IndyCar: Power secures pivotal third pole of season in Milwaukee

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WEST ALLIS, Wis. – Verizon IndyCar Series points leader Will Power captured an important and pivotal third pole of the season for Sunday’s ABC Supply Co. Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest Presented by the Metro Milwaukee Honda Dealers (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

The driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet laid down the only two-lap average north of 169 mph, with a 169.262 enough to secure the pole position.

Power went out ninth in the 22-car field and like a handful of others, just caught the cloud cover over the Milwaukee Mile at just the right time.

“Yeah, I definitely wasn’t expecting those sort of speeds,” Power said. “Based on practice, we were expecting 22-second laps. Yeah, the car was very solid. Obviously had the information of my two teammates before me of which direction the balance went.

“Didn’t have to adjust the car much. Yeah, just good laps. I didn’t expect to be on pole, but I thought I’d be somewhere at the front.”

Behind him, Tony Kanaan qualified second in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, as he seeks his third Milwaukee win (2006, 2007) and first win this season. If Kanaan breaks through, he’d become the 11th different winner of 2014, which would tie a North American open-wheel record (2000, 2001 in CART).

“I think we have a pretty good chance. Like you said, the four cars are extremely strong,” Kanaan said. “We’re in the front row. We’ve been showing how quick we’ve been, how good we’ve been everywhere. We’ve just really got to get a little bit of luck on our side sometime. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll challenge Will and some of the guys.

“I think we have a good car and a chance to win.”

The pair of Chevrolets lead a Chevy-dominated top 10, where only three Hondas broke in after pacing most of practice.

Juan Pablo Montoya and Ryan Briscoe are on Row 2 – both are prior Milwaukee winners (2000, CART and 2008, IndyCar, respectively).

Josef Newgarden was the best-qualifying Honda in the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda, now featuring Direct Supply primary sponsorship this weekend, in P5. Charlie Kimball posted a Milwaukee-best sixth on the grid.

Ed Carpenter and Power’s Team Penske teammate, Helio Castroneves make up Row 4 with Marco Andretti and Takuma Sato, the latter of whom has his primary sponsor ABC Supply Co. as the race sponsor, completing the top 10.

James Hinchcliffe, who led both practice sessions, qualified 13th in his repaired No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda, which required an all-hands-on-deck effort from the Andretti Autosport crew. Andretti’s team collectively missed the setup in qualifying with none of their cars making the top eight.

Other title hopefuls Simon Pagenaud and Ryan Hunter-Reay struggled, clocking in at 16th and 19th on the grid respectively. They’ll have an uphill battle to stay in the championship frame from those grid positions; Pagenaud is now 65, Hunter-Reay 64 points behind Power heading into Sunday.

WEST ALLIS, Wis. – Qualifying Saturday for the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 1.015-mile Milwaukee Mile, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, and speed:

1. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 169.262
2. (10) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 168.662
3. (2) Juan Pablo Montoya, Dallara-Chevy, 168.579
4. (8) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Chevy, 168.266
5. (67) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 168.233
6. (83) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Chevy, 168.123
7. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 167.775
8. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 167.561
9. (25) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 167.079
10. (14) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 166.915
11. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Chevy, 166.742
12. (19) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 166.501
13. (27) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 166.195
14. (15) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 166.032
15. (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Dallara-Honda, 165.851
16. (77) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 165.818
17. (98) Jack Hawksworth, Dallara-Honda, 165.614
18. (11) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 164.421
19. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 164.211
20. (34) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Honda, 164.013
21. (17) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevy, 162.535
22. (18) Carlos Huertas, Dallara-Honda, 159.787

Zach Veach confirmed with Belardi to start 2016 Indy Lights season

Photo: Belardi Auto Racing
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Two-year Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires series veteran Zach Veach will return to the series in 2016 following a year’s hiatus. At the moment, it’s for the start of the season only but with the intended plan of making it a full-season effort.

The young American joins the Belardi Auto Racing team, which he narrowly lost out to in his last full-time campaign in 2014 when he finished third in the points.

Veach, who turns 21 next month, is Brian Belardi’s first confirmed driver for the 2016 season. Perhaps one of the single most experienced drivers in the Mazda Road to Indy, Veach has been on all three rungs (Indy Lights, Pro Mazda, USF2000) since 2010 and spent 2015 as a color commentator for the IndyCar Radio Network.

He tested for the team last month at Sebring, and will have several other tests before the St. Petersburg season opening weekend March 11-13.

“I’m very thankful for this opportunity that Brian Belardi has given me,” Veach said. “After racing against his team for so many years, I’ve always had a ton of respect for him, his crew, and of course, his cars. Belardi Auto Racing competes to win championships and I would love to give them their second Indy Lights title.

“Right now, we only have a partial program in place, but with a great amount of effort on both sides. We will be doing everything possible to try to get funding together for an entire season, so we can put a championship fight in place. I look towards winter testing, and 2016, with a lot of hope and excitement.”

“We’re really happy to have Zach confirmed with us for next year, and we’ll work closely with him to make sure that we can get the funding we need to run him all season,” Belardi added.

“He’s a supreme talent both in and out of the car, and his initial test outings in the car were just as we expected.  Zach was on-pace very early in Sebring after familiarizing himself with the new Indy Lights car, and I know that we’ll challenge for race wins and the championship next year.”

ARCA releases 2016 schedule; Mobile out, Madison (Wisc.) returns

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The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards will have only minor changes to the 2016 season, the sanctioning body said Wednesday after revealing next season’s schedule.

The biggest change is Mobile, Alabama is off the schedule, to be replaced by a return to Madison, Wisconsin.

As ARCA enters its 64th consecutive year of racing, the schedule will once again feature 20 races for the third consecutive year, starting at Daytona International Speedway on February 13 and ending on Oct. 14 at Kansas Speedway.

ARCA 2016 sked



All told, there will be nine races on short tracks, eight on superspeedways, two on dirt and one on a road course.

“We are pleased to announce our full and complete schedule,” ARCA President Ron Drager said. “We feel we have once again put together a schedule that highlights the diversity of the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards. We are excited for the start of the new season.”

Other changes include:

* The annual Chicagoland Speedway race will be moved to Thursday night, Sept. 15, kicking off the opening weekend of NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup.

* The road course race at New Jersey will be moved to Saturday, May 28, rather than its previous Sunday afternoon date.

* The annual dirt race at DuQuoin State Fairgrounds in Illinois will shift from an afternoon to an evening race.

* The series will mark milestone events with the 75th series event at Toledo Speedway and the 99th and 100th races at southern Indiana’s Salem Speedway.

* The series will have companion races with all three of NASCAR’s pro touring series, as well as one weekend as the undercard for the Verizon IndyCar Series race at Iowa Speedway in July.

* As for the return to Madison, Drager said, “It was important for us to schedule a race in the Menards market. Last year, we did not have a race in either Minnesota or Wisconsin and this year, we decided to go back. We are definitely looking forward to racing again at Madison and the upper Midwest.”

* The annual awards banquet takes place Dec. 12 in Indianapolis.

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Ecclestone has ‘no doubts’ Monza will remain on F1 calendar

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MILAN (AP) Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone is confident the Italian Grand Prix in Monza can find the needed cash to stay on the calendar.

Ecclestone tells the Gazzetta dello Sport, “We will find the right solution – I no longer have doubts – to provide a future for the Italian GP.”

No circuit has hosted more F1 racing than Monza, but officials at the track outside Milan have had trouble producing the estimated 25 million euros ($26.6 million) per year that Ecclestone seeks to keep the race in place after the current contract expires next year.

Ecclstone says, “Things have been cleared up and there is only one go between, (Angelo) Sticchi Damiani, the president of the Italian Automobile Club.”

The Italian GP next year is scheduled for Sept. 4.

Alternative engine solution rejected by F1 Commission

Nico Rosberg

Plans to introduce a new alternative, cheaper engine into Formula 1 for 2017 – hypothetically a 2.2-liter V6 similar to what is seen in IndyCar – will at least temporarily go on the backburner.

The F1 Commission has rejected the so called “alternative engine solution,” where several companies submitted proposals to be that alternative supplier.

“The F1 Commission voted not to pursue this option at this stage — however, it may be reassessed after the Power Unit manufacturers have presented their proposal to the Strategy Group,” the FIA said on Wednesday.

“The parties involved have agreed on a course to address several key areas relating to Power Unit supply in Formula One,” the statement added.

Meanwhile the statement outlined four things the current manufacturers – Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda – would be tasked with improving on the current 1.6-liter formula:

Those are:

  • a guarantee of supply to teams
  • the need to reduce the engines’ cost
  • simplification of the specification
  • “improved noise”

Further meetings between the manufacturers and the governing body are scheduled, including one this weekend at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix season finale.

As F1 heads into the final weekend of the season, political/paddock items such as Red Bull and Toro Rosso’s respective power unit futures, whether Renault’s takeover of Lotus will finally become official and what will happen with Manor’s team leadership stake – this marks Graeme Lowdon and John Booth’s final weekends although ex-McLaren man Dave Ryan has been hired as the team’s new racing director – are among the talking points.