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As Phoenix test occurs, wait for IndyCar race confirmation continues

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Tony Kanaan and Graham Rahal made the most of their Tuesdays – for the second time in five weeks, they were back behind the wheel of their respective IndyCars.

The pair were on hand for a Firestone tire test at Phoenix International Raceway, the 1-mile oval that has seen some sporadic IndyCar testing the last few years. Both drivers also tested Sept. 22 at Road America in advance of that track’s return to the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule next year.

Kanaan returned to the No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, while Rahal’s usual No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake RLL Honda was not in livery, instead adorned in the traditional testing camouflauge wrap as the team was due to test new aerodynamic components. Andretti Autosport had done so at Road America.

Here’s some pics from the test:

Rahal then added this tidbit on the day of testing itself:

There were no indication of lap times for the test. Arie Luyendyk holds the all-time track record, with a qualifying lap of 183.599 mph (18.758 seconds), in 1996. The track was reconfigured in 2011.

While ordinarily any testing at Phoenix has been limited and a one-off, anticipation is higher this year because of the potential of an IndyCar race return to the track for 2016, tentatively penciled in for April 2.

No contract is complete yet; however, per a PIR spokesperson, plans are in the works to formalize and finalize a contract.

“I know that the discussions are ongoing, but no deal has been signed at this point. Hopefully something gets worked out in the next few days and we can announce something in the next week or so, but right now that’s where we’re at,” a PIR spokesperson wrote in an email to MotorSportsTalk.

As the calendar is already at October 20, the IndyCar schedule for 2016 has most of its puzzle pieces complete, but not all of them, and that’s made a holdup for a full schedule release.

I’m hesitant to say it’s imminent at that this stage, but per sources, it should be out by the end of the month, if not the end of the week.

Helio Castroneves will replace ailing Oliver Askew for IndyCar at IMS

Helio Castroneves replacing Askew
James Black/IndyCar
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Helio Castroneves will return to the NTT IndyCar Series next weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, replacing Arrow McLaren SP driver Oliver Askew in the No. 7 Dallara- Chevrolet.

The team announced in a Thursday release that Askew wasn’t cleared by the IndyCar medical team after reporting “a balance and coordination issue” after the Sept. 12-13 race weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The Associated Press’ Jenna Fryer reported that Askew has been experiencing the concussion-like symptoms since his Aug. 23 wreck in the Indy 500.

Askew was placed in IndyCar’s Return to Racing Protocol. The rookie has endured an up-and-down season, suffering another hard crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the July 4 race on the road course. He also finished third and sixth on back-to-back races at Iowa Speedway in July.

“This was an incredibly tough call but I have to follow the advice of the INDYCAR Medical Team and my doctors,” Askew said in the release. “My priority right now is focusing on my health. Despite not being in the car, I will be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Harvest GP, giving whatever insight and support to Arrow McLaren SP that I can.”

Castroneves will be driving this weekend at Mid-Ohio for Team Penske in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner has said he actively is seeking a ride for the 2021 season in IndyCar or IMSA with the demise of Penske’s DPi program as Acura switches to new teams next year.

Here’s the release from Arrow McLaren SP:

Arrow McLaren SP driver Oliver Askew will withdraw from the INDYCAR Harvest Grand Prix, after being declared not fit to drive by the INDYCAR Medical Team.

Following the INDYCAR race at Mid-Ohio, Oliver reported a balance and coordination issue, which triggered an examination from the INDYCAR Medical Team. As a result, Oliver is not medically cleared to race and is subject to INDYCAR’s Return to Racing Protocol.

“This was an incredibly tough call but I have to follow the advice of the INDYCAR Medical Team and my doctors. My priority right now is focusing on my health,” Askew said. “Despite not being in the car, I will be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Harvest GP, giving whatever insight and support to Arrow McLaren SP that I can.”

Askew will be replaced in the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet by Helio Castroneves for the upcoming doubleheader Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

“The welfare of Oliver, our team members and fellow competitors is paramount,” said Arrow McLaren SP co-owner Sam Schmidt.

“We therefore support Oliver and the decision of INDYCAR. Withdrawing to focus on his health and recovery is the right thing to do.”

Helio will join Pato O’Ward, driver of the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, to complete the team’s driver lineup in Indianapolis.

“First and foremost, we wish Oliver the best and that he is able to take time to recover,” said Helio. “I look forward to getting back on track and helping to build on the great progress that Arrow McLaren SP has made this year.”