Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Announces Their 2018 Driver Lineup

James Hinchcliffe
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced today its lineup for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season. Oakville, Ontario native James Hinchcliffe has renewed his contract with the Indianapolis-based team in a multi-year extension, and the 2011 IndyCar Rookie of the Year’s teammate will be countryman and friend Robert Wickens, a native of Guelph. The duo marks the first all-Canadian lineup in North American open-wheel racing since 2004 (Champ Car; Forsythe Racing: Paul Tracy, Patrick Carpentier).

“Not only am I really excited to be able to say I’ll be back with SPM for next year and beyond, but I am also really looking forward to being teammates with one of my oldest friends,” the 30-year-old Hinchcliffe commented. “Robbie and I grew up racing against one another, eventually took different paths, me staying in North America in open-wheel cars and him going off to Europe in sports cars, but it’s pretty neat that we both ended up here and we get to live our dream of being professional racing drivers, together on the same team. I think 2018 is going to be a great year for the SPM organization, from having Robbie here to the team’s new partnership with Honda and the 2018 aero kit; I just can’t wait to get back on track and bring some good results home for the Arrow Electronics crew.”

The Season 23 Dancing with the Stars runner-up has thus far captured five wins (St. Pete, Sao Paulo, Iowa 2013; New Orleans 2015; Long Beach 2017), 14 podium finishes and one pole position (Indianapolis 500, 2016) in his six full seasons of IndyCar competition. Hinchcliffe has led 691 laps to date.

With two Formula Championships under his belt (Formula BMW USA, 2006; Formula Renault 3.5, 2011) as well as a season as a Formula One test driver (Marussia Virgin Racing), Wickens will make his return to open-wheel racing following six seasons of competing in Europe for Mercedes Benz in Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM). During his time in sports cars, the 28-year-old clinched six wins, five pole positions and 15 podium finishes.

“This is an entirely new chapter to add to my racing career, and I am really excited for this opportunity that Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has given me,” Wickens noted. “I think everyone knows the story by now that James and I grew up racing against one another in go karts, and to make it to the largest open-wheel racing series in North America together as teammates, it’s crazy to think about. I am very thankful for the six years I had with everyone at Mercedes and DTM; those are memories I will cherish forever. I can’t wait to truly see what the Verizon IndyCar Series is all about!”

“We’re all very pleased to have Robert on board, and not just because he’s another Canadian,” added SPM co-owner and fellow Canadian, Ric Peterson. “He’s obviously someone who has been on our radar for some time now, and we’re excited about this new chapter in the SPM organization. We’ve been building a lot of momentum within the team and hope this latest addition will be a great next step as we move forward. I’m also really proud that we’ll be able to represent ‘Team Canada’ and be able to showcase two great Canadian athletes.”

#TeamCanada will be available to media tomorrow, October 19 at Goodwood Kartways (5200 Concession 2 Road, Whitchurch-Stouffville) from 3:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. with a media vs. drivers karting race immediately following. (Please RSVP your attendance to SPM Press Officer Veronica Knowlton.) A free, public meet and greet with the IndyCar drivers will then take place from 4:15 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.

You can keep up with the latest news from SPM and its 2018 lineup via Twitter/Facebook/Instagram at @SPMindycar, @Hinchtown and @RobertWickens.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Introducing Walkinshaw Andretti United, A New Force in Supercars

Image result for michael andretti

Reigning Indianapolis 500 champions Andretti Autosport have announced today that the multi-championship racing team will enter the Australia Supercars Championship with Walkinshaw Racing and United Autosports.

The new partnership, Walkinshaw Andretti United, spans across three continents to combine a trio of icons in motorsport, creating a new racing enterprise, and will begin competition under the new banner in 2018.

Michael Andretti, CEO and Chairman, Andretti Autosport: 
“I’m very excited to announce our new partnership with Walkinshaw Racing and United Autosports. I have always set a goal for Andretti Autosport to diversify and succeed across multiple platforms, and this opportunity is a natural next step for the team as we continue to expand globally. Together with Walkinshaw Racing and United Autosports, we now have three iconic organizations working together. We are determined to succeed, and I have full confidence that this new venture, Walkinshaw Andretti United, will become a leading Supercars team.” 

Ryan Walkinshaw, Chairman, Walkinshaw Racing: 
“To be able to partner with both Andretti Autosport and United Autosports is an honor. We’ve looked from a far at what both have to offer the team moving forward, which is why everyone should be so excited. Fundamentally, we are doing it differently. This combination of international expertise is a pivotal step in accelerating our development, getting us where we need to be. We’ve been looking for partners who can add value to this team, both on and off the track, so to be able to find that so resoundingly is the most pleasing element.

“It’s not only an alliance of technical expertise, but commercial prowess. Their experience, knowledge and record, both on and off the race-track, gives us, our current partners, and any future partners, access to global networks and talent pools. Today is the beginning of a new era. We are still firmly focused on the job at hand for 2017, but eagerly looking forward to 2018.”

Zak Brown, Team Owner and Chairman, United Autosports: 
“I’m delighted United Autosports have joined forces with Walkinshaw Racing and Andretti Autosport. It is bringing together three iconic names in motorsport across three continents – Europe, Australia and America, where we can share our experience and resources to make each team stronger.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Tony Kanaan Joins AJ Foyt Racing for 2018

Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan, of Miami, Fla., will join AJ Foyt Racing to drive the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet in the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series team officials announced today.

The pairing of a modern legend with a classic one is a first for AJ Foyt Racing which has never hired an existing Indy 500 champion for a full season drive other than A.J. Foyt, who owned the team when he won his third and fourth Indianapolis 500s.“

We’ve talked to Tony for the last couple of years and I’m just glad we were able to put something together because I know he wants to win as bad as we do,” Foyt said. “I think he still has two or three good years in him. He’s always been a hard charger and I like somebody who wants to charge hard.”

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Kanaan, who won the Indy 500 in 2013 and the Verizon IndyCar Series title in 2004, is enthused about the upcoming season with his new team.“

I just thought it was a great opportunity for me to build something where we can make history, and for me that’s what racing’s all about,” said Kanaan, who signed a multi-year contract to drive for Foyt. “Yes it is about the wins, but it’s also about the people, the people that you’re associated with. We’re going to make some history.”

AJ Foyt Racing’s marketing partner ABC Supply Co., Inc., whose contract with the team was up for renewal next year, has extended their contract with the team so it is now a multi-year deal.

“We’re big fans of Tony and are excited to have him on our team,” said Keith Rozolis, the CEO and president of ABC Supply, which is America’s largest wholesale distributor of exterior building products. “We are looking forward to next season.”

Coincidentally, 2018 will be season number 14 for ABC Supply as the team’s primary sponsor; the association is the longest-running one between team and sponsor in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Kanaan, who plans to spend most of his time in Indianapolis during the racing season, recognizes the challenges that lay ahead for him. “My biggest challenge will be getting to know everybody and really make everybody work for one goal which is go win the race. But at the same time, over the weekend we need to remember why we’re there, why we’re sacrificing everything we have to be there, and have some fun. That’s really important as well. And I can tell you when you’re not winning, you’re not having fun, so we’ve got to win.”

Having celebrated his 20th season in IndyCar competition in 2017, the 42-year-old Brazilian brings a wealth of experience to the cockpit which is what Team President Larry Foyt was looking for, especially with the debut of the universal aero kit next season.

“I’m thrilled to have Tony Kanaan joining the team,” Larry Foyt said. “We have known he would be a great fit for our team and our sponsors, and I’m glad the deal came together. Tony wants to win, and we want to win. I know he and I will be pushing each other to get the best results we can. With the new aero kit, I feel Tony’s experience in many different iterations of Indy cars will be a great asset as we prepare and test for the upcoming season.”

With the hire of Kanaan, Foyt was able to engage Technical Director Eric Cowdin, whose resume includes stints with Chip Ganassi Racing, KV Racing Technology, Team Penske and Andretti-Green Racing. Cowdin has been teamed with Kanaan during the significant achievements in the Brazilian’s racing career including his Indy 500 victory, 2004 IndyCar title and 15 of his 17 victories. He will also serve as the race engineer of the No. 14 car.

“I would like to thank A.J. and Larry for the opportunity to join the team,” said Cowdin, who earned his degrees in aerospace engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (B.S. in 1991) and Virginia Tech (Masters in 1993). “I’m looking forward to continuing my long relationship with TK and reuniting with the folks at Chevy. We have a big challenge ahead of us with the new universal aero kit and I can’t wait to get started.”

For the first time since 1966, the No. 14 car will be operated out of a location other than Texas as it will move to Foyt’s Indianapolis race shop. The No. 4 car will now be based in the Waller, Texas race shop. There has been no decision made on the driver of the No. 4 car.

Kanaan, who has expressed his desire to drive for Indy’s first four-time champion in the past, concluded by saying, “As a driver, you want to be on a team that works around you, that will build the stuff around you and for you, but also, if I can have a person like A.J. to help me, even at this point of my career, it’s awesome. He’s a legend in many ways in my book.

Ever the jokester, he added, “I’m 42 and I keep hearing that I’m getting old, but I know a guy who retired when he was 58! That gives me a lot of hope.”

TIL NEXT IME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Helio Joins Team Penske’s IMSA Entry In 2018

Helio Castroneves

Team Penske today announced that longtime winning INDYCAR driver Helio Castroneves will join the team’s new Acura Team Penske program that will begin racing in the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Castroneves will join previously-announced drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron in racing one of two Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype International (DPi) entries next season. Acura Team Penske’s final full-time and endurance drivers will be announced at a later date.

Castroneves will officially return to sport car competition, joining fellow Team Penske drivers Montoya and Simon Pagenaud, at this weekend’s 20th Anniversary Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta driving an ORECA-07.  The team will make its competition debut with the new Acura prototype sports cars at IMSA’s 2018 season-opening Rolex 24 race at Daytona in January. 

In addition to his sport car duties, Castroneves is expected to continue to compete for Team Penske in next May’s Indianapolis 500 as the popular Brazilian driver continues his quest to become a four-time winner of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

“Helio has been a valuable member of Team Penske for almost 20 years and we are looking forward to sharing more success together,” said Roger Penske. “Competitors like Helio, Rick Mears and Mark Donohue are what have made Team Penske what it is today. This represents a new challenge for him and I know he is excited about the opportunity. Having established winning drivers like Helio and Juan, teaming up with young and talented racers that know the series like Dane Cameron, will help give our new sports car program a solid foundation as we head into the 2018 season.”

Castroneves will transition to the Team Penske sports car program after 18 successful seasons with the organization’s Verizon IndyCar Series team. Castroneves finished fourth in this year’s Championship standings, marking the 14th time in his career that he has finished inside the top-five in the season-ending rankings. Over the course of his 20-year INDYCAR career, Castroneves has produced 30 wins and 50 pole positions, including one win and three poles won in 2017.

Considered one of the all-time greats in INDYCAR history, Castroneves has earned more wins than any other driver in the history of Team Penske’s championship open-wheel racing program. He’s produced three victories in the Indianapolis 500, two of which came back-to-back in his first two starts at Indy in 2001 and 2002. He last won at Indianapolis in 2009 and he’s come remarkably close to earning a record-tying fourth Indy 500 win, finishing second two times over the last four seasons.

In addition to his remarkable INDYCAR success, Castroneves has also made five starts for Team Penske in sports car competition as he produced two poles, three podium finishes and a class victory in the 2008 Petit Le Mans event.

“I’ve been fortunate to achieve a lot of my personal goals with Team Penske over the years,” said Castroneves, who is also the longest-tenured driver in team history. “Helping Roger, the team and everyone with Acura start this program and build it from the ground up will be another big challenge and a great opportunity in my career. I am proud of everything we have accomplished together in INDYCAR and now I am focused on helping to develop the ARX-05 to try and win the 24 Hours of Daytona and the IMSA championship in 2018 with Acura.

“I’m also excited to get a chance to race again for Team Penske at the Indianapolis 500. That race is near and dear to my heart and trying to become the fourth four-time winner is something I really want to accomplish in my career.  We’ve come so close the last few years and with this team, I know we will have a great opportunity to try and make some history.”

The Acura ARX-05 [Acura Racing eXperimental, generation 5] is the latest in a line of endurance prototypes to be fielded by the company dating back to 1991, just five years after the 1986 launch of the Acura brand.  Based on the very successful ORECA 07 chassis, the new ARX-05 prototype features Acura-specific bodywork and utilizes the race-proven, production-based Acura AR35TT twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine.  

The multi-year program will be administered by Honda Performance Development, the racing arm for both Acura Motorsports and Honda Racing in North America.

About Team Penske
Team Penske is one of the most successful teams in the history of professional sports. Cars owned and prepared by Team Penske have produced more than 470 major race wins, over 530 pole positions and 30 National Championships across open-wheel, stock car and sports car racing competition. In its storied history, the team has also earned 16 Indianapolis 500 victories, two Daytona 500 Championships, a Formula 1 win and overall victories in the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring. Team Penske currently competes in the Verizon IndyCar Series, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series. The team also races in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, in a partnership with Dick Johnson Racing, as DJR Team Penske. For more information about Team Penske, please visit www.teampenske.com.

 TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Stefan Wilson Set For The 2018 Indy 500 With Andretti Autosport

Andretti Autosport Sheild
Andretti Autosport
PRESS RELEASE
Stefan Wilson Set for Second Indianapolis 500 Start
Wilson to Pilot No. 25 Driven2SaveLIves Andretti Honda in Partnership with Indiana Donor Network 

INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 4, 2017) – Stefan Wilson is set to return to the iconic field of 33 in May as the British-native will take the wheel of the No. 25 Driven2SaveLives Andretti Honda for the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. As the fifth entry for Andretti Autosport, Wilson will join teammates Alexander Rossi, Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Zach Veach.

“I’m very excited to be officially joining the Andretti Autosport team for the 102nd Indy 500,” said Wilson. “It has been a roller-coaster ride to get here, but when looking back, I’m really pleased and feel very fortunate to be in the spot I’m in now. I’ve just kept thinking about the future, knowing that I’d be joining one of the most successful teams in Indy.”   

“We’re really happy to welcome Stefan back to Andretti Autosport and proud to see him running the No. 25,” said Michael Andretti. “While not on track, Stefan was a big part of our Indy 500 effort in 2017, and we’re looking forward to getting him back behind the wheel at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”   

In his third Verizon IndyCar Series start, his second at Indy, Wilson will partner with Indiana Donor Network to advance their Driven2SaveLives campaign helping to promote awareness of the importance of organ, tissue and eye donation and transplantation.

“Ultimately, we are working to register more donors,” said Wilson. “Organ donation and transplantation is a cause I’m connected to through the loss of Justin, who saved five lives. We’ll be working with Driven2SaveLives to provide hope to patients on the national wait list, and honor donor heroes.”   

Since inception, more than 1,000 individuals have made the decision to register as an organ, tissue and eye donor as a result of the Driven2SaveLives campaign. 118,000 people nationwide are waiting for a lifesaving organ donation.

“Stefan is uniting race fans and elevating the conversation around donation and transplantation, and with his help, we hope to get more people across the country to register their decision to donate,” said Kellie Hanner, president and chief executive officer at Indiana Donor Network. “We are grateful for his efforts.”   

Wilson holds 32 starts in the Indy Lights series, including 14 starts, and two wins and five podiums, with the Andretti Autosport Indy Lights stable in 2011.

Added Wilson, “Andretti Autosport and I won a few [Indy Lights] races together but came up short in the 2011 championship hunt. Since then, my career has been a bit of a rocky road. It’s taken a tremendous amount of determination, and that determination only grew stronger when we lost Justin. In a way, I feel like I’m racing for him as much as I am for myself. I do want to succeed in my own career and prove that I belong, but also, I want to do something he never got the chance to, I want to win the Indy 500. That’s part of what drives me.   

“I really want to thank Mark Miles, Doug Boles, Michael Andretti and the rest of the Andretti Autosport organization. A lot of the agreements were initially done in good faith, and I’m very thankful for all the effort that has brought us here.”   

For more information, visit AndrettiAutosport.com and Driven2SaveLives.org.

About Indiana Donor Network
Indiana Donor Network is one of 58 designated organ recovery organizations in the United States and coordinates organ, tissue and eye donation throughout the state. Indiana Donor Network is devoted to public education about donation and transplantation with the goal of saving and enhancing more lives. For more information about Indiana Donor Network or to register your decision to become a donor, visitIndianaDonorNetwork.org.
About Andretti Autosport 
Based in Indianapolis and led by racing legend Michael Andretti, Andretti Autosport boasts a wide racing portfolio rooted in tradition and designed for success. Together with Andretti Formula E and Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross, Andretti Autosport fields multiple entries in the IndyCar Series and Indy Lights, along with entries in the FIA Formula E Championship and Global Rallycross. The company boasts four IndyCar Series championships (2004, 2005, 2007, 2012), two Indy Lights titles (2008, 2009), one Pro Mazda championship (2013) and one USF2000 championship (2010) and has captured victory five times at the famed Indianapolis 500-Mile Race (2005, 2007, 2014, 2016, 2017). Additionally, the team holds two X Games Gold Medals and two Global Rallycross championship (2015, 2016).To share in the Andretti story, please visit online at AndrettiAutosport.com and follow along on Twitter via@FollowAndretti.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Takuma Sato Returns To Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing In 2018

Takuma Sato
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing announced today that reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Takuma Sato will return to the Verizon IndyCar Series team in 2018. Sato drove for the team in 2012, when he famously dueled eventual winner Dario Franchitti on the final lap of the Indy 500.

“I’m excited about having Taku back with us,” said Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing with David Letterman and Mike Lanigan. “I have such admiration for his spirit and how he approaches everything and was so happy for him when he won the Indy 500 this year.

“The chance to bring him back to the team was too good to pass up. He and Graham get along very well and we will have two strong cars that can win any race in 2018. I think that will give our team a great chance at being contenders in every race, but it’s also going to give each of our drivers a chance to have their best years ever. I’m excited about it and even though the 2017 season just concluded, I can’t wait for the 2018 season to start.”

Sato, a native of Tokyo, has made 135 starts in the Verizon IndyCar Series since his rookie season in 2010. He has two race wins — the 2013 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in 2013 when he was with AJ Foyt Racing and the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil as a member of Andretti Autosport in May. In addition, he has earned seven Indy car poles and led a total of 471 laps. He drove for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in 2012, with a best finish of second at Edmonton and third at Sao Paulo.

Prior to joining the Verizon IndyCar Series, Sato competed in 90 Formula One races between 2002-2008 with his highest finish of third at the 2003 United States Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

“I am extremely happy to be back with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing,” Sato said. “Bobby, Dave and Mike have always been very supportive of me. The team has been ultra-competitive the past few seasons. I can’t wait to be a part of it in 2018. I think we can achieve some great things together.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Had A Rough Weekend At Sonoma

James Hinchcliffe
James Hinchcliffe
No. 5 Arrow Electronics Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
“Obviously not the ending to the race or to the year that we wanted. This weekend has been tough from rolling off the trailer on Thursday, but this team never gives up and we kept fighting. Really had high hopes for the race with some big changes overnight and we were going to go off-strategy to try and make some moves. After a good start, we made up a couple spots and then I was trying to set up someone going through Turn 3, and I guess Spencer [Pigot] just went for a gap that was closing and hit us, spun us out and put us to the back of the field and did some damage to the car. From there on it was tough just hanging on to the No. 5 Arrow Electronics machine. Like I said, we don’t give up, and we kept digging, trying to make up whatever spots we could, but ultimately some damage was done to the electronics on the car and the gearbox electronics stopped working so I was stuck in gear. Very unfortunate but still a lot to be proud of this season. A lot of bad luck came our way when we were running well, didn’t get the results we wanted but we already have our eyes on 2018. Looking forward to the new car and going into next season stronger. Thank you to everyone on this SPM team, Arrow and all of our supporters. Big congrats to Josef on clinching the championship.”

Jack Harvey
No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports AutoNation Sirius XM Honda
“The highlight of our weekend was coming home to the checkered flag (haha). It was nice to get to the end of the two races that we were able to do with SPM and bring home the AutoNation Sirius XM car in one piece. Although we weren’t very quick today, I’m glad we were able to do that for the guys. I don’t know exactly what, but we seemed to be missing something all weekend, and I think we missed it from the first session which put us on the back foot immediately. The thing is, when you’re racing against some of the best teams in the world, without a doubt some of the best drivers, too, you just can’t afford to have that happen. The race itself, I initially had a good start, picked up three spots, but kind of got caught up in someone else’s debacle in Turn 9 which kind of shuffled me back. I think we just lacked pace… In the end, I’m just really grateful for all of the support I’ve had from my partners and the whole SPM team, and I hope I’m fortunate enough to have the opportunity to do this all over again hopefully in St. Pete next year.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Team Penske Reviews The GoPro Grand Prix Of Sonoma

Simon Pagenaud
Track:                       Sonoma Raceway

Race:                        GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma

Date:                         Sept. 17, 2017

 

 

No. 1 DXC Technology Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Simon Pagenaud

Start: 3rd

Finish: 1st (11th career victory)

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 85/85

Laps Led: 41

Final Points Position (deficit): 2nd (-13 pts.)

 

Recap: It was a near-perfect Sunday for Simon Pagenaud and the No. 1 DXC Technology Chevrolet team at Sonoma Raceway as they ran a virtually flawless race while winning the Verizon IndyCar Series season finale at the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma for the second straight year. The impressive performance nearly allowed Pagenaud to rally and catch his teammate in the series title chase but in the end Josef Newgarden ran strong as well and with a second-place finish he was able to hold off Pagenaud, who fell just short of defending his 2016 title. After earning a third-place starting spot in qualifying Saturday, Pagenaud fell back to the fourth position early on before the team made it key move of the race. Running behind his other Team Penske teammates who were also fighting for the title, Pagenaud came to pit lane on Lap 11, well in advance of the other race leaders. The early stop allowed Pagenaud and the DXC Technology team to employ an alternate strategy for the remainder of the 85-lap event and it played out perfectly with the race running caution free. The strategy also allowed Pagenaud to show off the speed of the No. 1 Chevy, running in open track when the rest of the leaders visited the pits as he posted blistering lap times all afternoon. Pagenaud and Newgarden, the polesitter, took turns leading the Go Pro Grand Prix of Sonoma throughout the race with each pacing the field for 41 laps on the day. The pivotal sequence came on Lap 64 when Pagenaud made his final stop of the race while running in the top position. With a fast stop from the DXC Technology crew, he emerged from pit lane just ahead of Newgarden who had stopped two laps earlier. Despite being on cold tires, Pagenaud was able to hold off his hard-charging teammate and claim his second win of the season and his second consecutive victory at Sonoma Raceway. The result left Pagenaud just 13 points behind Newgarden in the final series standings as he finished inside the top five in points for the fifth time in the last six seasons. It also completed a remarkably consistent 2017 season in which Pagenaud completed every single lap of competition in the 17-race schedule.

 

Quote: “I want to thank everybody on the DXC Technology Chevrolet team today. It was a phenomenal performance, I think, all weekend. I want to congratulate Josef (Newgarden), of course, and Team Penske. I think our team this weekend and the whole season showed how strong everybody is at Team Penske. Back-to-back champions. It’s phenomenal. Great testament to a great team spirit and I’m very happy for him. He deserves it. We did what we had to do. We tried. We won the race; it wasn’t enough. It’s a whole championship. You’ve got to be strong on every race and I guess Josef was a little stronger this year so we’ll come back. Thirteen points (behind). Next year we’ll come back and give him a hell of a competition again.”

 

No. 2 Hum by Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Josef Newgarden

Start:  1st (second career pole position)

Finish: 2nd

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 85/85

Laps Led: 41

Final Points Position (won first career series championship): 1st (+13 pts.)

 

Recap: Josef Newgarden completed a dream first season with Team Penske on Sunday, finishing second in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma to secure his first career Verizon IndyCar Series championship and the 15th all-time INDYCAR title for Team Penske. Entering the season’s final race weekend with a slim three-point advantage in the championship, Newgarden and the No. 2 Hum by Verizon Chevrolet team imposed their will over the three days at Sonoma producing top speeds in practice and Newgarden recorded his first Verizon P1 pole award of the season on Saturday. Early on Sunday, Newgarden continued to dominate as he led the first 17 laps with little pressure from behind. His teammate and 2016 Sonoma race winner and series champion Simon Pagenaud pitted off sequence early so after the first stops cycled through, Pagenaud claimed the race lead with Newgarden running second. The two Team Penske pilots traded the top spot throughout the rest of the race with each driver taking control of the lead when the other visited pit lane. Pagenaud made the last stop among the leaders and he was able to stay out in front in the closing laps, though Newgarden made a couple of attempts to pass his teammate coming off his final stop of the day. In the end, a strong second-place run gave Newgarden the points he needed to secure the championship and help produce an impressive 1-2-3 finish for Team Penske in a podium sweep of the finale. The performance capped a remarkable first season for Newgarden, who joined Al Unser, Al Unser Jr., and Gil de Ferran as the only drivers to win the title in their initial seasons racing for Team Penske. He also became the youngest driver (26) to capture the INDYCAR crown in 12 years and the first American champ since Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2012. Newgarden also established single-season career highs in wins (four), podiums (nine), top fives (10), top 10s (13) and laps led (390).

 

Quote: “I’m so proud of these guys. I don’t even know what to say. It was all year. It took a lot to make this happen. Thank you to my teammates. They were giving me a lot of help today in making sure that we got this done. It’s a huge team effort at Team Penske. So, it’s cool to do this with Verizon. Verizon does so much for the IndyCar Series. They’ve given fans such great access over the years. I’m happy to have this car for the championship. It’s super fitting; and all the other partners we’ve had at Team Penske. It’s just been phenomenal working with Team Chevy. We’ve had so many great partners on this car. And to finally get it done is a dream come true. It’s too awesome. It was hard. I was using my natural instincts. I was trying to get (Simon) Pagenaud there because that’s what I normally do. I try to win the race whenever possible. They were telling me to be patient and not do something stupid. I tried to get him, but I also tried not to do anything dumb for the team. Like I said, this has been a team effort. So, I’m happy for Pagenaud. He had the pace to win today, for sure, he’s very deserving. This entire group makes this happen. I’m so thankful and happy with everything that Team Penske has done. Congrats to everyone at the factory. This is an amazing amount of work that goes into this.”

 

No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Helio Castroneves

Start:  4th

Finish: 5th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 85/85

Laps Led: 0

Final Points Position (deficit): 4th (-44)

 

Recap: If it weren’t for two remarkable performances by his Team Penske teammates, on Sunday and all season long, Helio Castroneves may have produced that elusive Verizon IndyCar Series championship in 2017. After another strong finish driving the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet in Sunday’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway, Castroneves closed his 20th season in impressively-consistent fashion – with his ninth top-five and 16th top-10 result of the year as he claimed fourth in the final series standings. Castroneves started strong Sunday passing teammate Simon Pagenaud for third place at the wave of the green flag and running inside the top three until making his first stop of the race on Lap 16. He continued to run in either third or fourth position through the middle part of the race, relying on his experience and a fast No. 3 Hitachi crew on pit lane to remain among the race leaders. With Pagenaud and one of his other fast teammates, Josef Newgarden, battling for the race lead and the championship, Castroneves continued to fight for a top finish. He ended up bringing the Hitachi Chevy home in fifth place for his sixth career top-five result at Sonoma Raceway. The winner at Iowa Speedway this year, Castroneves proved again throughout the season that he was a force in the title chase and he has now finished among the top four in points five times in the last six seasons.

 

Quote: “I’m always going to focus on the positive thing. I’m not going to focus on Texas when we had a problem, or other races that I missed strategy or made mistakes. You’ve got to think about, again, it was another season that we pushed as hard as we could and another top four. And again, sometimes it’s funny because you see the statistics, finished second — I finished second four times. But it was more times — the P4 (in the final standings) is not what it represents because we were in a battle a lot more years than that. And that’s what I look at. I look because each year that’s what kept me motivated to come back and push hard, and that for me was hard. Sometimes it’s — well, I try, but to get (a championship) — it’s easy to follow from that position, but to keep up like I’ve been doing all these years, I think it’s the hardest thing to do. But it doesn’t just happen. It comes with a great team. It comes with great dedication from your guys, great trust, and obviously, myself to keep motivated, finding ways to keep pushing and having teammates like I have today, no question, helped me to become a better driver. The Hitachi Chevrolet team was great all season and I can’t thank them enough for their hard work and dedication.”

 

 

No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Will Power

Start: 2nd

Finish: 3rd

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 85/85

Laps Led: 0

Final Points Position (deficit): 5th (-80 pts.)

 

Recap: Will Power and the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet finished third in Sunday’s GoPro Grand Prix at Sonoma Raceway, completing a podium sweep for Team Penske. Power started the race from the second position and he immediately began to try and chase down championship leader and teammate Josef Newgarden for the top spot in the running order. Power and the Verizon team followed Newgarden’s pit strategy throughout the afternoon, while fellow Team Penske driver Simon Pagenaud elected for a different strategy. A three-time winner at Sonoma Raceway, Power ran inside the top four throughout the entire race, shadowing Newgarden and holding off teammate Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon. Power had to turn laps that allowed him to save enough fuel to make it on a three-stop strategy. With the race running caution-free, Pagenaud’s alternate strategy ended up working out as he claimed the race victory while Power was able to follow eventual 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champion Newgarden to a third-place finish. Sunday’s result marked Power’s seventh podium finish this season as he also posted three race victories and a series-leading six pole positions. The 2014 Verizon indyCar Series champion ended up finishing fifth in the final series standings marking the eighth consecutive season he’s finished ranked among the top five.

 

Quote: “It was pretty obvious a couple races ago that we were in trouble after Gateway, so yeah, I mean, it’s great for the team. Obviously, you want to be the one that wins it, but it’s very tough these days, and you’ve got to have a very solid year to get it done, and when I look at this year, no one made mistakes. You see the top six there, top six or seven are the top six or seven almost every race. We had some ups and downs with the No. 12 Verizon Chevy team, but it was a good year. We won some races and some poles. We’ll give it another go next year.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Ed Carpenter Racing Ended The Season With Mid Pack Finishes At Sonoma

  • The 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season came to an end Sunday after 85 laps along the rolling hills of the road course at Sonoma Raceway. Spencer Pigot finished his season with a 13th place finish in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma while JR Hildebrand was just behind in 14th.
  • Pigot qualified 17th for the final race of the year and Hildebrand rolled off 20th. On the first lap, contact between Pigot and James Hinchcliffe necessitated an early pit stop and front wing change for the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet. Meanwhile, Hildebrand deftly avoided the chaos in front of him and gained four positions over the course of the first lap. After his unscheduled pit stop, Pigot dropped to 19th.
 
  • Hildebrand brought the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet into the pit lane for his first stop on Lap 8, switching from the primary black Firestone Firehawks he started on to a set of alternate reds. Once he re-entered the race, Hildebrand used his new tires to get around Pigot, moving Hildebrand to 16th and Pigot back to 17th.
  • Pigot came in for his first full-service stop on Lap 22, later than the majority of the field as a benefit of taking a splash of fuel during the front wing change. After a switch from primary blacks to scuffed red tires, he rejoined the race directly in front of race leader Simon Pagenaud. Pigot, on cold tires, was passed by Pagenaud and dropped one lap behind the field. Pigot stayed directly behind Pagenaud and when Pagenaud pitted on Lap 30, Pigot regained his lap.
  • Hildebrand continued moving up through the field, working his way up to 11th before his second pit stop on Lap 27. He came out of the pits in 15th on another set of red tires. With clear track and no competitors around him, he maintained his position for the duration of the ensuing stint.
  • After a stop on Lap 43 for Pigot and Lap 46 for Hildebrand, the ECR teammates found themselves next to each other on track. Hildebrand led the way in 16th while Pigot was 17th. Hildebrand eventually pulled away from Pigot, building a sizable gap as he chased down 15th place Carlos Munoz. Hildebrand eventually caught Munoz, but was not able to get by him with tires so late in their life cycle. Pigot caught back up to Hildebrand, but was in the same situation and was not able to gain any positions.
  • Pigot made his final stop of the year on Lap 64, switching to a set of sticker red tires that had been saved for the end of the race. Hildebrand stopped for sticker blacks two laps later, coming out just behind Pigot. The two were running 15th and 16th, respectively, following their stops. They worked their way up to 13th and 14th, but directly behind them were race leaders Pagenaud, Josef Newgarden, and Will Power. With five laps to go in the race, Pigot and Hildebrand let the leaders by as to not impede the championship. The teammates maintained their positions to the end of the race with Pigot finishing 13th and Hildebrand finishing 14th. Ed Carpenter Racing alumni Newgarden won the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series championship.
  • The team will return to their Speedway, Ind. race shop to begin preparations for the 2018 season. Pigot will step into the No. 21 full-time in 2018 while team owner Ed Carpenter will drive the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet in what will be his 16th year of Indy car competition. Pigot and Carpenter will soon begin an extensive off-season testing program to prepare for 2018’s universal aero kit. The 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season schedule has not yet been announced.
SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet), Finished 13th: “I damaged my front wing on the first lap by getting into James (Hinchcliffe) at the top of Turn 3. It was definitely not my intent to ruin their race so apologies to James and all of his crew. That incident also made a long race for us. We were forced to save fuel and just pound around out there just to see what positions we could make up. Overall, I learned a lot this year and I’m excited to be back in the Fuzzy’s Vodka car in 2018!”
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet), Finished 14th: “It just felt good to put in a good race. I really enjoy this track and I had a lot of friends and family in the crowd so that’s always fun. We diced it up pretty good early in the race in the first couple of stints. We had one particularly bad stint, we had a set of reds that just went off big time and lost a lot of track position. After that, we kept getting caught behind cars we were quicker than, but were catching them too late in the stints to do anything about it. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to make totally good on what was a pretty good day in terms of overall pace. All in all, I’m glad to be back on track here and had fun out there. We’ll see what goes on from here.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Andretti Autosport Reviews The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma

Andretti Autosport Sheild
Andretti Autosport
RACE REPORT
VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES
GoPro GRAND PRIX OF SONOMA
RACE REPORT
09.17.17

The sun has set on another year of American open-wheel competition as the Verizon IndyCar Series championship has come to a close at Sonoma Raceway.

It was a season of highs and lows for the Andretti Autosport quartet of drivers, taking home only two race wins, but yet savoring the elusive milk of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

With the IndyCar stable locked in for the coming season, 2018 starts now.

No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda
  • Started 11th // Finished 7th
  • Championship: 12th (388 pts.)
  • Of Note: Challenged for a top-five finish during his 200th career IndyCar start.
“I think we pretty much maximized our pace today. We probably could have gotten Rahal, but I couldn’t hold him on black [tires]. I was on cold blacks and I locked up, so I did the best I could to keep him behind me. It was pretty obvious the Penske cars were in a league of their own so we were just trying to maximize what we had going on. We don’t come here to finish seventh but it’s a decent result, it’s something to build on. I really think the [2018] package will be way more to my strengths. I struggle in the high-speed corners, I struggled in [Turn] 6 today so I need to get a grip on that. I don’t just want to turn the page after not being great this year, I want to figure out why we weren’t great. I have no doubt next year we can be on it. I tidied up my street course game which was my old weakness so I think if we get my strength back on the short ovals, where I used to be good, who knows?”
No. 28 DHL Honda
  • Started 7th // Finished 8th
  • Championship: 9th (421 pts.)
  • Of Note: Recorded eight top-10 finishes this season, today’s result moved the American driver up one position in the points standings.
“I don’t know what happened on the start, but [our lane] didn’t go and I got jumped by three or four cars there. It was kind of a mess. We were just in recovery mode from there, trying to get back up where we started. We made some setup changes before the race that didn’t work out. Often in this sport it’s trial and error, and we found what didn’t work today. Disappointing finish to the race but all in all, looking at where we were in the championship points leaving Indy, to finish ninth in the championship, we clawed our way back many, many spots. But, we’re here to win races, win championships and we’ve certainly had our fair share of misfortune this year but there’s also a lot we could have done better. We’ll have to put all that together and hopefully have a little bit better luck next year and be a stronger overall effort.”
No. 26 Dickinson Fleet Services Honda
  • Started 5th // Finished 20th
  • Championship: 8th (441 pts.)
  • Of Note: Made contact with teammate Alexander Rossi early in the race which resulted in a flat right rear tire and an unexpected pit stop. Sato retired from the race 23 laps early due to a mechanical issue.
“It was an unforgettable season. I had a great time in the team and we are so bonded for the No. 26 boys. I can’t thank every single person in the entire Andretti Autosport family enough. It was a great time and we achieved something, an unbelievable win. [Today’s result is] a shame, we wanted to finish strong but this is motor racing. I really appreciate everybody’s support. Thank you for everything. It’s been a tough, roller coaster season but we showed tremendous speed, especially for the last six races. It’s unbelievable, always one of the top Hondas. That’s something I’m really proud of with the No. 26 boys and it was a fabulous year so thank you for everything.”
No. 98 NAPA AUTO PARTS / Curb Honda
  • Started 8th // Finished 21st
  • Championship: 7th (494 pts.)
  • Of Note: Suffered a mechanical issue after the first stop, but the NAPA AUTO PARTS crew worked to get the car back on track and pick up a position and additional points.
“It was a pretty disappointing day, to have a mechanical issue after the first stop. I think we were in a pretty decent position to possibly get in the top five after our opening stint but it wasn’t meant to be today. A huge shout out to the NAPA AUTO PARTS team and the Andretti-Herta boys for the hard work back in the garage to get us back out there, we picked up another spot. To close the season off this way is disappointing but at the same time, there’s a huge amount of positives we can take from the year and I can’t wait to get started again in 2018.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!