Mazda Road to Indy 2015 schedules released

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The 2015 schedules for the Mazda Road to Indy ladder – Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda – will feature an expanded schedule of 16 races with some exciting new venues added to the traditional mix of circuits.

All three series will end with the Pirelli World Challenge season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in September, which will serve as the MRTI trip to the Bay Area after all championships raced at Sonoma Raceway this year. Sonoma is now dropped from the MRTI schedule.

Indy Lights will race at nine venues, including eight race weekends with the Verizon IndyCar Series. Doubleheaders make up a majority of the schedule with all road and street races doubleheaders except for Long Beach; oval races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Milwaukee Mile and Iowa Speedway are single-race events. Iowa makes its return for Indy Lights in 2015 after a one-year hiatus.

Pro Mazda and USF2000 run similar schedules. They’ll be with IndyCar at St. Petersburg, NOLA, Barber, the Grand Prix of Indianapolis weekend, Toronto and Mid-Ohio. Pro Mazda will also race at Iowa.

The traditional Night Before the 500 at Lucas Oil Raceway will see the Pro Mazda and USF2000 races rebadged as the Freedom 90 and Freedom 75, respectively, and shifted to the afternoon from night.

SCHEDULES

Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires 2015 Schedule

March 27-29      Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida* (1.8-mile street course)
April 17-19	 Streets of Long Beach, California (1.968-mile street course)
April 24-26	 Barber Motorsports Park* (2.38-mile road course)
May 7-9          Indianapolis Motor Speedway* (2.439-mile road course)
May 22           Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2.5-mile oval)
June 12-14       Streets of Toronto, Ontario, Canada* (1.755-mile street course)
July 11-12       The Milwaukee Mile (1.015-mile oval)
July 17-18       Iowa Speedway (.875-mile oval)
July 31-August 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course* (2.258-mile road course)
September 11-13  Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca* (2.238-mile road course)
* Doubleheader Event

Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires 2015 Schedule

March 27-29      Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida* (1.8-mile street course)
April 10-12	 NOLA Motorsports Park* (2.75-mile road course)
April 24-26	 Barber Motorsports Park* (2.38-mile road course)
May 7-9          Indianapolis Motor Speedway* (2.439-mile road course)
May 23           Lucas Oil Raceway (.686-mile oval)
June 12-14       Streets of Toronto, Ontario, Canada* (1.755-mile street course)
July 17-18       Iowa Speedway (.875-mile oval)
July 31-August 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course* (2.258-mile road course)
September 11-13  Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca* (2.238-mile road course)

Cooper Tires Winterfest
February 19/20   NOLA Motorsports Park** (2.75-mile road course)
February 25/26   Barber Motorsports Park** (2.38-mile road course)
** Tripleheader Event

Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda 2015 Schedule

March 27-29      Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida* (1.8-mile street course)
April 10-12	 NOLA Motorsports Park* (2.75-mile road course)
April 24-26	 Barber Motorsports Park* (2.38-mile road course)
May 7-9          Indianapolis Motor Speedway* (2.439-mile road course)
May 23           Lucas Oil Raceway (.686-mile oval)
June 12-14       Streets of Toronto, Ontario, Canada* (1.755-mile street course)
July 31-August 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course** (2.258-mile road course)
September 11-13  Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca* (2.238-mile road course)
* Doubleheader Event
**Tripleheader Event

Cooper Tires Winterfest
February 19/20 NOLA Motorsports Park**(2.75-mile road course)
February 25/26 Barber Motorsports Park** (2.38-mile road course)
** Tripleheader Event

Upcoming tests will take place at Palm Beach International Raceway on December 16/17, the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course on January 26/27 and oval on January 29, NOLA Motorsports Park on February 17/18 and Barber Motorsports Park on February 23/24.

TV

Indy Lights will continue to enjoy one-hour race broadcasts on the NBC Sports Network with primarily same-day coverage as well as live broadcasts on the IMS Radio Network to Sirius XM Satellite Radio, indycar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR app from Verizon. ESPN International holds the international broadcast rights with races airing in Canada, Colombia, Mexico and Australia amongst others. The popular RoadToIndy.TV will continue to provide behind-the-scenes access to all competitors on the Mazda Road to Indy.

Pro Mazda will visit nine circuits next year with five road course, two street circuit and two oval events while USF2000 contests eight venues with five road course, two street circuit and one oval round. Four one-hour highlight shows on the NBC Sports Network and MOTORS TV in Europe will continue in 2015.

Marvin Musquin’s Indy win may have come too late

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Marvin Musquin answered one question at Indianapolis last week, but the biggest one may well plague him for the next six weeks.

Musquin has won a battle, but can he win the war?

After standing on the podium in eight of the first 10 races, Musquin finally showed the field he was capable of winning in Indy when he grabbed the holeshot and led every lap on the way to Victory Lane. He was never seriously challenged and it was the Musquin that Supercross fans expected to see all season.

It was a long time coming. Musquin must have felt like victory was just around the corner after finishing second in the overall standings in Anaheim II’s Triple Crown race. He was third in the first Main that night and second in the last two Mains.

As it turned out, that single race defined his season until last week. Musquin stood on the podium all night, but he finished two spots behind Cooper Webb in the first Main and was one spot back in the second. It was only as time ran out that he was able to beat Webb by a single spot in the third Main. If Musquin had won either of the first two Mains, he would have had the overall victory – denying Webb his first career win in the process.

Webb’s Anaheim win revitalized the rider and gave him the confidence to rattle off four more wins in the next seven races.

Meanwhile, Musquin scored podium finishes in the next seven races, making him almost perfect. In another season, a record like that would have been enough to give him a comfortable points lead. In 2019, he sit 14 markers out of first, which is the points’ equivalent of the difference between first and 11th in one race. In other words, Webb cannot lose the points lead at Seattle unless he finishes outside the top 10 while his teammate wins.

Looking at the numbers another way the scenario is not quite as hopeless. Musquin needs to shave only 2.3 points off Webb’s lead each week to win the championship. Three points separate first and second. Five points differentiates first from third, which is where Webb finished in Indianapolis. Webb is vulnerable as his 10th-place finish at Glendale and an eighth at San Diego attest.

Those bobbles came early and Webb seems to have forgotten how to make a mistake.

A third-place is Webb’s worst finish in the last six weeks and since Anaheim II when Musquin started his impressive string of podium finishes, Webb has recorded an average finish of 2.2. That came with a worst finish of eighth on an extremely muddy and heavy track in San Diego. Musquin has a worst finish of only sixth, but his average of 2.8 still lags behind Webb.

Worse still, since Anaheim II Musquin has finished behind Webb in every race except for the outlier of San Diego.

It is no longer a question of keeping pressure on Webb. Musquin cannot expect his teammate to make a mistake; he has to find a way to pass him on the track. If Webb adds only two points to his lead at Seattle, Musquin’s fate would no longer be in his hands. He would need to gain 3.2 points per race. With that scenario, Webb could finish one spot behind Musquin every week and still win the championship.