Verizon IndyCar Notes & Quotes: Indianapolis 500 Qualifying

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A few other nuggets we needed to hit after yesterday’s Indianapolis 500 qualifying

  • Polesitter Ed Carpenter is the 11th driver to go back-to-back in terms of the Indianapolis 500 poles. The others? Ralph De Palma 1920-21, Rex Mays 1935-36, Eddie Sachs 1960-61, Parnelli Jones 1962-63, Mario Andretti 1966-67, A.J. Foyt 1974-75, Tom Sneva 1977-78, Rick Mears 1988-89, Scott Brayton 1995-96, and Helio Castroneves 2009-10. That’s some illustrious company.
  • From IMS and INDYCAR: The 2014 Indy 500 Starting Field is the fastest in history, at an average of 229.382 mph. The previous fastest field was 2002, which had an average of 228.648 mph. The difference in time between fastest qualifier, Ed Carpenter and slowest qualifier, Buddy Lazier is 2.1509 seconds. This is the closest field by time in the history of the Indianapolis 500. The previous closest was 2.5399 seconds in 2011. The difference in speed between fastest qualifier, Ed Carpenter and slowest qualifier, Buddy Lazier is 3.147 mph. This is the second closest field by speed in the history of the Indianapolis 500. The closest was 3.130 mph in 1953.
  • Third-placed Will Power was a bit frustrated to miss out on pole, but still pleased with a front row grid position: “We were close. Carpenter and (James) Hinchcliffe had to put down two great laps to beat us. I really want to win a Verizon P1 pole award here,” he said.
  • Power’s Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves, who starts fourth, on the temperature changes and how sensitive that makes the cars: “I mean, the engineers are really working the numbers.  Our cars are so sensitive to the weather.  Ten degrees, five degrees makes a difference out there.  Today being ten degrees warmer, it definitely made a difference.”
  • Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing’s Josef Newgarden lost a full mph on his fourth and final lap in the shootout, which cost him a 230-mph average. He’ll start eighth. “We really hung it out and gave it everything we had, but it got a little tough in that last lap. I thought I was going to end up in the wall for a minute, but we were able to keep it on track and finish off the four-lap run. That’s how Indy qualifying should be. You should lay it all out there and give it everything you have, and that’s what we did,” he said.
  • The Chip Ganassi Racing squad made some strides on Sunday, notably by the No. 9 Target team of Scott Dixon, who rolls off 11th. “It was a big improvement from where we were yesterday and I’m happy with our result today. We still have another practice session tomorrow under the new format next week so we’re going to keep working hard to keep the Target cars going in the right direction. The car was really smooth to drive and I think we could have been faster if I hadn’t had to deal with a bit of a crosswind on my run. Overall a better day than yesterday,” said the defending series champion. Tony Kanaan jumped seven spots from 23rd Saturday to 16th Sunday; meanwhile the NTT Data and Novo Nordisk efforts fell off a bit with Ryan Briscoe dropping from 17th to 30th and Charlie Kimball from 19th to 26th.
  • Kurt Busch is the fastest rookie in the field in 12th; the fastest full-season rookie Jack Hawksworth one spot behind in 13th. Consider the BHA/BBM with Curb-Agajanian team is one of just two teams with a single car (Lazier Partners Racing; the DRR Kingdom Racing entry features Ganassi development driver Sage Karam) entered, and you see what a feat that is. “Thirteenth on the grid, considering where we were at the beginning of the week, is a great job from the whole Bryan Herta Autosport crew and we’ll take that. It’s a little disappointing to not be farther up but the race is what counts so we’ll get after it,” said Hawksworth.
  • Dale Coyne’s three cars start solidly mid-pack in 14th (Justin Wilson), 21st (Carlos Huertas) and 22nd (Pippa Mann). In terms of strength of engineering, the team has it, and could be sleepers on Sunday. “Saturday went well and Sunday went even better. I am very proud of the entire staff, engineering department and, of course, our highly professional and skilled trio of drivers.  We have been close to winning this race the past two years and we look forward more than ever to next weekend’s Indy 500,” Coyne said.

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

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If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.