Final touches being applied to reconfigured road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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The first test of the reconfigured road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is just two days away – and the track is still being tweaked for completion and to be ready as scheduled on Wednesday, according to a report in Sunday’s Indianapolis Star by writer Curt Cavin.

The inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis takes place May 10, two weeks prior to the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 25.

As many as 75 workers toiled throughout the weekend, tweaking things such as sod installation, line striping and even final erection of additional grandstand seating, Cavin reported.

“Really, most of it is cosmetic,” track President Doug Boles told Cavin.

One thing that will not be finished by Wednesday, and it’s understandable given how much would likely be rubbed off by cars taking practice laps, is painting of curbs around the race course.

The reconfigured track layout has five modified turns and a fresh coat of asphalt on the infield.

“It’s a new racetrack, it’s a proper racetrack and the best part about it is it’s inside the world’s greatest racetrack,” Ryan Hunter-Reay told Cavin. “(They’re) letting a bunch of IndyCar drivers go at it, and that’s awesome.

“I feel like a kid. I can’t wait to try it out.”

But Sebastien Bourdais, who won the first Brickyard Grand Prix, has his reservations.

“I didn’t see anything wrong with the old track,” he said. “Obviously the IMS guys thought different, so we’ll just have to give it a fair shot and see how it shakes out.

“But they sure spent a lot of money for that, so it better be good.”

Wednesday’s two practice sessions, a two-hour stint in the morning and a three-hour segment in the afternoon, will be preceded a day earlier when 1995 Indianapolis 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve and NASCAR star Kurt Busch will spend much of the day practicing on the fabled 2.5-mile oval at IMS.

Both Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s sessions will be open to the public, Cavin noted.

It will be Villeneuve’s first return to Indy since his win there 19 years ago, and Busch will be competing in his first-ever 500, attempting to do the so-called “double” of racing in the 500 in the early afternoon and then heading to Charlotte for that evening’s Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup event.

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NEOM McLaren Formula E announces Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast for 2023 season

McLaren Formula E Hughes
McLaren Racing
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Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.

The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.

“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.

“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.

“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”

The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.

Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.

Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.

McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.