IndyCar: Five teams, 11 drivers to test at Sonoma on Thursday

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This upcoming week may be an “off week” for the Verizon IndyCar Series in terms of an actual race weekend, but not in terms of on-track activity.

Half the 22-car field will be in action at Sonoma Raceway on Thursday for an open test, which will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is free to the public.

Fans who purchase a ticket to the upcoming GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (August 24), or have already purchased tickets, will be given a FREE pit tour for an up-close look at the racecars and drivers. The Raceway Café will also be open for lunch, and a press conference will fall during the lunch hour.

Those drivers and teams confirmed to test include:

  • Andretti Autosport: Ryan Hunter-Reay & Carlos Munoz
  • Chip Ganassi Racing: Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan & Charlie Kimball
  • Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing: Graham Rahal
  • Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing: Josef Newgarden
  • Team Penske: Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya & Will Power

Newgarden is embarking on a crazy, whirlwind week where he returned from Mid-Ohio to Indianapolis for the Indiana State Fair, will head west to Sonoma on Thursday, then heads back southeast to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. for the weekend to compete in a Honda-powered Formula F car. More here from the SCCA.

Interesting from a championship perspective is that Castroneves, Power and Hunter-Reay will have an extra day’s worth of data compared to Simon Pagenaud, who is not testing here. But Pagenaud and the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team did test at Sonoma over the winter, so they’ll have that data to work off of.

Penske has traditionally run well at Sonoma, and since the introduction of the Dallara DW12 has won both races – with Ryan Briscoe in 2012 and Power a year ago.

We’ll see whether anyone is able to make key gains this week.

MRTI: Telitz gets creative to help racing career

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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To say that Belardi Auto Racing’s Aaron Telitz has endured a difficult start to the 2018 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season would be an understatement. The Wisconsin native only completed four corners through the first three races – Races 1 and 2 at St. Petersburg, and Race 1 at Barber Motorsports Park – with St. Pete being especially problematic.

He took the pole for Race 1, but a crash during qualifying for Race 2 prevented him from actually starting. What’s more, the damage was so severe that the Belardi team needed a brand new chassis, with Telitz’s Dallara IL-15 damaged beyond repair.

They also had to borrow a car from Carlin for Race 2, but Telitz’s race ended after he got tangled up with Victor Franzoni in Turn 2 on Lap 1.

With the damage bill well into the six figures as a result, Telitz has taken to some unique, or rather, creative ways to raise money in the aftermath to help cover the costs. “Creative,” in this case, meaning Telitz is using his art skills.

An artist in his spare time, Telitz has begun selling his own original paintings to help raise money.

 “I’ve been to a lot of art shows and I see stuff and I go, ‘Holy cow, someone’s going to pay a thousand dollars for that thing?’” Telitz quipped in a story posted on the Milwaukee Journal.

In discussing his artistic abilities, Telitz added, “I’m working at getting better. I’d like to be able to paint some animals, those types of things. I got a request from Alexander Rossi to see if I could paint his dog. Unfortunately I can’t do that yet.”

Further, in a partnership with The Styled Garage, Telitz is selling his own merchandise, and accepting donations, to help his cause.

Telitz finished fourth in Race 2 at Barber on Sunday, and sits seventh in the Indy Lights championship, 59 points behind leader Pato O’Ward.

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