Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

MRTI: Iowa Speedway preview

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The Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda resume action this weekend at Iowa Speedway, the lone short oval on the 2017 calendar for Indy Lights and the only oval period for USF2000.

After completing their fourth double-headers of 2017 at Road America, both series will contest only one race around the .875-mile oval this weekend. Indy Lights will feature a 100-lap affair, dubbed the Mazda Iowa 100, while USF2000’s will be 60 laps, similarly dubbed the Mazda Iowa 60. Both races are scheduled for Sunday afternoon.

Below are quick previews for both series.

INDY LIGHTS

  • Top 5 in points: 1. Kyle Kaiser, 199, 2. Matheus Leist, 172, 3. Colton Herta, 161, 4. Nico Jamin, 159, T-5. Aaron Telitz, 149, T-5. Neil Alberico, 149.
  • The Indy Lights field increases to 15 drivers this week, with Chad Boat driving an extra entry for Belardi Auto Racing. This is Boat’s first start in Indy Lights, and will be the first of two starts he’ll make in the 2017 season. He will also race at Gateway Motorsports Park on August 26.
  • Seven drivers entered have raced at Iowa Speedway previously in Indy Lights: Santi Urrutia, Shelby Blackstock, Zachary Claman DeMelo, Neil Alberico, Juan Piedrahita, Dalton Kellett, and Kyle Kaiser.  Chad Boat has also raced at Iowa previously, in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and the ARCA Racing Series Presented by Menards, but never in a single-seater.
  • Matheus Leist won the only other oval race this year (the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway). Points leader Kyle Kaiser suffered his worst finish of the season (ninth) in the same event, but has previously won on a short oval (Phoenix Raceway, 2016).
  • Recent winners at Iowa Speedway: Félix Serrallés (2016), Max Chilton (2015).

 

USF2000

  • Top five in points: 1. Oliver Askew, 215, Rinus van Kalmthout, 191, 3. Kaylen Frederick, 144, 4. Parker Thompson, 134, 5. Calvin Ming, 112.

    Oliver Askew saw his championship lead dramatically reduced at Road America. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
  • This is the first time USF2000 is competing at Iowa Speedway since 2010. Sage Karam was victorious that year.
  • Points leader Oliver Askew is looking to rebound from a difficult outing at Road America, when loose camber shims on the left-front wheel relegated him to a 17th-place finish in Race 1. While he finished third in Race 2, Rinus van Kalmthout swept the weekend, his first victories in USF2000, and only trails Askew by 24 points heading into the weekend.
  • The field sees a slight drop down to 14 entries. Perhaps most notable among the drivers absent is David Malukas, who won the pole and finished second in Race 1 at Road America.

The USF2000 race will roll off at 2:05 p.m. ET on Sunday, with Indy Lights slated for 3:00 p.m. ET.

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GAINSCO partners with JDC-Miller for Simpson, Goikhberg

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The bright yellow No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson, nicknamed the “JDC Banana Boat,” will morph into the latest incarnation of the bright red “Red Dragon” for 2018.

The now GAINSCO Auto Insurance-backed No. 99 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson will run the full 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, and the new livery will be revealed at the Roar before the Rolex 24.

GAINSCO revealed last month it wouldn’t run its own team, having partnered with Bob Stallings Racing for more than a decade with great success in GRAND-AM Rolex Series competition. But it was still going to partner with a team and received multiple proposals from other teams. The initial deal with JDC-Miller Motorsports is one year for 2018 with an option for 2019, but both parties envision this growing into a multi-year deal.

The last few years the team has run only on-and-off, with a one-off appearance in the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona as Alex Gurney scored pole, but a devastating accident for Memo Gidley having left him seriously injured. Gidley has made significant strides in his recovery.

Since that point, GAINSCO/BSR moved into Pirelli World Challenge, running first a Hyundai Genesis, then a McLaren 650S GT3, and then a Porsche 911 GT3 R with Gurney’s longtime co-driver Jon Fogarty. The same level of success was hard to find and while the team scored several podium finishes, wins eluded them over two years.

Alas, this provides John Church’s quality operation a major supporter both from visibility and agent standpoints, as GAINSCO is one of the biggest at-track activators in the sport. Primary drivers Stephen Simpson and Misha Goikhberg continue for the full season with Chris Miller the third driver for Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup rounds.

A fourth driver will be named later (likely within the next week to 10 days), but won’t be Jon Fogarty, as Bob Stallings offered him the opportunity but Fogarty declined owing to other business commitments.

“We offered Jon Fogarty the opportunity, took a couple days (to think), he couldn’t feature anyone else driving but him… he has successful business ventures and that takes priority at this time,” Stallings said.

Church and Stallings. Photo courtesy of GAINSCO Racing

Stallings, Executive Chairman of GAINSCO, as well as the founder of the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Race team, recently decided not to run his own race team, but is committed to continuing the legacy of the Red Dragon by partnering with an organization capable of a long-term winning program.

“We had many opportunities to continue our quest for championships and JDC-Miller MotorSports was an easy pick,” said Stallings of the Minnesota-based team. “John Church and John Miller have established themselves as a team to be reckoned with, even against the formidable competition in IMSA.”

“We are very honored to gain the support of GAINSCO Auto Insurance and to carry on the livery of the No. 99 Red Dragon,” Church added. “It was immediately evident that the GAINSCO folks are as committed as we are.  This is a tremendous opportunity for JDC-Miller MotorSports and we look forward to the season ahead.”

Andy Jordan, Sr. Vice President of Marketing and Business Development led the search for the GAINSCO’s 2018 racing partnership.

“We were amazed and flattered by the amount of interest we received from teams who felt their racing programs would be elevated by an opportunity to partner with us and run the famous “Red Dragon” livery.  There were several important considerations for GAINSCO; the team had to compete at the highest level, and it had to feel like the kind of family we could be a part of and believe in.

“JDC-Miller Motorsports was the team we kept coming back to.  They race prototypes, they are great people, they are committed to win and the parallels between JDC-Miller Motorsports today and GAINCSO/Bob Stallings Racing in 2006/2007 were abundant.  I couldn’t be prouder and more excited to join John and his team for the 2018 season and hopefully beyond.”

JDC-Miller is adding a second car this season, with Simon Trummer its first confirmed driver and Robert Alon having tested with the team at Daytona earlier this month. This car will maintain the “banana boat” livery and will announce the rest of its program later.

Church said there “hasn’t been a discussion” in terms of adding Bob Stallings Racing personnel to JDC-Miller’s lineup as it sits, but it could be integrated.

The JDC-Miller Oreca 07. Photo courtesy of IMSA