IndyCar 2016 team preview: KVSH Racing

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NBC Sports takes a look through the teams competing in the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series. KVSH Racing has been a solid mid-level force for more than a decade and an Indianapolis 500-winning outfit; could this be the year they follow through on the hopes of two of its co-owners and actually contend for a title?

Team: KVSH Racing (No. 11), PIRTEK Team Murray (No. 61)
Engine/aero kits: Chevrolet
Sponsors: HYDROXYCUT, Mouser, Geico, American Racing Wheels (No. 11), PIRTEK, Chris Kyle Frog Foundation (No. 61)

2015 STATS

Races: 16
Wins: 2 (Bourdais 2)
Podiums: 2 (Bourdais 2)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 2 (Bourdais 1, Coletti 1)
Points: 619 (Bourdais 406, Coletti 203, Clauson 10)
Laps Led: 145 (Bourdais 145)
Championship Position: 10th (Bourdais), 19th (Coletti), 39th (Clauson)

2016 LINEUP (Engineer in parentheses)

11 Sebastien Bourdais (Olivier Boisson)
61 Matthew Brabham (TBC)

2015 RECAP (Bourdais, Coletti driver recaps)

Sebastien Bourdais enjoyed another typical season since he’s been back in North America, where he frequently overachieved on occasion but lacked the week-to-week consistency to mount a serious title challenge. His win at Milwaukee was one of the most impressive oval victories in recent years, while a strategy gamble at Detroit race two paid dividends. The second car was again a disappointment, with rookie Stefano Coletti finding the wall seemingly more often than the finishing line in a highly underwhelming season.


The KVSH team led by Kevin Kalkhoven, Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan has the potential to deliver an RLL-in-2015 type season, where with a reduced, single-car focus there could be better overall consistency. Bourdais and engineer Olivier Boisson work well together and will seek to deliver results up against the mights of the four-car powerhouse organizations, although Bourdais admitted the team was inadvertently hampered as the commercial deals for the year got finalized late. Still, wins are likely, and a top-five championship finish is a realistic target. The only second car planned at the moment is the PIRTEK Team Murray entry for Matthew Brabham in the month of May.

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


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.

DETAILS FOR THE 61ST ROLEX 24How to watch, entry lists, schedules for the IMSA season opener

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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.”


Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds