KVSH Racing partnering with Jonathan Byrd’s Racing for 2015 Indy 500

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A familiar Verizon IndyCar Series team will help Jonathan Byrd’s Racing in its return to the Indianapolis 500 next year.

KVSH Racing has confirmed that they’ll partner with the Byrd’s camp in fielding a car at the 2015 Indy for short-track powerhouse and former ‘500’ starter Bryan Clauson.

“When we first began discussions for this entry with the Byrd family, what came to mind was the campaign the Indianapolis Motor Speedway recently launched: ‘We all have a story,’ KVSH partner James “Sulli” Sullivan said in a team release.

“The Byrd’s have a storied history at the Speedway and we’re pleased to announce today they’ll be returning with KVSH Racing to start the next chapter of the Jonathan Byrd’s Racing story. We are excited to add another Indy 500 entry to the 2015 KVSH Racing lineup and stoked to have Bryan Clauson as our wheel man.

“I also think it is interesting to note that one of my partners, [team co-owner] Jimmy Vasser, was sponsored by Jonathan Byrd for his second Indy 500, so we have come full circle.”

Speaking on behalf of the Byrd family, David Byrd said that the addition of KVSH to his team’s program was “simply phenomenal.”

“The fact that we have our program in place a year in advance with what we hope is a long-term home for the Jonathan Byrd’s team, and to know that we are going to be able to provide Bryan with all of the resources he needs to win the 500 – I don’t think our family could ask for much more,” he said.

“It’s amazing to have a driver like Bryan put his faith in us to deliver for him and to stake his IndyCar future with us, and we are grateful to Kevin [Kalkhoven], Jimmy, Sulli, and the KVSH team for the opportunity to build with them.”

The Jonathan Byrd’s Racing name has not been seen in the ‘500’ since 2005, when it partnered with Panther Racing to field a car for 1996 Indy winner Buddy Lazier.

Today’s release stated that a testing schedule for Clauson is in development and will be announced when finalized.

“We have a lot of great things happening at Jonathan Byrd’s Racing, and aligning ourselves with KVSH Racing, a team which has competed many times at Indy and won the race, is a big step forward for our program,” said the multi-time USAC champion.

“KVSH knows firsthand what it takes to run up front at Indy, and having Jimmy Vasser there to lean on is going to be a huge bonus for me. I can’t wait to get to work.”

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Remaining part-time drivers

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MotorSportsTalk wraps up its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017 with the remaining part-time drivers, after the 23 drivers who ran anywhere from six events to the full season.

There were 15 drivers who made four or fewer starts this season. Some overly impressed or drew major headlines in their limited opportunities.

They were, by start count:

  • Sebastian Saavedra (No. 17 Juncos Racing Chevrolet, No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, 4)
  • Gabby Chaves (No. 88 Harding Racing Chevrolet, 3)
  • Oriol Servia (No. 16 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda, 3)
  • Jack Harvey (No. 50 MSR w/Andretti Autosport Honda, No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, 3)
  • Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet, 2)
  • Zach Veach (No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, No. 40 A.J. Foyt Enterprises Chevrolet, 2)
  • Fernando Alonso (No. 29 McLaren Honda Andretti Honda, 1)
  • Pippa Mann (No. 63 Dale Coyne Racing Honda, 1)
  • Jay Howard (No. 77 Team One Cure/SPM Honda, 1)
  • Sage Karam (No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet, 1)
  • James Davison (No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda, 1)
  • Tristan Vautier (No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda, 1)
  • Buddy Lazier (No. 44 Lazier Racing Partners Chevrolet, 1)
  • Zachary Claman DeMelo (No. 13 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda, 1)
  • Robert Wickens (No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, Practice Only)

Going through them, in terms of impact, Alonso’s one-off at the Indianapolis 500 easily resonated loudest. It was incredible to witness the amount of buzz, worldwide support and media attention that Alonso generated, and fueled a running joke that he was the only driver in this year’s race. It was capped off when he beat Ed Jones to race rookie-of-the-year honors, despite losing a Honda engine late while Jones dragged a broken Dale Coyne Racing car to third place.

Elsewhere, Chaves and Harding Racing’s debut was the most unexpected pleasant surprise from a driver and team standpoint. A solid ninth at Indianapolis was followed by an even more impressive fifth at Texas. Their three oval races laid the groundwork for a step-up to a full-time entry in 2018.

Montoya proved he still had it with a pair of top-10s in a fifth Team Penske car. He’ll be in Penske’s Acura prototype sports car program next year and the hope is that we haven’t seen the last of him in IndyCar.

Saavedra re-established himself on the scene after a year-plus hiatus. The likable Colombian overachieved given low expectations with two different teams. Whether it was enough to see him and longtime backer AFS Racing for further races in 2018 is unknown.

Harvey and Veach each came up to IndyCar for a cup of coffee, both rookies in the Indianapolis 500 alongside Alonso and Jones while also getting additional road course starts. Neither of them looked a world-beater in their road course outings owing to tough circumstances, but they logged key laps and miles to build for a brighter future from 2018 and beyond in recently announced multi-year programs (Harvey with Michael Shank Racing and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, and Veach with Andretti Autosport).

Of the rest, Servia’s results left a bit to be desired, a potential top-five fading in Indy when he and Davison collided to trigger a multi-car pileup. Davison and Vautier impressed in their lone starts of the year with their pace and aggression but were unable to parlay them into results.

Mann made her usual Indy 500 one-off entry and secured her best finish in six starts, but pressed through a challenging month that she’ll be keen to improve upon in 2018. Her day was significantly better than Howard’s and Lazier’s, who both ended their ‘500 bows in the wall, and with Howard having contributed to Scott Dixon’s savage accident when he crashed in Turn 1 and then came into Dixon’s path.

“ZCD” made his debut at Sonoma in a second RLL Racing entry and did rather well, competitive on lap times as the weekend progressed on a track that’s notoriously low-grip. Wickens never got that far. Despite a preseason ride swap with his close friend James Hinchcliffe that reignited his passion for open-wheel after several years, and with Mercedes announcing it would pull the plug on its DTM program after 2018, Wickens got only a practice day at Road America before Mikhail Aleshin sorted his visa issues. The circumstances evolved in Wickens’ favor at season’s end to see him get the second seat for 2018 at SPM after all.