IndyCar notes: New liveries, spare situation, and more from Friday at NOLA

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AVONDALE, La. – Additional news, notes and nuggets from this weekend’s Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana Friday session are below:

  • Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull noted although Target isn’t in a primary sponsor role this week, it still has a prominent presence on Scott Dixon’s No. 9 Brita Chevrolet this week. Brita’s parent company, Clorox, is a longtime CGR partner. Hull confirmed that Dixon’s car livery will switch up multiple times this year, owing to other brands that are in Target retail stores.
  • Schmidt Peterson Motorsports co-owner Ric Peterson told MotorSportsTalk that the team is still looking at running three cars for the Indianapolis 500. However, like several other teams in the paddock, they’re short of spare wing assemblies. Both James Hinchcliffe and James Jakes went out for installation laps in second practice with the 2014 specification front and rear wings, combined with other 2015 Honda aero kit elements. “We can’t run the risk of damaging the new ones,” Peterson said.
  • source:
    Photo: Tony DiZinno

    Per INDYCAR PR: All Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda cars are carrying “Get well soon MJ” stickers for their weekend races. Pro Mazda driver Michael Johnson was injured in a practice session crash at St. Petersburg on March 27. Kyle Connery, teammate of Johnson’s at JDC MotorSports, has a sticker on his helmet that reads “Get Well Michael.” See a picture of one on Will Owen’s No. 23 Juncos Racing Pro Mazda car to the right.

  • KV Racing Technology held a press conference to introduce Variable Bore Rams, Inc. president “Chip” Marshall along with KVRT driver Stefano Coletti and team co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven. Right now, the VBR partnership is a one-race deal, and no further races have been confirmed.
  • On a separate KVSH Racing related note, KVSH co-owner James “Sulli” Sullivan confirmed to MotorSportsTalk that the company’s SH Racing Red Bull Global Rallycross team will have two 2015 season announcements to be revealed next week, coinciding with that series’ media day in Long Beach next Thursday, April 16. The Red Bull GRC season opens in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on May 31. TV coverage will be on NBC, with air times to be revealed later.
  • Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud delivered an early quote of the year contender when I asked whether he had any concern about the runoff area here at NOLA Motorsports Park; some of the grass and dirt are evident around the circuit and could be troublesome if drivers go off. “I don’t think about runoff, Tony,” Pagenaud said, to much laughter outside the Team Penske transporter. “If you think about it, it’s like you’re thinking about tripping down the stairs. And then you do. I don’t think about it.”

Cadillac confirms WEC driver lineup with Chip Ganassi Racing that will race Le Mans in 2023

Cadillac Ganassi Le Mans
Cadillac Racing
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Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver lineup for a 2023 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sports car series that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be driven by Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who were teamed on the No. 02 Cadillac that competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class this season and won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The third driver will be Richard Westbrook, who will return to Ganassi after helping the team to a GT class win at Le Mans in 2018.

The team also will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the rebranded Grand Touring Prototype premier category, which is designed for crossover between the top prototypes in IMSA and WEC. Ganassi will field a second entry at Daytona with its No. 01 Cadillac that will compete full time in IMSA with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.

A Ganassi spokesman said the team hopes to run its second entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans but only its WEC team is confirmed (an AOC invitation would be required for the IMSA team). The team also is exploring options but currently plans to have the WEC’s team base of operations in Indianapolis.

Ganassi is the first American-based prototype team to confirm its entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s expected that Team Penske, which raced this year’s Le Mans with a full-time WEC entry in LMP2, also will race Le Mans with Porsche’s new LMDh car that is set for IMSA, but the manufacturer has yet to confirm its driver and team lineup.

Next year will mark the return of Cadillac to Le Mans for the first time since 2002.

Before joining Ganassi last year, Lynn made 28 WEC starts since 2016, winning the LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2020.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue with Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Lynn said in a release. “It’s a huge honor to drive for Chip in any capacity but certainly on a full factory sports car program, it’s seriously cool. Cadillac has so much heritage as a luxury North American sports car brand, so to be able to represent them is a huge privilege. I’ve had a lot of fun in my first year doing it and to continue that onto the World Endurance Championship stage is fantastic.

“For me, returning to WEC is sort of what I’ve always known and it’s a bit like going into my wheelhouse. This year in IMSA was a bit different with getting to know all-new circuits and a new style of racing so 2023 will be filled with a bit more of what I’m used to with more of a European focus. I think what’s significant about WEC is without a doubt Le Mans. As a sports car race, Le Mans is the crown jewel and everything that we want to win. To be able to take Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac back to Le Mans to fight for overall honors is a huge honor and that’s something that I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure we achieve.”

Bamber won the Le Mans overall in 2015 and ’17 with Porsche teams and also was a 2019 GTLM champion in IMSA.

“I am really happy to continue at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac,” Bamber said in a release. “I’ve loved my first season in DPi and now to continue over into the LMDh era and WEC is super exciting. Looking forward to fighting for a world championship and another Le Mans victory.

“The World Endurance Championships gives us the opportunity to race at the world’s biggest race, which is Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing. I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and it’s obviously a huge goal for Cadillac and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. To have that goal in sight is really exciting. It’s been great to have Alex as a teammate in 2022. We’ve been able to learn and grow together in the DPi, and we have a really good partnership going into WEC. We know each other really well and believe adding Richard will be a seamless transition.”

Said Westbrook: “After four really good years at Chip Ganassi Racing, I’ve got so many friends there and I’ve always dreamt to come back one day. It just worked so well between 2016 and 2019, and I’m delighted we found a route to come together again. I can’t wait, it’s an exciting era in sports car racing right now.

“I feel like I know Alex and Earl really well. I did Le Mans with Alex in 2020 and I’ve known him for years. It feels like I’m going back with an ex-teammate and exactly the same with Earl. Although I’ve never shared a car with Earl, we’ve always done the same sort of racing be it in WEC or in IMSA. We’ve had lots of battles, including this year in our dueling Cadillacs. We’ve always gotten along quite well, and I can say we’re going to have a great year together.”

The seven-race WEC season, which also includes a stop at Spa, will begin March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.