Joao Barbosa

Sebring 12-hour: Extra drivers to watch

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As the second round of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring is a great chance to see an extra bumper crop of drivers in action before their regular campaigns in other series begin.

The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship sees a number of all-star third and fourth drivers in action in all four classes. The P and GTLM class have no driver restrictions and as such, can afford to bring in ringers to aid their two main drivers.

They include but are not limited to:

PROTOTYPES

  • Gabby Chaves (No. 0 DeltaWing DWC13),
  • David Brabham (No. 1 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b), Simon Pagenaud (No. 2 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b),
  • Sebastien Bourdais (No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP), Jon Fogarty (No. 9 Action Express Racing Corvette DP)
  • Jann Mardenborough (No. 6 Muscle Milk Pickett Racing ORECA 03 Nissan)
  • Max Angelelli (No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP)
  • Alex Brundle (No. 42 OAK Racing Morgan Nissan)
  • Justin Wilson (No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford EcoBoost Riley)
  • Mike Rockenfeller (No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP)
  • Marino Franchitti (No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford EcoBoost Riley), and all three drivers in No. 02 CGR car
  • Tristan Vautier (No. 07 SpeedSource Mazda SKYACTIV-D Coupe)

GT LE MANS 

  • Ryan Briscoe (No. 3 Corvette C7.R), Robin Liddell (No. 4 Corvette C7.R)
  • Marco Holzer (No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR)
  • Joey Hand (No. 55 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4), Dirk Werner (No. 56 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4)
  • Andrea Bertolini (No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 Italia), Gianmaria Bruni (No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia)
  • Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 91 SRT Motorsports SRT Viper GTS-R), Rob Bell (No. 93 SRT Motorsports SRT Viper GTS-R)
  • Patrick Pilet (No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR), Jorg Bergmeister (No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR)

PROTOTYPE CHALLENGE

Sam Bird (No. 8 Starworks Motorsport), Sean Rayhall (No. 25 8Star Motorsports), Stephen Simpson (No. 85 JDC/Miller), Martin Plowman (No. 88 BAR1 Motorsports) and David Heinemeier Hansson (No. 09 RSR Racing) are “good gets” for third drivers given the pro-am nature of the class requires at least two Silver drivers in a three-driver lineup.

GT DAYTONA 

Like PC, GTD requires a pro-am lineup, with at least two Silver drivers in a three- or four-driver lineup. But there are some star pros who can fill in if teams have a higher volume of Silvers.

Some extra drivers to watch here include:

  • Matt Plumb (No. 13 Rum Bum/Snow Racing Porsche 911 GT America)
  • Philip Frommenwiler (No. 22 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America), Alex Riberas (No. 23 Team Seattle/AJR Porsche 911 GT America)
  • Klaus Bachler (No. 28 Konrad Motorsport/Dempsey Racing Porsche 911 GT America)
  • Christina Nielsen (No. 30 NGT Motorsport Porsche 911 GT America)
  • Marc Basseng (No. 32 GMG Audi R8 LMS)
  • Filipe Albuquerque (No. 35 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS), Markus Winkelhock (No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS)
  • Christopher Mies (No. 46 Fall-Line Motorsports Audi R8 LMS)
  • Stefan Johansson (No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia GT3)
  • Norbert Siedler (No. 71 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT America)
  • Patrick Huisman (No. 81 GB Autosport Porsche 911 GT America)
  • Markus Palttala (No. 94 Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3)

MRTI: Freedom 100, new USF-17 launch highlight Indy oval weekend

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Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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INDIANAPOLIS – The Mazda Road to Indy has a double dip of content this weekend with the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda at the Lucas Oil Raceway short oval in Clermont, Ind., outside Indianapolis.

Both events are on Friday; the Freedom 100 airs at noon ET and local time as part of NBCSN’s Carb Day coverage. Kevin Lee, Anders Krohn and Katie Hargitt will have the call for the Freedom.

The Freedom 100 is arguably the marquee race of the year for Indy Lights, and a good springboard to the Verizon IndyCar Series – no less than 24 of the 33 starters in this year’s Indianapolis 500 field have some degree of Mazda Road to Indy experience.

That being said, the randomness of the Freedom 100 has produced a variety of winners who haven’t exactly gone on to huge things in IndyCar.

Here’s the past winners list:

  • 2015: Jack Harvey
  • 2014: Gabby Chaves
  • 2013: Peter Dempsey
  • 2012: Esteban Guerrieri
  • 2011: Josef Newgarden
  • 2010: Wade Cunningham
  • 2009: Wade Cunningham
  • 2008: Dillon Battistini
  • 2007: Alex Lloyd
  • 2006: Wade Cunningham
  • 2005: Jaime Camara
  • 2004: Thiago Medeiros
  • 2003: Ed Carpenter

That’s three past winners in Carpenter, Newgarden and Chaves who are racing on Sunday. Harvey, Dempsey and Guerrieri have a combined zero starts; meanwhile all of Cunningham, Battistini, Camara and Medeiros had less than a season of in IndyCar.

Polesitters have been random too, with some surprises including Ethan Ringel (last year) and Ken Losch (2007) of note.

Traditionally Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has fielded strong entries at the Speedway, and that puts any of its four cars – talented sophomore RC Enerson, Pro Mazda champion Santiago Urrutia and fellow rookies Andre Negrao and Heamin Choi into contention almost from the off. Enerson, in particular, is due his first win of the year after niggling turbo issues have hampered most of his season.

Belardi Auto Racing, given its engineering strength in depth, is also a strong contender and a winner here twice previously in dramatic fashion with Chaves and Dempsey. This year they have Zach Veach, who topped the 200-mph mark during testing on Monday, and Felix Rosenqvist, who will look for a significantly better second oval start than his first at Phoenix.

Either of Enerson and Veach would make it seven winners in eight races this year. The other six thus far are, in order, Felix Serralles, Rosenqvist, Kyle Kaiser, Ed Jones, Urrutia and Dean Stoneman.

Kaiser expects to be better than both he and the Juncos Racing team were here last year. Another potential surprise is Neil Alberico, who was strong in testing despite a slight incident in the first session.

Choi, replacing Scott Anderson, is the only driver change among the 16 entered for the Freedom 100. It’s the biggest field for this race since 2012, when 18 cars started – only 11 have started each of the last three years.

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Rendering: Andersen Promotions

Arguably the more intriguing part of the weekend from the Pro Mazda or USF2000 perspective is the launch of the new Tatuus USF-17 car, which gets unveiled Friday morning, 9 a.m., at IMS.

It’s the second new car to be unveiled at IMS in recent years, with the Dallara IL-15 Mazda having been unveiled in May 2014 ahead of its race debut for 20115.

The Pro Mazda and USF2000 races occur later in the day on Friday at IMS.

In Pro Mazda, the question is whether anyone can stop the Pato O’Ward roll of awesomeness for Team Pelfrey. The young Mexican has won five of six races to date, although teammate Aaron Telitz is a past winner at Lucas Oil Raceway in USF2000. The remaining six drivers in the field will look to end O’Ward’s run of form.

USF2000 sees its field temporarily cut in half for its lone oval race of the season, down from 27 cars entered at the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis weekend to a mere 14 cars on the 0.686-mile oval.

While Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing and Pabst Racing have three cars entered apiece – Parker Thompson and Anthony Martin have propelled Cape to four straight wins this year -known oval setup ace John Walko will likely have Victor Franzoni’s car ready to go to contend.

Driver helmets looking very stylish for Sunday‘s Indianapolis 500

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Photo IndyCar
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If it’s spring and time for the Indianapolis 500, the best-dressed man and woman are sporting the newest fashions – on their heads, that is.

There’s a number of fascinating liveries on helmets for this year’s race. Some are tribute liveries, some homages to the race itself and some just switched up for the sake of it.

Here’s some of the more interesting helmets drivers will be wearing in the 100th running of the Indy 500 this Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

 

It’s a dog’s life: While ‘dad’ Simon is away, Norman Pagenaud will play

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Current Verizon IndyCar Series points leader Simon Pagenaud — who comes into Sunday’s 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 riding a three-race winning streak — has a new addition to the family: Norman Pagenaud.

The newest Pagenaud already has his own Twitter account and while ‘dad’ was in Detroit Tuesday during the annual NASCAR cross-country media tour day, Norman REALLY got to know his new home away from home: Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Check out some of Norman’s best tweets of the day, as well as a few from Simon.

Oh, and did we mention that Norman is a puppy? He’s sooooooo cute!

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Cross-country IndyCar media tour pumps up excitement for Indy 500

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(Photo courtesy Mike Kitchel, IndyCar)
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To further pump up the excitement of Sunday’s 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 – which is officially sold-out – all 33 drivers in the race field spent Tuesday flying to various cities for a number of media opportunities.

Some went to baseball games, others to the zoo, and all had countless media interviews as a prelude for Sunday’s milestone event.

The media tour, which began in 2011, scattered the drivers to a variety of markets, from New York City and Chicago to Miami, Phoenix, Toronto, Buffalo, St. Louis and even Bethlehem, Pa.

Pole-sitter James Hinchcliffe kicked off things by taking a bite out of the Big Apple (New York City), along with 2014 Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, 2014 Verizon IndyCarSeries champion Will Power and two-time series race winner Marco Andretti.

Here’s where the contingent of drivers visited, followed by a number of social media posts related to their visits:

Bethlehem, Pa.: Jack Hawksworth, Bristol, Conn. (ESPN): Tony Kanaan, Buffalo: Josef Newgarden, Charlotte, N.C.: Juan Pablo Montoya, Chicago: Helio Castroneves, Cincinnati: Sage Karam, Mikhail Aleshin, Cleveland: Pippa Mann, Columbus, Ohio: Charlie Kimball, Dallas: Graham Rahal, Dayton, Ohio: Stefan Wilson, Detroit: Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Sebastien Bourdais, Fort Wayne, Ind.: Bryan Clauson, Buddy Lazier, Louisville: Matt Brabham, Alexander Rossi, Max Chilton, Spencer Pigot, Miami: Oriol Servia, Carlos Munoz, Gabby Chaves, Milwaukee: Conor Daly, New York: Will Power, Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Townsend Bell, Phoenix: Scott Dixon, St. Louis: JR Hildebrand, Toronto: Takuma Sato, Alex Tagliani

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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