Archive for March, 2018


Two NASCAR legends with Central Indiana ties have been elected to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame, which has a new name, logo, and criteria for enshrinement beginning with the 2018 election cycle.

Five-time Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard winner Jeff Gordon and two-time Brickyard champ Tony Stewart were chosen from a ballot of 14 nominees by a panel of auto racing journalists, participants, and historians.

Gordon, who attended Tri-West High School in Pittsboro, Indiana, won 93 races in NASCAR’s top series, including the Daytona 500 three times.

He won the NASCAR series championship four times following a stellar career in USAC open-wheel racing where he was the 1990 national Midget series champion and 1991 Silver Crown titlist.

The versatile driver added an overall win in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona to his stellar resume in 2017 and drove the Pace Car before the 2015 Indianapolis 500.

Stewart, a Columbus, Indiana, resident who was a popular throwback to drivers from the 1950s and 60s, was a winner in every form of motorsports he attempted.

Stewart was a standout driver in USAC, winning the national Midget series championship in 1994, and the Triple Crown (Silver Crown, Sprint Car, Midget) in 1995.

He won three IndyCar events and the 1996-97 series championship.

After taking his talents to NASCAR, Stewart won 49 races in the sanctioning body’s top series and three series championships.

The 2018 inductees were announced on “Founder’s Day,” March 20, the 109th anniversary of the day the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Company was officially formed. They are also the first to be enshrined under the Hall’s new name and scope, which includes the stars of the Brickyard 400 and United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis for the first time. Induction ceremony will be held May 24.

“We are thrilled that the first class of inductees with our new name and election criteria honor two drivers who mean so much to fans in Central Indiana and around the world,” said Tony George, president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Foundation.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame honors and celebrates individual contribution to the sport of automobile racing at “The Greatest Race Course in the World.” It was founded in 1952 as the Auto Racing Hall of Fame under the auspices of the Contest Board of the American Automobile Association (AAA). The Hall of Fame was moved to the original Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum under the direction of then-Speedway president Anton “Tony” Hulman Jr. in 1962.

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, March 14, 2018 – A new premium viewing area will be constructed outside Turn 3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, offering an all-inclusive Race Day experience for the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

The Turn 3 Club is being offered in response to increased demand for premium seating and hospitality at IMS. Suites are sold out for Indianapolis 500 Race Day, while limited availability remains in the Hulman Terrace Club. Hospitality and premium sales are well ahead of the pace from 2017, with demand mirroring that from the landmark 100th Running in 2016.

Demand for Reserved Seats also is stronger than for the 101st Running last May, won by Takuma Sato before one of the largest Race Day crowds in decades. Sales in February 2018 were significantly greater than those during the same month in 2017, as momentum and anticipation – boosted by the new “This Is May” campaign – continue to build for the INDYCAR Grand Prix on Saturday, May 12 and the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on Sunday, May 27.

“The Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil continues in its second century to show its strength as the world’s greatest spectator sporting event,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “Demand for this year’s race is very strong, with suites sold out and ticket sales continuing to outpace last year. Adding the Turn 3 Club as a new way to experience the Indy 500 gives another option for our fans who want that traditional race experience with more than just a grandstand seat.”

The Turn 3 Club, located on the outside of the famed 2.5-mile oval, will provide these amenities:

•Spectacular views of the track from an elevated Turn 3 location

•Pairing with a Reserved Seat in the North Vista for each customer

•All-inclusive food, beer and wine, with liquor available for purchase

•Tented deck area with tables and limited seating

•Parking passes in the North 40 Lot, with one pass for every four tickets purchased

•Souvenir event program for each customer

•Dedicated restroom facilities

•Live TV and audio feed

Tickets to the Turn 3 Club are $750 each. Existing Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil Race Day ticket holders can upgrade to the Turn 3 Club for $700 each.

Prices will increase closer to May, so interested race goers are encouraged to purchase soon at or the IMS Ticket Office.

Fans looking for a ticket to every racing event at IMS can also purchase a limited number of seats left in the Hulman Terrace Club. Located on the outside of the front straightaway just past the Turn 4 exit, the club features premium stadium seating, a private area for food and beverage, and tickets to every day of track action in May along with the Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational, Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard and Red Bull Air Race World Championship. For more information, click here.

Fans can email to discuss the purchase options in either the Turn 3 Club or Hulman Terrace Club.

Verizon IndyCar Series teams and drivers will continue their preparation for the fifth annual INDYCAR Grand Prix and the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil through manufacturer private testing and INDYCAR open and Indianapolis 500 rookie/refresher testing Friday, March 23, Tuesday, March 27, Wednesday, March 28 and Thursday, March 29 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Among the drivers testing on the IMS road course and oval will be 2017 Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil champion Takuma Sato, 2017 INDYCAR Grand Prix winner Will Power and 2018 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg winner Sebastien Bourdais. And making their first runs in the new-look Indy car on the IMS oval will be three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves and 2005 Indy 500 Sunoco Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick, who is returning to the race for the first time since 2011 in the final start of her driving career.

Honda manufacturer testing will take place Friday, March 23 on the IMS road course, followed by three days of testing March 27-29 on the IMS oval. An INDYCAR open test is scheduled for Tuesday, March 27, with Rookie Orientation Program & Refresher Tests on Wednesday, March 28. A combined ChevroletHonda manufacturer test on the oval will conclude testing Thursday, March 29.

Fans can watch all four days of testing from the Turn 2 viewing mounds, IMS Museum parking lot and South Terrace grandstands. These areas are open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. for testing March 23 and March 29 and from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. March 27-28.

Testing on March 27-28 also will be streamed live on the INDYCAR YouTube Channel and

The fifth annual INDYCAR Grand Prix is scheduled for Saturday, May 12 on the IMS road course. The 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil is scheduled for Sunday, May 27 on the IMS oval.

A look at each day of testing:

FRIDAY, March 23

Test: Honda Manufacturer Test on IMS road course
Participating Drivers: Determined by manufacturers. By INDYCAR rule, teams from both manufacturers are permitted to test on test days for specific manufacturers. Expected participants: Marco Andretti, Sebastien Bourdais, Gabby Chaves, Scott Dixon, Pietro Fittipaldi, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Ed Jones, Tony Kanaan, Jordan King, Matheus Leist, Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Spencer Pigot, Will Power, Graham Rahal, Alexander Rossi, Takuma Sato, Zach Veach, Robert Wickens.
Fan Access: Fans can watch testing for free from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. from the Turn 2 viewing mounds, IMS Museum parking lot and South Terrace Grandstands.

TUESDAY, March 27

Test: INDYCAR Open Test on IMS oval
Time: 10 a.m.-noon, 1-5 p.m.
• Participating drivers (21): Marco Andretti, Sebastien Bourdais, Ed Carpenter, Helio Castroneves, Gabby Chaves, Max Chilton, Scott Dixon, Jack Harvey, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Ed Jones, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball, Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Spencer Pigot, Will Power, Graham Rahal, Alexander Rossi, Takuma Sato, Zach Veach
Fan Access: Fans can watch testing for free from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. from the Turn 2 viewing mounds, IMS Museum parking lot and South Terrace Grandstands.
Live Streaming: INDYCAR YouTube Channel and


Test: Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program/Refresher Tests on IMS oval
Time: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (Rookie Orientation Program), 2-5 p.m. (Refresher tests)
Participating Drivers (6): Pietro Fittipaldi (ROP), Kyle Kaiser (ROP), Sage Karam (refresher), Matheus Leist (ROP), Danica Patrick (refresher), Robert Wickens (ROP)
Fan Access: Fans can watch testing for free from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. from the Turn 2 viewing mounds, IMS Museum parking lot and South Terrace Grandstands.
Live Streaming: INDYCAR YouTube Channel and

THURSDAY, March 29

Test: Chevrolet and Honda Manufacturer Test on IMS oval.
Participating Drivers: Determined by manufacturers. Expected participants: Ed Carpenter, Gabby Chaves, Max Chilton, Scott Dixon, James Hinchcliffe, Ed Jones, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball, Matheus Leist, Danica Patrick, Spencer Pigot, Robert Wickens.
Fan Access: Fans can watch testing for free from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. from the Turn 2 viewing mounds, IMS Museum parking lot and South Terrace Grandstands.

Data supplied by IndyCar

Sebastien Bourdais, Dale Coyne, Jimmy Vasser, and James ‘Sulli’ Sullivan celebrate in Victory Circle after winning the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg — IndyCar Image by Chris Owens

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (Sunday, March 11, 2018) – If the first race is an indication, the Verizon IndyCar Series is in for a wild, unpredictable and most exciting 2018 season.

Sebastien Bourdais repeated as winner of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg today, but only after rookie Robert Wickens and Alexander Rossi collided while battling for the lead on the next-to-last of 110 edge-of-your-seat laps. It was the first of 17 Verizon IndyCar Series races this season.

For Bourdais, the spoils of being in the right place at the right time were the 37th victory of his Indy car career, which ranks the four-time season champion sixth on the all-time list. The driver of the No. 18 Team Sealmaster Honda for Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan trails Al Unser by two wins for fifth place.

It also brings full circle Bourdais’ recovery from a fractured pelvis and hip sustained in a frightening crash during qualifying at last year’s Indianapolis 500.

“This is emotional because I was able from a few broken bones to come back in this victory circle,” said Bourdais, who lives in St. Petersburg near where the 1.8-mile temporary street course is constructed each year.

“We didn’t have the fastest car today but we had consistency and we pulled it together. We were going to get a podium today, which was awesome. I was really happy for Robert (Wickens) and kind of heartbroken for him, but for us it is just such an upset. I can’t quite put it into words.”

Wickens, who started from the pole position in the No. 6 Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda after winning the Verizon P1 Award in qualifying on Saturday, was vying to become the first driver to win an Indy car race in his debut since Buzz Calkins in 1996 at Walt Disney World Speedway.

After leading a race-high 69 laps, Wickens was in front for a Lap 108 restart following a full-course caution for the stalled car of Max Chilton. On the restart, Rossi, in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda for Andretti Autosport, attempted an inside pass of Wickens heading into Turn 1 at the end of the Albert Whitted Airport runway straight, but Rossi’s car slid wide and the two made contact.

Rossi continued but Wickens’ car was disabled, bringing out the last of eight full-course cautions in the race.

“I didn’t get the best restart in the world, but that didn’t really matter,” said Wickens, who was scored in 16th place. “I (braked) really late into Turn 1. I defended a little bit, but the track was so dirty off-line that I told myself that if Alex wants to go there, go for it, but he’s not going to make the corner. He made a mistake on the inside and I guess he just couldn’t keep it, and just slid into me.

“It’s a shame. Everyone on the Lucas Oil team and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports did a fantastic job today. It would’ve been a fairytale to finish that one out, but sometimes it’s not meant to be.”

Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsport’s Robert Wickens and Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi make contact exiting Turn 1 during the final restart of the Firestone Grand Prix — IndyCar Image by Chris Owens

Bourdais and Graham Rahal, running behind Wickens and Rossi, avoided the incident and slipped past to finish first and second, respectively. Bourdais’ victory is the sixth in the history Dale Coyne Racing and the fifth for Bourdais in cars entered by co-owners Jimmy Vasser and James Sullivan.

Team co-owner Dale Coyne admitted it wasn’t the best car on track, but benefited from having Bourdais in the cockpit and a little good fortune after he had to pit on the opening lap to replace a punctured tire.

“We had an eighth-place car today,” Coyne said. “(Bourdais’) consistency makes that a fourth-place car, and luck made it a winning car.”

The triumph also confirmed for Bourdais that he was right in not considering retirement following his Indy crash last May. “When I got the verdict of what was broken and I was going to heal pretty well, it was never a question on whether I should continue or stop,” the 39-year-old Frenchman said. “Guess I’m glad I did continue.”

Rossi, who finished third, said he got the jump on Wickens for the decisive restart by activating earlier his push-to-pass – which provides an engine boost of approximately 60 horsepower.

“The run was perfect for me going into Turn 1 and I knew there wasn’t going to be very many other opportunities,” Rossi explained. “Obviously, he had a good car all day and they did a great job. Made the (pass attempt). He defended the position, which he has the right to do, but in doing so, in moving the reaction, he put me into the marbles pretty late into the corner.

“It’s difficult with these cars and with how much we’re sliding around in the first place, even on the racing line. When you’re put in the marbles, it’s hairy. Super unfortunate. You never want to see that happen. I feel bad because I feel like I could have won and he could have gotten second.”

The podium of Sebastien Bourdais, Graham Rahal, and Alexander Rossi hoist their trophies in Victory Circle following the Firestone Grand Prix — IndyCar Image by Chris Jones

Rahal, driver of the No. 15 United Rentals Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, logged his best St. Petersburg finish since becoming the youngest race winner in Indy car history in 2008.

James Hinchcliffe, Wickens’ teammate at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, finished 4th in the No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda. Ryan Hunter-Reay, Rossi’s teammate at Andretti Autosport, placed 5th in the No. 28 DHL Honda.

Three-time St. Petersburg winner Helio Castroneves, this year’s grand marshal, gave the call for drivers to start their engines in what quickly became an eventful race on the shores of Tampa Bay. There were five caution periods in the first 40 laps of the race as drivers adjusted to the lower downforce levels of the universal aero kit on all cars racing for the first time. Still, the new car produced incredible racing throughout the field, as there were a record 366 on-track passes to break the old race record of 323 set in 2008.

Verizon IndyCar Series competitors and fans have some time to catch their breath before the next race. The Phoenix Grand Prix will be run under the lights at ISM Raceway on Saturday, April 7. The race airs live at 9 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

Schmidt Peterson Motorsport’s IndyCar Rookie Wickens races to the Pole for the Firestone IndyCar Grand Prix of St. Petersburg — IndyCar Image by Chris Jones

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (Saturday, March 10, 2018) – The unpredictability of the Verizon IndyCar Series reached a new and exciting level in Verizon P1 Award qualifying for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, with rookie Robert Wickens taking pole position in his debut event.

On a track slick from light rain, Wickens slipped in a lap at the end of the Firestone Fast Six – the last of three knockout qualifying rounds – to claim the pole for Sunday’s 110-lap race that kicks off the 2018 season. Wickens’ circuit of 1 minute, 1.6643 seconds (105.085 mph) in the No. 6 Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda bested seven-time St. Petersburg pole winner Will Power by less than a tenth of a second for top honors.

Wickens became the first driver to win the pole position in his maiden Indy car race since Sebastien Bourdais in 2003 – also at St. Petersburg.

“It was just chaos – half wet, half dry,” said Wickens, 28. “I like those conditions a lot. As a kid my whole career, I’ve seemed to excel in that type of session, and thankfully the team and everyone on the Lucas Oil car did a great job getting us on track at the right time with the right tire, with the whole procedure. Thankfully, I’m starting from the pole. Way better than I ever expected my first INDYCAR race to be, but I’m definitely not complaining with it.”

With all Verizon IndyCar Series entries running the new-look car with its universal aero kit for the first time in competition this weekend, the leaderboard throughout practice has been in a constant state of flux. The trend continued in qualifying, as three drivers making their series debuts – Wickens, Jordan King and Matheus “Matt” Leist – advanced to the Firestone Fast Six.

King, in fact, set the new lap record for the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street course in the first round of qualifying with a lap of 1:00.0476 (107.914 mph), eclipsing Power’s 2016 standard by nearly two-hundredths of a second.

“Coming into qualifying, I knew we were quick enough to get through,” said King, the 23-year-old Englishman who joined the Verizon IndyCar Series after three seasons in FIA Formula 2 and two as a Formula 1 reserve driver. “But still, I had to perform, and it being my first time, I was obviously putting more pressure on myself than anybody else. But then I just had to keep reminding myself that if I just do what I know I can, the rest of it will be fine.”

Power’s best lap today in the Firestone Fast Six, 1:01.7346 (104.965 mph) in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, locked the two-time St. Pete race winner into the outside of Row 1 on the starting grid.

“I had a big mis-shift during my (best) lap where I just got stuck in gear for quite a while,” Power said. “Then when I saw how tight it was, it was like, ‘Yeah, probably lost a tenth or so there.’ But fantastic job by Wickens, first time out, to get pole.

“Just shows kind of the parity within the series, now that everyone has got the same body kit,” Power added. “They’re all good guys. They’re all guys capable of winning races. Yeah, pretty impressive, though, all those guys up in front there, first time out. … Three (rookies) in the Fast Six is very impressive.”

Leist qualified third in the No. 4 AJ Foyt Racing ABC Supply Chevrolet (1:01.7631, 104.917 mph), beating King, in the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet (1:01.7633, 104.917 mph), by an eyelash.

“I think I was expecting to be like top 10,” said Leist, the 19-year-old Brazilian teaming with veteran Tony Kanaan for AJ Foyt Racing, “but definitely not top five, top six. The team just did an amazing job, and very happy for the performance throughout the whole weekend already, and looking forward to the race.”

Takuma Sato, the 2014 St. Pete pole sitter, was fifth in the No. 30 Mi-Jack/Panasonic Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (1:01.8821), with Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay sixth in the No. 28 DHL Honda (1:02.0385).

Two of Hunter-Reay’s teammates failed to advance from earlier qualifying rounds when they were penalized for qualifying interference. Marco Andretti (No. 98 Ruoff Home Mortgage/Curb Honda) would have advanced from the first round and Alexander Rossi (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda) would have moved on from Round 2, but both had their fastest two laps negated by penalty and could not advance by rule.

Four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon saw his string of qualifying for the Firestone Fast Six in nine straight events come to an end. Dixon will start ninth in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Bourdais, the 2017 St. Petersburg race winner, will roll off 14th in the No. 18 SealMaster Honda for Dale Coyne Racing. Graham Rahal, in the No. 15 United Rentals Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, will start last in the 24-car field after being penalized his two best laps for causing a Round 1 red flag when his car spun in Turn 10.

A final 30-minute warmup practice is scheduled for 8:45am ET Sunday streaming live on — Live race coverage begins at noon on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network and 12:30pm on ABC.

The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is the first of 17 races on the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule.

Robert Wickens with the Verizon P1 Award trophy — IndyCar Image by Chris Jones