IndyCar Tests at Sonomoa
Feb 6 - The challenging permanent road course at
Sonoma Raceway provided the latest opportunity for
Verizon IndyCar Series teams to test their 2018 cars.
A dozen drivers turned laps Monday on the undu-
lating 2.385-mile circuit in Northern California,
including a pair of drivers getting their first taste of
the universal aero kit all teams are using this season.
|Most recent news is at bottom of page.
Participating in the test were:
Harding Racing ---- Gabby Chaves
Ed Carpenter Racing ---- Jordan King and Spencer Pigot
Team Penske ---- Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports ---- James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens
AJ Foyt Racing ---- Tony Kanaan and Matheus Leist
Dale Coyne Racing ---- Pietro Fittipaldi and Sebastien Bourdais
This was the first time in any kind of Indy car for King.
IndyCar rookie Wickens said, "This is my first time to
Sonoma, so we’re learning ... I love the elevation here.
It’s fast, it’s flowing and a completely different track at
the top than at the bottom.”
All IndyCar teams head to Phoenix Raceway for a test
Thursday through Saturday. The first day is set aside for
rookies, with the latter two days open to all cars. The
sessions on the final two days (3-6 and 8-11 p.m. ET)
will stream live on racecontrol.indycar.com.
|Sebastien Bourdais' car has a new livery.
Vasser Is Back
Jan 6 - A year after his former team, KV Racing
Technology, closed up show, Jimmy Vasser has reunited
with many of the same cohorts that once made KV one
of the most competitive teams in the paddock.
On Monday, Vasser announced that he and longtime
business partner James Sullivan had forged an alliance
with Dale Coyne on a joint entry for this year's IndyCar
Series that will see former KV star Sebastian Bourdais
race under the banner of Dale Coyne Racing with
Vasser-Sullivan. Along with Bourdais, there will be a
number of familiar faces at DCRVS, including Olivier
Boisson, who not only served at Bourdais' race engineer
last year but also worked with Bourdais, Vasser and
Sullivan at KV and helped them win four races in three
"It's putting the band back together to a certain extent," a
delighted Vasser told IndyStar Monday from Sonoma
Raceway, where the team was testing.
Even though he was only out of IndyCar for a year, that's
a year longer than he wanted to be away and the longest
stretch he could remember over the past three decades.
A rookie in 1992, Vasser drove in at least one Indy car
race every year until 2006 and had become a team
co-owner two years earlier. The 1996 CART champion
said being away from the sport for so long this past year
definitely made him realize there how much he missed it.
|Sebastien Bourdais and Jimmy Vasser
IndyCar Scholarship Extends Reach
Feb 7 - The third Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 $200K
Scholarship Shootout will extend its reach to include 11
countries, from which 20 champions of junior open-
wheel and karting will compete in the December event.
Drivers between the ages of 14 and 25 by September 30
of this year will be eligible to earn an invitation to the
competition via a network of Official Feeder Series in
both North and South America as well as Europe, Asia,
Australasia and, for the first time, the continent of Africa.
This expansion means over 400 drivers will be chasing
an entry ticket for the $200,000 prize from Mazda to
ensure entry into the 2019 Cooper Tires USF2000
Championship Powered by Mazda.
A total of 18 champions will earn an automatic entry to
the shootout from the various Official Feeder Series,
which in 2018 for the first time will include the NACAM
Formula 4 Championship in Mexico, the South African
Investchem Formula 1600 Championship and the Toyo
Tires F1600 Championship in Canada.
Oliver Askew, the 2016 winner, went on to win the
USF2000 title last year, earning graduation to Pro Mazda
this season, and 2017 Shootout winner Keith Donegan
gets a similar chance on the first step of the Mazda Road
To Indy this year.
Kyle Kimball, manager of operations for Mazda
Motorsports, declared: “The level of interest in the
Scholarship Shootout from around the world is incred-
ible, and we are excited to welcome three new
championships to the program. “Last year we again
witnessed an extraordinary amount of talent at the
Shootout. We will be following all of the series through
out the year and look forward to welcoming their
champions at season’s end.”
Toyo Tires F1600 series coordinator Brian Graham
said: “We are delighted to join the many championships
from around the world as an official feeder series to the
Mazda Road to Indy Shootout program. What the
Mazda Road to Indy has created with the scholarships
is widely recognized as the best opportunity in open-
The full list of 2018 Official Feeder Series includes:
Australian Formula Ford Championship (Australia),
BRSCC Britcover/Avon Tires FF1600 Championship
(England), Dawson WAM Northern Ireland Formula
Ford 1600 Championship (Ireland), eKartingNews.com
(North America), Formula Ford Festival (England),
Formula Ford Super Series (England), Formula Tour
1600 (Canada), MMSC MRF F1600 Championship
(India), NACAM Formula 4 Championship (Mexico),
New Zealand Formula 1600 Championship (New
Zealand), SCCA National Championship Runoffs (USA),
SMRC Scottish Formula Ford 1600 Championship
(Scotland), Selectiva de Kart Petrobras (Brazil), South
African Investchem Formula 1600 Championship (South
Africa), Team USA Scholarship (USA), Toyo Tires
F1600 Championship (Canada), Walter Hayes Trophy
In addition, five series in the U.S. and Mexico will be
eligible for at-large entry tickets to the Shootout, issued
at the discretion of Mazda, and eKartingNews.com will
continue to select one up-and-coming kart racer as the
recipient of a 2018 Shootout entry ticket.
At-large entries will come from a pool comprising F1600
Formula F Championship Series (USA), F2000
Championship Series (USA), Formula Car Challenge
Presented by Goodyear (USA), Formula Panam
(Mexico), Pacific F2000 Championship (USA).
F1 Replaces Grid Girls With Children
Feb 7 - New Formula 1 owners, American company
Liberty Media, is scrapping grid girls from the F1 shows.
Formula 1 managing director of commercial operations,
Sean Bratches, said, “While the practice of employing
grid girls has been a staple of Formula 1 Grands Prix for
decades, we feel this custom does not resonate with our
That's like taking the Ring Girls out of boxing!
In a laughable attempt to assuage F1 fans, Liberty Media
has launched the "grid kids" initiative - replaceing the
girls on the grid with children. These kids must be
competing in either junior formula or in go-karts. The
young people will be selected either by their motorsport
clubs or by a lottery.
First IndyCar Cockpit Protection
Feb 9 - Formula 1 will begin using the 3 pointed
"halo" on their race cars this year to protect drivers
from things such as flying debris.
IndyCar drivers face the same dilemna in their open
cockpit race cars. Witness the death of IndyCar
driver Justin Wilson at Pocono in 2015.
IndyCar developed a windscreen and tested it
Thursday at the Phoenix 1-mile oval track.
Kimi Raikkonen had tested a windscreen
previously a year ago for F1 and reported
distortion that was unacceptable.
The screen that IndyCar is testing is made of a
proprietary material called Opticor. PPG Aerospace
similar to what the company uses to make canopies
for fighter jets.
Scott Dixon tested the windshield throughout the day
and into the night. He noted that distortion was not
very bad and that he got used to it on the oval track.
He also noted that it cut down on noise and buffeting
from the wind tremendously, giving the car a
luxurious feel. However it resulted in a warmer
cockpit, a problem that would be easy to solve
though. He said it did not have any glare problems
from the track lights at night.
These first tests were considered positive, but
whether any kind of cockpit protection is mandated
for IndyCar remains to be seen.
Note - Chip Ganassi Racing has found a main sponsor to replace
Target for Scott Dixon - PNC Bank.
Also Note - there is a new digital display for the car number behind
the drivers helmet. This new display is much brighter than before
and multi-colored too. It will be able to display graphics - for instance
it might be used to display the driver's nation's flag during a pre-race
parade lap. COOL!
Daytona 500 Qualifying
Feb - 11 - Hendrick Motorsports won another Daytona
500 Pole. This year they got it with the #88 Camaro of
Starting next to Bowman is the #11 Toyota of Denny
Today's qualifying only locked in the first two spots for
the Daytona 500. However, the single-lap qualifying
from today also determines the drivers competing in the
two 150-mile races on Thursday, known as the Duels.
The Duels determine who will line up in the majority of
spots on the starting grid for the Daytona 500.
Kevin Harvick was the fastest Ford, but qualified down
Danica Patrick qualified 28th out of 40 for her last
Feb 11 - During this past weekend’s IndyCar Series Open
Test at Phoenix Raceway (that they are now calling ISM)
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing set the fastest lap in each
of the four three-hour sessions spread over Friday and
Saturday, which included running at night under the lights!
“Today wasn’t a great day for me but overall we had a
good day on Friday and Takuma had a great day today,”
Graham Rahal said. “We tried a bunch of stuff and
learned what ways to and not to go. I think Andretti cars
looked strong but overall this is a positive.
Even a driver as great as four-time Verizon IndyCar
Series champion and 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner Scott
Dixon needs to push the limit to see how far a new race
car will go.
With the clock winding down in Saturday night’s final
3-hour test session in the Indycar Open Test, Dixon’s
Honda went into turn one and the back tires of the car
lost traction. Dixon spun, drifted up the banking and
made minor contact with the turn two wall.
Dixon was the only driver to tag the wall in the 12 hours
of testing at the 1.022-mile short oval, although AJ Foyt
Racing rookie Matheus Leist spun his car three times
over the two days.
What made this test so important is all of the drivers in
the series are trying to find out for themselves the
differences with the 2018 aero package. It’s completely
different from the high downforce packages that were
used when Honda and Chevrolet each had different aero
kits from 2015 and 2017 and it has made the cars much
“lighter” to drive. That’s because this year’s package has
at least 1,200 pounds less downforce than last year.
With less downforce, the straightaway speeds are faster,
the corner speeds are lower and the cars have a tendency
to dance, skip and slide on the track.
Danica Will Race Indy 500 for ECR
Feb 14 - The news that Danica Patrick would be racing
for the Ed Carpenter team leaked out a few weeks
earlier than planned, but Ed says that's ok, but he doesn't
have all the answers ready that he was planning to have.
Currently Patrick is totally in Nascar mode as she
prepares for their biggest race - the Daytona 500.
Carpenter said he had no doubts that despite the
inevitable hype and publicity surrounding Patrick – as
ever – he has no doubts over her sense of purpose, and
that she is not just treating this as a farewell tour.
“Even though we haven’t won the 500 before, she
follows the sport and knows we put a good product on
track at Indy and certainly we’ve had cars capable of
winning the race. So the most important thing to all of us
is to do something special.”
Carpenter hasn’t been able yet to finalize the details
regarding how much track time Patrick will be granted
before the race, but said he’s hoping that seven years s
ince her last Indy 500 run, there’s a way to get her a
similar amount of testing as granted to last year’s star
one-off 500 participant, Fernando Alonso.
Carpenter expects that Patrick's running in the Indy 500
will generate more questions and hype for his team as
well at other drivers and team in the paddock.
“So I’ll be there as a driver and prepared as I always am
for that, and we’ll just have another ultra-popular driver
in IndyCar, but on this occasion, that driver will be in one
of our team’s cars.
"And that's good."
Meet the 2018 IndyCar Rookies
Here are the new IndyCar drivers. You can find out more at Meet the Rookies!
A.J. Foyt Racing - Matt Leist, 19.
Andretti Autosport - Zach Veach, 23.
Ed Carpenter Racing - Jordan King, 23.
Dale Coyne Racing - Pietro Fittipaldi, 21.
Dale Coyne Racing - Zachary Claman De Melo, 19.
Juncos Racing - Kyle Kaiser, 21.
Juncos Racing - Rene' Binder, 26.
Michael Shank Racing - Jack Harvey, 24.
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports - Robert Wickens, 28.
The Daytona 500, from a F1 Fan
Feb 18 - I love the start of a race, especially Formula 1.
I got settled in front of the TV at 2:30pm and waited
for the start of the Daytona 500.
And waited. And waited.
I was hoping to see Danica, in her last Nascar race, but
the broadcast seemed to be ignoring her. What I did
discover was that there was a black man in the race.
You wouldn't know it if you didn't tune in, as his last
name is Wallace (Think Rusty Wallace), they call him
Bubba and his voice does not betray that he is black or
that he is from the south. Although he has little
experience in Nacar's Cup series, he missed winning
the race today by an inch!
About 40 minutes later, I was in the kitchen fixing
another snack when I thought maybe I heard cars
Back at the TV, I find the race had indeed started - two
long lines of stocks cars were running side by side.
As the race cars approached the end of the 1st stage
(1/3rd of the race), Some drivers in the front tried to
pass as to win the stage. This resulted in some
wiggling and loss of control, banging into others and
then about a third of the field crashing into each other
and spinning around in the infield grass. I think this is
considered normal for Nascar at large tracks with high
banked corners, such as Daytona and Talledega.
Fox TV then televised the crash 78 times.
Much later, I saw Danica walking away smiling and
saying the team didn't have much time to prepare, and
how she now has one more race to run, but didn't
mention the INDY 500 or INDYCAR. She was no
doubt under orders from Nascar not to mention any
I didn't see what happened to end her race. I must
have been in the kitchen again or napping.
Instead of the quick up and down wailing of an F1
engine at it goes through the gears in it's breathtaking
changes in speed, the stock cars constant speed around
the big oval results in just one long monotonous drone.
(Perhaps the reason for my continual falling asleep.)
While looking for photos
from today's race, I
discovered that Nascar has a
hispanic driver as well as a
However, they awarded a
diversity award to driver
Joey Logano, a white kid
I don't think Nascar quite
gets the whole diversity
Fox intermixes that noise for television viewers about
every 20 seconds with a rapid "Fppt, Fppt, Fppt, Fppt"
sound that is captured, I suppose, by a microphone near
the track, as a handful of cars zip by. Or perhaps
Jeff Gordon, who now works in the booth, had
beans for lunch.
I'm not sure at what point the race became just a long
single file snake of cars running in circles, but I noticed
it after the 2nd stage. Nothing happened, no one tried
to pass. I may have taken a nap, but luckily awoke to
catch the end of the race. I think there was a crash with
2 laps to go. I was drowsy but I thought they said there
was some type of "overtime" happening.
At any rate, it was the last lap and Aric Almirola
seemed to be easily in the lead, when the guy behind
him, Austin Dillon, came up and hit his back bumper,
which sent the Almirola into the wall. Dillon sped toward
the finish line, side by side with Bubba Wallace and
apparently crossed the finish line first. Dillon was
driving the famous #3 (Dale Earnhardt) car.
To celebrate, the driver and team dove face first into the
infield grass, as if they were expecting to slide. Well they
didn't slide. Had someone forgotten to wet or oil the
grass down for them? I hope there was some tradition
that I don't know about that was going on.
I did learn one thing though - timing is important at
Daytona. Unlike other forms of racing, you do not want
to be leading the race at the end, but holding back and
then wrecking the winner before the last turn. However,
with "Overtime" apparently the last turn, is not
neccessarily the last turn in Nascar racing. With bumping,
3 race winners, playoffs and overtime, Nascar is like a
romantic relationship - it's complicated.
Legends Day Concert
Feb 20 - Legends Day at the Indy Speedway is on
Saturday, May 26th -- the day before the Indy 500.
While there are no race cars on track this day, fans come
out anyway to see the sights, get autographs, attend the
public driver's meeting and a memorabilia show.
The speedway began having famous country music artists
perform a few years ago.
This May Sam Hunt will headline in the 5th Legends
Day concert. Canaan Smith and Filmore will serve as
opening acts for the concert, which starts at 3:30 p.m. on
the Firestone Stage inside Turn 4 of the IMS oval.
Tickets for the show are $35 to $75, but the price will go
up March 1. A limited number of VIP tickets are
available for $250 too.