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Stacked Watkins Glen weekend adds Stadium SUPER Trucks

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This year’s INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen weekend was always going to add more content – besides the Verizon IndyCar Series and Indy Lights, the full complement of Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires series and the Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup Championship also join the weekend dance card.

But that’s not all with the SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks joining the lineup this weekend, announced today. The full release is below.

Watkins Glen International announced today the addition of the SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks to the racing lineup for the upcoming INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen Sept. 1-3.

Led by the Verizon IndyCar Series, the Labor Day weekend event features six motorsports classes, including Indy Lights, Pro Mazda, USF2000, MX-5 Cup and the Stadium SUPER Trucks.

In all, there will be 12 practice sessions, seven qualifying sessions and nine races culminating with the Verizon IndyCar Series race Sunday, Sept. 3 at 1 p.m., live on NBCSN.

The Stadium SUPER trucks will take to the track three separate times throughout the weekend holding practice/qualifying on Friday, Sept. 1 at 11:15 a.m., followed by Race 1 on Saturday, Sept. 2 at 12:30 p.m. The second race will take place in advance of the Verizon IndyCar Series race on Sunday. Green flag is set for 12:10 p.m.

“If there is anything that can add even more excitement to our INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen race weekend, it’s Robby Gordon and his series,” said Watkins Glen International President Michael Printup. “This is going to be unlike anything that our fans have ever seen at Watkins Glen International. Personally, I’m very curious to see how those trucks get around America’s fastest road course.”

The widely popular SST Series features 12 identically prepared 650-horsepower trucks that are built to take flight much like a scaled down radio-control car. Able to race on virtually any surface thrown at them, the SST trucks will race the 2.45-mile, 8-turn short course, compared to the 3.37-mile Grand Prix circuit utilized by INDYCAR.

The SST races will feature 36-inch tall aluminum ramps placed in strategic locations throughout the course, allowing the trucks to fly 20 feet off the ground and hundreds of feet down the course, all while hitting speeds upwards of 140 mph.

“For Stadium SUPER Trucks to visit the state of New York and the Northeast for the first time, I cannot be more excited,” Stadium SUPER Trucks President Robby Gordon said. “I’ve had a lot of success at Watkins Glen throughout my career, and have built a large fan base in that region. To bring the door-to-door action and big air of Stadium SUPER Trucks to ‘The Glen’ for the first time, the fans are going to be ecstatic for SST racing.”

Stadium SUPER Trucks feature a 10-event schedule in 2017 spanning three countries, touring as co-events with INDYCAR in the United States, Supercars in Australia and Monster Jam in China.

In addition to former Indy car and NASCAR driver Robby Gordon, a wide variety of drivers from all forms of motorsports will be in attendance, such as 2015 & 2016 series champion Sheldon Creed, Arie Luyendyk Jr., Bill Hynes, Erik Davis, dirt specialists Gavin Harlien and Jeff Hoffman, as well as the top two in the current point standings, Australia’s Matt Brabham and Paul Morris. With this being the first visit of the trucks to the famed Watkins Glen International, all drivers are expected to have an equal opportunity at winning.

INDYCAR returns to Watkins Glen International for the Sept. 1-3 race weekend, featuring the Verizon IndyCar Series, Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires, Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tires, Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda, Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BF Goodrich Tires and SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks, in an action-packed event. For tickets and additional information on this can’t-miss weekend, call 1-866-461-RACE, or visit us online at www.theglen.com.

Hartley happy with ‘big progression’ on first day with Toro Rosso

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With 69 laps completed (28 in free practice one and 41 in free practice two) and respectable lap times in both sessions, Brendon Hartley quickly acclimated to a modern day Formula 1 chassis in his first run with Scuderia Toro Rosso in Friday practice for the United States Grand Prix.

The Porsche factory driver has been drafted into the team following a convoluted series of musical chairs that sees Daniil Kvyat back after a two-race absence, Carlos Sainz Jr. now at Renault and Pierre Gasly racing at the Super Formula season finale in Suzuka.

Over the time in the car today, Hartley experienced changeable conditions in FP1 before a more normal FP2, and discovered the new F1 cockpit after a day learning in the garage yesterday.

“A steep learning curve today! It all went pretty smoothly and I kept the car on track without making too many mistakes, so I’m quite happy,” the New Zealander reflected at day’s end.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from today because I just had so much to learn! I think I made quite a big progression throughout the day.

“The biggest difference from what I’m used to is the high-speed grip, it’s incredible here in Formula 1…it was quite an eye-opener! Another challenge are the tires, which are also quite different to what I’m used to. On the other hand, the long-run looks quite positive and I did a good job managing the tires there – the biggest thing I need to work on now is the new tire pace, and I’ll get another crack at it tomorrow morning before qualifying.

“All in all, I’d say it’s all coming together. We’ll now work hard and go through plenty of data tonight and hopefully I’ll make another step forward tomorrow.”

His best lap was 1.1 seconds up on Friday driver Sean Gelael, the Indonesian Formula 2 driver, in FP1 (1:39.267 to 1:40.406, good enough for 14th) and 1.1 seconds off the returning Kvyat in FP2 (1:37.987 to 1:36.761, good enough for 17th). Interestingly, the Gelael/Hartley combination in FP1 marked the second time in three races that Toro Rosso had a pair of drivers in its cars without a single Grand Prix start between them – Gasly’s debut at Malaysia was the other, when he and Gelael were in in FP1.

Coming into Friday’s running, Hartley said he was more ready for this opportunity now than he had been as a teenager. He admitted he’d called Red Bull’s Helmut Marko in the wake of Porsche’s LMP1 withdrawal news earlier this year to say he was game for any chance that might come.

“I’m a lot stronger than I was back then, basically. I wasn’t ready at 18 years old. I like to think I’m ready now,” he said.

“I haven’t driven a single-seater since 2012, but I like to think that Porsche LMP1 has hopefully prepared me well.”

As for the rest of his weekend, it’s been made more complicated by Hartley being assessed a 25-spot grid penalty, even though Hartley had done nothing to accrue the penalties.

The roundabout sequence of driver changes at Toro Rosso saw Gasly replace Kvyat, Kvyat replace Sainz, and now Hartley replace Gasly, as is outlined by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton below.