tony Kanaan had to stop for fuel 9 laps from the finish.

Honda Indy Toronto Box Score

“The team called me in just at the last minute. Perfect timing,” said Power, whose third Toronto win ties him with Dario Franchitti and trails only Michael Andretti’s seven victories at the track. “I can’t tell you how many times it has gone the opposite way for me at this place and many other places. But I was so stoked to see yellow lights as I was going into pit lane. It’s not often you catch a yellow like that.”

Power held off Castroneves, in the No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevy, on a last-lap restart to collect his 28th career IndyCar win, moving the 35-year-old ahead of Johnny Rutherford into 13th on the all-time victories list. One win ahead of Power are Castroneves and Team Penske driver coach Rick Mears.

Castroneves overcame a punctured left-front tire midway through the race to record his 40th career runner-up finish – second all-time to Mario Andretti’s 56. Castroneves is 3rd in the standings, 74 points behind Pagenaud.  “It’s a shame (about the puncture),” Castroneves said, “but don’t get me wrong, the Pennzoil Chevrolet machine was really strong. Second (in the race) is better than third.”

Signatures adorn the firesuit of James Hinchcliffe prior to the Honda Indy Toronto -- Image by Chris Owens

Signatures adorn the firesuit of James Hinchcliffe prior to the Honda IndyCar Toronto — Image by Chris Owens

James Hinchcliffe thrilled the partisan Toronto crowd by finishing third in his hometown race in the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda. His best previous Toronto showing was eighth place in six previous races. “For once in my career here in Toronto we caught a lucky break,” Hinchcliffe said. “It’s not just that I haven’t had great luck here, I’ve had insanely bad luck here. Today we were on the other side of that. It’s part of Indy car racing.”

Verizon P1 Award winner Dixon finished eighth in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and points leader Pagenaud ninth in the No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet. Newgarden, the defending Toronto winner, finished 22nd and last after his crash. He was checked and released from the infield care center but, according to Dr. Geoffrey Billows, INDYCAR medical director, will have his right hand that was fractured in a June 12 crash at Texas Motor Speedway re-evaluated Monday before he is cleared to drive.

The Verizon IndyCar Series heads next to The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio from July 29-31. Dixon, the reigning series champion, is a five-time winner at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. The race airs live at 2 p.m. ET July 31 on CNBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network with a re-air on NBCSN at 5:30 p.m.

Mazda Road to Indy results

Felix Rosenqvist (Belardi Auto Racing) completed a sweep of the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires weekend by winning today’s race. Aaron Telitz did the same in the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires, moving into a tie with Team Pelfrey teammate Pato O’Ward for the points lead in the process. Parker Thompson, a native of Red Deer, Alberta, won the second race of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda weekend in his home race.

Scott Dixon flies over the apex of Turn 5 during practice for the Honda IndyCar Toronto -- Image by Shawn Gritzmacher

Scott Dixon flies over the apex of Turn 5 during practice for the Honda IndyCar Toronto — Image by Shawn Gritzmacher

_____

TORONTO (Saturday, July 16, 2016) – Scott Dixon took advantage of a welcome bonus lap in qualifying and used it to score the Verizon P1 Award for the Honda Indy Toronto.

Dixon’s fast lap of 59.9073 seconds (107.326 mph) in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, the final lap of the session, earned his first pole of 2016 and 24th of his career, snapping a tie for 12th place on the all-time Indy car list with Johnny Rutherford. The reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion will lead the field to the green flag in Sunday’s 85-lap event, the 32nd Indy car race on the storied 1.786-mile temporary street course.

Dixon, who won both ends of the 2013 Toronto doubleheader to launch a push to the 3rd of his 4 Verizon IndyCar Series titles, planned to run 2 laps at speed in today’s Firestone Fast Six, the last of 3 rounds of knockout qualifying. But he was able to cross the timing line a precious few seconds ahead of the checkered flag to earn another lap. With clear track ahead, the 35-year-old New Zealander sped to the top of the chart.

 “Each lap kept getting better,” Dixon said. “We made the timeline by a second to get the extra lap. Just kept getting negatives on the splits (showing he was on pole pace). Gave up a little bit in Turn 8; obviously just enough to bump pole. “We caught the timeline at the right point, that’s it. Worked out nicely for a change.”

Helio Castroneves reacts after being nipped for the pole position for the Honda Indy Toronto -- Image by Chris Jones

Helio Castroneves reacts after being nipped for the pole position for the Honda Indy Toronto — Image by Chris Jones

Dixon’s effort prevented Helio Castroneves from winning a second Toronto pole. Castroneves’ best lap of 59.9425 seconds (107.263 mph) places him on the outside of Row 1 in the No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet.

“What am I going to say? I can’t believe it,” Castroneves said. “What is it, (four) hundredths of a second? Congrats to them but the Shell Pennzoil Chevrolet car is really fast.

“Gosh! Come on, Dixon! Really? Really?!”

Honda Indy Toronto Qual Results

Simon Pagenaud, the 2016 championship leader who has advanced to the Firestone Fast Six at all seven road/street courses this year and won five poles, qualified third in the No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet (1:00.2293, 106.752 mph). Teammate Will Power, a two-time Toronto race winner, earned the fourth spot in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet (1:00.4085, 106.435 mph).

Sebastien Bourdais, also a two-time Toronto winner, equaled his best 2016 qualifying effort of fifth in the No. 11 Team Hydroxycut-KVSH Racing Chevy (1:00.4221, 106.411 mph), with local hero James Hinchcliffe sixth in the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda (1:01.5637, 104,438 mph). For Hinchcliffe, it’s the best qualifying performance in seven Toronto starts.

“I’m really pleased with the result today,” said Hinchcliffe, from nearby Oakville, Ontario. “We got back into the Fast Six after two weeks of shotgunning the field. It’s kind of nice to be back at the sharp end of the grid.

“The Arrow Electronics guys did a great job. It’s such a tough track out here with the conditions, the surface changes, the bumps obviously, but they did what they had to do and gave me a car that could get up there. I’m proud of all of them and hopefully the best starting spot I’ve ever had here turns into the best finish I’ve ever had here.”

Dale Coyne Racing drivers Conor Daly and Luca Filippi impressed by qualifying seventh and 11th, respectively. For Daly in the No. 18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality Honda, it was a career-best qualifying effort in his 17th race. Filippi will make his season-best start after being out of the No. 19 IMPCO ComfortPro Honda for nearly two months, last racing at Barber Motorsports Park in April.

The Verizon IndyCar Series returns for a final 30-minute warmup session at 10:30 a.m. ET Sunday (streamed live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com). Race coverage starts at 2:30 p.m. ET on CNBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, with a telecast re-air at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Remembering Jeff Krosnoff on 20th anniversary of his death

jeffkrosnoff2The 2016 Honda Indy Toronto marks the 20th anniversary of driver Jeff Krosnoff’s death in a race crash, which also claimed the life of track marshal Gary Avrin. Racer.com’s Marshall Pruett honored Krosnoff by resurrecting a 6-part series he wrote on the driver’s life 5 years ago. Pruett graciously permitted IndyCar.com to share memories of Krosnoff from friends and fellow competitors.

Krosnoff was a 31-year-old Indy car rookie who competed in just 11 races with Arciero-Wells Racing in the CART series before his untimely death July 14, 1996. He had built credibility as a factory driver in other racing disciplines with the likes of Toyota, Nissan and Jaguar before getting a chance to drive an Indy car.

Along the way, Krosnoff earned a host of admirers for his determination, typified by his motto to “Stay Hungry.” Mike Hull is the managing director at Chip Ganassi Racing Teams and has been working in Indy car racing for nearly four decades. He said today’s drivers would be wise to emulate Krosnoff.

“What Jeff represented to me was a guy that went out every day and got the most from what was given to him,” Hull said. “And I think he was a success, very much a success, and showed the way that race drivers should represent themselves. Because if he was having a good day, he was getting the most out of it. If his day wasn’t as successful, he was still getting the most from it.

“That’s what I truly enjoyed about him was that positive attitude makes such a difference when you’re working within a team environment,” Hull continued. “You want somebody that’s out there trying their darndest to get the most out of it in a very positive manner, and that was Jeff Krosnoff.”

Bryan Herta, now co-owner of the Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian entry driven by Alexander Rossi, was in his third season as an Indy car driver in 1996 when he competed with Krosnoff.

“At the time,” Herta said, “you don’t think that he’s just going to have a handful of races to be judged by after all these years. You think that he’s working with a new team, a good team, but one that was still developing and a new engine that needs developing. … You just didn’t really dwell on what he had right then because you expected a lot more to be right around the corner for him to show what he could really do. Unfortunately, that never happened for him.”

Mazda Road to Indy Results

Felix Rosenqvist (Belardi Auto Racing) led all 35 laps to win an incident-filled Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires race, the first of a weekend doubleheader. Points leader Ed Jones (Carlin) finished sixth. … Victor Franzoni (ArmsUp Motorsports) jumped pole sitter Anthony Martin at the start and led all 22 laps to win the first of two Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda races this weekend.

Simon Pagenaud on course during practice for the Honda Indy Toronto -- Image by Chris Owens

Simon Pagenaud on course during practice for the Honda Indy Toronto — Image by Chris Owens

TORONTO (Friday, July 15, 2016) – Even before he took to the newly configured track on the streets of Exhibition Place in an Indy car, Simon Pagenaud said he was excited at the opportunity. Following Friday’s practices for the Honda Indy Toronto, it’s easy to see why.

The 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series championship leader set the pace on the 1.786-mile, 11-turn temporary circuit in the last of the day’s two 45-minute practice sessions, at 1 minute, 1.7081 seconds (104.194 mph) in the No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet. He edged teammates Helio Castroneves and Will Power for top honors.

“I kind of like changes so I’m good with it,” Pagenaud said of the altered track layout that’s seen pit lane moved from one side of the main straight to the other and the final four turns tightened. “It’s definitely a big change to the last few years. We’re never used to changes but personally I enjoy it.”

07-15-16 Toronto combined practice

Pagenaud’s quick lap came on his very last circuit before the checkered flag waved.

“The PPG car was fast, good,” said the three-time 2016 race winner, who holds a 73-point lead in the standings over defending Toronto race winner Josef Newgarden. “We made some adjustments for Practice 2. It actually went better than we expected. We’re on a good pace this weekend.”

Castroneves was 2nd quick in the No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevy at 1:01.9091 (103.855 mph). A veteran of 13 previous Toronto races, the 41-year-old Brazilian said the revised circuit makes it new again.

“The new changes on the track, it’s like a new track,” Castroneves said. “You’ve got to learn, you’ve got to try new things. No question, we just start all over again. I guess tomorrow is going to continue going faster.”

Hometown favorite James Hinchcliffe was fifth overall and the top Honda driver at 1:02.1867 (103.392 mph) in the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports entry. The native of nearby Oakville, Ontario, is also getting adjusted to the track layout.

“Obviously it’s a big learning process for everybody,” Hinchcliffe said. “One-third of the lap roughly is completely different than it’s been for as long as I’ve been racing here. It’s definitely very challenging.”

The Toronto race is celebrating its 30th year in 2016. Sunday’s 85-lapper will be the 32nd Indy car race on the track (including doubleheader weekends in 2013 and ’14), making it one of the most enduring in Indy car annals. Hinchcliffe feels that for the event and himself.

“The support here has always been incredible,” he said of his homecoming. “It’s great to be in the hometown for a little while, meet a lot of the Canadian fans again, see the fans again, a lot of people coming out again. It’s awesome. I’m very lucky to be in that position.”

Two drivers didn’t fare as well in afternoon practice. Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 2 DeVilbiss Team Penske Chevrolet) and Charlie Kimball (No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chevrolet) each made contact with the Turn 11 wall, though neither was injured. Montoya’s car sustained significant right-side damage.

“Nothing broke on the car,” Montoya said. “I went in a little out of shape and caught a piece of the (Turn 10) wall and I ricocheted across the track. The DeVilbiss Chevrolet was really good before that, but I have complete faith in my crew and we’ll be fine.”

A third practice is set for 9:45 a.m. ET Saturday (streamed live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com), with qualifying airing live on NBCSN at 1:30 p.m. ET. Race coverage starts at 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday on CNBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, with a race re-air at 5:30 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN.

Of Note

Luca Filippi returned this weekend to drive the No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda after being out of the car for two months. Filippi, who finished second in the 2015 Honda Indy Toronto with CFH Racing, was 12th fastest overall in today’s practice. “I think one of the key points to be a successful racing driver is to be really quick in order to get up to speed – don’t waste time, don’t waste tires,” said Filippi, sponsored this weekend by IMPCO ComfortPro. “I really worked a lot on myself. I think this is one of my strong points.” … All three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy stepladder practiced today in advance of doubleheader race weekends. Setting the pace were: Felix Serralles of Carlin in Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires (1:07.7785), Aaron Telitz of Team Pelfrey in the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires (1:11.5984) and Canada’s Parker Thompson of Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda (1:14.6825).


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