Photo: Bob Chapman/Autosport Image

Here’s some of the interesting cars, drivers running Thunderhill

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NASA’s 25 Hours of Thunderhill is a wonderful hodgepodge of drivers, cars and teams for a year-end gathering of a seemingly no rules – or limited rules – endurance race in Willows, Calif.

I say this as someone who’s talked to drivers who have competed in the Thunderhill, yet not gone myself. It’s something I’d like to do at some point.

With the entry list out, here’s a number of the interesting cars, drivers and lineups running in this year’s race. The full team, car and class and driver entry lists are linked in this sentence.

  • TOYO Tires/Flying Lizard Motorsports, No. 45 Audi R8 LMS, Darren Law, Johannes van Overbeek, Dion von Moltke, Mike Hedlund
  • TOYO Tires/Flying Lizard Motorsports 2, No. 74 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, Tommy Sadler, Andy Wilzoch, Charlie Hayes, Will Owen
  • JFC Racing, No. 52 Wolf GB08MJ-K20, Ryan Eversley, Al Unser Jr., Miles Jackson, Todd Harris
  • CLP Motorsports, No. 14 Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4, Marc Miller, Tyler McQuarrie, Tom Dyer, Tanner Foust, Pat O’Keefe
  • ONE Motorsports/Desert West, No. 67 Radical SR3, Sean Rayhall, John Falb, Todd Slusher, Jesse Menczer
  • ONE Motorsports/Crowd Strike, No. 44 Radical SR3, George Kurtz, Jeff Shafer, Dave House, Paul LaHaye, Kenton Koch
  • Patent It!, No. 19 Panoz GTS, Davy Jones, Paul Edwards, Chuck Hemmingson, Anthony Lisa, Steven Lisa
  • Ryno Racing Team 1, No. 5 Ginetta G57, Colin Braun, Ryan Carpenter, Parker Chase, Colton Herta, Bryan Herta
  • Roadshagger Racing 2016, No. 61 BMW M3, Gavin Ernstone, Jon Morley, Thomas Merrill
  • THRW Honda Racing 2, No. 20 Honda Civic, Chad Gilsinger, Brian Shanfield, Matthew Staal, Douglas Chan, Michael Tsay
  • 2016 – HPD Honda Racing 2, No. 93 Honda Civic, James Nazarian, Jeff Barrow, Tom O’Gorman, Shea Holbrook
  • El Diablo Motorsports, No. 30 BMW 325, James Clay, Lance Boicelli, Cameron Evans, Dale Sievwright, James Colborn, Charles Postins
  • El Dorado Motorsports 2016, No. 22 Honda Prelude, Mike Lock, Carl Young, Tom Lepper, Nathan Pope
  • Fantasy Junction with Winding Road Racing, No. 15 Riley Daytona Prototype, Spencer Trenery, Robert Gewirtz, Darrell Anderson, Mark Drennan
  • Strom Motorsports 2, No. 68 BMW 330Ci, Dan Clarke, Vic Pizzino, Mark Mitchell, Harold Petit
  • 2016 Trim-Tex, No. 9 Mazda MX-5, Joe Koenig, Josh Bilicki, Keil Zornow, Cameron Cassels
  • MAZDA USA #55, No. 55 Global MX-5 Cup, Taz Harvey, Richard Fisher, Scott Clark, CJ Wilson
  • MAZDA USA #70, No. 70 Global MX-5 Cup, Spencer Brockman, Mark Abouzeid, Liam Dwyer, Stevan McAleer
  • RDR, No. 34 Mazda RX-8, Robert Davis, Joel Miller, Dennis Holloway, Jeremy Barnes

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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