Will Power testing at Indianapolis. Photo: IndyCar

It’s been a hectic three weeks of activity for IndyCar since St. Pete

Leave a comment

Yes, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 12 served as the season opener for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series. But in the three weeks that have followed before Round 2, it’s worth noting that there has been an overflow of activity in the longest in-season break of the year between races.

All this occurs before NBCSN kicks off its portion of the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach this weekend (Sunday, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

It’s best to break down by team, and by series, what’s occurred:


  • INDYCAR has released two rounds of renderings of the new 2018 common kit, which hasn’t been formally unveiled yet but with this version offering the closest look yet at what’s to come (Round 1 on March 29, Round 2 on March 31).


  • The full-season quartet of Simon Pagenaud, Josef Newgarden, Helio Castroneves and Will Power have tested twice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for the month of May. The Chevrolet team used a Team Test on March 24 to be able to run alongside the Honda runners at a Honda Manufacturer Test; the team then tested Sunday, April 2 after a one-day weather delay for a Chevrolet Manufacturer Test. The four drivers also tested in the series’ Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park on March 21.
  • Juan Pablo Montoya also made his first test of the year at Barber Motorsports Park with the other four in the series’ Open Test on March 21, and was immediately back on the pace. And his successor in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, Newgarden, explained how cool it was to work alongside him for the first time.
  • Newgarden flew out to Long Beach on March 28 for the race’s media day.




  • Not a ton to report here but Graham Rahal again has done the same three tests as most: the Barber Open Test (March 21), Honda Manufacturer Test at IMS (March 24) and Sonoma Team Test (April 4).
  • Rahal also made a pit stop to Texas Motor Speedway (March 30) for that track’s preseason media day and luncheon. This comes with a bobblehead… seriously. He won a thriller there last year.
  • Rahal went to Las Vegas (April 2) for wife Courtney Force’s latest NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series race. A full schedule of where they will be on respective race weekends is linked here.
  • World of Hyatt was confirmed heading into St. Petersburg as an associate sponsor; the sponsorship comes into more recognizable form at Long Beach, as the Hyatt Regency hotel in the track’s infield is prominent in the backdrop of TV and photo shots. The RLL team, including drivers, crew, owners and sponsors, will stay at Hyatt-branded hotels throughout the 2017 IndyCar Series schedule. World of Hyatt members may also gain access to VIP experiences during several race weekends during the season.



Carpenter at IMS. Photo: IndyCar
  • Tests: Spencer Pigot and JR Hildebrand at Barber for the Open Test (March 21), Sebring for a Team Test (March 28) and Ed Carpenter and Hildebrand at Indianapolis for the Chevrolet Manufacturer Test (April 2).
  • Pigot raced the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, finishing fifth in the Prototype class.
  • Carpenter has stated the team’s likelihood of only running two cars for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, although a third car may still come together late in the going.
  • Preferred Freezer Services has been confirmed for a four-race primary sponsorship deal with Hildebrand’s No. 21 Chevrolet, Long Beach this weekend, the two races at Indianapolis and Toronto in July.
  • Carpenter headed to Texas for the opening of the repaved Texas Motor Speedway the day after St. Petersburg (March 13). The reprofiled track kicks off this weekend with the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race; IndyCar races there in June.



  • Tests: Sebastien Bourdais and Ed Jones at Barber for the Open Test (March 21) and Honda Manufacturer Test at Sonoma (April 4). The team, like Andretti Autosport, has not yet tested at IMS in 2017.
  • Bourdais ran one of the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, coming up short of a potential endurance and Florida three-race sweep.
  • The team confirmed Pippa Mann in its third car for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, again in the No. 63 Honda with the Susan G. Komen and Genetic Technologies partnerships continuing.

Marco Andretti to drive throwback scheme to honor 25th anniversary of grandfather Mario’s last win

Photo courtesy Andretti-Herta Autosport
Leave a comment

Marco Andretti wanted to do something really special to honor the 25th anniversary of grandfather Mario Andretti’s final Indy car win in 1993 at Phoenix International Raceway (now known as ISM Raceway).

So the third-generation Andretti, along with his team, Andretti-Herta Autosport, came up with a plan and design that will take longtime race fans back in time when it appears early next month for the Phoenix Grand Prix.

Marco Andretti’s No. 98 Oberto Beef Jerky Circle K/Curb Honda will be decked out in the colors of the car his grandfather won his last race on the one-mile short track 25 years ago.

“When the idea of a throwback livery celebrating my grandfather’s final win was thrown around, Oberto was ready to get to the drawing board,” Marco Andretti said in a media release. “The black, white and red car resembles many of my family’s race cars and was a big part of my life growing up.

“It’s really cool to be able to add one of my cars to that family legacy.”

The car is a virtual double of the legendary Newman-Haas Racing and Texaco/Havoline-sponsored car Mario drove on that celebratory day in the Valley of the Sun 2 ½ decades ago.

Various events and ceremonies during the April 6-7 race weekend will honor the senior Andretti. That includes several of his former competitors who will be on hand to celebrate with Mario, including Emerson Fittipaldi, Bobby Rahal, Jimmy Vasser, Paul Tracy, Arie Luyendyk, and of course, son Michael Andretti and grandson Marco Andretti.

Check out what happened on that day 25 years ago:

Follow @JerryBonkowski