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Stefan Wilson confirms Indy 500 run with KV Racing

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Stefan Wilson will make his return to the Verizon IndyCar Series and a much-anticipated debut in the 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

Wilson, 26, will attempt to qualify for his first Indianapolis 500 with KV Racing Technology, in an effort supported by the Indiana Donor Network and Gap Guard.

For Wilson, it’s the opportunity for months of work to have borne fruit and also a chance to fulfill his late brother’s legacy in the race. Justin Wilson lost his life last August at Pocono Raceway.

The KVRT effort for Stefan Wilson, who made one career IndyCar start as Justin’s teammate with Dale Coyne Racing at Baltimore in 2013, joins the KVSH team’s lone full season effort for Sebastien Bourdais and the KVSH technical partnership with PIRTEK Team Murray, which fields Matthew Brabham for the month of May.

Here’s the livery of the car, via designer Michael Peters:

The full release is below:

IndyCar driver Stefan Wilson announced today that he will compete in the 100th Running of The Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil with 2013 winners KV Racing Technology. The 26-year old Briton is able to fulfill his dream of competing in the world’s largest one-day sporting event thanks to Indiana Donor Network and Gap Guard.

“Like so many other drivers, I grew up dreaming about the Indianapolis 500 and it’s all I’ve worked toward for the past few years. Justin raced in the 500 eight times and it was a dream to join him on the starting grid and race against him. I just never anticipated a situation where Justin wouldn’t be there with me,” said Stefan, a U.K. native who now calls Indianapolis home.

Wilson is no stranger to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He competed in the Indy Lights Freedom 100 in 2010 and 2011 with a highest finish of fourth in 2011 with Andretti Autosport.

Wilson is the younger brother of the late Justin Wilson, who won multiple races through his ten-year career at the top level of American open-wheel racing. Justin died in August 2015 from injuries he sustained in a race crash at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania. He had previously registered his decision to become an organ donor and as a result, he saved five lives. Stefan will look to honor his brother and compete in The Greatest Spectacle in Racing in the No. 25 Driven2SaveLives-KVRT Chevrolet/Dallara/Firestone.

StefCar

“Justin’s decision to be an organ donor ended up being the one shining light out of that dark, terrible time after Pocono,” said Stefan. “I’m grateful to Indiana Donor Network and KV Racing Technology for the opportunity to fulfill a racing dream and to honor Justin’s legacy on such a monumental stage as the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.”

Indiana Donor Network is Wilson’s primary partner for his rookie run. Indiana Donor Network, one of 58 designated organ recovery organizations in the U.S., oversees and coordinates organ, tissue and eye donation, and provides public education on donation and transplantation across the state.

Together, Wilson and Indiana Donor Network have launched a campaign called Driven2SaveLives to promote organ, tissue and eye donation and transplantation around the Indianapolis 500. The hope is to get 2,500 people across the country to register their decision to donate through Driven2SaveLives.

“Stefan’s story really personifies our mission at Indiana Donor Network,” said Kellie Hanner, president and chief executive officer at Indiana Donor Network. “His experience with Justin’s organ donation illustrates firsthand what it means to save and enhance lives. We couldn’t ask for a better champion and we hope Driven2SaveLives inspires others to become registered donors like the Wilson brothers.”

Donning the side of Wilson’s Chevrolet powered machine will be Gap Guard, a foam device used in personal and commercial vehicles, which prevents items from falling between the seat and the center console.

“’I’ve been in many Indy 500’s as a team owner, partner and sponsor, but to be in the 100th Running of the greatest spectacle in racing as a co-primary sponsor just has a nice ring to it,” said Dale Pelfrey, president and CEO of Gap Guard. “I’m so happy to team up with Stefan, KV Racing Technology and Chevrolet, and have a distinct feeling they’ll be a very strong package. We want to create awareness for Gap Guard through the alliance with Stefan, and we feel it is a perfect fit. Memorial Day weekend should be a great one.”

“I’ve known Dale (Pelfrey) for a few years now and I’ve been involved with his Road To Indy teams in that time. He has a huge passion for racing and the Indianapolis 500, and over the years he’s backed a lot of great drivers at Indy, so to have his support and to be able to represent his companies means a great deal to me,” Stefan said.

“Gap Guard is such an ingenious product, I used to always drop things down the gap between the seat and center console in my car. I never even thought about a solution, and then Dale showed me Gap Guard, and I’ve had a set in every car ever since.”

Wilson will be competing for KV Racing Technology this May with teammates Sebastien Bourdais and Matthew Brabham. Team owner Jimmy Vasser and team manager Steven Moore are excited to give Stefan his second opportunity at competing in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

“We are pleased to announce that Stefan – a talented driver and an outstanding young man – will be driving for KV Racing Technology,” said Kevin Kalkhoven, co-owner of KV Racing Technology. “Stefan has raced at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway before with Indy Lights but this will be his first INDYCAR race there and we look forward to having him on our team for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.”

“Having spoken with Stefan throughout the winter about this project, I am very pleased to see it come to fruition,” said Jimmy Vasser, co-owner of KV Racing Technology. “Not only has Stefan proven to be a fast driver but he brings the complete package to the table. It also goes without saying that it will warm the hearts of everyone in the racing community to see him drive the No. 25.”

Wilson must pass all stages of the Rookie Orientation Program set for May 16th at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in order to Qualify for the race. The 100th Running of The Indianapolis 500 takes place on Sunday, May 29 at 12:00 p.m. (ET).

Latest INDYCAR Aeroscreen test continues to provide feedback; data to series

Bruce Martin Photo
Bruce Martin Photo
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RICHMOND, Virginia – After completing its third Aeroscreen test since October 2, INDYCAR continues to collect valuable data and feedback from the drivers and engineers involved in testing.

The latest test of the Aeroscreen came Tuesday, October 15 at Richmond Raceway, a .750-mile short oval. Five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon has been involved in testing dating all the way back to 2017 at Phoenix with the original “Windscreen.” Tuesday’s test was the first-time two-time NTT IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden was able to test the device that partially encloses the cockpit proving greatly enhanced driver safety.

It was also the first time the current “Aeroscreen” designed and created by Red Bull Advanced Technologies, Pankl and Dallara has been tested at a short oval – a track that measures under 1.5-miles in length.

The previous tests were at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway on October 2 and the Barber Motorsports Park road course on October 7.

“It wasn’t a problem getting in the car today and relearning a new viewpoint,” Newgarden told NBC Sports.com at the conclusion of Tuesday’s test. “It felt like a new viewpoint. It’s still an Indy car. It still feels like an Indy car. The car does a lot of the things it did before. It required some slight tuning differences to accommodate a different center of gravity and different total weight.

“Overall, it still felt like the same Indy car I drove three weeks ago. You get used to that new viewpoint within 30 or 40 laps. It was alien at first but halfway through the day it feels like home again.”

Newgarden’s Team Penske test team along with INDYCAR officials worked on changes to getting air into the cockpit and directing the air to the right place where the driver can utilize it.

“We’ve come up with some solutions that we like,” Newgarden said. “INDYCAR and the teams will continue to fine-tune this. That is why we are doing these tests. The main goal was to figure this out and fine-tune this stuff. We have come up with a lot of good solutions to all of the little things we have talked about that we have needed so when Sebastien Bourdais goes to Sebring (on November 5), it will just be another version.

“We are already close. Because they are such small details, it feels like normal racing stuff and we will come up with solutions for that.”

Some drivers who have participated in the Aeroscreen test has said, they almost feel naked without having the halo-like structure with a clear windshield protecting them on the race car.

“Once we got through a whole IndyCar season, if you took it off, it would feel really strange,” Newgarden said. “People adapt so quickly to a change, what the car looks like. Once you give us a couple of races and a full year, it will feel like home and something we are very used to as drivers.

“It is already starting to get that way. People are feeling more comfortable with it. The field of view is almost identical to the way it was before. Your peripheral vision is identical, the way you look out the front of the cars is identical, the way you see the tires is identical.”

Individual driver preference will allow for shading of the sun and that can be accomplished with the visor strips on the helmet and the tear-offs on Aeroscreen.

Drivers will also have a bit of a quieter atmosphere inside the cockpit. The partial enclosure makes it easier to hear his radio communication and the sounds of the engine in the driver’s car. It partially blocks out the sounds of the engines in the other cars and the rush of wind traveling at high speeds that used to buffet in and around the helmet.

“It has changed the noise level slightly inside the cockpit,” Newgarden said. “For me, it wasn’t super dramatic. It’s a slight reduction in wind noise. You’re not getting the wind directly over your head as dramatically as you would before. All that external noise has just been dimmed.

“You can hear the radio a touch better, things like that. But the engine noise is still quite prominent. It’s bolted directly behind us, so you still hear quite a bit of what’s going on in the car and the engine.”

Dixon was in the car at Indianapolis on October 2 and returned on Tuesday. The Barber test on October 7 included this year’s Indianapolis 500 winner, Simon Pagenaud, in a Team Penske Chevrolet and Ryan Hunter-Reay in an Andretti Autosport Honda.

“The only differences are the openings on the front wing that creates some more airflow around the legs and body and a different inlet in the screen that was in place today,” Dixon told NBC Sports.com. “There were helmet cooling options since the Barber test because on the road course, some of the drivers were getting a little hotter.

“This project has been very in-depth. It hit the ground running very smoothly. There are some alternate options they are trying to create, especially on the street courses where we will experience hot condition. On street conditions, your depth perception changes because of how close you are to the walls, but we should get used to that.”

Two weeks ago, Team Penske driver Will Power said it takes a different style to get out of the race car because of the added height of the Aeroscreen.

That hasn’t been a problem for Dixon.

“That’s easy, man,” he said. “Just go through the hole in the top.”