Racing will resume Saturday at Canandaigua Motorsports Park

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Canandaigua Motorsports Park track promoter Jeremie Corcoran has announced that racing will resume at the facility this Saturday night – which will mark one week since Kevin Ward Jr. was killed there in a sprint car incident that involved NASCAR star Tony Stewart.

In the statement, Corcoran said he consulted with Ward’s father, the track’s staff, and his own family before coming to the decision.

Here is the full statement from Corcoran:

“Up until today I could not even think about another show at Canandaigua Motorsports Park. I spoke to Kevin Ward Sr this morning and he encouraged me to “get back to racing at CMP, Kevin would want you to”. I consulted with all my staff also today as well as my family. Everyone has said that we need to begin to heal and that means we need to come together this Saturday night and put on a show in memory of Kevin Jr and support this great sport that we all love. We need to show our support of everyone that was involved and has been affected”

“We will be racing this Saturday night at Canandaigua Motorsports Park to show the world how strong we are as a racing family! How we can grieve together and come together. I ask that everyone wear something Orange to display our unity! We will be doing something special at the track on Saturday night.”

“I want to thank everyone for the integrity you have shown in your comments on our Facebook page and for the support you have given my family, all my staff, every racer, and all the fans that have been deeply affected. I am forever grateful” Godspeed#13

Sincerely,
Jeremie Corcoran and Family

Last Saturday night at CMP, 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr. spun out after a wheel-to-wheel battle with Stewart to trigger a caution. Ward quickly exited his car, pointed a finger, and then walked down the racing surface to confront Stewart.

Stewart’s car then hit Ward, who was knocked back 50 feet according to reports. He was pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital, and will be laid to rest on Thursday.

Yesterday, CMP cancelled their slate of races for this Wednesday evening.

Today, Ontario County (N.Y.) Sheriff Philip Povero said that the investigation into the crash may last for at least another two weeks. Povero has maintained that no evidence to support criminal intent from any party involved in Saturday’s accident has been found at this point of the investigation.

Coyne transitioning from underdog to Indy 500 threat

Photo: IndyCar
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For most of the team’s existence, Dale Coyne Racing has been the Chicago Cubs of American Open Wheel Racing – a team whose history was more defined by failures, at times comically so, than success.

The last decade, however, has seen the tide completely change. In 2007, they scored three podium finishes with Bruno Junqueira. In 2009, they won at Watkins Glen with the late Justin Wilson.

The combination won again at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, and finished sixth in the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. That same year, Mike Conway took a shock win for them in Race 1 at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.

Carlos Huertas scored an upset win for them in Race 1 at the Houston double-header in 2014, and while 2015 and 2016 yielded no wins, Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly gave them several strong runs – Vautier’s best finish was fourth in Race 2 at Detroit, while Daly finished second in Race 1 at Detroit, finished fourth at Watkins Glen, and scored a trio of sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Race 2 at Detroit, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

And 2017 was set to possibly be the best year the team has ever had. Sebastien Bourdais gave the team a popular win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and then rookie Ed Jones scored back-to-back top tens – 10th and sixth – at St. Pete and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to start his career.

But, things started unraveling at the Indianapolis 500. Bourdais appeared set to be in the Fast Nine Pole Shootout during his first qualifying run – both of his first two laps were above 231 mph –  before his horrifying crash in Turn 2.

While Jones qualified an impressive 11th and finished an even more impressive third, results for the rest of the season became hard to come by – Jones only scored two more Top 10s, with a best result of seventh at Road America.

But, retooled for 2018, the Coyne team is a legitimate threat at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Bourdais, whose No. 18 Honda features new sponsorship from SealMaster and now ownership partners in Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan, has a win already, again at St. Pete, and sits third in the championship.

And Bourdais may also be Honda’s best hope, given that he was the fastest Honda in qualifying – he’ll start fifth behind Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden.

“I think it speaks volumes about their work, their passion and their dedication to this program, Dale (Coyne), Jimmy (Vasser) and Sulli (James Sullivan) and everybody from top to bottom. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity, for the support,” Bourdais said of the team’s effort.

Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo has been progressing nicely, and his Month of May has been very solid – he finished 12th at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course and qualified a strong 13th for the “500.”

“It’s been surreal to be here as rookie. I’m a bit at a loss for words,” Claman De Melo revealed after qualifying. “The fans, driving around this place, being with the team, everything is amazing. I have a great engineer, a great group of experienced mechanics at Dale Coyne Racing.”

While Conor Daly and Pippa Mann struggled in one-off entries, with Mann getting bumped out of the field in Saturday qualifying, Daly’s entry essentially puts three Coyne cars in the race – Daly’s No. 17 United States Air Force Honda is a Dale Coyne car that has been leased to Thom Burns Racing.

Rest assured, the days of Coyne being an “also ran” are long gone, and a Coyne car ending up in Victory Lane at the biggest race of the year would complete the Chicago Cubs analogy – the Cubs won a World Series title in 2016, and an Indy 500 triumph would be the crowning achievement in Coyne’s career.

Follow@KyleMLavigne