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The new Dallara IL-15 Indy Lights chassis is officially revealed at IMS

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On Thursday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the new Dallara IL-15 chassis for the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires series was revealed.

If you’re a fan or ardent follower of the Indy Lights series, it might be hard for you to believe this day is really here, too. But it is.

The new IL-15 chassis replaces the Dallara that has been on the Indy Lights grid since the series’ relaunch in 2002; next season, 2015, marks 30 seasons since the first year of Indy Lights in 1986.

Delayed several times as the Indy Lights series went through a change in operation – while it still falls under the INDYCAR umbrella, the operations are now done by Andersen Promotions (was announced last July in Toronto), Dallara was picked as the new chassis partner, a rendering was unveiled in November, AER was confirmed as engine supplier, and today, the future has officially arrived.

Several key partners – Andersen Promotions’ Dan Andersen, project leader Tony Cotman and Dallara CEO Andrea Pontremoli – among others were all on hand for Thursday’s reveal.

Here’s the technical details:

DALLARA IL-15 CHASSIS
Top Speed: 200 mph
Design: Carbon chassis and bodywork
Weight: 1400 pounds
Length: 192 inches
Width: 76 inches
Transmission: 6-speed semi-automatic

AER-P63 ENGINE
Engine: 2.0 liter, turbocharged four-cylinder
Horsepower: 450 HP plus 50 HP Push-to-Pass
Design: All aluminum
Weight: 230 pounds dry crated
Features: Carbon plenum, carbon inlet runner and trumpets and “drive-by-wire” throttle control
Electronics: AER with full active-knock control, ignition-angle learning, advanced boost control and
integrated gear-shift strategies

TIRES Slick/rain tires co-branded COOPER/INDYLIGHTS as manufactured by Cooper Tires

WHEELS Patented Motegi aluminum wheels with techno-mesh design

ADDITIONAL COMPONENTS
• Cosworth looms, data logger, dash, display and sensors
• Dynamic dampers
• Life Racing paddle-shift kit
• Tilton carbon clutch
• PFC brakes

Note: 2014 carryover items include gearbox internals (including ratios), dampers and springs

Another bit of news that came out of the announcement was that the 2015 Indy Lights champion will be confirmed for three 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series races, including the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly will handle the majority of the testing, which officially begins August 5 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, just after the Verizon IndyCar Series race there on August 3. A shakedown in Italy will occur July 15.

Here’s three more studio shot pictures of the car, released by Andersen Promotions/Indy Lights.

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Photo: Indy Lights
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Photo: Indy Lights
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Photo: Indy Lights

I spoke with Andersen, Cotman, AER’s Rob Dyson, Vautier, and Pro Mazda points leader Spencer Pigot after the announcement. Full analysis on the new car will follow later this week on MotorSportsTalk.

Conor Daly’s IndyCar gets painted

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Conor Daly
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Conor Daly will compete full-time in the Verizon IndyCar Series this year in a ride for Dale Coyne Racing.

Daly will make laps in the No. 18 Honda sponsored by Jonathan Byrd’s. The 24-year-old driver tweeted out a picture today of his race car getting painted for the season, which starts on March 13.

Daly has six IndyCar races under his belt so far.

USF2000 reintroduces National Class for 2016

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The National Class is officially back in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda series for 2016.

Yes, when Eric Filgueiras and Spencer Racing announced they’d be in the National Class, that kind of gave it away that the class would be back without it being formally introduced.

Luckily though, the series has released the news today. A formal release is below:

Drivers seeking to make their way onto the Mazda Road to Indy now have an alternate, lower-cost route onto the first rung, the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, with today’s confirmation that the National Class will be returning in 2016.

The Mazda Road to Indy is unique in the world of auto racing, offering a scholarship-funded path all the way from karting via USF2000, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires to the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500.

Eligible to drivers at least 20 years of age before or during the 2016 season, the National Class will be open to all Sports Car Club of America-legal FC (Formula Continental) cars, from any chassis manufacturer, dating back to 2000. Any aerodynamic devices approved by the SCCA are permitted, although in the interests of safety all cars must be fitted with a nosebox crash structure, wheel tethers, Staubli devices, approved head surrounds and seats and yellow light system as required by all other current USF2000 cars.

Cars will be permitted to run either the same 2.0-liter Mazda MZR engine per the USF2000 Championship Class regulations or sealed 2.0-liter Ford Zetec motors as prepared by Elite Engines or Quicksilver RacEngines with National Class mapping. Any SCCA-legal 6″ and 8″ wheels may be used, although all cars must run on Cooper tires.

Entry fees will be discounted 50 percent below the Championship Class rate, and each race winner will earn a free entry for an upcoming event in the same season. The second-place finisher will claim a 50 percent reduction in the entry fee for an upcoming race. In addition, race winners equipped with the MZR engine will take home a $1,000 award from Mazda.

As an added benefit and based on a minimum average car count of five entries per race weekend, the 2016 National Class champion will receive an “entry ticket” to the Mazda Road to Indy $200K Scholarship Shootout in the fall of this year where champions of select junior level-open wheel and karting series from around the world will compete for a Mazda scholarship to enter the USF2000 Championship Class in 2017.

The point system will be the same used by the Masters Class (formerly Expert Class) in the Pro Mazda championship.

“We are excited to bring back the National Class and allow drivers to sample the Mazda Road to Indy,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “RC Enerson began his path on the ladder system in the National Class. It’s a great first step onto the platform for many drivers, and we are excited to offer this year’s champion an entry into the Shootout as well as a full-season entry package to USF2000 in 2017 in either the Championship or National Class.”

The Mazda Road to Indy will head to Barber Motorsport Park for Spring Training on March 5 (Indy Lights) and 6/7 (USF2000/Pro Mazda). The 2016 season will kick off on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 11-13 in support of the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Report: Scott Tucker arrested by FBI in payday lending scheme

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - JANUARY 30:  The #95 Level 5 Motorsports BMW Riley driven by Scott Tucker, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Richard Westbrook and Raphael Matos during The Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway on January 30, 2011 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images)
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For four years from 2010 to 2013, Scott Tucker and Level 5 Motorsports were American Le Mans Series regulars, first in the Prototype Challenge class and then the LMP2 class. They won, a lot, and were a regular championship-contending effort, plus those who worked for the team had nothing but positive things to say about the operation that was run.

That said, the funding of the team was always perpetually questioned, as Tucker was always allegedly involved within the payday lending business, and had reportedly abusive practices towards customers.

This has been something of a bubbling story for five years but per Reuters, on Wednesday, Tucker and one of his lawyers were arrested by the FBI for their alleged exploitation.

Per Reuters, an indictment filed in Manhattan federal court outlined millions that went to Tucker, who then used it for various luxury items. Allegedly, more than $67 million went to the Level 5 Motorsports race team.

Level 5’s last IMSA series start came under the unified TUDOR United SportsCar Championship umbrella in January 2014, when the team won the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the GT Daytona class. The team withdrew from the championship following that race.

Social Roundup: IndyCar tests at Sonoma, Fontana

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Simon Pagenaud
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There has been an awakening. Have you felt it?

The engines of the Verizon IndyCar Series have roared back to life this week, a month before the season opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

After a test at Phoenix International Raceway two days ago, two more tests are occurring today in California, at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana and at Sonoma Raceway.

At Auto Cub Speedway is Ryan Hunter-Reay, Carlos Munoz and James Hinchcliffe.

In Sonoma is the entirety of the Chip Ganassi Racing team and Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud from Team Penske.

Here’s a look at how the day is progressing at each test through social media. We’ll update throughout the day. If you’re attending either test, tweet us pictures at @MotorSportsTalk or @danielmcfadin of how you’re taking in the beginning of the 2016 season.

Sonoma Raceway

Auto Club Speedway