Photo: IndyCar

Montoya’s Indy 500 livery, sponsor revealed in Bristol

Leave a comment

New Team Penske partner Fitzgerald Glider Kits will be Juan Pablo Montoya’s primary sponsor for the month of May in the Verizon IndyCar Series, at both the INDYCAR Grand Prix and 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

The new partner makes its first appearance on an IndyCar with Josef Newgarden’s No. 2 Chevrolet this weekend at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.

This also, strangely, marks the first 2017 livery reveal of an extra car for this year’s Indianapolis 500.

Meanwhile the full Fitzgerald reveal has taken place at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend, where the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series are racing. A picture the reveal of Montoya’s car this morning is below, from NASCAR Talk’s Dustin Long:

The release from Team Penske is below:

Team Penske announced today that Fitzgerald Glider Kits, North America’s leading truck glider kit assembler, is building on its partnership with the team in NASCAR to become a primary sponsor for three Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2017, including the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 28 with driver Juan Pablo Montoya. Montoya will be pursuing his third Indianapolis 500 victory after winning the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” in 2015 while driving for Team Penske.

Fitzgerald will also serve as the primary sponsor on the No. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet driven by Montoya at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on May 13. The Fitzgerald livery is making its debut this weekend on the No. 2 Chevy driven by Josef Newgarden in the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park. Today’s announcement coincides with the official unveiling of the No. 2 Fitzgerald Ford Fusion that Brad Keselowski will race in two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) events later this season – the spring race at Talladega Superspeedway on May 7 and the fall race at Richmond International Raceway on September 9.

“Team Penske is proud to work with Fitzgerald and to have the company build on its partnership with us in NASCAR to now expand to INDYCAR, it certainly shows their commitment to motorsports and to our organization,” said Roger Penske. “This is a great opportunity for our team and Fitzgerald to team up for the greatest motorsport event in the world – the Indianapolis 500. With a two-time Indy 500 winner and proven champion in Juan Pablo Montoya behind the wheel, it definitely could be a special month of May at Indianapolis for Fitzgerald and our other partners.”

Fitzgerald is also a primary sponsor for Team Penske’s NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) team for three events – including this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway – and has a partnership with Brad Keselowski Racing and the No. 19 Ford F-150 driven by Austin Cindric in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS).

“To be a part of the Indianapolis 500, and to do it with Team Penske, is going to be so exciting for our employees and customers,” said Fitzgerald founder Tommy Fitzgerald Sr. “What makes it even more special is getting a chance to work with a driver like Juan who has such an incredible resume and track record at Indy. We are really excited to showcase the Fitzgerald brand to the fans of INDYCAR while still being a big part of Team Penske’s NASCAR operation. We’re looking forward to building on this momentum for the rest of the year.”

Montoya is one of the most decorated drivers in motorsports history. In addition to his two Indianapolis 500 wins, Montoya has also earned victories in Formula 1, MENCS, NXS and sports car racing, including three triumphs in the prestigious Daytona 24 Hour race. Montoya captured the INDYCAR Championship in 1999 during his rookie season on the strength of seven wins. His 2015 victory at the Brickyard represented the record 16th win for Roger Penske’s team in the Indianapolis 500. Montoya’s first Indy 500 win came in 2000.

The INDYCAR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is set for Saturday, May 13 at 3:30 pm ET. The 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 will take place on Sunday, May 28 beginning at 11 am ET. Both races will be seen live on ABC.

Sebastien Bourdais released from IU Methodist hospital; begins rehab

Photo: IndyCar
Leave a comment

INDIANAPOLIS – Sebastien Bourdais only posted just yesterday that he was “unable to go for a run” – his spirit and humor clearly not affected despite sustaining multiple pelvic fractures and a fractured right hip in his crash during qualifying for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in the No. 18 GEICO Honda on Saturday.

On Thursday, his post revealed even better news: he’s been released from IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, and will be set to fly home soon to Florida for his rehabilitation.

Bourdais’ place in the race at Dale Coyne Racing will be taken by James Davison, but judging by this first round of leaving, the Frenchman is keen to begin the recovery process as quick as humanly possible.

Bottas remains confident he can close gap in F1 title race

Getty Images
Leave a comment

MONACO (AP) Valtteri Bottas has put his recent bad luck behind him and remains confident he can close the gap in the Formula One title race at this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.

The Finnish driver’s fledgling Mercedes career has been a topsy-turvy one since he joined from Williams as a replacement for F1 champion Nico Rosberg.

He drove brilliantly to win his first career race at the Russian Grand Prix after securing his first ever pole position in Sochi last month. But two weeks ago he was undone by engine problems in practice for the Spanish GP and then failed to finish because of a turbo issue late in the race.

“It’s one to forget for sure. It’s been a bit up and down for me this year,” Bottas said Wednesday at the Monaco GP. “Bad result, good result.”

His other results so far are two third places and one sixth place, putting him 41 points behind four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel and 35 behind three-time champion Lewis Hamilton, his Mercedes teammate.

“The gap to Sebastian, to Lewis, is bigger than I was hoping for this year. But things can change quickly,” Bottas said. “What gives me confidence is that there is still 75 percent of the season left. I feel my best races are ahead this year. I feel I’ve done a good job in some races, but I feel there is more to come to be at a consistently good level.”

Although Bottas has impressed with this speed, he has yet to show the hallmarks of a genuine title contender.

His magnanimous approach goes somewhat against that.

Bottas showed his team ethic by allowing Hamilton past him in Bahrain so that the British driver could chase after Vettel.

He did so again in Barcelona, holding up Vettel for a crucial few laps. That allowed Hamilton to gain some precious seconds on Vettel’s chasing Ferrari. Hamilton won a thrilling race, Vettel was second and Bottas got nothing – except praise for his efforts.

It is a difficult situation for Bottas, who is on a one-year contract and has the added pressure of the demanding Hamilton as a teammate. With 55 race wins to his name, Hamilton is clearly the No. 1 driver, even though the team has not officially said so.

Over the past three years, Hamilton was on an equal footing with Rosberg as they fought each other for the title. This led to tensions and fall outs.

The 27-year-old Bottas is not relishing the prospect of finding himself in a similar position. But it might become inevitable if he does manage to close the gap on Hamilton and turn the title race into a genuine three-way battle.

“I can’t even imagine how it can be after a few years with a teammate battling for the title always. There is respect both ways (with Hamilton), which is good,” Bottas said. “(We are) just enjoying working together and hopefully that will help us in this close fight with Ferrari. It is a team sport anyway, so we need to push forward together.”

It’s hardly the talk of a driver desperate to win the title.

F1 Paddock Pass: Monaco Grand Prix (VIDEO)

Getty Images
Leave a comment

From the streets of Monte Carlo, Monaco, comes the crown jewel of the Formula 1 season (all times for the weekend via NBC or NBCSN here) this weekend, the Monaco Grand Prix.

And here with the pre-race updates from the paddock are NBCSN pit reporter and insider Will Buxton and producer Jason Swales, along with the race crew from the F1 on NBC team who are on site in Monaco.

This is an interesting weekend for Monaco, given the Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel battle for race wins and the championship so far in 2017. There’s also the question of whether someone can spring a surprise in Monaco, as has been done on several occasions over the years.

Here’s the show, below:

Brown wants to see F1 back at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Getty Images
1 Comment

McLaren executive director Zak Brown would like to see Formula 1 return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the future, saying it would “make sense” for the sport.

The United States Grand Prix was held on the old IMS road course between 2000 and 2007 before dropping off the calendar, with a low point being hit in 2005 when just six cars started the race over tire safety concerns.

IMS re-designed its road course in order to host MotoGP and, from 2014, an IndyCar road course race as a prelude to the Indianapolis 500.

F1 is known to be looking to expand its footprint in the United States following Liberty Media’s takeover of the series, with additional races to the current USGP at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas being sought after.

Southern California has also been a talking point; Long Beach’s future has been discussed in the press more so than has Indianapolis, as a consulting firm has been brought in to examine what would be the best case scenario for the city.

Brown has spent a significant amount time this last month in Indianapolis as part of two-time F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso’s Indy 500 entry, and feels the sport would be wise to push for a return to the Brickyard in the near future.

“I am of the opinion that Formula 1 at IMS works. I think they’ve changed the configuration of the track a little bit,” Brown said during a teleconference on Wednesday.

“I think it makes sense for Formula 1 to be at the world’s greatest racetrack. I think the city of Indianapolis is well catered to take care of Formula 1, just like it did in the past, and the Super Bowl.

“I think the drivers like it. I think Indianapolis is easy to get to geographically. I realize it may not have the glamour of some of the other markets that are being spoken about, but it’s here, it’s ready to go.

“I think economically, given that Liberty is taking a different view on some of their future partnerships, I think there is an opportunity there. Personally I’d like to see it happen.”

J. Douglas Boles, Indianapolis Motor Speedway President, told a group of reporters on site that no talks had been held with Liberty as of yet, and while the circuit would be open to negotiations, it would have to be financially viable.

“I have not had any talks directly with the folks with Liberty or with Formula 1. We’d certainly entertain a conversation,” Boles said.

“We’d have to figure out the economics. That’s why it wasn’t here after 2007; in order for it to come back here, the economics would have to make sense.

“At some level that conversation, Mark Miles [CEO of Hulman & Co., INDYCAR/IMS parent company] and Zak have a really good relationship, I think we’d ultimately lead it through Mark.

“When we redid the road course between 2013 and 2014, one of the things that was important to us was to make sure our road course remained FIA Grade 1, so if that there ever was a point in time where we had the opportunity to host an F1 race, we wouldn’t have to go through a complete renovation of our road course again.

“There’s two tracks in the U.S. that are that. COTA’s one, and we’re the other. So theoretically they could run here.”