Posts Tagged ‘Verizon IndyCar Series’

The “Region Racers” Series – Rudy Nichels

By: Wm. LaDow

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In 1908, a 10-year-old boy crossed the Atlantic Ocean. He and his father journeyed from Austria with the intent of settling in America.

Though his last name was Puja when he entered Ellis Island, it was soon changed. It’s unclear whether in his pocket rested a few coins or perhaps he was cared for by a kind immigration worker who gave him some change to get a meal, but from that day forward his last name was Nichels.

After establishing their residency in Chicago, a teenage Rudy could often be found at the corner pool hall, or participating in a local “game of chance.” But a few years later, Nichels settled down in the Calumet Region’s Griffith, Indiana, got married and eventually started a family — a daughter and three sons.

Nichels was a born entrepreneur and quickly sensed that the American automobile was fast becoming more of a necessity than a luxury. He made it a point to get involved in any auto-related businesses he could find.

FTIn time he was able to parlay his savings into the purchase of a small Fisk Tire store on Ewing Avenue in South Chicago. So small was the shop that an automobile couldn’t be completely parked under the roof while having its tires changed. Using the slim profits from this business, Nichels in 1930 purchased a restaurant located at the intersection of Fifth Street and Highway Avenue in Highland.

With his wife, Gladys, doing the restaurant cooking, Nichels turned his efforts toward another business, a gasoline service station, and auto repair shop.

q_in_highland_nichel_471942In 1936, he purchased a second restaurant and tavern just two miles east, on the corner of Ridge Road and Cline Avenue. Soon, he had a service station, an auto repair garage, a restaurant and a tavern all on the northwest corner of that intersection, which he christened “Rudy’s Place.”

With his early investment in restaurants and auto repair shops starting to pay off, he began a search for another moneymaking opportunity and uncovered midget car auto racing.

The more Nichels heard about midget car racing, the more he thought it might be a good fit with his other businesses. On Oct. 10, 1937, Nichels decided to take a look at this potential business venture, and with his oldest son, 14-year-old Ray visited the newly constructed Hammond Raceway located at the junction of Sheffield and Calumet avenues. With another 7,000 fans in attendance, Nichels witnessed his first midget car race. It would not be his last. A few weeks later, Nichels purchased his first race car.

At the Hammond, Indiana Speedway 5/8th’s mile track are two Nichels midgets. The car on the left is the #25 driven by Mike O’Halloran and on the right is Teddy Duncan in the #2. Both drivers would eventually be elected to the National Midget Racing Hall of Fame. Kneeling between the Nichels cars are from left: Dale “Tiny’ Worley, Ray Nichels and Rudy Nichels – Nichels Engineering Archives

At the Hammond, Indiana Speedway 5/8th’s mile track are two Nichels Service midgets. The car on the left is the #25 driven by Mike O’Halloran and on the right is Teddy Duncan in the #2. Both drivers would eventually be elected to the National Midget Racing Hall of Fame. Kneeling between the Nichels cars are from left: Dale “Tiny’ Worley, Ray Nichels and Rudy Nichels – Nichels Engineering Archives

From that day on, Rudy threw himself whole-heartedly into auto racing, owning several cars from 1938 through the late 1940s, giving drivers such as Ted Duncan, Tony Bettenhausen, Johnnie Parsons, Paul Russo, Ray Richards and Mike O’Halloran some of the finest midget race cars in the business. All of these drivers eventually became members of the Midget Racing Hall of Fame after capturing a series of track championships driving for Nichels Service. Johnnie Parsons used his 1948 Midwest Championship driving for Nichels as a springboard toward winning the 1950 Indianapolis 500.

Nichels established “Nichels Service” shop at the corner of Cline and Ridge Road as the cornerstone of Midwest auto racing. Working with racing equipment suppliers from across the country he built a superb reputation for racing expertise. Nationally known drivers such as Ronney Householder anchored their race teams and equipment at Rudy’s Place when barnstorming across America.

Rudy Nichels shop at the corner of Cline Avenue and Ridge Road in Highland, Indiana in 1947. Working on the two Nichels owned midgets in the front of the garage is 24 year old Ray Nichels. In the back on the right in the white tee shirt is Ronney Householder, who at the time was one of the most respected drivers in racing. He went on to manage Chrysler Corporation’s racing operations from 1955 thru 1972 – Nichels Engineering Archives

Rudy Nichels shop at the corner of Cline Avenue and Ridge Road in Highland, Indiana in 1947. Working on the two Nichels owned midgets in the front of the garage is 24-year-old Ray Nichels. In the back on the right in the white tee shirt is Ronney Householder, who at the time was one of the most respected drivers in racing. He went on to manage Chrysler Corporation’s racing operations from 1955 thru 1972 – Nichels Engineering Archives

The racing business was so profitable that Nichels began promoting and sanctioning races at tracks throughout Illinois and Indiana.

It was during this time that his son, Ray, went out on his own and entered IndyCar racing, eventually competing in 15 Indianapolis 500s and building a Hall of Fame career as one of the nation’s finest mechanics and race car builders.

Rudy Nichels died in April of 1955, leaving a lasting legacy of being one of the first in a long line of Region Racers.

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Carpenter, Newgarden Will Race Under ECR Banner in 2016

(SPEEDWAY, Ind.) January 28, 2016 – A familiar name will be part of Verizon IndyCar Series in 2016 as Ed Carpenter Racing returns to competition. Team officials announced today that the organization that operated as CFH Racing in 2015 will be known as Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR), effective immediately. The team will remain headquartered in its current location at 1255 Main Street in Speedway, Ind. Ed Carpenter, Tony George and Stuart Reed are the owners of ECR.

“After competing for a year as CFH Racing, we will be returning to ECR for 2016 and beyond,” stated Ed Carpenter. “While we had a great year as CFH Racing, we have had some partnership changes within the organization and it makes the most sense to return to ECR. I am proud of what we have accomplished as a team since we started in 2012 and look forward to building upon that success for another exciting Verizon IndyCar Series season.”

ECR and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR) combined their single-car teams in August of 2014 to create CFH Racing. During their 2015 campaign, CFH won two races with Josef Newgarden, collected an additional three podium finishes and a earned a pole position.

Moving forward, SFHR’s Wink Hartman will return his focus to his company, Wichita, Kan.-based Hartman Oil. Sarah Fisher will concentrate on her new business venture, Speedway Indoor Karting, set to open on April 1. Fisher and her husband Andy O’Gara are finalizing construction on their new 60,000-square-foot facility, also located on Main Street.

Fisher will continue to assist ECR with sponsorship development and work with existing team partners. “It’s important for IndyCar to have strong entries on grid and this team needs to be two of them, so I will do what I can to help them with business developments and continue with solutions for our current partners,” said Fisher. “I am lucky to have been an owner in this series for eight years, having incredible memories along the way. Lastly, I am extremely thankful to Wink and Libba Hartman for everything they’ve done to help us get to where we are today.”

Newgarden will drive the No. 21 Chevrolet for ECR in 2016, featuring a special Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka scheme for the first four events. Carpenter will remain the driver of the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet during the five oval events. ECR is continuing to work toward filling the seat of the No. 20 for the road and street course events, but at this time has plans to compete on only the ovals. “ECR is in a great position as we head into 2016 and have support from great partners like Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka and Direct Supply. We have been a Chevrolet team from the beginning, so we’re excited to continue that relationship and help them win another championship.” Carpenter continued. “We have had a very productive off-season and our plans are well underway for a successful year.”

The same year ECR began, Newgarden was hired to drive for SFHR after winning the 2011 Indy Lights championship. “I may never have had the chance to race an Indy car if it was not for Wink Hartman, Libba Hartman, Sarah Fisher and Andy O’Gara. They really were a huge turning point in my career and helped me break into the professional level. Their support was everything and more that a young driver could ask for,” commented Newgarden. “Moving forward, I’m extremely excited about 2016 with Ed Carpenter Racing. I enjoy working with Ed Carpenter so much, as both a teammate and a team owner. I look forward to putting 100 percent into the season and trying to achieve greater and bigger results. With the entire ECR team and the Chevy partnership we have, I feel there is absolutely nothing that can stand in our way from topping our very promising season in 2015.”

Ed Carpenter Racing will return to the track at Phoenix International Raceway on February 8 for their first test of the year. The 2016 season Verizon IndyCar Series season will open on Sunday, March 13 in St. Petersburg, Fla.

 

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INDIANAPOLIS (December 21, 2015) – Refinements to the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series rulebook, distributed to teams and suppliers December 19, clarify procedures established by INDYCAR in the past two seasons and highlight ongoing efforts to improve the overall fan experience in the upcoming season. Areas of interest in the rulebook include the following:

Aero Kits

• INDYCAR has established in the rulebook the aerodynamic bodywork parameters for each of the five ovals on the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule. The aero specifications for each oval include:

Phoenix International Raceway, which will see a 2016 return of Indy car racing for the first time in 11 years, will run the same aero configuration as used at Iowa Speedway in 2015.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway will run the same aero configuration as in 2015, with the addition of rear wheel guard infills that were implemented at Texas Motor Speedway in 2015, as well as a domed skid plate underneath the car and rear wing beam flaps. The skid plate and beam flaps were announced Nov. 24 as part of INDYCAR’s continuously evolving safety enhancements.

Texas Motor Speedway‘s aero configuration, which included the rear wheel guard infills in 2015, will add the domed skid plate and rear wing beam flaps in 2016, plus see a slight increase in available downforce.
Iowa Speedway will see a slight reduction in available downforce due to a reduction in rear wing angle.

Indianapolis 500 Qualifying

• Under the updated regulations, the provisional field of 33 cars for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 will be set on the first day of qualifications at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval on May 21, 2016. This means that any traditional “bumping” of cars from the field of 33 will take place on the first day of qualifying.

• Procedures for the second day of 2016 qualifying, scheduled for May 22, will see race starting positions among the 33 provisional qualifiers finalized.

Awarded Points

• Race finish points awarded for the 2016 Indianapolis 500 and the season finale at Sonoma Raceway will again be worth double the normal race finish points, with first place at Indianapolis and Sonoma netting 100 driver and entrant championship points, second place 80 points and down to 10 points for 33rd finishing position.

• Allocation of championship points for Indianapolis 500 qualifying will be awarded based on final-day qualifying, with the Verizon P1 Award pole winner receiving 42 points, second fastest earning 40 and descending to the 33rd-fastest qualifier getting one point.

Other Updates

• The Indianapolis 500 rookie orientation test has changed its three phases for new drivers to be approved for competition. The phases for 2016 are: 10 laps at 210-215 mph, followed by 15 laps at 215-220 mph and 15 laps at 220-plus mph. Each phase sees an increase of 5 mph from 2015.

• Turbocharger boost pressure for the Chevrolet and Honda twin-turbocharged, 2.2-liter V-6 engines when push-to-pass overtake assist is engaged on road and street courses will increase from 160 to 165 kilopascals (kPa), yielding approximately 20 added horsepower. INDYCAR announced this change Dec. 15.

• Both engine manufacturers will use a uniform Sunoco E85R fuel in 2016, with the removal of an additive (HiTEC 6590) previously allowed for Chevrolet.

• The minimum car weight has been increased to accommodate for safety enhancements including the Suspension Wheel/Wing Energy Management System (SWEMS) additional bodywork component tethers announced Nov. 24. The car weights will increase 10 pounds to 1,610 pounds on road and street courses and short ovals, and to 1,580 pounds on superspeedways.

• The pit speed limit at all ovals will be 50 mph, another safety initiative. In 2015, the limit on superspeedways was 60 mph.

• A rules clarification stipulates that all cars using the Honda aero kit must include the chassis center line wicker. Cars using the Chevrolet or stock Dallara aero kit may not include the chassis center line wicker.

• During race weekends that include a promoter test day, teams are permitted to carry over one used set of tires from the promoter day to the next practice session of the weekend, but must return the set after that session.

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INDIANAPOLIS – Central Indiana based Jonathan Byrd’s and long time Verizon IndyCar Series team Dale Coyne Racing have partnered to bring a pair of young, American drivers to the 2016 Verizon IndyCar schedule.

Conor Daly will pilot the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing entry for the full 2016 season.  Sponsorship for the car will be provided by Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality & Restaurant Group with the exception of the Indianapolis 500 where it will appear on Clauson’s entry.  Coyne is exploring a number of options for primary sponsorship of Daly’s car for the 500.No18DalyCarBryan Clauson will drive the No. 88 Dale Coyne Racing/Jonathan Byrd’s Racing Honda as a one-off entry for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.  This attempt to make the 33 car field will be Clauson’s third, having qualified and raced in the 2012 and 2015 races.

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“All of us at Dale Coyne Racing are excited about the relationship with Jonathan Byrd’s.  Their continued support of Bryan and expanded support of Conor is unique in racing today,”  said team owner Dale Coyne.  “Conor stepped in for us at Long Beach last season and impressed everyone very much.  Bryan has a storied oval racing history at a very young age and together we look for a very competitive Indy 500 in 2016.”

Jonathan Byrd II, team principal of Jonathan Byrd’s Racing, added, “over the years, our family has entrusted many great names in racing to be our partner for our IndyCar efforts and being able to add Dale Coyne’s name to that list, with his successes within and passion for the sport, means a lot to us.”

The partnership to bring these talented American drivers back to the Verizon IndyCar series was assisted by John Lopes, CEO of LST Marketing.  Without the help of Lopes and his team at LST Marketing, the early start to the 2016 season would not have been possible.  All parties involved were quick to agree this partnership would be beneficial.

“When my son, David, came to me about this potential arrangement with Dale Coyne and related the story about how much Dale thought of their father, how he respected what he did in racing, and his love for racing in the Indianapolis 500, I was very pleased to give my blessing on teaming with Dale,” said Ginny Byrd, owner of Jonathan Byrd’s.

BryanBryan Clauson may be attempting to make only his third Indianapolis 500 field, but he is no stranger to racing.  The 26 year old has been one of the most prolific drivers to come through USAC by racking up 72 career USAC wins and four championships. Clauson has captured over 160 total career feature wins in the Sprint Car, Midget, and Silver Crown ranks.

Clauson could barely contain his enthusiasm for the partnership between Coyne and Jonathan Byrd’s.  “I’m excited to be returning to the Speedway in 2016 with the support of the Byrd family, the Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality & Restaurant Group, and Cancer Treatment Centers of America.  I hope this is the start of a long and successful relationship between two groups of passionate supporters of open wheel racing.”  Clauson continued, “the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 is the centerpiece of what is a very busy schedule for me in 2016 and I’m eager to get on track and build on the things that we learned this year.”

ConorConor Daly has participated in a variety of open wheel racing series in preparation of his debut Verizon IndyCar Series season.  Daly began karting at age 10 and quickly moved into car racing full time.  He completed two seasons in the Star Mazda Championship before moving up to Indy Lights. In 2011, Daly competed in five Firestone Indy Lights races and scored a sensational win at Grand Prix of Long Beach which vaulted him to the lead of the championship. He then made the difficult decision to leave the Indy Lights championship and move to Europe.  Daly spent the next four season racing in GP3, GP2, and acting as an F1 test driver for Sahara Force India.

2015 provided Daly his first chance to prove himself as an IndyCar driver.  With only 45 minutes notice, Daly strapped into the No. 18 entry for Dale Coyne Racing at Long Beach.  With limited practice and without having any experience in the current car, Daly drove to what some described as the most impressive 17th place finish in memory.  Daly went on to make several other starts in place of James Hinchcliffe during the 2015 season and earned a career best sixth place finish in Detroit.  Despite these unexpected opportunities, a full season in the Verizon IndyCar Series was always the goal.

“This is truly the most meaningful announcement of my career,” said Conor Daly.  “After experiencing what I have in my career, especially the last three years, it is an incredible honor and opportunity to work with Dale Coyne Racing for a full season.  To be able to go head to head and take the fight to other drivers every weekend is very exciting.  I cannot thank Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality & Restaurant Group and all of Jonathan Byrd’s Racing’s partners enough for their effort in putting this program together.  I am ready to get to work and try my best to outwork everyone else in the field every weekend to get results for this team.”

“At one point in time, I specifically remember saying to Conor’s father, Derek, that if we ever had a chance to make it work, I would want Conor full time in an IndyCar and now here we are with it coming to pass,” said Jonathan Byrd II.  “What Conor did in Europe with his incredible talent has always impressed me and his dogged determination to work hard to get a ride in the series makes me know he will do incredible work in the Jonathan Byrd’s machine!

When festivities kick off at Indy, Bryan Clauson will be about a quarter of the way through his unprecedented 200 race 2016 schedule before shifting his focus to the Indianapolis 500.  The team and Jonathan Byrd’s Racing will begin preparations to have the car and team in top form for opening day on May 16th.  Conor Daly will begin to acclimate to the updated Honda HPD aero kit on December 14th and 15th as the Dale Coyne Racing team will take part in their second test of the offseason at Sebring International Raceway.

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The Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality & Restaurant Group has been feeding central Indiana residents for over 63 years. Jonathan Byrd’s flagship location in Greenwood has served millions of meals since its inception in 1988, while also delivering its experience to dozens of partner locations throughout the Indianapolis Metropolitan area through its extensive catering operation. Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality & Restaurant Group also manages the 502 East Event Centre, located in Carmel, and is Hamilton County’s largest event space. Jonathan Byrd’s will also have a large presence inside of Westfield’s Grand Park, as it lends in name to the newly opening Jonathan Byrd’s Fieldhouse, as well as the currently under construction indoor complex at Grand Park, where it will have restaurant and exclusive concessions operations in place. Jonathan Byrd’s is also the foodservice provider at Camp Atterbury in southern Johnson County, is the Official Catering Company of the Indianapolis Colts, and has recently launched the Jonathan Byrd’s Event & Entertainment Group.

Jonathan Byrd’s Racing was founded by the late Jonathan Byrd in 1982, and traces its roots to the Indianapolis Speedrome, where it found immediate championship-winning success. From there, the Jonathan Byrd’s team spread its wings to begin competing on short tracks across the country. While continuing its winning ways on the short tracks of America, Jonathan Byrd’s Racing made the leap to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In its various forms, Jonathan Byrd’s Racing has successfully fielded 18 entries in the Indianapolis 500 beginning in 1985, scoring 6 top ten finishes, with a best finish of 5th in 2005. The roster of Jonathan Byrd’s Racing Indy 500 drivers includes Rich Vogler (‘85,’86,’87,’88,’89), Stan Fox (‘91,’92), Gordon Johncock (‘91), Buddy Lazier (‘91,’05), Scott Brayton (‘93), John Andretti (‘94), Davy Jones (‘95), Arie Luyendyk (‘96), Mike Groff (‘97,’98), Jaques Lazier (‘01) and Bryan Clauson (2015). A Jonathan Byrd’s Racing car currently holds the all-time Indianapolis 500 1 and 4 lap qualifying records (Luyendyk ’96). Jonathan Byrd’s Racing has won 2 IndyCar races (Luyendyk – Phoenix ’96, Paul Jr – Texas ’98), along with 2 United States Auto Club National Midget Championships (’86,’87), and numerous regional and short-track championships in both midget racing and late model stock cars. Jonathan Byrd’s Racing, along with its partner teams, was responsible for the first ever “double” in 1994, when John Andretti raced in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the same day.  Jonathan Byrd’s Racing is also headlining Bryan Clauson’s “Chasing 200 Tour: Circular Insanity”, featuring Clauson’s unprecedented racing fete of attempting 200 race features in a single calendar year. 

Jonathon Byrd’s Racing: www.jonathanbyrdsracing.com 

Twitter: @ByrdRacing 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/jonathanbyrdsracing 

Leigh Spargur 1

Simon Pagenaud has watched his teammates since he joined Team Penske at the beginning of the season, but the frenchman stole the spotlight in the fifth practice session heading up into the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 mile race.

Driving the No. 22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet, Pagenaud logged the best of nearly 2,000 laps turned on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway 2.5-mile oval, at 228.793 mph. Carlos Munoz, who eclipsed 230 mph in practice Wednesday, was second fastest today in the No. 26 AndrettiTV Cinsay Honda, at 228.126.

“Today was a really good day for the Avaya car,” Pagenaud said. “We’ve been focusing on understanding what the car does in qualifying runs. Very happy to see the preparation from Penske and how fast the 22 car is. So far, so good.”

Pagenaud is teamed with a pair of Indianapolis 500 winners – Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya – and reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power in the Penske armada. Montoya and Power have each won a race this season, while Castroneves has won two Verizon P1 Awards for taking the pole position.

“We’re happy but we can be happier,” Pagenaud said. “At the end of the day we did some pack running and once again we’re very happy so far. What’s difficult is it’s really cold right now, so you get more downforce because the air is so thick. We know it’s going to be warmer in the race, that’s what makes it tricky. You’re trying to understand what the car’s going to do in the race. It’s definitely going to be warmer.”

Following Pagenaud and Munoz on the speed chart were Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Sage Karam (227.683), Scott Dixon (227.634) and Tony Kanaan (227.527). Friday marks the final day of practice prior to two days of qualifications that will set the lineup for the 500-mile race on May 24.

The lone incident of the day came in the last of the six-hour practice session. Josef Newgarden was uninjured when his No. 21 Century 21 CFH Racing Chevrolet spun and hit the SAFER Barrier exiting Turn 1 in nearly the same spot where Castroneves’ car hit a day earlier. Newgarden’s car slid on its top before coming to rest in the short chute between Turns 1 and 2.

“I got around pretty quick in Turn 1; it definitely surprised me,” Newgarden said. “I knew it happened when it did, so I’m just lucky that everything’s good. The Dallara tub held up pretty well. I just want to get back to my guys and see what the damage is. I’m sure it’s bad but we’ll see what we can do going forward. It was a hard bit, (but) I feel fine.”

Chris Jones SDSAndretti Autosport driver Simona de Silvestro returned to practice today, two days after her No. 29 TE Connectivity Honda sustained heavy damage from a fire sparked by a fuel leak. De Silvestro was uninjured in the on-track incident and the team rebuilt the car at its Indianapolis shop. “Today we ran mostly in traffic … we learned a lot,” de Silvestro said. “I have a little bit of work to do, and I’m looking forward to going back out there tomorrow and working on it.”

Meanwhile, Pippa Mann spent the day recuperating and watching her No. 63 Dale Coyne Racing Honda being repaired after a crash Wednesday that saw her car hit three different walls. She hopes to be back on track Friday afternoon to log important laps prior to qualifying this weekend.

MWY_3145“I can’t overstate how horrible I feel for these guys,” Mann said of her hard-at-work crew, “but at the same time, unfortunately it is a part of racing. … It’s a tough pill to swallow, but we’re going to work hard. That’s the biggest thing, the amount of work it’s created for these guys.”

Tristan Vautier will drive the No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda in Indianapolis 500 qualifications this weekend in place of James Davison, who will be competing in a sports car race in Canada. Davison, who finished 16th in his first “500” start a year ago, is expected back in the car for the final two practice sessions, on Monday and May 22, before the race on May 24.

Vautier, meanwhile, is scheduled to compete in the Blancpain Endurance GT Series event on the same day as the “500.”

“It is an interesting tradeoff,” said Vautier, the 2011 Pro Mazda and 2012 Indy Lights champion who earned Verizon IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year honors in 2013 with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. “Obviously, we’re not going to get out there trying to break records but work toward the qualifying. It’s an interesting task to be in an Indy car and qualifying it for another driver, but I’m approaching it like I would any other race.”

Vautier completed his refresher program on the 2.5-mile oval today and logged 93 laps with a top speed of 225.406. Davison recorded the fourth-fastest lap (228.043 mph) in practice Wednesday before departing for Canada.

“It all came together last minute, but we have been talking about it for quite a while: that if James’ deal would come through I would qualify the car,” Vautier said. “So, yeah, it was not really a surprise for me but more of a long wait to see that everything was confirmed. But it’s really cool. I was happy to get back in an Indy car – it’s been a year and a half now. The first two or three laps were kind of weird, but it came back pretty quickly, so really cool. It was cool to have Simon (Pagenaud, his former teammate) on the track with me for quite a while. It reminded me of the Schmidt (Peterson Motorsports) days, so it was fun.

IMS to Honor World War II Vets at Race

In observance of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, 11 WWII veterans will be honored before the national anthem at the Indianapolis 500. Among those honored will be U.S. Army Air Corps Capt. Jerry Yellin, 91, of Fairfield, Iowa, who flew the final combat mission of the war on Aug. 14, 1945, the day the war ended.

The veterans recently took a trip to Washington, D.C., on an Indy Honor Flight, a program that offers free-round trip travel to veterans so they may visit the memorials in our nation’s capital that stand in their honor.

MWY_3143The No. 91 Wynn Iowa Vision Research Chevrolet driven by 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier became the 34th entry to take to the track this week. Larry Curry is team manager for the Lazier Racing Partners entry, with David Cripps the engineer. … All entries will receive an additional 10 kPa of engine turbocharger boost beginning in practice Friday, which should equate to approximately 40 additional horsepower. The engine boost bump will continue through qualifying weekend, with the original limit of 130 kPa reinstated for next week’s final two practice sessions and the race. … INDYCAR announced that the chassis centerline wickers, added to all cars prior to the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 9, are optional for the Indianapolis 500.

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Photos courtesy of IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Images created by Leigh Spargur, Chris Jones and Mike Young

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By: Jeff Majeske

Special Correspondent for Speedway Sightings

An IndyCar season that seemed destined to be littered with shredded pieces and broken promises pulled itself out of the marbles just in time as the month of May looms.

Josef Newgarden’s thrilling victory at Barber – his first – gives the series a much-needed boost as it ramps up for its marquee event, the Indianapolis 500.

A few things about Newgarden and his win:

  • He’s American, not German or Austrian as a casual observer might have guessed. Moreover, the fourth-year driver hails from NASCAR country, specifically Hendersonville, Tennessee.  Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star ran a nice piece about how Newgarden and his dad logged thousands of miles driving to New Castle, Indiana, to the karting track of former Indy driver Mark Dismore to begin learning his craft.
  • Newgarden may be the first driver from the Volunteer State to ever win an IndyCar race. I sent an email to the IndyCar Series asking if this were the case, but did not get a response. Certainly no driver with a birthplace in Tennessee – or Mississippi, Alabama or Georgia, for that matter – has won the Indianapolis 500.
  • Given how many drivers with Indiana connections who gravitated to NASCAR because they weren’t interested in Indy cars (Ryan Newman, South Bend), didn’t get a chance (Jeff Gordon, Pittsboro after leaving California) or sought greener pastures (Tony Stewart, Columbus), it’s nice to see the tables turned a bit.
  •  Newgarden drives for the newly formed CFH Racing team, an easy-to-root-for outfit. The “C” is Ed Carpenter, and the “F” is Sarah Fisher. After a rough start, Carpenter, stepson of Tony George, is a solid competitor on ovals with three victories. He’ll be aiming for an unprecedented third straight Indianapolis 500 pole this year. Fisher was one of the most popular drivers and now, despite many challenges, fields a solid and winning team.

Anyway, it’s nice to watch (and talk and write about) good racing.

That momentum needs to continue with the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 9 and the Indianapolis 500 on May 24. These two races, plus the doubleheader at Detroit the weekend after the 500, are the last ones on network television this year (ABC).

With the rest of the races on NBC Sports Network, that means May is the last, best opportunity to grab the attention of casual viewers.

Photo credit: Joe Skibinski/Verizon IndyCar Series

Originally Posted on Jeff’s Indy Talk