News for the Week of March 23, 2015 – March 29, 2015

St. Pete Info:

Circuit MapWeekend ScheduleEntry ListSpotter GuidePit Lane OrderTickets

Montoya holds off Power for St. Pete win – Juan Pablo Montoya took advantage of a fast final pit stop to win the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg after a dominant Will Power performance for most of the race. See coverage from our live blog of the race here. Full results here.- INDYCAR – (3/29/15)

Jones and Carlin complete Lights sweep with Race 2 win – Carlin’s Ed Jones led Race 2 of the Indy Lights weekend at St. Pete from start to finish again for his second win in as many races. He was joined on the podium by Jack Harvey and Spencer Pigot. Full results at the link. – @indy44 – (3/29/15)

Rahal fastest in Sunday warmup at St. Pete – Graham Rahal posted the fastest lap of a brief warmup session on Sunday at St. Pete with a time of 1:01.4648. Full results and story at the link. – NBC Sports – (3/29/15)

Power leads Penske sweep to win pole at St. Pete – Will Power won the pole at St. Pete on Saturday leading a Penske sweep of starting positions 1-4. Pagenaud, Castroneves, Montoya, Sato, and Bourdais was the finishing order of the rest of the Firestone Fast 6. Starting grid here. – NBC Sports – (3/28/15)

Jones and Carlin win in Lights debut – Indy Lights newcomers Carlin and Ed Jones led the first Indy Lights race of the season from start to finish in a dominant performance at St. Pete. Harvey, Pigot, Hargrove, and Kaiser were the rest of the Top 5. Carlin teammate and former F1 driver Max Chilton was involved in an early incident and finished 12th. Story and full results at the link. – AUTOSPORT – (3/28/15)

Power leads the way again in Practice 3 – Will Power led the way again in Practice 3 at St. Pete with a time of 1:01.3621. It was another dominant Penske performance as they also placed second (Pagenaud), third (Castroneves), and fifth (Montoya). Takuma Sato was the fastest Honda driver in fourth place. Seven of the top ten were Chevrolets. Full results at the link. – @indy44 – (3/28/15)

Magnussen confirms IndyCar interest – Former F1 driver and current McLaren reserve driver Kevin Magnussen told AUTOSPORT that he was pursuing a Verizon IndyCar Series drive until he had to replace Fernando Alonso in F1’s first race in Australia. “You never know what can come up during the year, but for now the only thing that’s certain is that I’m going to be at the [Formula 1] races,” said Magnussen. – RACER – (3/28/15)

Jones wins pole for Lights Race 1 – Carlin rookie Ed Jones won the pole for the first race of the Indy Lights weekend at St. Pete on Saturday. Teammate Max Chilton will start second and defending series runner-up Jack Harvey will start third. Full results at the link. – MRTI – (3/28/15)

Rain prevents action in afternoon practices at St. Pete –  The second practice sessions for both the Verizon IndyCar Series and Indy Lights were ended early due to no teams being interested in partaking in the wet conditions. Saturday and Sunday are supposed to be dry. – OW33 – (3/27/15)

Power tops the charts in first practice at St. Pete – Will Power was fastest at a time of 1:01.4709 in the first practice session of the year at St. Pete. Penske teammates Juan Pablo Montoya and Helio Castroneves along with Scott Dixon and Sebastien Bourdais completed the Top 5. Nine of the Top 11 were Chevrolets. Full results at the link. – INDYCAR – (3/27/15)

Justin Wilson will drive for AA in both races at IMS – Justin Wilson will drive for Andretti Autosport at the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the 99th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. The team is still searching for a primary sponsor and working on adding a fifth car for the 500. “I’m thrilled to be joining Andretti Autosport,” said Wilson. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for me and this should be a strong program. I’m looking forward to continuing my relationship with Honda and to working with Ryan (Hunter-Reay), Carlos (Muñoz) and Marco (Andretti). Thank you to Michael (Andretti) for bringing me on board and giving me this great opportunity. I know that the team has everything in place to do well, and I’m really confident about what the group is capable of this year.” – Andretti Autosport – (3/27/15)

Carlin 1-2 in first Lights practice of the season – Ed Jones and Max Chilton of new Indy Lights entrant Carlin topped the charts for the first practice session of the season at St. Pete. Another new entrant, 8 Star Motorsports, grabbed the third spot with rookie Scott Hargrove. Juan Piedrahita and Matthew Brabham completed the top 5. Full results a the link. – Indy Lights – (3/27/15)

RACER Q&A with Mark Miles – Marshall Pruett of RACER Magazine sat down with Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles and posted a terrific transcript of their Q&A. A must read. – RACER – (3/27/15)

Penske renews with Hitachi in multi-year deal – Team Penske announced on Thursday that they have agreed to a multi-year deal with Hitachi to continue their sponsorship with their Verizon IndyCar Series program. – Team Penske – (3/26/15)

Cavin Q&A 3/26/15 – The Indianapolis Star’s Curt Cavin’s fan Q&A covers smaller teams, Indy 500 car counts, and aero kits. – Indianapolis Star – (3/26/15)

Magneti Marelli and SPM continue partnership – Magneti Marelli and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced on Thursday that they will continue their partnership for a third straight season. “Magneti Marelli Motorsport provides powertrain technology and fuel components to different teams in the Verizon IndyCar series, and is a technical partner of Honda Performance Development. SPM will continue to utilize fuel system and ignition system components in the #5 SPM entry driven by three-time Verizon IndyCar Series race winner James Hinchcliffe. Hinchcliffe signed with SPM in October 2014.” – PR Newswire – (3/26/15)

IMS investigating hotel/apartment building near Turn 2 – “The Indianapolis Motor Speedway wants to build a 125-room hotel with apartments and a restaurant along Turn 2 of the track. Local developer Browning Investments Inc., on behalf of the IMS, put out requests for proposals, which were due March 20. (The image below is just a mockup for the RFP; the eventual project likley would look different.) How much interest the RFP generated from developers, or what timing might be for construction, is unclear. IMS President Doug Boles declined to discuss specifics.” Continue to the link for more information. – IBJ – (3/26/15)

Official INDYCAR St. Pete Preview – INDYCAR’s official preview of this weekend at St. Pete includes a full schedule, entry lists, rules specific to this event, and more. Always a necessary read before a race weekend. – INDYCAR – (3/26/15)

INDYCAR launches continued “Rivals” promotion campaign – INDYCAR’s second year of their “Rivals” promotional campaign kicked off on Wednesday. One of the many new ads can be seen at the link. “IndyCar experienced a substantial step forward in 2014 across many of its marketing and communications platforms,” said company CMO C.J. O’Donnell, who enters his second year with IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “The ‘Rivals’ campaign was a successful first step in the evolution of the IndyCar brand and it clearly resonated with a passionate Verizon IndyCar Series audience. Our efforts to thrill our fans and champion our heroes will continue this year as we continue to highlight the speed and innovation that is inherent in our sport.” – RACER – (3/26/15)

Bourdais trades jerseys with Rowdies soccer player – Sebastien Bourdais engaged in a jersey swap with Tampa Bay Rowdies midfielder Marcelo Saragosa as part of a promotional effort before this weekend’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete. “I played when I was kid, like pretty much every other French kid,” said Bourdais, “but wasn’t really any good, at least not enough to expect being a professional. I can kick a ball, but it takes a lot more than that.” – INDYCAR – (3/26/15)

Valpak and RLL extend partnership – V”alpak announced today that it will once again partner with IndyCar Series team Rahal Letterman Lanigan (RLL) Racing. This will be the second year for the exciting part­ner­ship that combines America’s love of racing with the Valpak loyal audience. Featured driver Graham Rahal will make an appear­ance on the Valpak enve­lope later this year, as well as promote the Valpak smart phone app and spread the Valpak savings message nation­wide on the Verizon IndyCar Series circuit. Graham will promote Valpak’s mobile offer­ings and savings on the go around the country.” – RLL – (3/26/15)

Miles promoting INDYCAR to tracks as alternative to high priced F1 – AUTOSPORT reports that Mark Miles efforts to take INDYCAR to international venues could be helped by the extraordinary high sanctioning fees keeping F1 races away from traditional European venues among others. “We don’t have to charge the kind of sanctioning fees that race promoters in countries, and sovereign funds are paying for Formula 1”, Miles told AUTOSPORT. “But I think we can offer a product that is seen as uniquely American, but is extraordinarily exciting racing. So I think there is a big opportunity for us.” – AUTOSPORT – (3/25/15)

Cavin Q&A 3/25/15 – The Indianapolis Star’s Curt Cavin’s fan Q&A covers the “top dog” at Penske, Allmendinger wanting to do the double, and more. – Indianapolis Star – (3/25/15)

Miller’s Mailbag 3/25/15 – RACER’s Robin Miller’s weekly fan Q&A is a great read as always. – RACER – (3/25/15)

Veach blogs a career update – Last year’s third place Lights finisher Zach Veach has a blog update on RACER on his plans for 2015. He’s still pushing for a deal in the Verizon IndyCar Series and while he won’t be at St. Pete, he’s still working hard to secure a part-time deal for 2015 or a full-time ride for 2016. “The whole situation may be tough, but it hasn’t hurt my motivation or determination at all. If anything, it’s heightened them. Pushing over the winter with PitFit Training I was able to put on 15lbs of muscle mass and repeat the mental work that helped me so much in 2014. A day out of the car isn’t wasted if it’s spent preparing for the day that you are. Until I get my opportunity, I’ll keep working as hard as I can to be ready for my chance.” – RACER – (3/25/15)

Brabham ready for St. Pete one-off – Australian American Matthew Brabham didn’t have as great of a year last year in Indy Lights as he expected after winning titles in the USF 2000 and Pro Mazda series in the two prior seasons. Because of that he lost some of the previous sponsorship money he had but he has been driving for Andretti Autosport’s Formula E program and has a one race Indy Lights deal with the team for St. Pete. “I’ve been spoiled in the States to be honest with you,” Brabham told MotorSportsTalk. “Having the Mazda scholarship help has been great, but it almost made me relaxed. Now this new side, you have to push and work tirelessly to find the sponsorship. It’s a good and important life experience for me. At the same time this is good for my career and the business side. This has all been a big help because the business side has never been my strong suit.” – NBC Sports – (3/25/15)

INDYCAR adds fantasy site for 2015 – INDYCAR has brought back a fantasy racing game to their website for the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series. Check it out at Search “openwh33l” to find The Open Wheel’s league! – INDYCAR – (3/24/15)

Rahal adds Steak ‘n Shake as a sponsor – “Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) announced today that Steak ‘n Shake, the defin­i­tive Amer­ican brand and home of the orig­inal Steak­burger™ and hand-dipped milk­shakes, will be the primary sponsor of the No. 15 Indy car driven by Graham Rahal at five Verizon IndyCar Series events including the 99th running of the Indi­anapolis 500. The part­ner­ship includes races at Long Beach, two events at Indi­anapolis Motor Speedway and Detroit and Mid-Ohio. Maxim Maga­zine branding will also be featured on the race car. Both are owned by Biglari Hold­ings Inc.” See the livery here at the No. 15 livery page. – RLL – (3/24/15)

IMS to add new SAFER barriers before the 500 – “Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials plan to install 1,560 additional feet of SAFER barriers at the 2.5-mile facility before on-track activities commence in May for the Indianapolis 500.” “We are obviously different than the other mile-and-a half or two-mile ovals with the (low) banking and our angles,” Boles told USA TODAY Sports. “We’re so tight to begin with, the likelihood of getting into those (unprotected areas) is really slim and getting into one with any significant speed is even slimmer. But we decided that the best thing to do was to add (SAFER) to those two locations.” – USA Today – (3/24/15)

St. Pete Indy Lights entry list is out – The entry list for the first two races of the 2015 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season is out. The 13 car/driver combinations that were primarily used at test sessions this winter are on the list and an additional entry for Team Moore Racing is still possible if they can add a driver. Full entry list here. – RACER – (3/24/15)

St. Pete spotter guide is out – The first spotter guide of the year has been released by INDYCAR. There are no major surprises based on testing liveries seen thus far this season. The only car to watch out for will be Dale Coyne Racing’s No. 19 to be driven by Francesco Dracone. The spotter guide shows a similar livery to what Justin Wilson drove last year, Dracone tweeted a picture of “his” car in Huertas’ colors, and one would think Dracone would be bringing some sponsorship money if he got the ride so that would could be a surprise. – St. Pete Spotter Guide – (3/23/15)

INDYCAR secures international broadcast package with ESPN Player – “ESPN Player will bring fans across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (excluding the UK, France, Italy and South Africa) live and on-demand coverage of the Verizon IndyCar Series season as a new channel on the digital subscription service. ESPN Player users can enjoy comprehensive coverage of all 16 races, starting with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 29.” – INDYCAR – (3/23/15)

Spyder joins SPM as Hinch associate sponsor – “Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) announced today that Spyder Active Sports, Inc. will be an associate sponsor of the No. 5 Arrow Electronics car driven by James Hinchcliffe in the Verizon IndyCar Series.” “It’s great that the Spyder relationship has grown now to include everyone at SPM,” said Hinchcliffe. “Working with Spyder through the 2014 season was a great experience and the brand really encompasses what IndyCar racing is all about. I’m thrilled that we can keep that relationship going. No argument that we will be the best dressed team in pit lane!” – SPM – (3/23/15)

Cavin Q&A 3/23/15 – The Indianapolis Star’s Curt Cavin’s fan Q&A covers under-the-radar picks, tub repairs, Simona’s future, and more. – Indianapolis Star – (3/23/15)

Bourdais grabs a victory at Sebring – Sebastien Bourdais was a co-driver for the overall winners of the 2015 12 Hours of Sebring, the No. 5 Action Express Chevrolet. Scott Dixon was a part of a fourth placed finish for Chip Ganassi Racing. Conor Daly was part of the podium finish in PC with Performance Tech. – INDYCAR – (3/22/15)

Allmendinger wants to do the double – AJ Allmendinger wants to run the Indianapolis 500 and Coca Cola 600 and his Sprint Cup team owner “has an open mind” should he find the right deal. “The only problem is I was definitely spoiled by doing it with Roger Penske for the first time ever,” said Allmendinger. “And I would only do it if it was an opportunity to go win that race, because leading at Indy is a feeling I’ve never had before in my life. My heart was beating, shaking in the car. I want to experience that again, so if it’s the right opportunity, I’d love to do it.” – FOX Sports – (3/22/15)

Boston working hard to land ’16 INDYCAR finale – The city of Boston is working hard to land a deal to run the Verizon IndyCar Series finale in “The Hub” district of the city in 2016. “We’re working on it, we’re looking to see if it works for the city,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “Certainly it would be a great opportunity for promotion of the city.” – Boston Herald – (3/22/15)

INDYCAR announces Leaders Circle increases – “INDYCAR announced an increase of $250,000 to its Leaders Circle program, which raises the total annual payment to eligible Verizon IndyCar Series entrants to $1.25 million. A total of 21 entrants are entered in the Leaders Circle program for the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season. “INDYCAR is invested in the continued support of its teams,” said Derrick Walker, INDYCAR President of Competition and Operations. “The Leaders Circle program rewards INDYCAR teams for full-season participation and helps each of them with an additional source of funding. The program is also an asset to our promoters as it guarantees over 20 cars at each Verizon IndyCar Series event. As INDYCAR continues to grow we’re excited about opportunities like this that are beneficial to the teams that compete in our series.”” – INDYCAR – (3/20/15)

8 Star and Hargrove in for Lights at St. Pete – Scott Hargrove will drive for new Indy Lights team 8 Star Motorsports at St. Pete. “It has been great to work with the team and the new Dallara IL-15,” Hargrove said. “Our pace is very promising and we have no other intentions but to run up front and go for the win. The St. Petersburg Grand Prix is one of my favorite races of the year, the atmosphere is great and the track is a blast to drive.” – 8 Star Motorsports – (3/20/15)

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