IndyCar notes: Rahal pleased with test; Grenier gets KV role

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Three other IndyCar pieces of news to report on Tuesday, on what’s turning into a busy day in the news cycle:

  • Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing put out a release Monday night after the team’s first running of 2014. Graham Rahal completed 124 laps on Sebring’s short course, utilizing an older version of Honda’s new twin-turbo engine configuration. “We dealt with a couple of issues this morning so we started a couple of hours into the day but we got a ton done in a short period of time. We worked through our entire test list and I feel pretty good about where we stand,” he said. His engineer Bill Pappas said conditions weren’t ideal, with 80-degree temperatures and different rubber making for a slippery, greasy track surface, but they worked through.
  • KV Racing Technology confirmed Mikael Grenier as “an associated driver” for 2014, which doesn’t mean too much in terms of actual track time but does give the French Canadian a formal role with the team. The 21-year-old Quebec native tested for the team in November at Sebring. He’ll attend team meetings at selected races and potentially test more later this year. “We are very happy to have Mikael be associated with KV Racing Technology,” said KVRT General Manager Steve Moore. “Mikael did a good job during the test earlier this year and we felt a more formal association was warranted. We look forward to having him attend several races this year in an effort to accelerate his learning curve with an eye toward developing a more substantial relationship in the future.”
  • Per a Cosworth spokesperson, there won’t be anything further to announce on their front on Tuesday after a round of meetings between Cosworth Automotive CEO Hal Reisiger and INDYCAR officials. Last week, MotorSportsTalk was first to report Cosworth’s interest in returning to IndyCar, with the hopes of partnering with an OEM.  It’s all part of a bigger, global strategy for the company.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).