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

1 Comment

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.

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
Leave a comment

John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski