Report: 2017 IndyCar race in Calgary a possibility

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The third-largest city in Canada could host an IndyCar race as soon as 2017, according to Motorsport.com.

The word comes from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports co-owner Ric Peterson that the proposed race would be held in September 2017.

“Things are coming along pretty darn good,” Peterson told Motorsport. “It’s in the hands of Green-Savoree [the racing promotions company owned by former Indy car team principals Kevin Savoree and Kim Green] but they’re very good about keeping me updated. The original plan was for September 2017 and that still looks like a good possibility.”

The potential location of the race is Stampede Park, which hosts an annual 10-day rodeo festival that Peterson says is visited by 100,000 people every day in July. Peterson knows a little bit about Calgary, his oilfield hauling company Oculus is based in the city.

“Using the Stampede grounds means the race and preparations for the race shouldn’t interfere with people’s day-to-day lives, even though it’s right in the heart of Calgary,” Peterson said, a reference to the push back being received in Boston to its inaugural street-course race next year. “So I don’t expect opposition from the local population, nor from the media.”

One IndyCar driver that is keen to have another Canada race on the schedule is native Canadian James Hinchcliffe, who races for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. Hinchcliffe says a Calgary race is a “logical choice” for IndyCar after the demise of the Vancouver race.

“It’s the financial hub of western Canada and it had already been discussed as a potential venue,” Hinchcliffe told Motorsport. “But then with it being the home event for Ric [Peterson] and Oculus, that really got the momentum going and he’s been super-motivated to make it happen.”

IndyCar already visits Canada once a year in Toronto, which has hosted open-wheel racing every year since 1986 except in 2008. Vancouver hosted races until 2004 and Edmonton was the site for some races from 2005-2012.

“Right from when we started looking at a Calgary event, the people we’ve spoken to in prominent positions and the conversations we’ve had have all been positive,” said HInchcliffe. “Certainly I’d say there have been surprisingly few roadblocks up to this point.

“That said, no-one’s had to write a check yet! But I think we’ve communicated with the right people on the city side, and everyone on the racing side is eager to be there. So I’d say the signs are that this will happen in the not-too-distant future.”

Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

In a final session Thursday night, Matt Campbell was fastest (1:35.802) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 but still was off the times set by Westbrook and Taylor.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

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But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


PRACTICE RESULTS:

Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds