Photo courtesy Toyota Racing

PWC: Toyota’s TMG 86 Cup car to make debut at Utah in TCA

Leave a comment

Pirelli World Challenge has a wealth of manufacturer involvement, but one of the brands that hasn’t been a part of the series is Toyota. In a couple weeks at the Utah Motorsports Campus though, that will change.

Toyota’s TMG 86 Cup car will make a guest entry into PWC’s TCA class with driver Craig Stanton, a sports car veteran.

Toyota’s full release is below.

When you think of the Toyota 86, the car’s nimble handling and performance come to mind, but Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) takes the car to another level with its TMG 86 Cup Car. And now the potent sports car will make its North American debut in the Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) racing series at Utah Motorsports Campus in August.

Entered in the TCA class, the 86 Cup Car will do battle in the PWC’s double-header race weekend outside of Salt Lake City in Tooele on August 11-13.

“Bringing the TMG 86 Cup Car to Pirelli World Challenge presents an opportunity to test and showcase the ability of our Toyota 86 in a competitive racing series,” said Keith Dahl, General Manager, Motorsports for Toyota Motor North America (TMNA). “The seasoned DG-Spec team won the PWC title for Scion in 2010 and we’re hopeful they can perform well with the 86. We have a great combination of team and driver with Craig Stanton to showcase the ability of this TMG-built 86, so we’re cautiously optimistic for solid results in the Utah double-header.”

The TMG 86 Cup Car will be driven by veteran road racer Craig Stanton, a former GRAND-AM Rolex SportsCar Series GT and Continental Tire GS class champion with over 30 years of driving experience, and fielded by the Dan Gardner Spec (DG-Spec) Racing team. DG-Spec previously won the Pirelli World Challenge TC class championship with the Scion tC in 2010 and has also competed in GRAND-AM and other sports car and endurance series.

“It’s been a while since we raced in Pirelli World Challenge with our championship-winning Scion, but we’ve been at the track constantly over the last few years, testing, developing and racing in other venues,” said Dan Gardner, team owner and namesake of DG-Spec. “The team is really sharp and Craig is on his game. The Toyota 86 is ready to go and we hope to turn some heads in Utah.”

Gardner’s team recently won One Lap of America in the Toyota Sienna R-Tuned in 2016, and has provided support for programs such as the Land Speed Cruiser and Rally RAV4. The Rally RAV4 team of Ryan Millen and Rhianon Gelsomino recently clinched the American Rally Association’s 2WD championship.

The current 86 harkens back to Toyota’s history of sports cars and enthusiast motorsports. When the Corolla AE86 was launched in the United States in the 1980s, it earned a deep enthusiast following, while the car was simultaneously building a cult following in Japan as a drift vehicle. The 2017 Toyota 86 pays homage to the legendary car of the past, while proving itself to be an athletic star today in its own right.

“Our Toyota 86 is a potent car right out of the box, but it gets even hotter with a full lineup of TRD parts and accessories,” said Preston Dyer, National Marketing Manager of Parts and Accessories for TMNA. “TRD gets its inspiration where it counts – on the track – and we couldn’t think of a better way to demonstrate that performance than by entering our TMG 86 Cup Car in Pirelli World Challenge.”

The decision to enter the TMG 86 Cup Car in PWC was birthed in the success of another Toyota 86. After a stock 86 with TRD parts and accessories bested the entire field at the local Spring Fling Autocross event in Southern California in March, Toyota officials began looking for additional opportunities to highlight the prowess of the Toyota sports car that also competes in Formula Drift.

The TMG 86 Cup Car, an enhanced, production model developed by TMG for the GT86 Cup, part of the VLN Series in Germany, had been making the auto show circuit as part of a Toyota 86 display when the idea was hatched to enter the nimble, stock race car in PWC’s TCA class. The TMG 86 Cup car is a production Toyota 86 prepared by TMG for racing competition. The TMG 86 Cup Car features a stock 86 engine and transmission, as well as TMG upgrades to the vehicle’s suspension, brakes and engine tuning, among other changes that include safety equipment for racing.

The PWC Utah event will mark the debut entry by a TMG 86 Cup Car in a North American competition. The TMG 86 Cup Car is only scheduled to compete in both PWC events at Utah Motorsports Campus.

Hunter-Reay released from hospital; not yet cleared to drive at Pocono

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Ryan Hunter-Reay has been released from a nearby hospital at Pocono Raceway after his accident in qualifying for Sunday’s ABC Supply 500 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) but has not yet been cleared to drive. He’ll be re-evaluated by INDYCAR Sunday morning.

The full release from INDYCAR and Andretti Autosport is below:

Verizon IndyCar Series driver Ryan Hunter-Reay was evaluated at Lehigh Valley Hospital – Cedar Crest in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on Saturday for injuries to his left hip and knee sustained in a crash in qualifying for the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway. Hunter-Reay was treated and released but has not been cleared to drive, pending a re-evaluation Sunday morning.

“During qualifying today, out of nowhere, the car stepped out on me,” Hunter-Reay said. “It was a bit of a wiggle, which I caught. The second time it happened, it came with no warning – which is a bit confusing. I hit my hip pretty bad as well as my knee, so the doctors thought it would be best to go in for further evaluation. After a CT scan and MRI, I am able to go and get a good night’s sleep. I’m sure I’ll wake up sore, but will hopefully be able to get back in the DHL machine tomorrow.

“I know the entire Andretti Autosport team worked hard to get the car put back together and with 500 miles, there is still a chance to win from the back of the field. I can’t thank the Holmatro Safety Team enough for their quick response along with the medical staff at INDYCAR, Pocono and Lehigh Valley Hospital – Cedar Crest. Also, thank you to the fans for reaching out with their support.”

IndyCar Paddock Pass: Pocono (VIDEO)

Leave a comment

NBCSN’s coverage of the Verizon IndyCar Series continues this weekend with the series trip to the “Tricky Triangle” for the ABC Supply 500 (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

The NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass also continues for another episode from the three-turn oval, Pocono Raceway, in Long Pond, Pa.

NBCSN IndyCar pit reporter and Indy Lights analyst Anders Krohn checks in for the latest edition of the show, which you can see above.

On tap in this week’s episode are interviews with Team Penske teammates Josef Newgarden and Will Power, and Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Hunter-Reay led first practice; however was involved in a heavy accident in qualifying later Saturday afternoon and transported to a nearby hospital.

His status is unclear for Sunday.

Newgarden leads the championship but had a tough qualifying run – he was only 14th Saturday afternoon – while Power was second among Chevrolets and starts fifth. He is the defending Pocono race winner.

You can see the episode above. Past IndyCar Paddock Pass episodes are below:


Chaves, Harding continue to shine at Pocono

Photo: IndyCar
Leave a comment

LONG POND, Pa. – In two previous starts in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season, Gabby Chaves and Harding Racing have been shining stars, finishing ninth at the Indianapolis 500 and fifth at the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 at Texas Motor Speedway, avoiding several crashes and incidents in both races to do so, and advancing from 25th and 20th on the grid, respectively.

Returning to the series for this weekend’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway (Sunday 2:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN), the combination continues its remarkably strong form, qualifying eighth for Sunday’s race, third fastest of the Chevrolet runners.

And with the goal of turning the team into a full-time effort next year, Chaves and the team appear to be picking up right where they left off.

“We’re just here to improve our team, get it ready for next year,” Chaves told NBC Sports. “We’d like to go home with a great result of course, that’s always the aim. But I think the work we did throughout the practice improved the car enough to wear I was pretty comfortable at the end.”

Of course, even though the team is still very new to the world of racing (their first race was this year’s Indianapolis 500), it doesn’t stop Chaves from having lofty expectations.

“You always want to shoot for the win,” he asserted when asked about expectations for this weekend’s ABC Supply 500. “Obviously it’s never easy – with the limited time we have on track, it just makes it even harder on top of it. We’re always trying to keep our expectations high and do the best job we can to accomplish them.”

Gabby Chaves and Harding Racing have been very impressive out of the box. Photo: IndyCar

And perhaps Chaves is right to have big expectations given the team’s first two races. Ninth at Indianapolis and fifth at Texas are genuinely impressive results for the brand new team. And on the surface, they are a surprise, given the organization itself hadn’t run any races at any level prior to this year. But, Chaves explained that the people involved in the team are more than familiar with the sport and know how to build a successful operation.

“It’s just a matter of having the right people involved,” Chaves said of their early success. “Our team owner, Mike Harding, is very dedicated to making sure that we have the means to go out and hire the best people we can. It’s hard to do when the full-time teams have already got most of those guys, but there’s a few guys left out there who are very quality guys. Then that comes down to our team manager, Larry Curry, who has been able to track down these guys and give them a good offer to come on board with us. We’re just going to get better from here.”

Specifically, team manager Curry has been instrumental in recruiting talent and helping the team get ahead of the game, as Chaves explained.

“When it came down to our Indy deal, we started getting our car ready, and a little bit through his connections, we were able to get our mockup engine a little sooner, our body fit sooner – enough that we had the time to go out and test and do a shakedown run at Texas before Indy. It’s that type of experience and knowledge that Larry brings to the team that helps us out.”

NBCSN’s Robin Miller reported earlier this weekend in a piece for RACER.com that the team is ready for a full season in 2018, with Harding also telling the Advance Auto Parts IndyCar Radio Network’s Jake Query that “100 percent number” Miller cited is closer to 95 percent.

Chaves stopped short of going that far, but feels confident that a full-season effort will come together.

“Obviously, our plans are still to go out and run the full season. I’d say every day we get closer and closer to that. I’d say it’s looking really good. I know (Robin Miller’s report) mentions 100% – I think we’re close to that. But, it’s not done until it’s done. So I’ll just keep focused on my job here this weekend.”

Follow Kyle Lavigne.

Power tops final practice at Pocono

Photo: IndyCar
Leave a comment

LONG POND, Pa. – Team Penske’s Will Power topped final practice for tomorrow’s ABC Supply 500 from Pocono Raceway. Power’s best lap of 216.294 mph was turned late in the session and pipped teammate Simon Pagenaud for the top spot, making it a Team Penske 1-2 in final practice. Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Max Chilton and Tony Kanaan were third and fourth, the best of the Honda teams, while Helio Castroneves rebounded from his earlier qualifying crash to end the session in fifth, putting three Penske cars in the top five.

Of note: pole sitter Takuma Sato was 11th quickest and Ed Carpenter was 16th, Carpenter having missed qualifying as Ed Carpenter Racing made repairs to his No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet and missed the lineup time for pre-qualifying inspection by only a few minutes.

Also: Andretti Autosport’s No. 28 DHL Honda, usually piloted by Ryan Hunter-Reay, did not venture onto the track for final practice, with Hunter-Reay currently being evaluated at a local hospital following a qualifying crash.

Times are below. Tomorrow’s ABC Supply 500 begins at 2:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Follow Kyle Lavigne.