Trucks: Jeb Burton climbs to top of Daytona test in afternoon

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After one of their drivers, Ben Kennedy, led this morning’s session, Turner Scott Motorsports remained atop Camping World Truck Series testing at Daytona International Speedway in the afternoon.

This time, it was Jeb Burton – the son of former Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton – who led the second session and topped all of Monday’s proceedings with a lap of 191.144 mph in the No. 4 Chevrolet. Kennedy followed up his P1 morning run with the second-fastest time in the afternoon, logging a lap of 190.925 mph in the No. 31 Chevrolet and also turning the most laps in the afternoon with 106 circuits.

During today’s test, Jeb expressed his optimism about building upon a solid rookie season last year with Turner Scott Motorsports. He also felt the team would be able to get a handle on the new truck bodies that are debuting in the series.

“It seems like Turner Scott Motorsports is always ahead of the ballgame with new stuff,” said Jeb, who earned his first career CWTS win last June at Texas. “I’m excited. I think it could be an advantage for us. I feel like our guys are working really hard with this new body style in the wind tunnel and testing a lot trying to make it better.

“I’m really excited to be back with these guys. My team is pumped up, we’re ready to go. I feel like we’ve just got to be a little bit better this year and we can contend for the championship. We did all last year, we’ve just got to be a little bit better so we can go win some more races.”

After the two TSM Chevrolets were a trio of Toyota drivers – John Wes Townley (190.917), defending series champion Matt Crafton (190.634), and Darrell Wallace Jr. (190.577) – to complete the Top 5.

CWTS PRESEASON THUNDER – MONDAY AFTERNOON TIMES

Schmidt Peterson hires IndyCar’s first female lead engineer, will work with Hinchcliffe

Photo courtesy Audi Sport
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Leena Gade, who helped lead Audi to three wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, has joined Schmidt Peterson Motorsports as lead engineer for the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda of driver James Hinchcliffe.

“I’m really honored that I’ve got a chance to come across and work in INDYCAR,” Gade said in a team media release. “When I was a kid, I used to watch Indy car (racing), especially when Nigel Mansell first came over (in 1993), and I followed it quite a lot.

“During my sports car days, it was a little less so, until I had friends come across to the U.S. to work in it like Piers (Phillips, SPM’s general manager).

“I’m quite honored to be given the chance. It is going to be something completely different to anything I’ve ever done before, so it’s a big learning curve, but it’s a challenge that I’m really relishing, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Gade, who grew up in India and is from Great Britain, is one of the most recognized engineers in all forms of international motorsports. She becomes the first female lead engineer in Verizon IndyCar Series history.

She’s also the second female lead engineer in Indy racing history, joining Diane Holl, who served as engineer for Adrian Fernandez, Tony Kanaan (Tasman Motorsports) and Richie Hearn (Della Penna Motorsports) in CART from 1996-2000.

Gade, who holds engineering degrees from the University of Manchester in England, has engineered cars in several race series and for several manufacturers, including F1, BMW, A1 Grand Prix, GT racing, Jaguar, Audi and most recently with Bentley Motorsport.

She became the first female race engineer to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2011, and followed that up with another Le Mans win in 2012, as well as being part of the World Endurance Championship drivers and manufacturers titles in the same year.

Also in 2012, she was named FIA WEC “Man of the Year” and was awarded the C&R Racing Women in Technology award from the Lyn St. James Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation.

Her team also won Le Mans for a third time in 2014.

“There was significant interest in Leena amongst the international motorsports community, so we’re really excited that she sees where we’re taking SPM, believes in what we’re doing and that she is now a part of our organization,” Piers Phillips said. “ I’ve known Leena for quite some time now and I’ve worked alongside her, so I knew the credit she’s been given is well deserved. We’re very much looking forward to throwing her into the deep end and seeing her add to the team’s success.”

Gade and Hinchcliffe go into the deep end that Phillips referenced when they take part in a team test Jan. 24 at Sebring International Raceway, the first time the pair will work together.