Star turn by James Davison in his second start for Coyne

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Late-season one-off opportunities provide a chance for new talent to emerge, and Australian James Davison did everything he could to maximize his chance in his second straight IZOD IndyCar Series start for Dale Coyne Racing.

Davison had an engine change prior to the race which dropped the No. 18 Sonny’s BBQ Honda from 21st to 25th and last on the grid.

But from there, by a mix of avoiding the carnage in front of him, some great passes and solid pit stops from the crew, Davison made it into the top 10 for most of the second half of the race, running as high as sixth or seventh.

Contact with old Indy Lights sparring partners Charlie Kimball, and later, Sebastian Saavedra, halted Davison’s chances of securing his first top-10 finish. He was classified an unrepresentative 18th by the checkered flag.

“Absolutely shattered. Drove my (expletive) off & pulled some mega lunges to come from 25th to 10th and got chopped with 2 laps to go. Way it goes..” Davison tweeted. “Thank you everyone for your messages, mean a lot. Not sure when my next race is but I’ll be back. @IndyCar is my home.”

It’s easy to forget but Davison finished second in the Indy Lights standings in 2009, behind only JR Hildebrand and ahead of more than half a dozen drivers who went onto make their IndyCar debuts before Davison did.

After a four-year layoff from open-wheel racing, these have been two highly impressive drives from “Davo” that should turn heads and make team owners aware of his ability level. Stefan Wilson takes over the No. 18 at Baltimore for his IndyCar debut, in what will be a newly liveried car with sponsorship from Nirvana Tea.

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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