Houston returns to an IndyCar calendar for the third time this weekend, after prior runs downtown from 1998 through 2001, and the revived course configuration at Reliant Park outside the home stadium of the Houston Texans having had two races in 2006 and 2007. You can see the IZOD IndyCar Series’ Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston twinbill Saturday at 3 p.m. ET, and Sunday at 1 p.m. ET, on NBCSN.
Here’s a rundown of current IndyCar drivers and team owners, and their past results on either course. Oriol Servia is the only driver who will have had race experience on both courses heading into this weekend.
RELIANT PARK STREET COURSE, 2006-2007
Eight of the 24 drivers in the IndyCar races this weekend have past experience at Reliant Park. Sebastien Bourdais won both races, Graham Rahal scored his first open-wheel podium, and James Hinchcliffe and Simona de Silvestro cut their teeth in Atlantics but have yet to race in Houston in the main event.
- 2007: Sebastien Bourdais (Started 1st, Finished 1st), Graham Rahal (6/2), Oriol Servia (5/4), Simon Pagenaud (7/5), Justin Wilson (3/10), Will Power (2/11)
- 2006: Bourdais (5/1), Wilson (7/5), Power (10/7), Servia (8/12)
- 2007: James Hinchcliffe (2/3), Simona de Silvestro (13/15)
- 2006: Pagenaud (4/2), Hinchcliffe (5/4), Rahal (3/15)
HOUSTON DOWNTOWN COURSE, 1998-2001
Five current drivers – Servia, Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan – raced on Houston’s downtown course over four years. Three owners – Jimmy Vasser, Michael Andretti and Bryan Herta – have driving experience there as well. Franchitti has a win and three podiums here with Vasser also scoring a win and Kanaan securing his second career podium as a rookie in 1998.
- 01: Dario Franchitti (Started 6/Finished 2), Helio Castroneves (4/5), Jimmy Vasser (24/11), Tony Kanaan (10/12), Bryan Herta (22/13), Scott Dixon (7/18), Michael Andretti (12/21), Oriol Servia (17/26)
- 00: Vasser (3/1), Castroneves (4/5), Servia (15/9), Kanaan (10/10), Andretti (5/13), Franchitti (2/25)
- 99: Franchitti (4/2), Andretti (11/3), Herta (2/5), Kanaan (8/9), Vasser (16/20), Castroneves (19/26)
- 98: Franchitti (2/1), Kanaan (11/3), Vasser (3/4), Herta (6/8), Castroneves (17/24), Andretti (13/28)
A single Indy Lights race was also held at Houston in 2000, won by Casey Mears. NBC Sports Network analyst Townsend Bell finished second in that race to his Dorricott Racing teammate; Dixon finished 15th, a rare off day in his championship-winning season driving for Bruce McCaw’s PacWest Racing.
In the second edition of this week’s F1 on NBC Sports original digital series Paddock Pass, the Sahara Force India team reveals the VJM10 at the Silverstone Circuit in England, not far from the team’s headquarters.
Force India’s steady climb up the ladder has seen them rise to fourth place in the Constructor’s Championship, achieved last year.
NBCSN F1 pit reporter and insider Will Buxton checks in with drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, the latter of whom shifts to Force India after an impressive half season with Manor last year.
“It just looks amazing. It’s the first time I’ve been so excited looking at the car,” Perez told Buxton. “We have to adapt to a new driving style and see how physically demanding it is. It will be a big challenge for us.”
Otmar Szafnauer, COO of Sahara Force India, also offered his thoughts and expectations:
“The only way to hope to keep (the momentum) was to develop the 2017 car early. We don’t have the resources for parallel development,” Szafnauer told Buxton.
Stay tuned to the end of the video for a potential nugget about the testing lineup.
A link to Renault’s Paddock Pass from yesterday is here.
Further preseason content will come this week and into next on NBCSports.com.
Although Formula 1 testing doesn’t begin until Monday, several teams have filming days in advance at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona to gather preliminary material ahead of the new year.
The first up of those is Sauber F1 Team, which premiered its new C36 chassis on Monday and has now hit the Barcelona track for filming sessions. The Ferrari-powered car is the 25th in Sauber’s F1 history.
Marcus Ericsson took the initial shakedown with Pascal Wehrlein sidelined owing to his injuries sustained at the Race of Champions. Antonio Giovinazzi is set to fill in at the first test.
Sauber’s released a quick video of the test on its social channels and website, and is linked above.
Williams Martini Racing has confirmed who’s running when ahead of the two Barcelona tests, starting next week.
At the first test, Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll will alternate days, with Massa running days one and three and Stroll getting in for days two and four.
The second test will see the Canadian in the first two days before the Brazilian takes over the last two.
Stroll’s had testing in older Williams chassis, but this will mark his first running in the new FW40 chassis. Williams released renderings of the chassis last week.
Williams Martini Racing – Barcelona Test Schedule
February 27 – Felipe Massa
February 28 – Lance Stroll
March 1 – Felipe Massa
March 2 – Lance Stroll
March 7 – Lance Stroll
March 8 – Lance Stroll
March 9 – Felipe Massa
March 10 – Felipe Massa
The remaining assets from KV Racing Technology will be auctioned off on March 27 in a live and online auction put on by Key Auctioneers in Indianapolis.
Much of KV’s inventory has been sold to new Verizon IndyCar Series entrant Juncos Racing, which formally announced its arrival into the series on Tuesday. That includes three chassis, two full sets of pit equipment and one transporter, among other items per Trackside Online.
What’s left for KV of current equipment includes one of the Dallara DW12 chassis – it appears to be the chassis used by Stefan Wilson in last year’s Indianapolis 500 – dampers, drives, gears, lay shafts and more.
There’s also a bit of rolling stock, hospitality and other memorabilia available.
A full page of what’s available is linked here.
KV Racing was born out of the assets of the former PacWest Racing team (PWR Championship Racing in its final year of 2002), and launched as PK Racing in 2003.
Despite going through myriad name changes in the 14 years since, KV was still a fun part of the IndyCar fabric and thanks to Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser, a staple in the paddock. They never fully evolved into a championship-contending team but were an Indianapolis 500-winning entry.
With their demise, it left Dale Coyne Racing as the last of the Champ Car racing teams that switched over to IndyCar in 2008 still standing. But Juncos’ arrival as the ninth team gives new life to a new breed of team owners coming into the series and hopefully opens the door for more from here.
In the meantime, if you’re in Indianapolis and have the means or desire to get a piece of the KV history, March 27 represents that chance.