Photo: Pippa Mann Racing

Pippa Mann confirmed for Indy 500 return with Susan G. Komen partnership


A very cool story here – Pippa Mann will be returning to the Indianapolis 500 with Dale Coyne Racing, in a partnership with the Susan G. Komen breast cancer organization.

The “pink presser” to reveal the pink No. 63 Honda took place Thursday afternoon at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mann will seek to make her third Indianapolis 500 start, having also made the field in 2011 with Conquest Racing in her Verizon IndyCar Series debut and with Coyne last year.

From Opening Day at IMS through Race Day, Mann’s car, helmet, firesuit and more will be turned pink, in an effort to raise awareness and serve as a reminder to IndyCar fans about the importance of being informed about breast cancer and taking action for their own breast health. In addition, for every lap of the speedway that Mann’s Indycar completes throughout the month of May, fans and supporters will have the opportunity to pledge an amount via the website, from which all donations will go directly to Komen to fund breast cancer research, education and outreach programs.

“Millions of people will see Pippa’s pink car and gear, bringing awareness about this very serious disease,” Komen President and CEO Judy Salerno, M.D., M.S, said in a release. “We’re so appreciative of Pippa’s commitment to her fans, and racing fans everywhere, and, especially, to the fight against breast cancer.”

Speaking about the partnership, Mann said: “This entire project started with the idea of simply taking my red crash helmet, and turning it pink to support the cause, and it has grown into something fairly amazing in a very short space of time. My Indianapolis 500 this year is no longer about me. This pink car will be out on track representing Komen, representing the survivors, and remembering those who sadly did not win their hard fought battles against breast cancer. To have been a part of creating this opportunity for Susan G. Komen at the Indianapolis 500, and to now be a part of actually making this happen, is something I am incredibly proud of.”

The pledge site – which can be accessed at – will be available from today, through midnight on Race Day, Sunday, May 25.

Mann will have her former engineer from 2011, Brandon Fry, leading the effort in a reunion.

It’s going to be a good story and also ensures there will be at least one female driver in the field once more – the last year there wasn’t one was in 1999. Mann has spent the year as lead analyst on IMS Radio Network’s IndyCar coverage, alongside Paul Page.

The identity of Coyne’s second car for the ‘500, the season-long No. 18 Honda, is still to be determined.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Simon Pagenaud

Simon Pagenaud
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the Verizon IndyCar Series field, driver-by-driver, with a look at Simon Pagenaud’s first season at Team Penske.

Simon Pagenaud, No. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet

  • 2014: 5th Place, 2 Wins, 1 Pole, 3 Podiums, 8 Top-5, 12 Top-10, 59 Laps Led, 8.6 Avg. Start, 8.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 11th Place, Best Finish 3rd, 1 Pole, 2 Podiums, 4 Top-5, 9 Top-10, 132 Laps Led, 5.2 Avg. Start, 10.6 Avg. Finish

The 2015 season was always going to be a weird one for Simon Pagenaud, in his first season with Team Penske, adapting and adjusting to being with what’s widely regarded as one of the best if not the best teams in the sport. From a career standpoint he needed to move on from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, where he overachieved for three seasons. And given what became of the Honda aero kit this year, having a Chevrolet at his disposal was always going to be a benefit.

In actuality, Pagenaud didn’t have a bad year, but it was one where the burden of expectation probably hurt his overall stats more than the reality of the situation.

Let’s face facts – he’d finished in the top five in points each of his first three seasons back in IndyCar the last two years, won four races and been in championship contention before. Take all that, apply it to Team Penske and you’d assume wins and title contention would follow, but it didn’t. Still, it was a new team, a fourth team, and that took time to gel.

His qualifying was dynamic, which went against his career form and was markedly improved. His average leapt from 8.6 to 5.2 this year, which was third best in the field. The problem? It trailed two of his three teammates, Will Power and Helio Castroneves, and was only one spot clear of Juan Pablo Montoya.

And then – and there is no easy way to put this – there were his finishes. In 12 of 16 races this season, Pagenaud finished worse than he started. For a driver renowned for making the most of his circumstances on race day, often times things went south when all the marbles, all the points were on the line. Some you could put down to strategy or particularly in the later part of the year, sampling different setups to aid his title-contending teammates.

There were highlights, in particular his speed at the three 500-mile races. Pagenaud was probably the quickest of the four Penske entries at Indianapolis, scored the pole in Fontana and also starred in Pocono, but he didn’t have results to back it up in any of the three. Contact at Indy halted what was certainly winning potential. He also scored a pair of thirds at Detroit race one and Mid-Ohio, although those were cases where he was lucky rather than good.

It was hard to view Pagenaud’s season positively on the whole because you know his potential and ability hasn’t gone missing. But finishing 11th in points when your three teammates end second, third and fifth is definitely a tough pill to swallow, and an early motivator to make the fast Frenchman a top comeback driver in 2016.

Nicky Hayden announces World Superbikes move

ALCANIZ, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 25:  Nicky Hayden of USA and Aspar Team MotoGP rounds the bend during the MotoGP of Spain - Free Practice at Motorland Aragon Circuit on September 25, 2015 in Alcaniz, Spain.  (Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)
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2006 MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden will leave the series at the end of the season ahead of a move into the World Superbike Championship in 2016, it has been announced.

Hayden has raced in MotoGP since 2003 and is currently the only American rider racing in the series, but has struggled to match the form of his early years, scoring just 13 points in 2015.

It had been rumored that Hayden would be walking away from MotoGP at the end of the season for some time, but this has now been confirmed in a statement from WorldSBK.

Hayden will join Honda’s factory team in the rival series, racing alongside Michael van der Mark. The 34-year-old will bid to become the first rider to win both MotoGP and WorldSBK titles.

“Well, my next stop is Superbike with Honda! I’m very excited, obviously, to stick with Honda; it’s where I’ve had the most success in my career,” Hayden said.

“World Superbikes is a championship that I followed closely as a kid when a lot of American riders were fighting at the front. It just seems like the right time and the right team to go with.

“I know I’ve got a lot to learn and it’s going to be a big challenge, but also I’m very motivated to start and learn what I can.

“I’d like to say thanks to everyone who has supported me through my MotoGP career. We had a good run but now it’s time to move on and try something different.”

Hayden’s departure acts as another blow to MotoGP’s profile in the United States, which has seen a downturn in recent years.

The exit of Ben Spies from Yamaha in 2013 was followed by the loss of the race at Laguna Seca the same year, while last month, it was confirmed that Indianapolis would not be returning to the calendar in 2016, leaving just one US round on the schedule.