All photos courtesy Dreyer & Reinbold Racing

Red Bull GRC: DRR confirms three GRC Lites drivers for 2017

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Alex Keyes, Travis PeCoy and Christian Brooks will seek to deliver Dreyer & Reinbold Racing another championship in the GRC Lites division of Red Bull Global Rallycross, after Cabot Bigham did so last year.

The release and details of the program are below:

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, the defending Red Bull Rallycross Lites champions, announced today that young driving stars Alex Keyes, Christian Brooks and Travis PeCoy have signed with the team to compete in the 12-race 2017 Red Bull Global Rallycross Lites division beginning at the series opener scheduled for April 28-29 in Memphis, Tenn.

Keyes, Brooks and PeCoy return to the highly-competitive GRC Lites division with the reigning Lites series winners in Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, the Indiana-based operation which captured five Red Bull Global Rallycross Lites Series main events, 23 heat races and seven fast qualifying honors in 2016. Keyes, racing a limited schedule in 2016, scored two main event wins, seven heat race victories and five fast qualifying times for DRR.

“I am extremely thrilled to announce the three-driver lineup with Alex, Christian and Travis joining our Dreyer and Reinbold Racing Lites team in 2017,” said Dennis Reinbold, team owner of the DRR organization. “All three of the drivers have shown tremendous potential in the Lites cars already and we feel this ‘Triple Threat’ offers us another great chance to repeat as Series champions. We’re very excited to have Buddy Rice back as our Lites director, Jeff Britton returning as our chief engineer and to maintain the continuity of our high-quality core group of personnel, which we believe positions us very well for another run at a championship in 2017. I couldn’t be more excited for the 2017 season.”

Rice, the 2004 Indianapolis 500 champion, will continue to serve as DRR’s Lites director in 2017 where he will oversee the DRR Lites program and focus on driver development. Britton also has been a race-winning engineer in the Verizon IndyCar Series for the past 20 years.

“We believe that our three young Lites drivers are very talented and Alex, Christian and Travis have a great opportunity to battle for the Lites championship in 2017,” said Rice, also a Rolex 24 winner at Daytona. “Alex is already a race winner in the Lites division and Christian and Travis have been winners in other racing divisions and showed potential in their rookie seasons in GRC Lites last year. With some early testing, I think we can develop all three Lites cars into winning machines for the three drivers.”

Alex Keyes.
Alex Keyes.

Keyes, 19, enters his third GRC Lites season in 2017 but his third-year as a GRC Lites competitor, as the Folsom, Calif., racer has been a regular on the victory podium in 2015 and 2016. Keyes, coming from open-wheel racing including winning a Formula Pro Mazda title, has recorded five career Lites feature wins as well as taking numerous Lites heat races and No. 1 qualifying spots. Alex will drive the No. 24 car for DRR in 2017.

“I’m excited to be back in the Red Bull GRC Lites in 2017, but I’m stoked to be back with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing,” said Keyes, who scored features at Atlantic City and Los Angeles last year. “Over the past few years, I have gotten to know this team, not only have we been successful but they have become a family to me. I think we have a recipe for success. Everyone from Dennis, Buddy, our mechanics and our partners are all motivated to win this year. I’m looking forward to working with Travis and Christian too. DRR always has a great atmosphere so I look for us to elevate each other.”

Christian Brooks.
Christian Brooks.

Brooks, 16, comes to Dreyer & Reinbold Racing after his rookie season in GRC Lites in 2016 with a stellar racing career in karting. The Santa Clarita, Calif., driver spent ten years in various karting divisions and took championships in the 2011 US Rotax Grand Nationals and the 2012 and 2016 Rotax Challenge of the Americas.

Last year, Christian recorded three top-five finishes in main events and placed fifth in the final Lites point standings. Brooks, a “fan favorite” throughout the 12-event Red Bull GRC Lites series, will pilot the No. 44 machine for DRR in 2017.

“Driving for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing is truly an honor,” said Brooks. “To be among the historic list of drivers to compete for the team will be something that pushes me to the limit and to achieve the best results possible. With one GRC Lites season under my belt and a championship team behind me, I am entering the year with high confidence and I’m excited about the 2017 season!”

Travis Pecoy.
Travis Pecoy.

PeCoy, 16, also debuted in the Red Bull GRC Lites category in 2016 with a second place in the Atlantic City feature and a heat race win. The Yorba Linda, Calif., high schooler comes from an off-road background where his father, Bobby, is a multi-time winner. Travis scored five off-road championships early in his racing career as well as taking a world title. Last season was PeCoy’s first experience racing on pavement but he quickly showed his potential despite a limited schedule. Travis will compete for the DRR squad in the No. 3 Lites car.

“I’m very excited to join a championship-winning team this year with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing,” said PeCoy. “I think we can work together in hopes of gaining a 1-2-3 in the championship. I want to be in contention for the title. GRC is a chance to show who I am and what I have to offer through driving and self-preservation. I’m a normal kid – I go to school dances and I play video games, surf, ride mountain bikes and snowboard. But I’m ready for the potential of having a great race team in 2017.”

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing will utilize the spec GRC Lites machines from Olsbergs, the all-wheel drive vehicles with six-speed sequential transmissions and 310-horsepower engines.

DRR will announce a full roster of commercial partners for the Red Bull GRC Lites team in the near future.

The Red Bull Global Rallycross Lites division will be televised nationally with each event being produced on the NBC Sports Network.

Newgarden, Rossi ready for a red-white-and-blue INDYCAR finale

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MONTEREY, California – In an international series that personifies diversity from all over the globe, the two main combatants in the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series championship are from the United States.

Josef Newgarden of Tennessee takes a 41-point lead over Alexander Rossi of Northern California into Sunday’s double-points season finale at WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca. This year’s Indianapolis 500 winner, Simon Pagenaud of France, is just 42 points out of the lead.

It’s been quite a while since the two drivers entering the final race of the season were both Americans. Four of the top 10 drivers in the series are from the United States. Last year, five of the top 10 were from the USA.

All but one race in the 17-race NTT IndyCar Series schedule is contested in the United States.

Patriotism still matters in IndyCar.

“I think so,” said Andretti Autosport driver Rossi, who is the last American driver to win the Indianapolis 500 in 2016. “I know I’ve read a lot of things from other drivers saying, ‘It doesn’t matter, it’s not important, no one cares.’

“I can’t really get onboard with that.

“I think me as an American, growing up, being a fan of the Olympics and everything, like you cheer for Americans, right? That’s what you do as a patriotic person. Canadians cheer for James. We see the Swedish contingent that comes to the races for Marcus Ericsson and Felix Rosenqvist.

Getty Images“I think Americans will cheer for Americans. I would love to see an American to win the championship. I think it’s important for the young kids watching hoping to be IndyCar drivers one day, that they see someone who grew up in Tennessee or California or wherever. It’s like, there’s a lot of relate-ability to that for a young kid with aspirations of being a racecar driver.”

Since Sam Hornish, Jr. won the final of his three IndyCar Series championships in 2006, just two American drivers have won the title – Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2012 and Newgarden in 2017. During that span, Scott Dixon of New Zealand won four of his five NTT IndyCar Series championships and Dario Franchitti of Scotland won all four of his IndyCar titles.

The last time two Americans had a chance to win the championship in the final race of the season came in 2001 when Hornish won the championship over Colorado’s Buddy Lazier. Connecticut’s Scott Sharp was third and Arizona’s Billy Boat was fourth in the final standings that year.

That was a much different time and place for IndyCar. At that time, many of the top drivers were in CART while the old Indy Racing League featured a predominantly American lineup. Once unification brought the two sides together in 2008, the championships have been fought on American soil, but international drivers were victorious.

The last time two American drivers finished 1-2 in CART was 1996 when Jimmy Vasser of California defeated Pennsylvania’s Michael Andretti for the crown. In 1992, Bobby Rahal of Illinois defeated Andretti and Al Unser, Jr. of New Mexico for the CART title.

Prior to that, the IndyCar “National Championship” was dominated by drivers from the United States.

 

While Rossi openly choose to wrap himself in the American flag, it’s not as important to Newgarden.

“For me, it’s never been something I put a lot of emphasis on,” said the Team Penske driver. “I’m proud to have grown up in such a wonderful country as the United States, but what I’ve always loved about the IndyCar Series is that they bring the best of the best from around the world. That’s always been important to me.

“It means more I think when you have the best from all over the place coming to compete at the Indianapolis 500, during the whole championship. You really feel like you have that in the IndyCar Series. You get the best drivers from around the world.

“To pair with that, I think we need strong Americans running, as well. So for sure, having guys like Alex and Graham Rahal, some young guys coming up like Colton Herta, myself, it’s really great to have young American competition representing as well and running so strongly.

“What I’ve always loved is the great mix of talent from around the world. To me that’s just so important. If it was all Americans running in the championship, I don’t think it would mean as much. I like that we have that great diversity and that great mix from around the world.”

Although these two drivers are both from the USA, they are fierce rivals. They have mutual respect for each other, but they sure aren’t considered close friends.

“Josef and I honestly aren’t that close,” Rossi admitted. “He never lived in Indy when I moved here, or he was just moving. I actually never really hung out with Josef.

“We obviously have a lot of respect for each other. We raced together for a short period of time in Europe. We have a lot of mutual friends.

“Josef and I don’t talk or socialize really. So, it doesn’t have any impact.”

Newgarden agrees that these two men choose to embrace the rivalry.

“I think it’s just really business,” Newgarden said. “He lives in Indianapolis. I live in Nashville. I don’t see him too often outside of the racetrack. We go and we compete. He’s a great competitor. He’s definitely a tremendous talent, has done a great job in his career.

“It’s been a good, competitive relationship I would say.”

With the return of American drivers capable of winning races, championships and Indianapolis 500s, it has sparked a rejuvenation in IndyCar racing. With drivers from all over the world fighting it out for glory, this series that was born and bred in the United States can take pride in featuring some of the best racing in the world as the series continues to grow in popularity.

“I think we just need to continue a focus on our product,” Rossi said. “I think we have the best race product on the planet in terms of entertainment, the variance of winners that we have throughout a season, how many guys are capable, teams are capable of winning races.

“But that’s an ever-moving target. I think IndyCar has done a good job of placing the priority on that. I just think we need to continue doing that and everything will be moving in the right direction.”