Byrd is the word for Bryan Clauson and team’s Indy 500 return

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Jonathan Byrd’s Racing’s return to the Indianapolis 500 will come a year earlier than originally scheduled. Bryan Clauson, who made his race debut in 2012 for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, will drive the Jonathan Byrd’s Racing enter in next year’s race.

The team had previously announced a return for the 2016 Indianapolis 500, the 100th running of the race, but will instead come back in 2015.

“Though we had originally intended to return for the 100th running of the Indy 500 in 2016, which would also have been the 20th anniversary of our track record with Arie, the announcement of our plans was met with such enthusiasm in so many different ways and from so many different directions, we decided that it did not make any sense to wait until 2016 and that we needed to move our program forward by a year,” said Ginny Byrd.

Clauson, one of short-track racing’s best drivers as a two-time USAC National Sprint Car Champion, two-time USAC National Midget Champion, three-time USAC National Driver’s Champion, two-time National Midget Driver of the Year, and the 2014 Chili Bowl winner, paid tribute to some of the short-track legends who have run at the Speedway in making the announcement.

“I’m extremely excited to be headed back to the Indy 500. Getting back on track at IMS is something I’ve been working toward since the end of the 2012 race, and I can’t thank the Byrd family enough for giving me this opportunity,” he said in a release.

“The Byrd family has a tremendous history not only at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but also among the short track community as well. To add my name to an impressive list of Jonathan Byrd’s Racing drivers that includes guys like Rich Vogler and Stan Fox is an honor. With what I learned from my previous Indy 500 experience, along with a full year to prepare, I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish together.”

Added Jonathan Byrd II, elder son of the late Jonathan Byrd, “Not only is Bryan going to be our Indy 500 driver next year, it’s our intention that he be our Indy 500 driver for the next 15 years. He is a great fit for our brand, and we hope to be in the BC business for many years to come.”

The 2015 Indianapolis 500 will be the 10th anniversary of the most recent Jonathan Byrd’s Racing Indy 500 entry with Buddy Lazier in 2005. It will also mark the 30th anniversary of the first Jonathan Byrd’s Racing Indy 500 entry with Rich Vogler in 1985.

A team partnership for the effort will be announced soon, as well.

Carb Day: Tony Kanaan is fastest in final practice for Sunday’s Indy 500

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Tony Kanaan wants to put legendary driver and team owner A.J. Foyt back into Victory Lane at the Indianapolis 500.

Kanaan took a big step toward achieving that goal in Friday’s final practice for Sunday’s 102nd running of the Greatest Spectacle In Racing.

Kanaan was fastest of the 33-driver field, with a best lap around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval at 227.791 mph, more than 2 mph faster than the second-fastest driver, Kanaan’s former teammate, Scott Dixon (225.684 mph).

Foyt won a record-tying four Indy 500’s as a driver. It’s been nearly 20 years since he also won as a team owner in 1999 with Kenny Brack behind the wheel.

Marco Andretti was third-fastest (225.200 mph), followed by Sebastien Bourdais (224.815), Charlie Kimball (224.712), 2017 Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato (224.083), Will Power (223.942), Danica Patrick (223.653), Spencer Pigot (223.584) and Ed Jones (223.556).

Other notable driver speeds included:

* Pole sitter Ed Carpenter was 14th fastest (223.219 mph).

* Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champ Josef Newgarden was 15th (223.186 mph).

* Helio Castroneves, hoping to earn a record-tying fourth 500 win, was 17th (222.913 mph).

* Graham Rahal was 21st (222.526).

* Former 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay was 26th (221.916 mph), followed by rookie Robert Wickens (221.821 mph), carrying the mantle for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with James Hinchcliffe having failed to qualify for the race.

* The biggest surprise was 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi, who was 32nd fastest (221.374 mph).

We’ll have the full speed grid, as well as full driver quotes, shortly. Please check back soon.

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