Photo: Dreyer & Reinbold Racing

Alex Keyes confirms GRC Lites return with DRR, WIX Filters

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Past GRC Lites division race winner Alex Keyes will continue in the division this year, the second rung in the Red Bull Global Rallycross, and is back with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.

The full release is below:

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (DRR) is excited to announce Alex Keyes, three-time Red Bull Global Rallycross (GRC) feature winner, will return to the racetrack this season. Driving in the No. 24 DRR Red Bull Global Rallycross Lites car, Keyes will showcase WIX®Filters as the primary sponsor partner for six races.

Keyes, the 18-year-old driver from Folsom, California, made a dramatic debut last year with Red Bull Global Rallycross Lites victories at the New River Military Base, Washington D.C., and the season finale in Las Vegas. In addition, Keyes recorded four podium finishes and placed sixth in the final Lites point standings as a rookie.

The former open-wheel star is scheduled to compete in numerous 2016 Red Bull GRC Lites events including the season-opening weekend at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Arizona, May 20-22. The No. 24 will feature WIX primary livery at the famed Daytona International Speedway June 17-19, as well as at The Base at MCAS New River in Jacksonville, NC on July 1-3, in Washington D.C. on July 30, and in Atlantic City on August 28. WIX will serve as a full time major associate partner for the Red Bull GRC Lites season on the No. 24 entry. 

“We love partnering with these young drivers,” said Jennifer Gibson, brand manager for WIX. “Their passion for the sport only equals their enthusiasm for their fans, and it’s remarkable to be around. The energy is infectious, and we can’t wait to see how this year unfolds.”

WIX products include oil, air and fuel filters that have been track-tested and proven in all levels of stock car, dirt track, off-road and drag racing. WIX uses motorsports as a grueling testing ground for scenarios involving high temperatures, fluctuations in pressure and rapid breakdown in engine oil.

“I’m very excited to return with the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team in 2016,” said Keyes, a former Formula Car Challenge Series champion in 2014. “Last year’s series was an eye-opening experience, and I learned a lot. But the biggest take away for me? It was the most fun I’ve ever had racing; it was intense. You always had to be on top of it. There’s a learning process, and once I worked through mistakes and the team as a whole started to learn the cars, we really found a good rhythm.” 

DRR will field two Red Bull GRC Lites machines in 2016, including the No. 2 DRR Red Bull GRC Lites entry with newcomer Cabot Bigham and Paratek Pharmaceuticals. Coming off a 2015 season resulting in four wins and eight podium finishes, DRR is poised for continued success in 2016. The DRR organization has been successful in the Verizon IndyCar Series since 2000 and continues to expand its effort within both Red Bull GRC SuperCar and Lites series.

“We are very pleased to have both WIX Filters and Alex back with our Lites program in 2016. WIX has been a partner since the beginning, and we believe the pairing couldn’t be a more appropriate fit,” said Dennis Reinbold, team owner of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. “Alex has developed into a strong contender and team leader, winning three races with us in 2015. He’s gained the experience and confidence to win at any circuit in the series. We’re excited to have Alex debut at the season opener, and we look forward to working hard and producing results both on- and off-track for WIX in 2016.”

Keyes, 18, was a successful karting racer for six years before moving into formula cars in 2013 where he was chosen as a Lynx Racing Academy driver, competing in the Pacific F1600 series. In 2014, he moved up to the West Coast Formula Pro Mazda class and captured the title with ten wins and 13 pole positions. He also competed in the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires. 

Former Indy 500 champion Buddy Rice again will serve as a driver consultant and program manager for DRR’s GRC Lites program. DRR will continue to utilize many of his personnel from its IndyCar team, including engineering, mechanical, shock and damper, and management staff.

“I work well with Buddy as he comes from a similar background as me: the Lynx Academy,” said Keyes. “All DRR mechanics are hard workers who know how to put it out there on the racetrack! In 2016, everything for me is going out and trying to win every race, no one remembers who finishes second.”

Coyne transitioning from underdog to Indy 500 threat

Photo: IndyCar
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For most of the team’s existence, Dale Coyne Racing has been the Chicago Cubs of American Open Wheel Racing – a team whose history was more defined by failures, at times comically so, than success.

The last decade, however, has seen the tide completely change. In 2007, they scored three podium finishes with Bruno Junqueira. In 2009, they won at Watkins Glen with the late Justin Wilson.

The combination won again at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, and finished sixth in the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. That same year, Mike Conway took a shock win for them in Race 1 at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.

Carlos Huertas scored an upset win for them in Race 1 at the Houston double-header in 2014, and while 2015 and 2016 yielded no wins, Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly gave them several strong runs – Vautier’s best finish was fourth in Race 2 at Detroit, while Daly finished second in Race 1 at Detroit, finished fourth at Watkins Glen, and scored a trio of sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Race 2 at Detroit, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

And 2017 was set to possibly be the best year the team has ever had. Sebastien Bourdais gave the team a popular win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and then rookie Ed Jones scored back-to-back top tens – 10th and sixth – at St. Pete and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to start his career.

But, things started unraveling at the Indianapolis 500. Bourdais appeared set to be in the Fast Nine Pole Shootout during his first qualifying run – both of his first two laps were above 231 mph –  before his horrifying crash in Turn 2.

While Jones qualified an impressive 11th and finished an even more impressive third, results for the rest of the season became hard to come by – Jones only scored two more Top 10s, with a best result of seventh at Road America.

But, retooled for 2018, the Coyne team is a legitimate threat at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Bourdais, whose No. 18 Honda features new sponsorship from SealMaster and now ownership partners in Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan, has a win already, again at St. Pete, and sits third in the championship.

And Bourdais may also be Honda’s best hope, given that he was the fastest Honda in qualifying – he’ll start fifth behind Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden.

“I think it speaks volumes about their work, their passion and their dedication to this program, Dale (Coyne), Jimmy (Vasser) and Sulli (James Sullivan) and everybody from top to bottom. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity, for the support,” Bourdais said of the team’s effort.

Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo has been progressing nicely, and his Month of May has been very solid – he finished 12th at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course and qualified a strong 13th for the “500.”

“It’s been surreal to be here as rookie. I’m a bit at a loss for words,” Claman De Melo revealed after qualifying. “The fans, driving around this place, being with the team, everything is amazing. I have a great engineer, a great group of experienced mechanics at Dale Coyne Racing.”

While Conor Daly and Pippa Mann struggled in one-off entries, with Mann getting bumped out of the field in Saturday qualifying, Daly’s entry essentially puts three Coyne cars in the race – Daly’s No. 17 United States Air Force Honda is a Dale Coyne car that has been leased to Thom Burns Racing.

Rest assured, the days of Coyne being an “also ran” are long gone, and a Coyne car ending up in Victory Lane at the biggest race of the year would complete the Chicago Cubs analogy – the Cubs won a World Series title in 2016, and an Indy 500 triumph would be the crowning achievement in Coyne’s career.

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