Fast Facts: Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix

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Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix Fast Facts

Date: Saturday, April 2, 2016

Track: Phoenix International Raceway, a 1.022-mile oval

Race distance: 250 laps / 255.5 miles

Entry List:  Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix (PDF)

Firestone tire allotment: Nine sets primary with an additional set available to rookie drivers and those outside the top 10 in Verizon IndyCar Series points

Twitter: @PhoenixRaceway, @IndyCar, #DDCPhoenixGrandPrix, #IndyCar

Event website: www.phoenixraceway.com

INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com

2005 race winner: Sam Hornish Jr. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota)

2005 pole winner: Bryan Herta (No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda), 20.3837 seconds (176.612 mph)

Qualifying lap record: Arie Luyendyk (19.608 seconds; 183.599 mph) set on March 23, 1996

NBCSN television telecasts (also available on the NBC Sports Live Extra app):Practice, 1 p.m. ET Friday, April 1; Qualifying, 5 p.m. ET Friday, April 1; Race, 8:30 p.m. ET Saturday, April 2. Rick Allen is the lead announcer for NBCSN’s broadcast this weekend alongside analysts Paul Tracy and Townsend Bell. Pit reporters are Marty Snider, Kevin Lee, Katie Hargitt and Robin Miller.

Video Streaming: Friday’s 9:15 p.m. ET practice session for the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix will be available on the INDYCAR YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/indycar) and RaceControl.IndyCar.com.

Radio broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Davey Hamilton. All Verizon IndyCar Series races are broadcast live on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius 212, XM 209, IndyCar.comindycarradio.com and on the INDYCAR Mobile app.

Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying is broadcast on Sirius 212, XM 209, IndyCar.com,indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app. Verizon IndyCar Series practice sessions plus Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires practice and qualifying are on IndyCar.com,indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app.

At-track schedule (all times local):

Friday, April 1

10-11:15 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #1, NBCSN (Live)

2-3 p.m. – Qualifying for the Verizon P1 Award (single-car format, two laps each), NBCSN (Live)

6:15-6:45 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series final practice, live stream onRaceControl.IndyCar.Com

Saturday, April 2

2:30 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series systems check

5:30 p.m. – NBCSN on air

6:15 p.m. – Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix (250 laps/255.5 miles), NBCSN (Live).

Race Notes:

* Juan Pablo Montoya claimed the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 13 for the second consecutive season. Montoya has led the points after 16 of the last 17 Verizon IndyCar Series events (only failing to lead following the 2015 season finale at Sonoma).

* The Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix will be the first Indy car event conducted at Phoenix International Raceway since 2005 and 62nd Indy car race since the track opened in 1964.

* This is the first of five oval races on the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule. Other ovas events scheduled are: the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil (May 29), the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway (June 11), the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway (July 10) and the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway (Aug. 21).

* Four drivers entered this weekend have previously raced Indy cars at Phoenix International Raceway: Ed Carpenter, Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan. Al Unser has the most wins by an Indy car driver at the track (six). Castroneves (2002) and Kanaan (2003 and 2004) are the only past PIR winners entered in this year’s race.

* Eleven drivers have won the Phoenix race from the pole: Castroneves (2002), Arie Luyendyk (1996), Rick Mears (1982, 1989 and 1990), Al Unser (1969 and 1985), Tom Sneva (1984), Teo Fabi (1983), Johnny Rutherford (1977), Gordon Johncock (1973), Bobby Unser (1968, 1972), Lloyd Ruby (1967) and Mario Andretti (1966).

* Drivers who have won at Phoenix have gone on to win the Indy car championship nine times: A.J. Foyt (1964, first race; 1975, second race), Mario Andretti (1966, second race), Bobby Unser (1968, first race), Al Unser (1970, first race; 1985), Rick Mears (1982, first race), Bobby Rahal (1992), Buddy Lazier (2000), Hornish (2001) and Kanaan (2004).

* Three drivers will make their first Indy car oval start this weekend at Phoenix – Max Chilton, Luca Filippi and Alexander Rossi. Chilton and Rossi, along with Conor Daly, are Sunoco Rookie of the Year award candidates. Chilton and Rossi made their series debut at St. Petersburg after competing previously in Formula One.

* The 2016 season is the second in which aerodynamic bodywork component kits are used. The aero kits, produced by engine manufacturers Chevrolet and Honda for their respective supplied teams, are the latest technical innovation to enhance on-track performance through competitive aerodynamic development. Each manufacturer produces two kits for teams – one for short ovals/road courses/street courses and another for superspeedway ovals – but within each kit, teams have multiple component options available.

* The second season of aero kit competition complements the fifth year of engine manufacturer competition between Chevrolet and Honda with their 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engines. It will be another season testing speed and durability to determine the manufacturer champion.

Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023; leaves open possibility of returning at Ganassi

Jimmie Johnson race 2023
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images
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Though he remains uncertain of his plans for next year, Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023, scaling back his schedule after running a full 17-race NTT IndyCar Series season.

“This was a difficult choice for me, but in my heart, I know it’s the right one,” Johnson said in a statement Monday morning. “I’m not exactly sure what the next chapter holds, but if an opportunity comes along that makes sense, I will consider it. I still have a bucket list of racing events I would like to take part in. Competing at this level in IndyCar has been such a great experience.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better team to race for than Chip Ganassi and Chip Ganassi Racing. Everyone worked extremely hard for the last two seasons, pushing to get the best performances out of me every single week. The support from my crew and teammates Dario (Franchitti), Scott (Dixon), Tony (Kanaan), Marcus (Ericsson) and Alex (Palou) went above and beyond anything I could have ever asked for.”

WHAT’S NEXT FOR JIMMIE JOHNSON: An analysis of his racing options for the 2023 season

Driving the No. 48 Dallara-Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing, Johnson ranked 21st in the 2022 points standings with a career-best fifth place July 24 at Iowa Speedway.

After running only road and street courses for Ganassi in 2021, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion added ovals this year. In his Indy 500 debut, he qualified 12th and finished 28th after a late crash.

“I do have a desire to go back (to IndyCar), it’s just at this point, I know what’s required to do a full schedule, and I don’t have that in me,” Johnson told AP. “I don’t have that passion that I need for myself to commit myself to a full season.”

That leaves open the concept of Johnson returning part time with Ganassi, perhaps exclusively on ovals.

“We are fully supportive of Jimmie,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a statement. “He has been a valued member of our team and if we can find a way to continue working together, we would like to do so.”

During IndyCar’s season finale race weekend, Johnson told reporters Sept. 9 that he planned to explore his options with wife Chandra and daughters Evie and Lydia. Johnson told the Associated Press that his family is considering living abroad for a year or two, and he has toyed with the idea of running in the World Endurance Championship sports car series because of its international locales.

Johnson hasn’t ruled out IndyCar, IMSA sports cars or even a cameo in NASCAR next year. Since retiring from full-time NASCAR after the 2020 season, he has entered the endurance races of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac (including Saturday’s Petit Le Mans season finale). Johnson also wants to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and is a prime candidate for the Garage 56 entry (a joint project of NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports).

Johnson told the AP he is interested in becoming the latest driver to try “The Double” and run both the Coca-Cola 600 and Indy 500 on the same day (the most recent was Kurt Busch in 2014).

“You know me and endurance sports, and ‘The Double’ sounds awesome,” Johnson, a four-time Coke 600 winner, told AP. “I’ve always had this respect for the guys who have done ‘The Double.’ I would say it is more of a respect thing than a bucket-list item, and I’d love to put some energy into that idea and see if I can pull it off.”

It is less likely that he would return to IMSA’s endurance events because its top prototype series is being overhauled, limiting the amount of inventory available for the new LMDh cars in the rebranded GTP division.

Johnson has confirmed that he would retain primary sponsor Carvana, which has backed him in IndyCar the past two years. He revealed his decision Monday during the last episode of “Reinventing the Wheel,” Carvana Racing’s eight-part docuseries about his 2023 season.

“I’m thankful for the partnership with a company like Carvana for allowing me to take this journey in IndyCar, for seeing the value in our partnership and being open to future opportunities together,” Johnson said. “They have truly showed me that there are no finish lines in life. Along with Carvana, The American Legion, Ally, cbdMD and Frank August were there every step of the way, and I couldn’t have done it without all of them. Most importantly — and the true rockstars in all of this –my family, Chani, Evie and Lydia. They have always allowed me to chase my dreams, and we are all just really excited about what the future holds for all of us. I have enjoyed every minute of these last two years.”

Said Carvana co-founder Ryan Keeton: “During the past two years, Jimmie Johnson has been so amazing to collaborate with. Our team admires his passion, hard work and commitment to continuous improvement while also having fun, and we look forward to continuing to support him next year in this new chapter.”