IndyCar: Tuesday NOLA testing notes


Here’s a handful of other notes from Verizon IndyCar Series testing at New Orleans’ NOLA Motorsports Park after the first of two days testing.


With new recruit Simon Pagenaud adorned in a white and black livery for his No. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet, Juan Pablo Montoya has seen his colors shift too, at least for this test.

Montoya, who ran a primarily red and white Verizon scheme for most of 2014 for his No. 2 Chevrolet with occasional blue, white and black outings for PPG, was in the yellow, white and blue colors of Penske Logistics for this test (see right).

Exact commercial lineups for Montoya and Pagenaud’s cars, for the full season, have yet to be revealed.

Meanwhile the fourth member of the quartet beyond the No. 2, 22 and defending champion Will Power, Helio Castroneves was another one who praised the NOLA circuit.

“Fast… fun… technical. Really a great experience,” he said, via the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Castroneves raced on both the Cleveland and Edmonton airport road courses from 1998 to 2001 (Cleveland) and 2008 to 2012 (Edmonton).

For all four Team Penske drivers, it marked their first IndyCar test of the offseason.


Besides the Penske quartet, Sebastien Bourdais was also back in an IndyCar for the first time since Auto Club Speedway last September. The Frenchman is again in the No. 11 Hydroxycut/Mistic KVSH Racing Chevrolet.

While Bourdais and Pagenaud at least had the Rolex 24 at Daytona to race last month, for Power, Montoya and Castroneves, it’s been a much longer time period out of the cockpit.


As written a couple days ago, both Stefano Coletti and James Jakes were en route to New Orleans and indeed both are testing this week. Coletti completed his second day of IndyCar testing overall, and first with KV Racing Technology in the renumbered No. 4 Chevrolet.

“I want to race here this year. I don’t know for which team it’s going to be but I’m trying to find a job somewhere,” Coletti told

Jakes, a three-year IndyCar veteran from 2011 to 2013, made his series return as the latest driver to sample the vacant No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, which was always the likely option for him test here even though the team didn’t announce it.

“It wasn’t a case of deciding to come back. I always wanted to be there,” Jakes told

Neither driver has his program set but as with any driver still seeking a ride at this juncture, if the funding is there, a ride could well be.

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.