Daly delighted with new Indy Lights car; could the series see an influx of drivers from Europe in 2015?

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American driver Conor Daly has spoken to NBCSN’s Will Buxton about the new IL-15 car set to be introduced for the 2015 Indy Lights season, and the report is glowing to say the least.

Daly has tested the car at Putnam Park and at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course alongside 2012 champion Tristan Vautier, as the series gets ready to bid farewell to the current chassis that was introduced in 2002.

Buxton, NBCSN’s F1 insider, spoke to Daly in Belgium in a post on his blog that considered the possibility of Indy Lights becoming a serious alternative to GP2 for drivers trying to move up the ladder.

With seats in F1 hard to come by without support from a front-running team or a great deal of financial backing, it could be that with the relaunch of its feeder series, many European-based drivers could look to move up into IndyCar through Indy Lights.

“I think it will slot right in between GP3 and GP2,” Daly told Buxton. “It doesn’t have enough power to compete with GP2 but it definitely has more power than GP3. And it’s got the fancy bits and bobs that produce downforce!

“The brakes are nice too. Performance friction has done a really nice job of putting a package together specifically for that car. They’re not carbon brakes but they are really good and that’s cool to see how much work they have put in just for that car.

“As for the engine, GP3’s single turbo was terrible. But this? People love the sound of this thing. It is loud, it screams, it’s got turbo whizzes and all sorts and it really pulls.

“I think it should provide great racing. I think there is a very high probability of that.”

Closing out his post, Buxton feels that Indy Lights could be to IndyCar what GP2 was to F1 ten years ago.

“As young drivers across the world allow their frustrations to fester and begin to question how realistic their F1 dream truly is as the European feeder championships bottleneck at the F1 gates, IL-15 could be the spark for Indy Lights which the launch of GP2 gave F1 hopefuls a decade ago.”

You can read the full article here.

Theriault clinches ARCA title before finale at Kansas

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) There is no long, convoluted story about how Austin Theriault came to Ken Schrader Racing, forging a team that so dominated the ARCA Series that it captured the title simply by showing up for the finale.

“We both wanted something to do,” the folksy Schrader said with a smile and shrug before Friday night’s race at Kansas Speedway. “He didn’t have a car to drive and I didn’t have a driver.”

So, they solved each other’s problem.

Theriault hopped into the seat and proceeded to win seven times over the first 19 races, building such a lead on his nearest challenger that he sewed up the title at Kentucky. And that made for a rather enjoyable weekend at Kansas, where all the pressure was off their team.

Along the way, Theriault became the first driver to win at a superspeedway, short track, dirt track and road event in the same season, and he swept the superspeedway and short-track challenges.

If there was something to win, he won it.

“I hoped we’d have a shot at it and it’s proved out this year that we’ve really exceeded anybody’s expectations,” Theriault said. “We had some things to work on early. We kind of dusted off a bit, went back to work. We had some time between Daytona and the mile-and-a-halfs that came up later in the season, and we realized where we were strong and where we had to work.

“But in the end it came back to pure dedication, I think,” he explained. “The amount of time it took behind the scenes to make this happen.”

The 23-year-old driver from Fort Kent, Maine, knows something about dedication. He appeared to be on racing’s fast track, scoring a Truck Series ride a few years ago for Brad Keselowski, when a terrifying crash at Las Vegas left him with a broken back and sitting on the sidelines.

The best ride he could find last year was in the K&N Pro Series.

It was at a trade show in Indianapolis last December that Theriault ran into Schrader, who was busy putting together a team for this season. They had dinner a couple nights later and, Schrader said, it was his wife Ann who came away impressed by the yes-sir, no-sir driver.

“My wife doesn’t go to all the races,” Schrader said. “After we talked she said, `I like that guy. How good is he?’ She doesn’t know. I knew he was racing well in Keselowski’s truck, had an unfortunate wreck, had to sit out a bit. I told her, `That’s somebody who could make us very happy next year.”‘

Theriault delivered on that promise.

They weren’t the only ones happy Friday, either. Zane Smith earned his second pole of the season, beating teammate Sheldon Creed to earn the top spot for the Kansas ARCA 150, while 20-year-old Natalie Decker announced a full-time ride with Venturini Motorsports next season.

“This is obviously a big step in my career,” said Decker, who made six starts as a rookie this season. “I’m confident and ready for this next move. After tonight my focus shifts to next season. We’ll be ready to go at Daytona.”