Archive for May 19, 2018

Fastest of the Day – Team Penske #3 Pennzoil Dallara-Chevrolet driven by Helio Castroneves – IndyCar Image by John Cote


INDIANAPOLIS – The first day of qualifying for the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil was an emotional roller coaster. It had nail-biting four-lap attempts, rain delays that threw a wrench into strategies, last-minute bids to bump into the field and ultimate heartbreak for those left on the outside looking in.

The 33 cars and drivers that will start the race on May 27 were established in qualifying today. Two drivers – including Verizon IndyCar Series favorite James Hinchcliffe – will not be a part of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” this year as a result of the dramatic qualifications process.

“It’s part of what makes this race so special,” team owner/driver Ed Carpenter said of the bumping that occurred for the first time at Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 2011.

Helio Castroneves was the fastest qualifier of the day with a four-lap run on the 2.5-mile oval at 228.919 mph in the No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet. All three of his teammates – Simon Pagenaud, Will Power and Josef Newgarden – will join the three-time Indy 500 winner in Sunday’s Fast Nine Shootout to determine the race starting order for the first three rows, including the Verizon P1 Award pole winner.

Joining the Team Penske quartet in the Fast Nine Shootout will be the Ed Carpenter Racing trio of Carpenter, Spencer Pigot and Danica Patrick. Sebastien Bourdais of Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan and Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing rounded out the fastest nine qualifiers and represent the only Honda drivers who will have a shot at the pole position as Chevrolet dominated the day.

At the other end of the spectrum, James Davison recovered from a crash in Friday’s practice to qualify the No. 33 Jonathan Byrd’s 502 East Chevrolet in the 33rd and final position. The 31-year-old Australian then nervously waited out the end of qualifying at 5:50 p.m. ET to stay in the field.

The fortunes weren’t so kind for Hinchcliffe and Pippa Mann. Hinchcliffe had to wait to make a qualifying attempt until after a 1-hour, 50-minute delay for rain and wet track conditions. The first driver on the oval after qualifying resumed, Hinchcliffe posted a disappointing run of 224.784 mph.

Hinchcliffe was bumped out of the field by friend and former roommate Conor Daly with less than 20 minutes left in the session. The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports crew rolled the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda into the priority qualifying line, but Hinchcliffe sensed a vibration in the car on the warmup lap and didn’t start the attempt.

After quick repairs, the car was rushed back into the qualifying line, but the gun signaling the end of qualifying was fired with Mann on track and Hinchcliffe – the 2016 Indy 500 pole sitter – next to go.

Mann, who’d been bumped earlier a Daly attempt, wasn’t able to muster enough speed on her final try to dislodge Davison from the field. The last driver to be bumped from the field was Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2011, though he was later named as a replacement driver in a qualified entry.

The 6-hour, 50-minute qualifying session was halted twice for a total of 2 hours, 41 minutes by rain.

The drivers who qualified 10th through 33rd Saturday will each make one four-lap run in final qualifying at 2:45 p.m. Sunday – in reverse order of their qualifying speeds Saturday – to determine the grid positions for those cars.

They’ll be followed by the Fast Nine Shootout at 5 p.m. – also run in reverse order from Saturday’s speeds – to set the first three rows. Castroneves is a four-time Indy 500 pole winner. Only retired Team Penske driver and four-time Indy 500 winner Rick Mears has started at the head of the field more times (six) in race history.

Qualifying will stream live on WatchESPN from 2:30-4 p.m. Sunday, with ABC picking up the national broadcast from 4-6 p.m.

The 102nd running of the world’s largest single-day sporting event airs live at 11 a.m. Sunday, May 27 on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

Indy 500 quals day 1

Humans of Racing Master

The Humans of Racing Series was created by Kaaveh Akbari to be a social media presence to tell the stories about the people not necessarily seen in the limelight in the motorsports industry. Having stepped away from the industry almost 10 years ago, Kaaveh realized what he missed the most was the people that he had  worked with. There are many fascinating people in this industry, and his hope is to tell you as many of their stories as possible. This from Kaaveh Akbari


Carlos Fernandes is one of the guys in the racing paddock that everyone smiles about when hearing his name.

In the spring of 2000, I skipped a day of school to watch the Indy Racing League test at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway (sorry, Mom!). At the time, I was 17, and I snuck into the infield and made myself at home in pit lane.

One of the people I quickly noticed was a short dude with a shiny bald head working for Kelley Racing. His unique look and personality definitely stood out.

cfThree years later, I was an intern at Kelley Racing working the Indianapolis 500, where I officially became a co-worker with Carlos for the first time. Our paths would cross again at Panther Racing, between 2004 and 2005, and again at Sam Schmidt Motorsports in 2010.

It has been a privilege to work with Carlos on various teams, but more importantly, it’s been awesome just getting to know such an awesome dude. He graciously took the time to chat on camera with me and told me about his upbringing in Macau (just across from Hong Kong), the love of racing at an early age, and how lucky he has been throughout his racing career.

Check out the video above to get to know Carlos, and leave us a comment with your thoughts.

This video interview is just one of the Humans of Racing Series …



Indianapolis 500 Insights

By: Jeff Majeski — Jeff’s Indy Talk

30 Days in MayDay 20

No. 20 — Gordon Johncock — 1975 Sinmast Wildcat/DGS

Starting in 1973 and over the next 10-plus years, Johncock was synonymous with the number 20 and Patrick Racing.

For 1975, he had a new sponsor, a new chassis and a new engine. It all added up to a fast combination, as Johncock was among the leaders every day in practice and held the pole for a while before A.J. Foyt bumped him off with a run late in the day.

Johncock jumped to the lead at the start of the race, but fell out after just 11 laps and finished 31st. DGS stood for Drake, Goosen and Sparks, as in engine pioneers Dale Drake, Leo Goosen and Art Sparks.

The name was something of a tribute by George Bignotti, who helped modify an Offy engine to create the DGS.



Mel Kenyon #19 Atlanta Falcons Eagle Foyt.

Indianapolis 500 Insights

By: Jeff Majeski — Jeff’s Indy Talk

30 Days in MayDay 20

No. 19 — Mel Kenyon — 1973 Atlanta Falcons Eagle/Foyt

Considered one of the true gentlemen in the sport, Kenyon had several top finishes at Indianapolis and was arguably the greatest USAC Midget driver in history.  His longevity is particularly amazing.

Some 30 years after his last start in the 500, Kenyon was still racing at age 70! Even more incredible, Kenyon was severely burned in a crash in 1965 and raced with a special glove with a device that fit in the steering wheel – amazing determination and will.

For the 1973 season, Kenyon teamed up wth longtime owner Lindsey Hopkins. I’m not sure if Hopkins owned a part of the Atlanta Falcons or why exactly the NFL team sponsored the car, but pro teams backing cars were not unknown at Indianapolis during this era. In 1971, for example, Lloyd Ruby drove the Utah Stars special.

While Ruby was certainly popular with the Indianapolis fans, his car likely wasn’t because the Stars were a rival of the hometown Indiana Pacers and had quite a few tussles during the ABA playoffs. Anyway, back to Kenyon.

He finished fourth in the 1973 500 in what ended up being his final race at the Speedway.


Indianapolis 500 Insights

By: Jeff Majeski — Jeff’s Indy Talk

30 Days in MayDay 18

No. 18 — Lloyd Ruby — 1973 Commander Motor Homes Eagle/Offy

The quiet Texan always ranks high on fans’ list of “Drivers who should have won the 500.” And with good reason.

Ruby, for example, led the most laps in the 1966 race and often was a top contender in other 500s before being sidelined with mechanical woes.

In 1973, he was out after 21 laps with a broken piston, finishing 27th.




INDIANAPOLIS (Saturday, May 19, 2018) – Beginning in 2021, INDYCAR engines will produce more power due to a new configuration, the sanctioning body announced today.

The 2.4-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engines are projected to generate at least 100 more horsepower than the current 2.2-liter platform, with more than 900 horsepower achieved in the 2.4-liter formula when using push-to-pass overtake activation.

Providing stability for the Verizon IndyCar Series and its competitors, the engine regulations will be in place for six years, through the 2026 season. INDYCAR has utilized the 2.2-liter, turbocharged V-6 formula since 2012, with exclusive use of twin turbos since 2014.

Engines will continue to turn at a maximum of 12,000 RPM.

On-track testing will begin in the summer of 2020.

“Our drivers have been asking for more horsepower and thanks to the hard work of Chevrolet, Honda and the INDYCAR engine group, they’re going to get it,” said Jay Frye, INDYCAR president of competition and operations.

Executives from Chevrolet and Honda said the new configuration suits their needs.

“The 2.4-liter, twin-turbo V-6 engine formula that will be introduced for the 2021 season will continue to showcase relevant technologies that we incorporate in our production engines,” said Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports for General Motors. “The opportunity to transfer learnings in performance, reliability and efficiency between the racetrack and the showroom is very important to Chevrolet.”

“The new INDYCAR engine formula should be exciting for the fans and an interesting technical challenge for Honda Performance Development,” said Art St. Cyr, president of Honda Performance Development. “While the overall architecture remains similar to the current engine, the increased displacement will bring many changes, including a notable increase in power that should please all fans of the sport. In addition, it provides our designers and engineers with an opportunity for significant development, which is a challenge we welcome at Honda.”

Frye said additional manufacturers have been included in the planning of the next generation of engine specifications.

“We’ve talked with a lot of key executives and asked for their opinions, and they’ve all said this is a very relevant platform to what they’re doing,” Frye said. “No announcements of additional manufacturers are imminent, but it feels like we’re on a good path.”