IndyCar: Talks still ongoing with New Orleans, Providence for 2015 events

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Back in May, INDYCAR confirmed that it was targeting the NOLA Motorsports Park road course outside New Orleans for a 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series event.

As of now, that potential race and another 2015 possibility in Providence, Rhode Island are still being worked on according to Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles.

“There’s ongoing work with both to see what’s possible,” Miles said during an interview this morning on Fox Sports Radio. “Neither is done.

“We’re probably further along in New Orleans, but we still have to agree on some improvements at the track – which I think are quite likely to be made – and the event agreement and date. They understand we can’t pick one date until we know more about other dates so it’s kind of the dominoes.

“And in Providence, there’s some ongoing conversation. I’m not going to handicap the chances of both of them happening for next year, but they’re top of mind as we think about putting together the schedule.”

The New Orleans event has the backing of Andretti Sports Marketing, an off-shoot of Andretti Autosport that also handles IndyCar’s annual race at the Milwaukee Mile and used to run the now-defunct Grand Prix of Baltimore.

As part of the May announcement, it was disclosed that upon approval of the Louisiana state legislature, $4.5 million would be put toward enhancing the NOLA circuit. That sum, plus private funding from the track itself, would bring the facility up to INDYCAR standards.

Talk about Providence, however, hasn’t been as plentiful since it first hit the radar as a possible 2015 stop. That said, just because we haven’t seen as much buzz on this potential event doesn’t mean that things haven’t been happening behind the scenes.

But while we wait for confirmation on New Orleans, Providence, or both, we shouldn’t be doing the same for any new ovals in 2015.

“At this point, I don’t think that’s very likely for next year, to be quite frank,” Miles told Fox on the subject. “I’m not going to list them – to me, there’s some great ovals that we’ve had great history with and at the point and time when it makes sense to those tracks and can fit in with our schedules, then it’ll be much more active discussion.

“But at this point – and I don’t think it’s likely to change for the ’15 schedule – I see the number is probably staying pat.”

And that probably won’t make the oval-centric portion of the IndyCar fans base very happy. Currently, the series only races at six such tracks – Indianapolis, Texas, Pocono, Iowa, Milwaukee, and Auto Club Speedway in California.

New Chip Ganassi driver Marcus Armstrong will team with boyhood idol Scott Dixon

Marcus Armstrong Scott Dixon
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Marcus Armstrong was a Scott Dixon fan his entire life, and when he was 8, the aspiring young racer asked his fellow New Zealander to autograph a helmet visor that he hung on his bedroom wall.

Next year, Armstrong will be Dixon’s teammate.

Armstrong was named Friday as the fourth IndyCar driver in the Chip Ganassi Racing lineup and will pilot the No. 11 next season on road and street courses.

A driver for the five oval races on the 17-race schedule will be named later.

The No. 11 is essentially the No. 48 that seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson drove the last two seasons, with Chip Ganassi making the change to run four cars numbered in sequential order. Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson drives the No. 8, six-time champion Dixon drives the No. 9, and 2020 IndyCar champion Alex Palou drives the No. 10.

So just who is the second Kiwi in the Ganassi lineup?

A 22-year-old who spent the past three seasons in Formula One feeder series F2, a Ferrari development driver in 2021, and former roommate of Callum Illot and former teammate of Christian Lundgaard – both of whom just completed their rookie IndyCar seasons.

“I’ve always been attracted to the IndyCar championship because it’s one of those championships that’s been really well televised in New Zealand since I was young, mainly because of Scott and his success,” Armstrong told The Associated Press. “As time progressed, as I got closer to F1 and single-seaters, the attraction to IndyCar grew just because of how competitive the championship is – I like to challenge myself and the level of competition in IndyCar is remarkably high.”

Armstrong, from Christchurch, New Zealand, was set to travel from his current home in London to Indianapolis this weekend to meet his new team. He won’t need an introduction to Dixon, the 42-year-old considered the best IndyCar driver of his generation and Armstrong’s unequivocal childhood hero.

Last season, Dixon earned his 53rd career victory to pass Mario Andretti for second on the all-time list. Dixon has driven for Ganassi in all but 23 of his 345 career starts.

“For a long time I’ve been a Scott Dixon fan. I don’t want to make him cringe with our age difference,” Armstrong told the AP.

Despite the two-decade age difference, Armstrong never considered someday racing with Dixon a fantasy.

He convinced his father after winning five national karting championships to allow him to leave New Zealand for Italy at age 14, where he moved by himself to pursue a racing career. Armstrong said as soon as he’d received parental permission, he’d never look back.

Armstrong was in Formula 4 two years after his move to Italy and won that title in his first season. He won four races and four poles in F3 in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, then collected four wins and eight podiums in three seasons of F2.

“Maybe it’s a strength, or maybe it’s a weakness, but I always thought I was capable of doing great in the sport,” Armstrong told the AP. “I think you probably have to succeed in the sport, you need to believe in yourself. I always pictured myself being in IndyCar.

“As Scott’s teammate? I can’t specifically say I saw that. It’s an extraordinary chain of events.”

Armstrong becomes just the latest driver to leave Europe, where F1 is the pinnacle but has only 20 seats each year. Alexander Rossi began the trend in 2016 when the American left F1 and won the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie. He’s been followed by Ericsson, last season’s Indy 500 winner, Romain Grosjean, Illot, Lundgaard, and on Thursday three-time W Series champion and Williams F1 reserve driver Jamie Chadwick was announced as driver for Andretti Autosport in IndyCar’s second-tier development series.

Armstrong said he could have remained in F2 for a fourth season, but he’d been watching IndyCar for so long, and after conversations with Illot and Lundgaard, he decided to make the move to what he believes is the most balanced racing series in the world. He tested for Dale Coyne Racing at Sebring in October.

He doesn’t know if European racing is done for good, just that he wants to be in IndyCar right now.

“I don’t want to think too far into the future, I’m just grateful for this opportunity that is standing right in front of me,” Armstrong said. “I want to perform as well as I can in the near future and just consolidate myself in the fantastic chance that is IndyCar and just do my best.

“I’m not looking at F1 as a landing spot – I am looking at IndyCar, and that’s exactly why I am here.”