Keselowski on IndyCar: “It’s a good way to get worn out”

All photos: IndyCar
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Brad Keselowski made a surprise Verizon IndyCar Series testing debut as part of an 11-car test today at Road America.

The initial social post is linked here.

Meanwhile IndyCar posted some photos and a separate release after Keselowski completed his initial laps in Simon Pagenaud’s No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet, which the series points leader will compete in at next week’s KOHLER Grand Prix.

Those photos (all photos: IndyCar) and release are below, as is Keselowski’s tweet after the event:

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ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (Wednesday, June 15, 2016) — Brad Keselowski, the 2012 NASCAR Cup champion, turned his first laps in an Indy car today as part of a multi-team test at Road America, the 4.048-mile permanent road course that will play host to the KOHLER Grand Prix, the next event on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule June 24-26.

Keselowski, driver for Team Penske in NASCAR, climbed into the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet of teammate Simon Pagenaud late in the afternoon of a full day of testing that included 11 cars. The 32-year-old Keselowski enjoyed the experience.

“I’ve always wanted to drive an Indy car, I think (Penske Racing President) Tim Cindric knew that,” Keselowski said. “The opportunity came up to dip my toes in the water and kind of expand my knowledge base and put it in the back of my mind for wherever it goes, I don’t know. But it was a heck of an opportunity and I’m glad to have a chance.”

Pagenaud ran a few shakedown laps in the car before turning it over to Keselowski.

“First thing I told Simon (after the test) is he has a very secure job, at least from me,” Keselowski said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for him and his team, everyone at Team Penske. This (No.) 22 Menards team, they did a great job today and I had a lot of fun going with them. Simon was fast, really fast and gave me a good rabbit to chase. I learned a ton today and had a lot of fun. I’ve got to let it soak in here to think about all of it. It was a heck of a day here at Road America.”

Keselowski quickly noticed the difference in the handling and braking abilities of an Indy car compared to a stock car.

“It sure was getting in the corners a lot deeper,” he said. “I think the Indy car just pulls so many G’s through the center of the corner and in the brake zone. You have to build confidence in it because the stock car does everything it can to wreck your confidence and in the Indy car it’s important to have confidence. So you have to kind of unlearn everything you learned in a stock car to be good in these cars. That’s a heck of a process but a fun one.

“It’s certainly a different feel, trying to get acclimated to a different seat and you lean back more. I was kind of sitting in Simon’s seat and it doesn’t always fit you perfect, so it wears you out pretty quick. But it’s a good way to get worn out.”

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

Petit Le Mans championship
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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”