2015 Mazda Road to Indy Cooper Tires Winterfest schedule set


February will once again see the now traditional Cooper Tires Winterfest back in action for the fifth time.

Both the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires will race six-race schedules, while Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires teams will take part in a comprehensive test comprising over 14 hours of track time with the new AER-powered Dallara IL-15.

The outing for the Mazda Road to Indy will kick off at NOLA Motorsports Park just outside of New Orleans, La., on February 18/19/20 and will move to Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham, Ala., on February 24/25/26.

Three races for USF2000 and Pro Mazda will be on deck at each circuit with competitors vying for an enhanced prize money package of $50,000 and early bragging rights on the southern road courses. Indy Lights teams posting the fastest lap time at each track will be awarded one free set of Cooper tires.

“The Cooper Tires Winterfest provides a great first glimpse of the talent we have onboard for the upcoming season,” Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions, said in a release. “It’s a chance to welcome new and returning drivers and also watch our graduates take their next steps on the ladder. Obviously, I am especially excited this year with the debut of the Dallara IL-15 and very much look forward to seeing the progress our teams make with this new package after such a successful prototype testing program.

“I want to thank our tremendous partners at Cooper Tires for continuing to support this pre-season championship as well as enhancing the prize package for our competitors.”

Added Chris Pantani, Cooper Tire Director of Motorsports, “After the exciting finish in all classes for the 2014 championships, we cannot wait to see who the front-runners will be. The Cooper Tires Winterfest is the first chance to see the 2015 teams and drivers begin, or defend, their title quest.”

A full schedule for the Cooper Tires Winterfest is available on the series’ respective websites. The 2015 Mazda Road to Indy “regular” season race calendar for each series will be announced in the coming weeks.

Ryan Hunter-Reay hired as replacement for Conor Daly at Ed Carpenter Racing

Ryan Hunter-Reay Carpenter
Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ryan Hunter-Reay was named to replace Conor Daly in Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 20 Dallara-Chevrolet, starting in the NTT IndyCar Series event next week at Road America.

Hunter-Reay is the 2012 series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner. He finished 11th for Dreyer & Reinbold last month in the 107th Indy 500, his first start since the 2021 season finale. He drove full time for Andretti Autosport from 2010-21.

“We need to improve our competitiveness and I wanted to add a fresh perspective from a driver like Ryan who has a massive amount of experience and success as well as a reputation as a team leader. I am excited to welcome Ryan to the team,” team owner Ed Carpenter said in a team release. “We have worked together in the past as teammates and he tested for ECR at Barber Motorsports Park in October 2021, where he made an immediate impact as we were able to qualify one of our cars on the pole following that test. I am confident that his experience and technical abilities will be an asset to ECR as we move forward toward our goals as a team.”

Hunter-Reay has 18 IndyCar victories, most recently in 2018. He also is a winner in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, having been a part of winning entries in the 2020 Twelve Hours of Sebring and 2018 Petit Le Mans. Last year, he was an endurance driver for Cadillac Racing while being on standby for Chip Ganassi Racing.

He replaces Daly, whose departure was announced a day earlier in what the driver and team said was a mutual decision.

“I was surprised when I got the call from Ed,” Hunter-Reay said in a team release. “He described how frustrated he was that his team has not been able to realize its potential despite their efforts, investments, as well as technical and personnel changes over the past few years and asked for my help. Ed and I are very close friends and have been for a long time. I’ve worked with the team in the past and they are a very talented group with high expectations and a committed partner in BITNILE.COM.

“This will certainly be a challenge for me as well. It’s a tough situation jumping in a car in the middle of the season without any testing in what I believe to be the most competitive series in the world. Certainly, part of my motivation in saying ‘yes’ to Ed is the great challenge ahead. The last time I turned right driving an NTT IndyCar Series car was in October of 2021 with this team at Barber. However, I remain very confident in both my driving and technical abilities and believe by working with the talented people at ECR and Team Chevy, while representing BITNILE.COM, we will make progress. I am going to do everything I can do to help the team achieve its long-term objectives.”

Said Milton “Todd” Ault, the chairman of sponsor BitNile.com: “It is great for BitNile.com to be aligned with an Indy 500 Winner and an NTT IndyCar Series champion. I have followed Ryan’s career for years and I am confident he will challenge the entire ECR team to perform at higher levels. I wish everyone luck at Road America.”