Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

MRTI: Former Pro Mazda racer Jeff Green dies at 61

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Jeff Green, 61, a former competitor in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, passed away on Saturday as a result of injuries sustained in a crash while competing in a vintage race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Per a report from TSO Ladder, Green, competing in the Vintage Automobile Racing Association of Canada (VARAC) Vintage Grand Prix, had started on the pole in his Lola T300, but crashed entering Turn 8 after the back straight away.

Green, a native of Peoria, Illinois, where he also owned a pair of car dealerships, was extracted from the car and tended to by the on-site medical staff before being transported to a local hospital, but he was unable to survive his injuries.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Jeffrey Green,” said Myles Brandt, President and General Manager of Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, in a statement on the track’s website. “We offer our deepest condolences and prayers to his family, friends and fellow competitors.”

Green demonstrated steady progress in the 2017 Pro Mazda season, finishing fifth on two occasions (Race 2 at Road America and at Gateway Motorsports Park, where he also recorded the third fastest lap of the race).

Jeff Green’s most impressive performance of 2017 came at Gateway Motorsports Park, where finished fifth and turned in the third fastest race lap. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

However, his impact on that year’s championship came outside of his own driver’s seat.

As described in the aforementioned TSO Ladder report, when Juncos Racing expanded last year to include a two-car Indianapolis 500 effort, team owner Ricardo Juncos dropped his Pro Mazda program, and Green ultimately purchased the equipment with the intention of racing it himself.

However, he later elected to work with an established team, and Juncos’ Pro Mazda program was reborn, but they needed a second driver in the mix to run for the championship.

Enter Victor Franzoni, a standout in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, but he lacked sufficient funding to continue his racing career, so he entered 2017 thinking he’d be on the sidelines.

Franzoni was added as a full-time teammate to Green, and the rest as they say is history – Franzoni won seven races on his way to the Pro Mazda crown.

A heartbroken Franzoni posted the below message on his Instagram page:

“Devasted!! Yesterday this awesome guy Jeff Green had a racing accident and left us. Jeff was one of the most amazing person I met, always extremely happy and helping everyone!! I learned a lot with you Jeff!! You were an inspiration and You’ll be always remembered. Prayers for his family and friends. R.I.P Jeff Green.”

Juncos Racing also expressed their grief on their twitter page.

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Here are the starting times for 2020 NTT IndyCar Series action on NBC and NBCSN

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Another important tidbit for NTT IndyCar Series fans is out as INDYCAR and NBC announced starting times for the 2020 season. The full television schedule is also included.

There are different starting times at four races in 2020 from 2019. Those include the March 15 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the AutoNation INDYCAR Challenge at Circuit of the Americas on April 26, a later starting time for the Saturday night race at Iowa Speedway on July 18 on NBCSN

INDYCAR released the green flag times today for the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season that features starting time shifts at four races – St. Petersburg, Circuit of The Americas, Iowa and Mid-Ohio – and the anticipated evening return to Richmond Raceway.

Those four returning races represent the only significant green flag start time changes from a year ago in the 17-race 2020 NTT IndyCar Series schedule, beginning with the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg scheduled for Sunday, March 15.

The August 16 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio will be moved to an earlier starting time and will be broadcast on NBC. Previously, the race was scheduled for 4:05 p.m., but has been changed to a 12:45 p.m. Eastern Time green flag.

INDYCAR’s return to Richmond Raceway on Saturday, June 27 will begin at 8:15 p.m. ET. That is the only new event on the schedule.

Detailed broadcast information for the entire season will be announced at a later date.

Here are the notable changes to the starting times on the schedule:

The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which began at 1:40 p.m. ET this past season, will now have a 3:30 p.m. green flag. The race on the downtown streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., will be celebrating its 10thanniversary as the series’ season opener and be televised on NBC Sports Network.

The AutoNation INDYCAR Challenge at Circuit of The Americas on Sunday, April 26, will have a similar shift, moving from a 1:43 p.m. ET green flag this past season to 4:10 p.m. (3:10 p.m. local) in 2020. The permanent road course in Austin, Texas, will play host to the fourth race of the season and be broadcast on NBCSN.

The Iowa 300 at Iowa Speedway, set for Saturday, July 18, on NBCSN, will be better accommodated for an evening race under the lights with the green flag moving from 7:15 p.m. ET to 9 p.m. (8 p.m. local).

“The return of a night race for INDYCAR at Iowa Speedway is exciting news for our race fans, sponsors, and the entire region,” Iowa Speedway President David Hyatt said. “The cars look great under the lights, and the competition should be even more fierce given what should be cooler conditions. Our track provides some of the best racing you’ll see anywhere, which will be good for attendance. This will be a can’t-miss weekend for all race fans.”

The return to a true night race at Iowa was the result of fans requesting it. The race will begin at 8:00 p.m. CT on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network. And for fans and drivers, it is nostalgic, hearkening back to the first race many of them experienced … a night race on a short track.

The series hasn’t held a race that began after dusk at Iowa Speedway since 2015, and drivers and fans are welcoming it. Not only does it look more vibrant — and create sparks as cars bottom out — it also makes for better racing. Tires grip better when the track is cooler. Fans also avoid sweltering conditions during summer afternoons.

The Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Sunday, Aug. 16, will be the only race among the four that moves to an earlier start time. The race, which had a 4:05 p.m. ET start this past season, will shift to a 12:45 p.m. green flag in 2020 and be televised on NBC.

The NTT IndyCar Series heads to Richmond Raceway – the only new addition on the 2020 schedule – for the 11th race of the season on Saturday, June 27. The field will take the green flag at 8:15 ET for the start of the first Indy car race at the .75-mile oval since 2009. The race will be broadcast on NBCSN.