Apron project at Indianapolis delayed for one year

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Back in December, Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles revealed that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was likely to re-install the track’s previous “apron” in order to spice up the action for its NASCAR events.

But now comes word that the apron project has been delayed for at least one year, with Curt Cavin of The Indianapolis Star reporting that NASCAR officials wanted more time to study the effects of changes made to the track.

The Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series will race at Indy on July 26 (NNS; Indiana 250) and 27 (Cup; Brickyard 400), respectively.

“They asked if we could postpone [the project] so they could test it,” IMS president Doug Boles told Cavin today. “We said, ‘That makes sense; we understand that.'”

Boles also noted Indianapolis’ rough winter, which delayed multiple other track projects over the off-season; since the area took longer to warm up, officials decided not to run the risk of having the track not be ready for 2015 Indianapolis 500 activities.

Speedway crews had planned to begin re-installing the apron following the conclusion of its vintage racing weekend in early June.

The apron has been targeted as a way to increase passing for the stock cars at Indy, which have not also produced a great show on the 2.5-mile rectangular oval. An apron has not been in place at Indy since the early ’90s, when a series of bad IndyCar crashes compelled the track to remove it.

However, as Cavin reports, the delay on this project should be just that as Boles says that track shareholders have approved the re-installation.

Tequila Patron to end ESM and IMSA partnerships after 2018 season

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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Earlier on Monday, Tequila Patron, a long-time sponsor in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, both at the team level – they have a long standing partnership with Tequila Patron ESM – and the series level, announced that they will be ending their sponsorships at the end of the 2018 season.

After sponsoring Highcroft Racing in 2008 and 2009 in the American Le Mans Series, Tequila Patron and ESM formed a partnership in 2010 to launch their own team. Since then, they have scored overall wins in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, and the Petit Le Mans. They have also competed internationally, in both Prototype and GT categories.

“On behalf of the entire Extreme Speed Motorsports organization, it has been an honor to represent such an amazing brand for the past 13 years,” said team co-owner Scott Sharp via a team release.

“I have the deepest gratitude for all of (Patron CEO and ESM co-founder) Ed Brown’s support. Together we have tackled various challenges, won races at each step, and built ESM into such an incredible team. Simultaneously, it has been thrilling to watch Ed and his team build the Patrón brand in a meteoric fashion and along the way become an icon in the motorsports world! We will miss not carrying the now infamous green and black livery, but the same passion for excellence will remain!”

IMSA President Scott Atherton also expressed gratitude toward Patron for their long-time involvement.

“IMSA and Patron Spirits have enjoyed a fantastic partnership for more than a decade. Tequila Patron rose through the IMSA ranks, from a high-profile team sponsor with Patron Highcroft Racing beginning in 2008, through its entitlement sponsorship of the Patron GT3 Challenge starting in 2009, and its presenting sponsorship of the American Le Mans Series beginning in 2010,” Atherton detailed.

He continued, “Tequila Patron continued in a prominent position as the American Le Mans Series merged with GRAND-AM to create the new IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and has been our entitlement partner for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup since 2014 in addition to its longstanding support of the Tequila Patron ESM race team and its pair of Nissan DPi race cars.

“All associated with IMSA – competitors, promoter partners, series officials and fans – will miss the iconic Tequila Patrón brand next year. On behalf of IMSA, we thank CEO Ed Brown and Tequila Patron for all they have done over the many years to help us grow IMSA and the sport as a whole. We’re more proud than words can express to have counted Tequila Patron among our family of premium brand partners.”

Team co-owner Scott Sharp, in a story posted on SportsCar365, asserted that the ESM team has every intention of continuing in 2019.

“We’re working on a number of options,” Sharp said. “Obviously I think we’ve singly got the best team we’ve ever had, personnel-wise. Having been refining over the years and making selected additions, we’ve gotten ourselves to be super strong. The goal is keeping everyone together. We’re working through a few different options that will hopefully allow us to do that.”

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