News for the Week of March 28, 2016 – April 3, 2016

Optimism for future at Phoenix after solid turnout in INDYCAR return – Michael Knight reports for the Arizona Republic that the estimated crowd of 20,000 and entertaining Verizon IndyCar Series race resulted Phoenix International Raceway President Bryan Sperber saying he was on “cloud 9” at the end of the night. “This whole weekend was incredible,” Sperber said as he watched Scott Dixon celebrate in victory lane. “To be part of something like this is an amazing experience for Phoenix Raceway and I hope the fans had fun watching this amazing racing.” More at the link. – Arizona Republic – (4/3/2016)

Dixon wins in Verizon IndyCar Series return to Phoenix – Scott Dixon dominated the latter half of the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix and grabbed his first win of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season. The rest of the Top 5 was Pagenaud, Power, Kanaan, and Rahal. Castroneves and Montoya each had front right tire failures while leading in the first half of the race. Check out our live blog of the event here. Full results here. – INDYCAR – (4/2/2016)

Grace Autosport set to partner with KVSH for 500 – David Malsher of reports “Katherine Legge is rumored to be returning to IndyCar competition for the first time in three years when the Grace Autosport program forms KVSH Racing’s third entry in this year’s Indianapolis 500.” Of course Grace Autosport’s intentions have been announced and clear for some time but the team does need a partner to make the plan a reality. – – (4/2/2016)

Kaiser takes Lights win at Phoenix – Juncos Racing’s Kyle Kaiser led all 90 laps and won the Indy Lights race at Phoenix International Raceway in dominant fashion. The rest of the Top 5 was Jones, Enerson, Urrutia, and Stoneman. Full results here. – Indy Lights – (4/2/2016)

Castroneves fastest again in final practice at Phoenix – Helio Castronves was once again fastest at Phoenix as he led the way in the final Verizon IndyCar Series practice of the race weekend. The rest of the Top 5 was Montoya, Dixon, Newgarden, and Pagenaud as Chevy took all of the Top 10. Sato’s car was not ready in time to participate in practice but Munoz and Hinchcliffe did return. Full results here. – INDYCAR – (4/1/2016)

Kaiser wins Lights pole at Phoenix – Kyle Kaiser won the pole for the Indy Lights race at Phoenix International Raceway with a two-lap average of 167.872mph. The rest of the Top 5 was Jones, Urrutia, Enerson, and Serralles. Zach Veach crashed in the final practice session and was unable to qualify due to damage to his car and will start the race in P16. Full results at the link. – Indy Lights – (4/1/2016)

Helio wins Phoenix pole, Munoz crashes – Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves won the pole for the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix and set a new track record with an average speed of 192.324mph. The rest of the Top 5 was Kanaan, Montoya, Kimball, and Carpenter. Once again Chevy had all Top 10 spots. Carlos Munoz hit the wall hard in his qualifying attempt. Takuma Sato and James Hinchcliffe did not attempt to qualify after their cars were heavily damaged in practice earlier in the day. Full results here. – INDYCAR – (4/1/2016)

Newgarden Visor Cam from Phoenix – INDYCAR’s popular visor cam feature makes its debut on an oval with Josef Newgarden at Phoenix International Raceway. A must watch. – INDYCAR – (4/1/2016)

Kaiser leads the way in Lights Practice 2 at Phoenix – Juncos Racing’s Kyle Kaiser was fastest in the second Indy Lights practice at Phoenix International Raceway with a lap of 22.2247. The rest of the Top 5 was Claman De Melo, Enerson, Jones, and Alberico. Zach Veach made contact with the wall in the session but was cleared and released from the medical center quickly after. Full results at the link. – Indy Lights – (4/1/2016)

AA confirms Bell as fifth and final Indy 500 driver – “Andretti Autosport has confirmed its final entry for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. American Townsend Bell will complete the team’s five-car line up behind the wheel of the No. 29 Honda.” “Driving in the 100th Running of the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport is a great opportunity,” said Bell. “I think I’ll benefit from being part of a strong multi-car team with a winning pedigree at Indy. This is my ninth-consecutive start and I’m glad it’s all come together the way it has – I’m looking forward to working with Honda again and having the chance to race for one of the best teams in the sport.” – Andretti Autosport – (4/1/2016)

RLL adds United Rentals as sponsor – “Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) announced today that United Rentals Inc., the largest equipment rental company in the world, will be the primary sponsor for the No. 15 Verizon IndyCar Series entry of Graham Rahal in the Chevrolet Duals in Detroit, June 4 and 5, as well as a major associate sponsor on the team’s entry for Rahal during the entire 2016 season.” – RLL – (4/1/2016)

Carpenter leads ECR sweep in caution-filled Practice 1 at Phoenix – Ed Carpenter and Josef Newgarden led an Ed Carpenter Racing sweep of the Top 2 spots in Verizon IndyCar Series Practice 1 at Phoenix International Raceway. The rest of the Top 5 was Castroneves, Kanaan, and Pagenaud. Chevy cars made up the entire Top 10. Takuma Sato and James Hinchcliffe each walked away from major contact with the wall in the session. See images of the incidents in the next story down. Full results here. – INDYCAR – (4/1/2016)

Hinch and Sato crash in Practice 1 at Phoenix – Both Takuma Sato and James Hinchcliffe crashed in Verizon IndyCar Series Practice 1 at Phoenix International Raceway. Each driver is ok after climbing out of the car. See images of the incidents at the links. Because of the incidents neither will participate in qualifying. – The Open Wheel & The Open Wheel – (4/1/2016)

IMS unveils 500 Festival Event Cars – “A longtime Indianapolis 500 tradition was renewed today between the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Chevrolet when 33 directors of the 500 Festival received 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS convertibles on the IMS main straightaway. The “Festival Event Cars” have reminded Indianapolis-area residents of the upcoming Indianapolis 500 since the 1960s, and this year’s fleet of unique Camaros will again turn heads as they are driven around Central Indiana.” See the cars at the link. – IMS – (4/1/2016)

Serralles tops the charts in Lights Practice 1 at Phoenix – Carlin’s Felix Serralles’ lap of 22.0617 was the fastest lap of Indy Lights’ first practice at Phoenix International Raceway. The rest of the Top 5 was Jones, Stoneman, Kaiser, and Claman De Melo. Full results at the link. – Indy Lights – (4/1/2016)

Judge dismisses ASM/NOLA Motorsports Park case amidst “amicable resolution” – “The two groups that organized and hosted an ill-fated IndyCar racing event in Avondale last year and later faced off against each other in New Orleans’ federal court have settled their differences. U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown signed an order Tuesday dismissing the lawsuit that a local subsidiary of the company formerly known as Andretti Sports Marketing filed against the NOLA Motorsports Park racetrack; its owner, Laney Chouest; and an affiliated nonprofit. Brown signed the order at the request of both sides, who earlier had notified the judge that they had “effected an amicable resolution of all claims at issue” in their dispute over the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana race held in April 2015.” – The Advocate – (4/1/2016)

IMS names drivers participating in April 6 oval test – Mikhail Aleshin, Marco Andretti, Sebastien Bourdais, Ed Carpenter, Helio Castroneves, Conor Daly, Scott Dixon, Jack Hawksworth, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball, Juan Pablo Montoya, Carlos Munoz, Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato are all expected to participate in the April 6th oval test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. – NBC Sports – (3/31/2016)

Delta named as official airline of GP of Boston – “Today, the Grand Prix of Boston powered by LogMeIn announced the addition of Delta Air Lines as an Official Airline of the Grand Prix. Delta Air Lines is one of the largest carriers serving Boston, operating over 80 peak day flights, and partnering with the Grand Prix of Boston powered by LogMeIn to provide vacation packages to race goers is a natural fit for Delta and fans.” Great to see new sponsors getting involved with the series! – Grand Prix of Boston – (3/31/2016)

The Open Wheel’s Phoenix preview – Our own Dylan Reynolds previews this weekend’s Indy Lights and Verizon IndyCar Series action at Phoenix International Raceway with predictions and fantasy advice. – The Open Wheel – (3/31/2016)

PIR unveils new A.J. Foyt Champions Trophy for this weekend’s winner – Phoenix International Raceway unveiled the trophy for the winner of this weekend’s Verizon IndyCar Series Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix. Check it out at the link. – Phoenix Int’l Raceway – (3/31/2016)

REV Group unveils new livery for No. 3 at Phoenix – REV Group is the sponsor for the Team Penske No. 3 to be driven this weekend at Phoenix. See the livery at our No. 3 livery page here. – REV Group – (3/31/2016)

KVSH transporter damaged in fire – RACER’s Marshall Pruett reports that the KVSH transporter carrying Sebastien Bourdais’ No. 11 car was damaged in a fire en route to Phoenix International Raceway. “I don’t know how bad it is, but it didn’t sound good,” team co-owner Jimmy Vasser told RACER. “[KVSH team manager] Steve Moore is there and they’re trying to unload to see how much burned.” Update: Sebastien Bourdais says the crew members on the truck are safe and the car is fine.  – RACER – (3/30/2016)

Miller’s Mailbag 3/30/16 – RACER’s Robin Miller’s weekly fan Q&A is a great read as always. – RACER – (3/30/2016)

GE Light to sponsor Ganassi No. 10 at Phoenix – Tony Kanaan’s Chip Ganassi Racing No. 10 machine will have a new look this weekend at Phoenix as GE Light will adorn the sidepods in a livery of various shades of blue. See the livery at our No. 10 livery page here. – Adam Stern – (3/30/2016)

RACER analyzes new superspeedway safety flaps – RACER has posted a piece on the new safety flap system that will be implemented in the Verizon IndyCar Series for the superspeedway oval races at Indy, Texas, and Pocono. “The flaps, when deployed, are meant to spoil the airflow traveling under the rear wing mainplane and across the back of the car, and with that pathway all but blocked by the flaps, aerodynamic lift should be reduced to a point where the chance of flights are greatly reduced.” Images and more analysis at the link. – RACER – (3/30/2016)

Fisher’s new karting facility hosts VIP opener and opens to public Friday – Sarah Fisher and husband Andy O’Gara’s new Speedway Indoor Karting venture hosted a VIP opening on Tuesday night with INDYCAR drivers and media testing out the new karts and track. “This is a racing town and I feel like we needed something like this,” Fisher said of the Town of Speedway. “To have it on Main Street is definitely an opportunity. Taking a break from car ownership for the year, it only made sense that this was the right timing to do it.” The facility opens to the public on Friday, April 1st. – INDYCAR – (3/30/2016)

INDYCAR sticks with same aero package as Phoenix test for race weekend – RACER reports that INDYCAR has mandated the same downforce specifications from the February test for this weekend’s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Phoenix International Raceway. “We’re staying with the specification used at the test,” Tino Belli, IndyCar’s director of aerodynamic development, told RACER. “We spoke with every driver at the end of both [test] days and the overwhelming response was to stay where we were.” – RACER – (3/30/2016)

Trackside podcast 3/28/16 – 1070 The Fan’s popular Trackside with Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee is a great listen as always. Will Power and Paul Tracy are guests on the show. – 1070 The Fan – (3/29/2016)

Andretti Autosport unveils UFD livery for four races including Phoenix – “The No. 27 machine of Marco Andretti will take on a new, but familiar, look for four races in the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season as the blue wings of United Fiber & Data return to the Andretti line up. The Pennsylvania-based tech company will serve as the co-primary sponsor for IndyCar race events in Phoenix, Long Beach, Pocono and Boston with side-pod branding.” See the livery at our No. 27 livery page here. – Andretti Autosport – (3/29/2016)

ESPN SportsCenter to have Major Presence at 100th Indianapolis 500 – “The historic 100th edition of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” will get the green flag live on ABC on Sunday, May 29, and ESPN will lead up to its sister network’s race telecast with four live SportsCenter on the Road programs originating from the Speedway, as well as reports airing within other editions of the program. This will be SportsCenter on the Road’s first visit to IMS since ESPN launched the initiative in 2015 and will mark the first live SportsCenter programs from IMS in more than a decade.” Full SC at IMS schedule at the link. – IMS – (3/29/2016)

“The Sheer Force of Will Power” now released – Will Power and David Malsher’s book, The Sheer Force of Will Power, is now released and available. Check out our own Parker Hall’s review of the book at the link. – The Open Wheel – (3/29/2016)

Allen to call Phoenix, Long Beach, and Barber for NBCSN – “Well-known motorsports broadcaster Rick Allen will fulfill a lifelong dream when he calls his first Verizon IndyCar Series race April 2 at Phoenix International Raceway. Allen has been tabbed by NBCSN to fill in for regular Verizon IndyCar Series chief announcer Leigh Diffey, who will be busy calling Formula One races and the U.S. Olympic rowing trials for NBCSN on the same weekends as the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix (April 2), Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (April 17) and Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (April 24).” “The opportunity to call an Indy car race, when it was presented to me, I was ecstatic, I really wanted to do it,” Allen said. “Then they told me the races they were looking at – Phoenix, Long Beach and Barber. I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, you couldn’t have picked better.’” – INDYCAR – (3/29/2016)

RACER reports Bell will drive in 500 for Andretti – RACER’s Robin Miller is reporting that Townsend Bell will drive for Andretti Autosport in the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. – RACER – (3/29/2016)

Entry list released for Phoenix; Filippi in, Pigot out – The entry list is out for the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix. Noteworthy items are Luca Filippi remaining in the No. 19, the return of Ed Carpenter in the No. 20, and Spencer Pigot officially not being listed (no surprise only slated for St. Pete and the IMS races). Judging by the entry list be on the lookout for new liveries for the No. 3 (REV Group), No. 22 (Devilbiss), No. 83 (Tresiba), and possibly the No. 98 (Castrol Edge/Curb). – INDYCAR – (3/28/2016)

Lights entry list released for Phoenix – The entry list is out for the Indy Lights Grand Prix of Phoenix. It has the same 16 car/driver combinations as the race weekend in St. Pete. – Indy Lights – (3/28/2016)

Byrd team picks up bail bonds sponsor – Jonathan Byrd’s Racing sent out a press release on a new sponsor, Murello’s Uptown Bail Bonds, and it’s as interesting as a bail bond sponsor should be. See this quote from driver Bryan Clauson: “It gets crazy around Indy during May, and we all know that some times and places get a bit crazier than others. We want to make sure that, even if someone happens to get into a bit of trouble during the month of May, that they can still make it to the race by working through Murello’s.” – TSO – (3/28/2016)

Pelfrey confirms Hargrove for three more races – David Malsher at reports that Scott Hargrove will continue to drive for Team Pelfrey’s Lights program at Phoenix and the two races at Barber. They’re working on a full time deal. A Team Pelfrey insider told, “We’re working on that deal and it’s getting closer by the minute,” while Hargrove himself added: “I don’t want to sound like it’s been finalized, but yes, I believe we’re going to be together for the whole season.” – – (3/28/2016)

Bell tweets he’s accepted a 500 deal – Townsend Bell tweeted over the weekend that he’s accepted a deal to race in this year’s 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. “Yes. I’ve decided to race for a former Indycar driver. Hope u can make it.” More details surely to follow… – Townsend Bell – (3/28/2016)

Penske not in favor of international events – As rumors continue to swirl of a non-points Verizon IndyCar Series race weekend in an international location after the season Roger Penske made it clear he’s not sure that’s a good idea. “I would like to have 15 or 16 good races,” Penske told RACER. “I don’t want to have 18, 19 or 20. I’m not interested in going overseas. I think if we run our series over here we’ll be a lot better off. Our sponsors – 95 percent of them – are U.S. domestic companies. If we are going to give them the benefit, notoriety and the business-to-business relationships we have to have to maintain these sponsors as we do, it’s hard to do it in Abu Dhabi and places like that.” – RACER – (3/28/2016)

Mears, Unser Jr. Luyendyk, and Hinch hold entertaining forum in NYC – INDYCAR has a nice report on “A Celebration of the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500″, a forum on Broadway featuring “four-time Indy 500 winner Rick Mears, two-time 500 winners Al Unser Jr. and Arie Luyendyk, and someone who hopes to earn his first “500” win this May, James Hinchcliffe.” Way too good to shorten. Check it out at the link. – INDYCAR – (3/24/2016)

Indy 500 tix sales strong; Nabors not returning for race – The Indianapolis Star’s Curt Cavin posted a nice report today with updates on the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. IMS President Doug Boles told Cavin that reserved ticket sales for this year are already ahead of last year’s totals and that Jim Nabors will not be attending the race this year. “He wants to come, but he reached out to us at the end of last fall and said he couldn’t,” Boles said. – Indianapolis Star – (3/24/2016)

Desert Diamond West Valley named as Phoenix title sponsor – “Phoenix International Raceway President Bryan R. Sperber today announced newly-opened Desert Diamond West Valley as the title sponsor for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ return to the Valley of the Sun this spring. The Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix takes place under the lights Saturday evening, April 2, 2016.” More at the link. – Phoenix Int’l Raceway – (3/24/2016)

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