Archive for March 9, 2020

Honda seeks “three-peat” of Manufacturer Championships

Talented 13-driver lineup features seven IndyCar Series race winners, including two series champions, four Indianapolis 500 winners

Season opens Sunday in St. Petersburg, Florida

TORRANCE, Calif. (March 10, 2020) – Seven race winners, four Indianapolis 500 champions and two former series title holders make up the talented Honda-powered lineup for the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES, opening this weekend at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. 

            Eight wins in 2019 brought Honda the company’s eighth INDYCAR Manufacturers’ Championship, and second consecutive title, with Honda drivers claiming victory in 19 of 34 races over the past two seasons.  Honda’s Indy car win total of 245 in 26 years of North American open-wheel racing – including 12 Indianapolis 500 victories since 2004 – is unmatched by any other manufacturer in the same period. 

            Five teams will field 13 Honda-powered entries at Sunday’s 2020 season opener on Florida’s Gulf Coast, all utilizing the Honda HI20TT engine and Dallara chassis.

            “As a company, HPD had a successful season in 2019. Winning our second consecutive INDYCAR Manufacturers’ Championship was a great accomplishment,” said Ted Klaus, president of Honda Performance Development, the racing arm for American Honda in North America.  “But this is a new year, with its own opportunities and challenges.  As always, our twin goals are to win the Indianapolis 500 and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship.  Everyone at HPD has worked extremely hard to prepare for another highly competitive season, and we’re looking forward to getting our title defense underway this weekend in St. Petersburg.” 

            Honda and HPD will present an impressive lineup at Sunday’s season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. It begins with five-time IndyCar series champion and 2008 Indianapolis 500 victor Scott Dixon, and includes 2017 Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato; 2012 series and 2014 Indianapolis 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay; 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi; multi-race winner Graham Rahal, and Colton Herta, who broke through with two race wins during his rookie 2019 season.

            All will utilize the twin-turbocharged Honda Indy V6 engine, designed, manufactured, developed and maintained by HPD.  Designated the HI20TT, the engine will be used throughout the 2020 season. 

            Honda has been a fixture in North American open-wheel racing since 1994, and has played an active role in the growth of the NTT IndyCar Series as both a Manufacturers’ Championship competitor and single engine supplier, with a record that includes 245 individual race wins and eight Manufacturers’ Championships.

            The company scored its first Indianapolis 500 victory in 2004 with Buddy Rice; Manufacturers’ Championships in 2004 and ’05; and became engine supplier to the entire IndyCar Series in 2006.  Honda supplied racing engines to the full, 33-car Indianapolis 500 field every year from 2006-2011, and for six consecutive years – and the only six times in event history – the ‘500’ ran without a single-engine failure.

            Since the return of multi-manufacturer competition in 2012, Honda has scored four more Indy 500 triumphs, by Dario Franchitti in 2012, Hunter-Reay in 2014, Rossi’s dramatic victory in 2016’s historic 100th race and Sato’s popular victory in 2017. The 12 wins by Honda at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway lead all other major automobile manufacturers. 

2020 Honda Verizon IndyCar Series Lineup

Andretti Autosport                    #26 Zach Veach #27 Alexander Rossi (W)

                                                    #28 Ryan Hunter-Reay (C) (W)

Andretti-Herta Autosport         #98 Marco Andretti (W)

Andretti-Harding Autosport     #88 Colton Herta (W)

Chip Ganassi Racing                   #8 Marcus Ericsson

                                                     #9 Scott Dixon (C) (W)

                                                     #10 Felix Rosenqvist

Dale Coyne Racing:

    -with Vasser-Sullivan             #18 Santino Ferrucci

    -with Team Goh                     #19 Alex Palou (R)

Meyer Shank Racing                 #60 Jack Harvey

Rahal Letterman Lanigan          #15 Graham Rahal (W)

Racing                                         #30 Takuma Sato (W)

INDIANAPOLIS (March 9, 2020) – This is the ninth of a 12-part series of comprehensive team previews as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES prepares for the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg set for March 13-15 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.

The preview series features each of the full-time teams as well as teams running a partial schedule that includes the season-opening race. Today’s featured organization: Arrow McLaren SP.

The season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network on Sunday, March 15. The pre-race show begins at 2:30 p.m. ET with the green flag scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

Starting Lineup …

Oliver Askew (No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet), Pato O’Ward (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet), Fernando Alonso (No. 66 Ruoff Mortgage Chevrolet for the Indianapolis 500).

2019 Recap …

The team fielded James Hinchcliffe and Marcus Ericsson last year. Hinchcliffe’s best finish was third at Iowa Speedway, a track where he has twice won (2013, ’18). Ericsson scored his first series podium finish at Detroit when he was the runner-up in the second race. O’Ward competed in seven races in the first half of the season with Carlin, putting on a show at Circuit of The Americas before running low on fuel led him to finish eighth. Askew was the Indy Lights champion after winning seven races for Andretti Autosport.

What’s New for 2020 …

Everything is new, from the merger of Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with McLaren Racing. The team switched to Chevrolet and went the young-driver route with Askew (23) and O’Ward (20). The drivers are the past two Indy Lights champions, and they figure to benefit from the engineering expertise of Craig Hampson, who worked most recently with Sebastien Bourdais at Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan, and the driver’s perspective of Gil de Ferran, a two-time INDYCAR champion and 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner. Fernando Alonso will join the team for the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. He will drive the No. 66 Ruoff Mortgage Chevrolet.

Keep An Eye On This …

O’Ward certainly has shown well in limited NTT INDYCAR SERIES races, and Askew should be particularly interesting to watch after winning 15 races and 18 poles in three Road to Indy seasons, leading 335 laps. Hampson also figures to be a significant addition since he helped Bourdais be one of the fastest Indianapolis 500 drivers in recent years.

Season Outlook …

Ordinarily, it would be a steep learning curve for two drivers in their first full NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, but Askew and O’Ward are already showing signs of bucking that trend, ranking seventh and 10th, respectively, in last month’s open test at Circuit of The Americas. Having Robert Wickens to advise should be another plus for the young pair.

“A Different Breed” Notable …

Askew and O’Ward represent the new breed of NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers. They will open the season at 23 and 20 years of age, respectively.

Owner’s Take: …

“This year represents thousands of hours of effort by our team members and partners. I’m so incredibly excited to build upon our partnership with Arrow and add one of the most iconic names in motorsport, McLaren, to the team. I can’t wait to see these cars race in St. Pete, going fast with our young, talented and exciting driver lineup.” – Sam Schmidt

ABOUT INDYCAR:

INDYCAR is the Indianapolis-based governing body for North America’s premier open-wheel auto racing series known as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. The series features an international field of the world’s most versatile drivers – including five-time series champion Scott Dixon, reigning series champion Josef Newgarden and defending Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud – who compete on superspeedways, short ovals, street circuits and permanent road courses. The season, which runs from March to September, currently consists of 17 races in the United States and Canada and is highlighted by the historic Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge held annually in May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The NTT INDYCAR SERIES, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IMS Productions are owned by Penske Corporation, a global transportation, automotive and motorsports leader. For more information on INDYCAR and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, please visit www.indycar.com.

Coming Tuesday: Meyer Shank Racing and Carlin.

INDIANAPOLIS (March 8, 2020) – This is the eighth of a 12-part series of comprehensive team previews as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES prepares for the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg set for March 13-15 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.

The preview series features each of the full-time teams as well as teams running a partial schedule that includes the season-opening race. Today’s featured organization: Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.

The season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network on Sunday, March 15. The pre-race show begins at 2:30 p.m. ET with the green flag scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

Starting Lineup …

Sage Karam (No. 24 WIX Filters Chevrolet).

2019 Recap …

The Indianapolis-based team continued its annual pilgrimage to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, earning another spot in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. Karam was the fastest of the second-day qualifiers to earn the 31st starting position. He ran strong but finished a lap off the winner’s pace, credited with a 19th-place finish. In July, Karam drove in two races — Toronto and Iowa — for Carlin. He hadn’t been on a street circuit since 2015 and started and finished 21st at Toronto. His performance at Iowa was stronger, where he qualified 14th. His race ended on Lap 194 after a half-spin in Turn 4 led to contact with Felix Rosenqvist, resulting in a 22nd-place finish.

What’s New for 2020 …

The team has committed to more races this season, beginning with the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, March 15. The team’s last non-Indy start was in 2013 in partnership with Panther Racing. Oriol Servia finished fourth in that race in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Keep An Eye On This …

There appears to be a possibility for additional races added to the team’s 2020 schedule. Also, the team typically fields two cars in the Indianapolis 500, so be watchful for another announcement.

Season Outlook …

Adding races to the team’s plans should be good for everyone as it builds continuity and consistency.

“A Different Breed” Notable …

Karam is another of the Indy Lights champions to graduate to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. He claimed that title in 2015 with three race wins. He can make the case he hasn’t had enough opportunities – St. Petersburg will only be his 20th career start in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. For this being his seventh season in the series, he only turned 25 on March 5.

Owner’s Take …

“For the past years, we have attempted to expand our team’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES involvement after running two cars in the Indianapolis 500 only. We are excited to have WIX Filters increase their involvement with the team, and we’ll have Sage Karam at St. Petersburg and Toronto events this year in addition to the 500. We plan to run two cars in the 500 again. We have a full-time crew at our shop in Indy as we also compete in the Rallycross series in North America. So, I have always wanted to get back to a regular full season in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, if possible. We had not competed in a road race since 2013 and we have a lot of catching up to do. But we tested at Sebring and Sage has been working on the simulator to get back up to speed. It was an investment with new road racing equipment this year, but we would like to compete in more events if the budget would allow. We are eager for the St. Pete race.” – Dennis Reinbold

ABOUT INDYCAR …

INDYCAR is the Indianapolis-based governing body for North America’s premier open-wheel auto racing series known as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. The series features an international field of the world’s most versatile drivers – including five-time series champion Scott Dixon, reigning series champion Josef Newgarden and defending Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud – who compete on superspeedways, short ovals, street circuits and permanent road courses. The season, which runs from March to September, currently consists of 17 races in the United States and Canada and is highlighted by the historic Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge held annually in May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The NTT INDYCAR SERIES, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IMS Productions are owned by Penske Corporation, a global transportation, automotive and motorsports leader. For more information on INDYCAR and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, please visit www.indycar.com.

INDIANAPOLIS (March 8, 2020) – This is the seventh of a 12-part series of comprehensive team previews as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES prepares for the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg set for March 13-15 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.

The preview series features each of the full-time teams as well as teams running a partial schedule that includes the season-opening race. Today’s featured organization: DragonSpeed.

The season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network on Sunday, March 15. The pre-race show begins at 2:30 p.m. ET with the green flag scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

Starting Lineup …

Ben Hanley (No. 81 Chevrolet).

2019 Recap …

DragonSpeed made its NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut at the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg a memorable one. In qualifying, Hanley ran one of the early laps and ranked sixth in his group when the session ended. That allowed Hanley and DragonSpeed to advance to the second round of qualifying and earn the 12th position on the grid in their inaugural race. Hanley didn’t have the speed to hold the position but did well to finish 18th in the 24-car field. Another strong run to the finish at Barber Motorsports Park was followed by DragonSpeed’s best performance of the year in Indianapolis 500 qualifying. While most expected the car to be among those contesting Sunday’s Last Row Shootout, Hanley delivered a four-lap run that earned him the 27th starting spot on the first day. His race ended after 54 laps due to a driveshaft failure. The team initially planned to contest six events but unexpected visa issues for several European crew members curtailed the program.

What’s New for 2020 …

The team announced a six-race schedule, beginning with St. Petersburg before going on to the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, the Genesys 600 at Texas Motor Speedway, the Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and the season-ending Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

Keep An Eye On This …

The team had a productive test earlier this month at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway, offering optimism for a strong 2020.

Season Outlook …

The team is looking to build continuity as it works toward a possible full-season entry in 2021. Hanley did remarkably well in his rookie season despite having not raced an open-wheel car in over a decade and nearly every team member being new to the series.

‘A Different Breed’ Notable …

Hanley is highly regarded in international sportscar circles, where he revived his driving career starting in 2016. Former driver Elton Julian has led DragonSpeed to success in WEC, ELMS and IMSA competition as well as consecutive LMP2 class wins in the Rolex 24 At Daytona in 2019 and earlier this year.

Owner’s Take …

“Obviously, the main expectation for the season is to learn more about the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. As a part-time team, we’ve picked a variety of events to give us a sampling to learn what this (sport is) really about. If we can do a little better than we did last year at (Indianapolis Motor Speedway), that would be quite an accomplishment considering where we started last year. The big leap must come on the road and street circuits, but (to improve) is what we’re here for.” – Elton Julian

ABOUT INDYCAR …

INDYCAR is the Indianapolis-based governing body for North America’s premier open-wheel auto racing series known as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. The series features an international field of the world’s most versatile drivers – including five-time series champion Scott Dixon, reigning series champion Josef Newgarden and defending Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud – who compete on superspeedways, short ovals, street circuits and permanent road courses. The season, which runs from March to September, currently consists of 17 races in the United States and Canada and is highlighted by the historic Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge held annually in May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The NTT INDYCAR SERIES, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IMS Productions are owned by Penske Corporation, a global transportation, automotive and motorsports leader. For more information on INDYCAR and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, please visit www.indycar.com.

INDIANAPOLIS (March 7, 2020) – This is the sixth of a 12-part series of comprehensive team previews as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES prepares for the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg set for March 13-15 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.

The preview series features each of the full-time teams as well as teams running a partial schedule that includes the season-opening race. Today’s featured organization: Ed Carpenter Racing.

The season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network on Sunday, March 15. The pre-race show begins at 2:30 p.m. ET with the green flag scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

Starting Lineup …

Ed Carpenter (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, oval tracks only); Rinus VeeKay (No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet); Conor Daly (No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet, road/street circuits, will switch car numbers for Indianapolis 500).

2019 Recap …

Carpenter, the driver, didn’t have the season he wanted in 2019, but he still qualified on the front row for the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge for the third consecutive year and finished sixth in the race. He also finished sixth at Pocono Raceway and fell just a few feet short of his fourth career victory in the race at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway (Takuma Sato edged him by 0.0399 of a second). The team qualified three cars in the top four at Indy. Spencer Pigot finished 14th in points in the No. 21 car and produced two top-five finishes; Ed Jones finished 20th in the No. 20 car with a top-10 finish (sixth in the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course). Daly wasn’t with ECR last year; he competed in seven races for three different teams, finishing 10th in the Indianapolis 500 for Andretti Autosport and sixth at WWT Raceway for Carlin. VeeKay finished second in the Indy Lights standings with six race wins.

What’s New for 2020 …

VeeKay and Daly join the driver list, replacing Pigot and Jones, respectively. All key crew members remain the same, proof of the team’s continuity.

Keep An Eye On This …

VeeKay is certainly one to watch this season. He has been fast at every level of his career and finished second to Oliver Askew in the Indy Lights championship last season. VeeKay accumulated 16 race wins in the Road to Indy program over the past three years: three wins in USF2000 in 2017, seven wins in Indy Pro 2000 in 2018 and six wins in Indy Lights last year.

Season Outlook …

ECR’s cars finished 14th and 15th in entrant points last year, and those results should improve in 2020. Daly has his most stable ride since 2017 and is positioned for a breakout season. Could this be the year Carpenter reaches victory lane in the Indianapolis 500? In the past three years, his average starting position (1.6) is unmatched, and he has finished 11th, second and sixth, respectively. Could this also be the year ECR wins its first race since Josef Newgarden won at Iowa Speedway in 2016? This season definitely is full of promise.

“A Different Breed” …

Notable: Carpenter has proven to be one of the fastest drivers in Indianapolis 500 history, one of only 10 drivers to have won at least three poles in the event. Only four drivers (Rick Mears with six, Rex Mays, A.J. Foyt and Helio Castroneves with four) have been the fastest qualifier more often than Carpenter.

Owner’s Take …

“Number one on our list of goals every year is to be competitive at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and put ourselves in a position to compete for an Indy 500 victory. Beyond that, we’re really looking forward to getting back to winning races. I’m excited about the team this year, excited for Rinus VeeKay’s potential and excited to finally get Conor Daly in an ECR car.” – Ed Carpenter

ABOUT INDYCAR …

INDYCAR is the Indianapolis-based governing body for North America’s premier open-wheel auto racing series known as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. The series features an international field of the world’s most versatile drivers – including five-time series champion Scott Dixon, reigning series champion Josef Newgarden and defending Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud – who compete on superspeedways, short ovals, street circuits and permanent road courses. The season, which runs from March to September, currently consists of 17 races in the United States and Canada and is highlighted by the historic Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge held annually in May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The NTT INDYCAR SERIES, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IMS Productions are owned by Penske Corporation, a global transportation, automotive and motorsports leader. For more information on INDYCAR and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, please visit www.indycar.com.

INDIANAPOLIS (March 6, 2020) – This is the fifth of a 12-part series of comprehensive team previews as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES prepares for the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg set for March 13-15 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.

The preview series features each of the full-time teams as well as teams running a partial schedule that includes the season-opening race. Today’s featured organization: Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan and Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh.

The season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network on Sunday, March 15. The pre-race show begins at 2:30 p.m. ET with the green flag scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

Starting Lineup …

Santino Ferrucci (No. 18 Team SealMaster Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan Honda), Alex Palou (No. 55 Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh Honda).

2019 Recap …

Ferrucci was remarkably consistent in his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, completing all the laps in the first 15 races. He scored three fourth-place finishes on oval tracks (Texas Motor Speedway, Pocono Raceway and World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway) and was voted the Indianapolis 500’s Rookie of the Year after finishing seventh. Ferrucci led 118 laps during the season, which ranked eighth in the series, and he finished 13th in the standings, three positions behind veteran teammate Sebastien Bourdais. Palou spent 2019 in Japan’s Super Formula series. He won the race at Fuji Speedway, one of three races he was the fastest qualifier. Palou, who had three top-five finishes in seven races, was named the Super Formula rookie of the year.

What’s New for 2020 …

In just his second NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, the 21-year-old Ferrucci takes on a larger leadership role within the organization. The engineering staff has been reworked with Olivier Boisson replacing Michael Cannon (now at Chip Ganassi Racing to lead the car of five-time series champion Scott Dixon). Palou, a 22-year-old Spaniard, is new to the series, but he showed well at last month’s open test at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, posting the ninth-quickest lap.

Keep An Eye On This …

Ferrucci’s performances on oval tracks last season were remarkable given his lack of experience on them. Only Team Penske drivers Josef Newgarden (3.6) and Simon Pagenaud (3.8) had better finishing averages on those tracks than Ferrucci (6.2).

Season Outlook …

Most of Ferrucci’s attention last year was centered on the ovals, but he finished ninth in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, a street course race. Ferrucci also led 20 laps in the second Detroit race and finished 10th. Palou is relatively unknown to fans of this series, but he could become the third Coyne driver since 2010 to win the season’s rookie award (Alex Lloyd and Ed Jones were the others).

“A Different Breed” Notable …

Ferrucci is hungry to show off his versatility and in January he took on the challenge of competing in the country’s largest dirt track race, the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa, Okla. Ferrucci said he had fun “wheeling” it in his dirt track debut.

Owners’ Take …

“We’re very much looking forward to this upcoming season. We have two talented young drivers with a lot of potential. Santino (Ferrucci) had a solid rookie season in 2019 and was absolutely spectacular on the ovals. I’m excited to see how he continues to build on that this year. As for Alex Palou, he impressed everyone on the team when he tested with us at Mid-Ohio last season as he was right on pace in his first time behind the wheel of an Indy car. It will, of course, be a year of learning for him, but I’m confident he’ll have a strong rookie season and maybe surprise some people along the way.” – Dale Coyne

“We are excited and anxious to begin the next chapter of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES under its new leadership. We also want to acknowledge the contributions of the drivers we have had in the past who brought us multiple race wins, podiums and poles. Santino (Ferrucci) is competitive, and we look forward to achieving together the results we all expect. We are fortunate to have our sponsor partners back with us anchored by SealMaster as we enter the 2020 season.” – Jimmy Vasser

ABOUT INDYCAR …

INDYCAR is the Indianapolis-based governing body for North America’s premier open-wheel auto racing series known as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. The series features an international field of the world’s most versatile drivers – including five-time series champion Scott Dixon, reigning series champion Josef Newgarden and defending Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud – who compete on superspeedways, short ovals, street circuits and permanent road courses. The season, which runs from March to September, currently consists of 17 races in the United States and Canada and is highlighted by the historic Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge held annually in May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The NTT INDYCAR SERIES, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IMS Productions are owned by Penske Corporation, a global transportation, automotive and motorsports leader. For more information on INDYCAR and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, please visit www.indycar.com.