UPDATE (7:46 p.m. ET): With minutes to spare before the green flag, Logano has hopped into his car and has been rolled onto the grid by his crew members. He is now on the track with the rest of the field for pace laps, but will have to go to the back of the field for being late to the grid.
UPDATE (7:35 p.m. ET): NASCAR.com’s David Caraviello reports that Logano’s car needed three tries to pass the laser inspection, making it through as the national anthem began. His car is currently in the final inspection station, as NBA legend Karl Malone gives the command to start engines.
NASCAR has confiscated the rear-end housings, as well as other parts, from the Penske Racing cars of Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano before tonight’s NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. No team members will be ejected for the violations.
With the teams having to replace the rear-end housings on both Keselowski and Logano’s machines, a mad dash has taken place to get them ready for the race. Keselowski’s car has reportedly passed inspection, while Logano’s has yet to do so.
After sitting out the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama last weekend, JR Hildebrand will be able to return to action for this weekend’s Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix (Saturday, 9 p.m. ET, NBCSN), after being cleared Tuesday to drive.
The primary driver of the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing sustained a broken bone in his left hand in a final lap accident at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 9, after a collision with Mikhail Aleshin. He was re-evaluated upon returning to Indianapolis and was not cleared to drive for the Barber Motorsports Park race.
“It’s been a tricky couple of weeks working through this injury, I’m certainly anxious to get back in the car!” he said in a release. “I feel like I’m far enough along to be able to go for it this weekend in Phoenix. I know we’ve got a good program; I want to be able to come through for the team at an event where we should be strong. The competition there is tough, I expect we will really have to be on our game over the course of the weekend. I’m looking forward to getting back in the Fuzzy’s Vodka car! Everyone has been super helpful and I appreciate the hard work that everyone has put in to be able to get me back in.”
Staples out, doing everything possible to get the show on the road with this damn thing. Docs + team have been mega… 👋 pic.twitter.com/RUlenwQ2ja
Meanwhile team owner Carpenter makes his first start of the season in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet as part of his oval-only program.
Pigot will be back in the No. 20 car at the INDYCAR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on May 13, before Carpenter’s back in for the rest of the month of May leading up to and into the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.
Two fill-in drivers have been confirmed for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s next race at Circuit of The Americas, on May 6.
Wolf Henzler will deputize for Kevin Estre in the No. 912 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR, while Marco Bonanomi will make his IMSA Prototype class debut as a fill-in driver for Tom Kimber-Smith in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier JS P217 Gibson.
Henzler will be in the No. 912 car alongside Laurens Vanthoor in GT Le Mans in the first “standard” two-hour, 40-minute race of the season, the Advance Auto Parts Showdown, as Estre will be on FIA World Endurance Championship duty the same day in the WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps with Porsche’s GT Team there.
Henzler’s absence means if TRG runs its Porsche 911 GT3 R at COTA in the GT Daytona class, Kevin Buckler would need a replacement for him.
There’s another potential fill-in-for-WEC driver scenario needed if Alegra Motorsports, the Rolex 24 at Daytona winners, were to run in GTD as well. Thus far Carlos de Quesada’s team has run Daniel Morad and Porsche factory driver Michael Christensen in its No. 28 Porsche in GTD through three races, but with Christensen and Estre set to share the No. 92 car at Spa, a replacement would need to be sourced there.
Bonanomi is the second replacement that is confirmed though. The Italian, who made one prior IMSA start since the 2014 merger with Fall-Line Motorsports in an Audi R8 LMS Ultra, will fill-in for “TKS,” who returns to England to take care of his mother, who is battling cancer.
“Tom will unfortunately miss the next race at Circuit of the Americas. He needs to be able to spend time back in the UK with his mother who is presently undergoing treatment for cancer,” said team principal Bobby Oergel.
“As all the drivers who have driven with PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports know, once you’re a part of our team, you’re family, and Tom is a big part of this family. It’s unfortunate that he will miss a round of the championship, but we know that family comes before racing, and we’re happy that he is able to take the time he needs to be with his family during this time.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Tom and his mother, and we are praying that she will be cancer free in the near future.”
Bonanomi has tested with the car and will share the car with Jose Gutierrez, who missed Long Beach as Will Owen filled in for him there.
“I was very happy to receive the call from PR1 to drive at their test at COTA. It was my first time driving the Ligier, but I think the test was very positive,” said Bonanomi.
“We tested some set up changes for the race that I think will be very good. The track itself is very demanding on the car and tires, especially with the extreme temperatures that can be present. The first practices during race week will be very critical to get everything just right in terms of set up, but after the test, I think we should be pretty close.”
Tuesday’s meeting of the F1 Strategy Group and F1 Commission in Paris took a couple big steps towards forward in the look of Formula 1 cars for 2018, as the cockpit “Shield” and shark fin/T-wings were among the items discussed.
This meeting included CEO of Formula One Group Chase Casey for the first time, along with FIA President Jean Todt and the key other stakeholders in the meeting.
The “Shield” concept for additional frontal protection moves up in the priority list. Per the FIA’s release, the plan is to go ahead with additional track testing this year before a 2018 implementation:
“A number of more integrated solutions for additional frontal protection have been studied, and the decision has been taken to give priority to the transparent ‘shield’ family of systems. The FIA aims to carry out track tests of this system during this season in preparation for implementation in 2018,” the release said.
The ‘Halo’ and aeroscreen ideas were trialled last year (see below):
Meanwhile the shark fins and T-wings, which have come back to the cars this year over the engine cover, are set to be restricted to a box next year. The structural rigidity of those from some teams have come under scrutiny this year.
“Changes in the regulation boxes around the engine cover have been made so that designs incorporating the ‘t-wing’ and ‘shark fin’ will be strictly limited,” the release said.
Three other sporting and technical changes were released:
Measures will be taken to ensure that oil will not be used as fuel. In addition, only one specification of oil may be used for any given power unit during an event
Pirelli will be allowed to develop 2018 wet weather tyre compounds using previous specifications of cars and wheel dimensions
In the event of a red flag period during a race, the race will be resumed from a standing start
In two other bits, from the Spanish Grand Prix on May 14, the sporting regulations will be strictly enforced to ensure drivers’ car numbers and surnames will be made bigger and more visible. Although permanent numbers have come into play starting in 2014, where a driver picks one number for the entirety of his or her career, none has really been that big on an F1 base chassis.
Lastly, per the release “Representatives from the non-member teams will now be invited to meetings of the F1 Strategy Group to have access to the discussions, demonstrating the effective commitment of both the FIA and the Commercial Rights Holder to improve transparency in the sport.”
The defending champion of the Indianapolis 500 was a rookie and the student in 2016. Now, a year later, he’s a teacher.
One of the cool angles among many for Alexander Rossi as he prepares to defend his win in last year’s 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in the 101st running is that he’ll have the opportunity to help two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso in his transition to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as he’ll enter the Andretti Autosport team in the jointly entered McLaren, Honda and Andretti sixth car.
He obviously wants to beat him on track – same as the other 31 drivers including his four other teammates at Andretti Autosport in Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, Takuma Sato and Jack Harvey – but he’s not concerned about being a teacher as part of the team’s heralded open-book atmosphere of information and data sharing.
Rossi came to Indy a year ago for what was only his second oval race but quickly absorbed every fiber of information he received from teammates Hunter-Reay, Andretti, Carlos Munoz and Townsend Bell, with Hunter-Reay and Andretti his two primary driver teachers in the process.
Rossi learned among other things how to run in traffic, save fuel and handle the draft – all of which paid dividends en route to his victory in his No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Honda for the Andretti-Herta Autosport team partnership.
And now for Rossi, he’ll have the chance to pay back Alonso for Alonso’s own welcoming of him when he arrived for his first Grand Prix start, at Singapore in 2015 with Manor.
Rossi singled out Alonso and Sebastian Vettel as the two drivers who made a point of helping his transition to a race seat for his first race start.
“It’s limited with other drivers; we don’t spend time together in F1,” Rossi told NBC Sports. “But Alonso and Sebastian came up to me at Singapore for my debut to offer their words of wisdom. He was the one guy I had more contact with than the others.”
Rossi, for the first time, was able to impart the knowledge he’s learned at Indianapolis onto Alonso and said it’s on him and his teammates to provide the same tutelage to Alonso for his upcoming odyssey.
“I was visiting him yesterday at the shop, as we’re walking through our Indy preparations,” Rossi said. “He’s one of the best drivers in the world.
“It’s on us – Ryan and Marco mainly – to help give him the insight they gave me because they’re two of the best at that track. I was always in the best possible position as a rookie, and now he’s in the same position.”
Rossi said it’ll likely be the items away from the driving and engineering meetings that will pique Alonso’s curiosity at Indianapolis – namely, how dedicated the fans are throughout the practice days.
“F1 is very… you’re kept in a box. In some ways that’s good and others it’s not good at all,” Rossi explained.
“The big thing for him to see is how involved the fans are, especially during the month of May. That was the thing that surprised me – it’s awesome to see and it’s why it makes our sport so good to be that involved.
“It can be super frustrating. Say you’re running to take a leak, and it’s a 20-minute process. That will surprise him. He’ll be used to going into race car, pit lane, and the timing around being on track.
“But say it’s 7:30 p.m. and you’re in an engineering meeting and there’s 100 fans there still… that is amazing and incredible… and we’re still plugging away in our meeting.