- Byrd Brothers, with partner team KV Racing Technology, have announced a return to the Indianapolis 500 in 2015 with Bryan Clauson.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Coyne Signs Huertas

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INDYCAR, the sanctioning body of the Verizon IndyCar Series, announced Thursday the Dale Coyne Racing signing of Carlos Huertas to the team's No. 18 entry in St. Petersburg.

"It's not ideal; it would have been better to do the (Open) test, but the good thing is nobody has tested here," Huertas said. The announcement is actually ahead of schedule compared to previous seasons when a DCR driver wasn't officially announced until after the opening weekend's first practice.

The 22-year-old, who tested twice in the off season with Panther Racing, ran the last two seasons in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. Huertas ran the 2012 season with FORTEC Motorsports before earning his first series victory in Spain last season with Carlin Motorsports. The Bogota, Colombia native ran the Cooper Tires British F3 International Series in 2009, '10 and '11 collecting 1 win, 14 podiums and 3rd in the 2011 points standings.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Report: 2014 To Be Farewell Performance For Nabors

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Few have a deeper, richer tradition at the Indianapolis 500 than Jim Nabors. Since James Melton's 1946 performance of "Back Home Again in Indiana" many have sang the tune during pre-race festivities, but no one more popular than the former actor.

Nabors, who was called on as a last minute replacement, first sang the anthem in 1972. Made famous by his portrayal of 'Gomer Pyle', Nabors has taken the IMS stage 34 times, missing only a handful of events in the 42 years since his inaugural performance.

In an article published in Nabors' Honolulu, Hawaii hometown paper The MidWeek, author Jaimie Kim writes that 2014 will be his final pre-race performance at the Greatest Spectacle In Racing.

From fill-in substitute singer to a legend deeply entrenched in Indianapolis Motor Speedway history, Nabors himself will leave behind some rather large shoes to fill.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

ECR Adds Second Car For Hildebrand At Indy

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Ed Carpenter Racing announced today the signing of JR Hildebrand to pilot the team's second entry at Indianapolis, marking the first time the young team has expanded to an extra entry.

“We, at Ed Carpenter Racing, are very pleased to bring J.R. Hildebrand into our Indy 500 effort this year,” said Carpenter. “J.R. has been the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year and an Indy Lights champion, so his credentials are very impressive. It is great to have another American driver in the 500 this year and competing with ECR.  We believe a second car at Indy will assist us in preparing for a strong performance in this year’s Indy 500.”

Hildebrand will run the #21 with 'corporate partnership' backing to be announced at a later date. The 26-year-old will team with ECR owner and defending Pole winner, Ed Carpenter.

Hildebrand, who was released from his full-time drive with Panther Racing following last year's Indy 500, competed at Sonoma and Fontana late in the season with Bryan Herta Autosport with whom he was a leading candidate for a full-season deal this year. The Californian's Verizon IndyCar Series career began with DRR in 2010 where he filled in for an injured Mike Conway at Mid-Ohio and Sonoma before landing the open Panther seat in 2011 and 2012, famously finishing runner-up to Dan Wheldon's second Indianapolis 500 victory in 2011.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Barber Open Test Day 1

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The 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season officially kicked off Monday with the first Open Test in Birmingham, Alabama, home of the Barber Motorsports Park.

22 of the 23 cars on the entry list turned laps in the rain and cold delayed session, leaving just the #18 Dale Coyne Racing entry on the sidelines. The team's second car, who's driver will be announced in the next 10 days prior to the season opener, was left in their Plainfield, Illinois shop.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing's newest driver, Oriol Servia, who said that he was "more rusty than I have felt in a long time", turned just 7 laps do to unknown car troubles. KVSH Racing's Sebastien Bourdais ran just 11 laps before going off and making right side contact. The issue was, according to Bourdais, caused by 'steering failure'.

Notes:
  • Honda Performance Development technical director Roger Griffiths resigned last week.
  • Simon Pagenaud's #77 entry name has changed to Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports.
  • KVSH Racing announced the re-signing of Hydroxycut to sponsor the teams #11 entry in 2014. Hydroxycut will serve as co-primary in the Indianapolis 500 and primary sponsor in eight races including St. Pete, Barber, Texas, Pocono, Toronto (x2), Sonoma and Fontana. Mistic Electronic Cigarettes will hold primary duties for the other 9 events including Long Beach, GP of Indianapolis, Belle Isle (x2), Houston (x2), Iowa, Mid-Ohio and Milwaukee.

The 22 car/driver combinations will return to the 17-turn, 2.38-mile track for two Tuesday sessions from 10-12 and 2-5 CT.

Day 1 Open Test Results:

1-Will Power 1:07.6492 (48 laps)
2-Juan Pablo Montoya 1:07.7170 (55 laps)
3-Helio Castroneves 1:07.7214 (51 laps)
4-Scott Dixon 1:07.8225 (40 laps)
5-Takuma Sato 1:07.8619 (39 laps)
6-Ryan Briscoe 1:07.8834 (44 laps)
7-Justin Wilson 1:07.8863 (31 laps)
8-Simon Pagenaud 1:08.0682 (35 laps)
9-James Hinchcliffe 1:08.1629 (32 laps)
10-Ryan Hunter-Reay 1:08.3194 (30 laps)
11-Charlie Kimball 1:08.3209 (41 laps)
12-Tony Kanaan 1:08.3254 (42 laps)
13-Mike Conway 1:08.4734 (42 laps)
14-Graham Rahal 1:08.4907 (33 laps)
15-Josef Newgarden 1:08.5798 (25 laps)
16-Sebastian Saavedra 1:08.6539 (50 laps)
17-Marco Andretti 1:08.6688 (28 laps)
18-Mikhail Aleshin 1:08.7296 (28 laps)
19-Jack Hawksworth 1:08.9223 (36 laps)
20-Carlos Munoz 1:08.9299 (42 laps)
21-Oriol Servia 1:09.2164 (7 laps)
22-Sebastien Bourdais 1:09.6668 (11 laps)

Friday, March 14, 2014

INDYCAR Inks Title Sponsorship Deal With Verizon

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INDYCAR, the sanctioning body for the IndyCar Series, formally announced Friday morning the signing of Verizon Wireless as the series title sponsor.

"Verizon is the perfect partner for us to showcase the high level of innovation and technology that is inherent in our sport," said Mark Miles, CEO, Hulman & Co., the parent of INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "INDYCAR will provide a large audience of tech-savvy consumers who are eager for the latest technology to further enhance their experience."

The long rumored deal, heard about as long ago as May 2012, comes together following four seasons with IZOD in the role. With a change in leadership, IZOD, who signed a six year deal (7th & 8th year option) in November 2009, made it known prior to last season that they wanted to conclude their series title sponsorship. The hunt was on and they found a partner in series and Team Penske sponsor, Verizon Wireless. The series will now be known as the Verizon IndyCar Series.

"Verizon is delighted to become the title sponsor of the Verizon IndyCar Series and to bring even more of our innovative technology to the fans, to the teams and to the entire motorsports community," said Dan Mead, president and CEO of Verizon Wireless.  "The intersection of racing and technology has never been more relevant, and our expanded partnership with INDYCAR provides a unique opportunity to demonstrate that synergy, integrate new services like LTE Multicast and help propel the sport forward." 

Verizon's Team Penske sponsorship of Will Power full-time and Jaun Pablo Montoya part-time as well as the Verizon P1 Award for pole winners will continue.

According to the press release:
The collaboration includes significant network coverage upgrades to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as part of its Project 100; short- and long-term technology enhancements to INDYCAR Race Control; the addition of pit lane monitors and enhancing connectivity for spectators at each domestic race venue.
Verizon will also deploy its LTE Multicast solution at racetracks in the future, complementing the Verizon INDYCAR 14 app and indycar.com, the official website of INDYCAR. This emerging technology delivers rich multi-faceted multimedia content to multiple devices at once rather than sending it in a separate stream to each user.
Following the 9:46am press release, Hulman Motorsports CEO Mark Miles, Hulman Motorsports Chief Revenue Officer Jay Frye and Verizon Wireless Vice President of Marketing Brian Angiolet discussed the deal on a conference call. The transcript:

Q. Mark, a big day for IndyCar as Verizon was announced a short time ago as entitlement partner for the Verizon IndyCar Series.
           
MARK MILES: It's a huge day for IndyCar.  I think of this day as a game‑changer for IndyCar, for the series, for our fans, the teams, our drivers.  In a real sense I think it represents a kind of confirmation of the strategies we've put into place and where we intend to take the sport and is the beginning of the next phase of IndyCar's growth.
           
Brian, as my partner on the phone now, Brian, I just want to say publicly how pleased we are with today and getting us to this place.  It's not lost on us that Verizon has been a partner of IndyCar as our official wireless partner for the last four years, so we know that you know us, and we know that you know the sport.  You've already made great contributions primarily through the sponsorship of the Penske car, the Verizon car, but you've had the opportunity to really get under the hood, so to speak, and to understand the potential of this sport and what makes us tick, and that gives us great confidence about this partnership going forward.
           
You know, as we've done some work in the last several months as has probably been done in the past, I think about what is fundamentally IndyCar; speed and the daring of the drivers and the skill of the drivers are, we think, a huge part of what we offer the public.  But at the same time, going back to our earliest roots, innovation is part of our brand and part of what we stand for.  The more we've thought about it, innovation has a role on the track, and we expect to be more innovative, again, over time.
           
But innovation also has a lot to do with how we go to the market and how we captivate the fans and present the sport in all its depth and excitement to fans, and I cannot imagine a more perfect partner to be true to those roots and to take us to the next level of leadership in sports for the way we use innovation to put the sport forward.
           
So we are just thrilled with this announcement, cannot wait to begin to activate, as the sponsor folks say, and to take this to a new level.
           
Q.  Brian, as Mark mentioned, Verizon has been a partner of IndyCar for the last four years, and now you take the big step up as the entitlement sponsor.  How excited is Verizon about today's announcement?
           
BRIAN ANGIOLET:  Well, I mean, obviously we're thrilled.  I think to Mark's point, we've had a great relationship just as a partner, and then even with the Penske team.  When you look at this, it just became the right time for Verizon to step up into this position.
           
Internally, we have been evolving our brand and our position in the marketplace from a mobile‑ and wireless‑centric company into more of this technology company, and when you think about the role that technology plays in IndyCar, it just seemed like a great match.
           
And now with this agreement, and when you look at the roadmap that we have both in the agreement and from a product standpoint, I think we feel that we now have a platform really here to demonstrate what all of our technology can bring to the fan base, inside and outside the venue.  So it's a perfect match at a perfect time.
           
Q.  Brian, Verizon, as I recall, their last national TV commercial actually featured a driver, Will Power.  Can you break down the money that's going to be invested on an annual basis, how much would be for television and commercials and newspaper and magazine advertising and just the marketing of IndyCar?
           
BRIAN ANGIOLET:  Yeah, I mean, it's not our policy to comment on kind of the level of investment around these things, but what I can tell you is the choices that we make to feature drivers in some of the commercial assets that you're speaking of, we're not necessarily beholden to those just by whatever our commitment is.  Those spots and commercials for us are about putting our brand in the right context where we can tee up certain things.
           
My point in saying all that is we'll invest in those at whatever level we feel appropriate, either to drive brand, or as we start thinking about product or fan experiences as the years come, it wouldn't be beholden to simply anything that's in an agreement.  I think it's a good partnership for us to use in multiple ways beyond just a specific in‑program type of activation or marketing asset.
           
Q.  One of IndyCar's big weaknesses the last few years has been the lack of national recognition and marketing and commercials.  Can we expect to see a jump in that, I guess is my question?
           
BRIAN ANGIOLET:  Yeah, I think you will see ‑‑ we've had a commitment to ‑‑ we've got cars with the teams, we've got drivers, the Indy league itself, the technology position, the spots that we're creating around that I think are going to be very exciting, kind of visceral, and that's part of the muscle that we would bring and will bring.
 
Q.  For Mark, how do you measure the importance of being able to go from one season with a sponsor to getting a series sponsor the very next season rather than, say, having a lame duck season where you didn't have any sponsorship at all as the entitlement?
           
MARK MILES:  You know, we like to think we're aggressive in growing IndyCar racing, and so time is of the essence.  That's not a financial answer.  Financially the series, the company is in very solid shape and we're very much in an investment mode this year.  But we are just eager to get on with taking this sport to another level, and what Verizon brings is a long list of attributes.
           
You know, I've come to already not think of them so much as a wireless company as a technology company, and it's the Verizon IndyCar Series, but they're our technology partner.  We've had a chance to have a lot of conversations about the potential for the development of technology, and it just knocks your socks off and gives me a lot of excitement about the way we can reach fans, provide more value for the teams and the drivers.
           
We're so eager to get on with it.  I haven't thought of it in the past as whether we skipped a beat or might have from one year to the next, but I can tell you that I expect impact this year, and for all the journalists that cover us and for fans who watch us and fans who don't know they're going to watch us but will, there will be a discernible difference this year.
 
Q.  And as far as delivering a message, Verizon always seems to be one that has a very well‑thought‑out plan what their message is going to be, and in a lot of ways you've got to really feel like this is indeed a long‑term commitment.
           
MARK MILES:  Well, if that's a question, it is, although we won't get into the specifics.  It wouldn't make much sense to have a title sponsorship relation for a year.
           
But again, it's more about the shared vision for what technology means to IndyCar racing and how we can be the market leader at least in motorsports in that regard.
 
Q.  And finally, the fact that Verizon is a recognized consumer name, how valuable is that to be involved as a series sponsor?
           
MARK MILES:  It's huge.  I mean, Verizon as an institution is one of the most compelling companies in this country.  It isn't lost on us that they have a pretty substantial advertising budget, and they're so good at the development of their company and their brand.  I just don't know how we could have a better partner in terms of what they stand for as a company and what they bring to us in the way of an informed sponsor.
 
Q.  I wanted this to go to Mark.  IndyCar racing in particular over the last few decades or so has had sort of a troubled history with primary sponsors:  FedEx, Pep Boys, Northern Light and now IZOD have all come and gone.  To the fans that want to get excited about this partnership, and there is a good bit to be excited about, but may be a little hesitant to be completely excited about it, what would you say to them?
           
MARK MILES:  Well, I think a couple things.  The first is just think about the kind of company that Verizon is and what they can bring to IndyCar racing.  We've said this earlier on this call, but when they begin with us to roll out effectively products, technology products that will enhance the experience of all our stakeholders starting with fans, I have no doubt that fans are going to be delighted for the value that Verizon brings to IndyCar racing.
           
I think fans want to see the sport grow, too, and what Verizon can do in helping us effectively promote this sport and Verizon together will be important and will generate a lot of excitement by open wheel fans and now Verizon IndyCar Series fans.
          
 I guess I don't think much about the past, to be frank.  I'm thinking about how we're going to take the sport forward.  I've never spent a second thinking about comparing this situation to prior ones because I'm so completely convinced about how this one makes sense, how this partnership will make sense.
          
As I said, it isn't lost on either Verizon or us that I've seen Lowell McAdam and Dan Mead and Brian and their entire team in the IndyCar paddock often for the year that I've been involved, and I know that they know what they're getting into, and they know how ‑‑ they see the sport the way we do.  It is a compelling, exciting sport that is perfect as the sport to apply technology to, to make it more compelling to fans, and again, on other levels that are more internal for teams and our drivers.
           
So I guess I'd just say, well, if you don't want to trust us, don't; watch this space.  We have complete confidence that this is going to be a home run for IndyCar fans.
 
Q.  We've heard about the possibility of Verizon for quite some time.  How long has it taken to get a huge company like Verizon and IndyCar together to get this program together?  Obviously it didn't happen in a week or two weeks or three weeks.
           
MARK MILES:  You know, I don't remember exactly when it started.  I think we've been developing a relationship over ‑‑ well, I'm sure prior to Mark Miles being part of IndyCar, and as our official, I guess, wireless partner over the last year, we've gotten to know each other and had a lot of conversations about where the series is headed, what our objectives are, and what the growth trajectory looks like.
           
I don't remember a day when this started.  I think it probably started in a sense back four years ago.
           
I will say this:  Yeah, Verizon is a huge company, a big organization, but they're agile in this regard.  When we got to the point of being ready to enter into these conversations, they and we, I think that getting to a signed agreement took ‑‑ was sort of like IndyCar itself:  Record fast.  I want to take this opportunity to thank Jay Frye and Karen Hadley, the two people on point to some extent on both teams for shepherding it and going through a lot of complicated things as any title sponsorship has to be in record time.
 
Q.  Brian, I am talking to you on a Verizon phone, strangely enough –
           
BRIAN ANGIOLET:  Wonderful.
 
Q.  And you have been involved in the sport.  Will the fans when they come to the various venues see you more visible with programs and things that the fans there can get involved in and sign up, get them excited about Verizon and realize that some of the services out there don't work at the racetrack whereas Verizon does, for instance?
           
BRIAN ANGIOLET:  Yeah, well, thank you again.  I think a couple things:  I think part of this ‑‑ first of all, I think as a matter of presence, the assets that we will be able to utilize all around the venue, you're going to feel more presence there.  So the activation, the weight of the activation will definitely be significant.
           
I also think to the point we've been discussing today, it's our intent to be able to bring new technology into the experiences for fans, especially as time goes on, so you'll definitely feel it not just from a branding and activation standpoint but from a technology and use standpoint.
          
Even when you look at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I think there lies some really great opportunities for us to have some real showcase of where our brand is going, and then with a lot of this, too, we always are very, very committed to the customer experience and our network capacity and capability at these types of experiences, and that's not different than a few of the other partnerships that we have.
           
I think all that combined, when we do make a decision like this, to partner, we bring the full scope and scale of what we have to offer to make it successful.
 
Q.  My question is for Brian.  Verizon and Penske have been a successful and really fulfilling partnership so far, so with that said, what does Verizon get in terms of viability from this partnership beyond what it was already receiving with the Penske relationship?
           
BRIAN ANGIOLET:  Well, I think you get ‑‑ you just basically get to complete the circle.  I mean, there's wonderful assets.  The Penske team are amazing partners, and the team assets are incredible.
           
We've had some venue and track assets before, but now really we have the opportunity to help on a much broader scale.  Without getting into details, I think about it more as just completing the circle.  You've seen us in piece parts before.  I think it'll be more immersive in terms of just the scale of our brand presence, and then the ability to really work technology into the experience for fans as time goes on in this deal, I think that's the other area that's a real win.
           
Again, there's just so much technology involved in IndyCar and the precision, and that is exactly where our brand is going.  I mean, just the ability to demonstrate it, without getting into a lot of specifics, but those elements and assets in this, again, just really rounds out the partnership, all of our partnerships to date, really.
 
Q.  Brian, could you talk maybe just a little bit about some of the other corporate partnerships and sponsorships that you have outside of IndyCar, and then how IndyCar kind of fits in with your overall marketing scheme?
           
BRIAN ANGIOLET:  Well, I don't want to take from this day.  I'll just say this:  I think generally speaking, we have continued to become increasingly selective with the organizations that we partner with, and we do that because I think what we want to do is we want to go deeper and broader within a relationship.  So part of this is all about truly organizations that we feel will go to that level of depth and breadth in a relationship.
           
From there, again, I think where this fits in our portfolio is our technology future and the ability to demonstrate that and use this sponsorship as a platform for us to kind of showcase that.
           
It really starts to push us forward on where our company is going, where our brand is going.  To the earlier question, the commercials and the kind of things that we'll even talk about will start to morph that way.  So it puts us on our leadership path into that new direction of technology, not just mobile or wireless or phone company.
 
Q.  If you can, does this contract include any provisions that would preclude any additional sponsors, competitive sponsors to Verizon coming in and sponsoring say other entrants in the car, whether those be mobile sponsors or technology firms?
           
MARK MILES:  I can take that.  While it protects existing relationships that are in the paddock, yes, it does provide exclusivity for Verizon going forward.
 
Q.  As you know, we're an online publication, and we live and die by not only having fans online but being able to publish online.  I'm interested if Verizon is bringing us things like more bandwidth at venues, both for the fans and the media.  I'm interested in the online feeds for timing and scoring, and I also note that a lot of sports venues have their own Wi-Fi systems now so fans can bring their mobile devices to watch the event and to get the scoring from there.  I'm interested to find out what Verizon is bringing to the table in terms of fan and media enhancements from technology.
           
BRIAN ANGIOLET:  I'll just say this at this point:  We're not commenting on any details or definitely of detail in that whole space, but again, it's our intent to make sure that we have a solid fan experience and that we are deploying new technology in and around venues to increase the fan experience and many others that actually will be utilizing the network.
           
The details of that and a lot of those kinds of things are things that we continue to work in the course of the partnership, and I'll just leave it at that.
           
MARK MILES:  I can add at least from an IMS perspective, you know that as part of our project 100 leading up to our 100th year celebration, the 100th running of the 500, we are making capital investments at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and while over time I'm sure that there will be even more interesting technologies, you will begin to see improvements in the connectivity, both cellular and data and Wi-Fi at IMS to some extent beginning this year but certainly emphatically by the race after next.
           
Q.  How much will we expect to see ad buys involved?  Do you have any that are going to start rolling out immediately?
           
BRIAN ANGIOLET:  Are you speaking just in relation to promoting the partnership?
           
Q.  Well, Sports Illustrated, television, are we going to expect to see any ad buys immediate?
           
BRIAN ANGIOLET:  Yeah, I mean, I think basically we are and have been
preparing to activate the partnership in kind of good faith have been working it at the launch of the season, so there's material that we've been in the process of producing and all of that good stuff to hit our kickoff date.
           
Also there's a couple other concepts we're working that follow up, so it's an iterative process, but we'll be fully activating day one.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Tag Signs Indy Deal With SFHR

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Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing announced today the signing of Alex Tagliani to the team's second entry into the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500.

"It has always been our goal at SFHR to hire talent for credentials, and I am excited to have that opportunity again to include Tag in our Indianapolis 500 lineup, alongside Josef," SFHR co-owner Fisher said. "Wink [Hartman] has helped us bring the proper individuals together to provide a solidly prepared effort toward success at Indy. We continue to have the support of the RW Motorsports founder, Steve Weirich, for this second program and are looking forward to building on to this second entry even further during the second half of the season."

Tagliani, who will run the #68 SFHR/RW entry, brings both Rookie of the Year (2009) and pole sitting (2011) credentials to the team.

"I am very excited about this opportunity with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing for this year's Indy 500," said Tagliani. "I love this race, and this track has always been a comfortable fit for me. I couldn't ask for a better opportunity with SFHR, and I will do my best to contribute to the success of the team."

The second SFHR entry becomes the 17th Honda and 27th confirmed car for May's Indianapolis 500.

Friday, March 7, 2014

'500' Qualifying Procedures Announced

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INDYCAR, the sanctioning body of the IndyCar Series, announced Friday morning the revamped qualification format for this year's running of the Indianapolis 500.

Held Saturday, May 17 from 11am to 5:50pm (4-6pm LIVE ABC television window), the 33-car field sans starting position will be locked into the grid. If more than 33-cars are attempting to make the race the traditional Sunday bumping of cars into and out of the field will take place Saturday. All cars will be guaranteed one four-lap qualification attempt, with more runs permitted if weather and time allow. Race Day pit position will be locked by Saturday qualifying.

Sunday morning, May 18 from 10:15am to 1:30pm (1-3pm LIVE ABC television window), the 10th through 33rd seeded qualifiers from Saturday will be required to requalify to lock their position. Each car will be allowed one attempt with the cars running in descending order from slowest to fastest from Saturday's provisional runs.

The Fast Nine Shootout will take place Sunday afternoon from 2-2:45pm. Like earlier in the day, Saturday's fast nine will be allowed one attempt in descending order from slowest to fastest with the quickest aggregate time winning the Verizon P1 Award.

With morning practice each of the two qualification days, additional race trim practice is expected to be added post-qualifying in the week leading up to Sunday's Indy 500.

"This new format includes two exciting days of on-track action, all culminating on Sunday with the Fast Nine Shootout," said Hulman Motorsports CEO, Mark Miles. "Fans get to watch their favorite drivers battle to make the field on Saturday, and then fight for a pole position on Sunday. It will be a great show for fans attending the race and watching the broadcast on ABC."

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Servia To RLLR, Hawksworth To Herta

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The 2014 IndyCar Series grid is beginning to take shape with announcements today from both Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Bryan Herta Autosport.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing formally confirmed Oriol Servia as the team's second entry alongside Graham Rahal in 2014. Servia has been confirmed for the four race span from Long Beach through the Indianapolis 500 with Barber and the Indy road course sandwiched between.

"Continuity is a very important part of success in any racing team,” said Servia. “By my moving to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, this happens at many different levels. On the team side, in 2009 we did the 500 together as a one-off race. We were running very strong until we had a fuel pump fail on us but that one race left us with a sensation that we could do great things together. That same year I did a short stint at Newman/Haas where my teammate was Graham (Rahal) and that also started a great chemistry between us that translated to results on track where we finished third and fourth in the last race we ran.

“There are a lot of people in the team that I have worked in the past. Actually John Dick, one of the latest arrivals to the team, was my race engineer in my rookie year at PPI, and on and on.  There are enough synergies within the team that make me feel positive that even if we may be starting a little late, we will hit the road running. I can't wait to start and want to thank Bobby Rahal, Mike Lanigan and David Letterman for putting this program together."

The addition of more races to the Servia/RLLR calendar could be added if sponsorship is found.
Later in the day Bryan Herta Autosport announced Indy Lights driver Jack Hawksworth to the teams full-time #98 entry.

Hawksworth, who tested this off season with Coyne, RLLR in September and Herta's organization in February, was alongside several drivers competing for the open seat including favorites JR Hildebrand and Luca Filippi.

"Quite frankly, Jack really impressed us with a very strong test in Sebring last month," said team owner, Bryan Herta. "He has had success at every level he has competed in to date and we believe he has the skills to maintain that going into the IndyCar series. Jack is well aware of the level of competition he is stepping into and we look forward to the season ahead."

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Andretti Signs Busch For Indy

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Andretti Autosport announced today the signing of former NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Kurt Busch to the teams fifth IndyCar Series entry in May's 98th running of the Indianapolis 500.
 
Busch ran the Rookie Orientation Program at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last May prior to opening day for Andretti Autosport. With cooperation from IMS, INDYCAR, Chevrolet, Firestone, and using then rookie Carlos Munoz's engine and Ryan Hunter-Reay's chassis, Busch turned 83 laps on the 2.5-mile circuit with the quickest averaging 218.210 mph.
 
The 35-year-old is expected to make at least ten trips between the cities of Indianapollis and Charlotte throughout the month while re-completing ROP, practicing, qualifying and racing is IndyCar at the Brickyard and competing in NASCAR's All-Star event and the Coke 600 Indianapolis 500 night where the green flag will fly at 6pm.
 
A supporter of The Armed Forces Foundation, you can donate $10 to the fund in which Busch is dedicating the Memorial Weekend Double to by texting AFF to 50555.
 
"This is really to challenge myself within motorsports. Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throw-back I guess," said Busch. "I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael (Andretti) over dinner one night on 'what if?' and now it's all becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It's literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn't get much cooler or better than that.

"It's great having Tony (Stewart) as the co-owner of my NASCAR team as, in the weeks leading up to the month of May, it gives me a chance to talk with him about his personal experiences with the "Double" - to anticipate what's next and have things checked off the list so that I'm mentally and physically prepared for the challenge. I owe a big thanks to Tony, Gene Haas, and the partners at Stewart-Haas - including General Motors - for allowing me to fulfill this dream, to challenge myself in motorsports and to do something special in this day and age."
 
Busch raced last season in the Cup Series with Furniture Row Racing, who were on hand for his first open-wheel laps at IMS, and signed with Stewart Haas Racing for the 2014 season. Team owners Gene Haas and Tony Stewart have been openly supportive over the last few months of the effort. Stewart himself is one of just three drivers along with John Andretti and Robbie Gordon to successfully qualify and run the Double Duty events of Indianapolis-Charlotte the same day. Stewart is the only to complete all 1,100 miles in 2001 when he finished 6th and 3rd respectively. 
 
Photos from last Busch's Rookie Orientation Program last May
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



 



 
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