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Stacked Watkins Glen weekend adds Stadium SUPER Trucks

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This year’s INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen weekend was always going to add more content – besides the Verizon IndyCar Series and Indy Lights, the full complement of Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires series and the Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup Championship also join the weekend dance card.

But that’s not all with the SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks joining the lineup this weekend, announced today. The full release is below.

Watkins Glen International announced today the addition of the SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks to the racing lineup for the upcoming INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen Sept. 1-3.

Led by the Verizon IndyCar Series, the Labor Day weekend event features six motorsports classes, including Indy Lights, Pro Mazda, USF2000, MX-5 Cup and the Stadium SUPER Trucks.

In all, there will be 12 practice sessions, seven qualifying sessions and nine races culminating with the Verizon IndyCar Series race Sunday, Sept. 3 at 1 p.m., live on NBCSN.

The Stadium SUPER trucks will take to the track three separate times throughout the weekend holding practice/qualifying on Friday, Sept. 1 at 11:15 a.m., followed by Race 1 on Saturday, Sept. 2 at 12:30 p.m. The second race will take place in advance of the Verizon IndyCar Series race on Sunday. Green flag is set for 12:10 p.m.

“If there is anything that can add even more excitement to our INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen race weekend, it’s Robby Gordon and his series,” said Watkins Glen International President Michael Printup. “This is going to be unlike anything that our fans have ever seen at Watkins Glen International. Personally, I’m very curious to see how those trucks get around America’s fastest road course.”

The widely popular SST Series features 12 identically prepared 650-horsepower trucks that are built to take flight much like a scaled down radio-control car. Able to race on virtually any surface thrown at them, the SST trucks will race the 2.45-mile, 8-turn short course, compared to the 3.37-mile Grand Prix circuit utilized by INDYCAR.

The SST races will feature 36-inch tall aluminum ramps placed in strategic locations throughout the course, allowing the trucks to fly 20 feet off the ground and hundreds of feet down the course, all while hitting speeds upwards of 140 mph.

“For Stadium SUPER Trucks to visit the state of New York and the Northeast for the first time, I cannot be more excited,” Stadium SUPER Trucks President Robby Gordon said. “I’ve had a lot of success at Watkins Glen throughout my career, and have built a large fan base in that region. To bring the door-to-door action and big air of Stadium SUPER Trucks to ‘The Glen’ for the first time, the fans are going to be ecstatic for SST racing.”

Stadium SUPER Trucks feature a 10-event schedule in 2017 spanning three countries, touring as co-events with INDYCAR in the United States, Supercars in Australia and Monster Jam in China.

In addition to former Indy car and NASCAR driver Robby Gordon, a wide variety of drivers from all forms of motorsports will be in attendance, such as 2015 & 2016 series champion Sheldon Creed, Arie Luyendyk Jr., Bill Hynes, Erik Davis, dirt specialists Gavin Harlien and Jeff Hoffman, as well as the top two in the current point standings, Australia’s Matt Brabham and Paul Morris. With this being the first visit of the trucks to the famed Watkins Glen International, all drivers are expected to have an equal opportunity at winning.

INDYCAR returns to Watkins Glen International for the Sept. 1-3 race weekend, featuring the Verizon IndyCar Series, Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires, Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tires, Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda, Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BF Goodrich Tires and SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks, in an action-packed event. For tickets and additional information on this can’t-miss weekend, call 1-866-461-RACE, or visit us online at www.theglen.com.

Chevrolet hoping it finally has edge on Honda in Indy 500

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Chevrolet engines have powered some of IndyCar’s biggest wins over the last six years.

Their drivers have won three of the first five races this season, four straight series titles and claimed the top four starting spots in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.

So why is there so much chatter about Chevy vs. Honda in Sunday’s race? It’s the one mountain Chevy continues to try and conquer.

“We have more horsepower at the top end but race running’s going to be different because you’re not going to be flat out,” 2016 series champ Simon Pagenaud said. “You’re going to have to manage your tires, you’re going to have to lift a lot and reaccelerate, and the Honda is really strong at that. So I think it’s going to equalize the race and I think there’s a good chance it will show, which is fantastic.”

Pagenaud knows both engines well.

He spent his first four seasons in the series working with Honda teams before switching to Roger Penske’s powerhouse Chevy team in 2015.

Yet as dominant as Chevy has been over the years outside Indy and as good as Penske’s team has been on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 2.5-mile oval, Honda continues to have the upper hand in the 500. Their cars have driven to victory lane 12 times over the past 14 years, including a run of nine straight (six coming when Honda was the series’ sole-engine manufacturer).

Chevy has two 500 wins since returning to the series in 2012. But the engine battle is becoming far more competitive even at Indy where the disparity from the top qualifier to the last qualifier was cut from 11.083 mph in 2017 to 5.198 mph this year.

Drivers have already noticed a difference on the track and casual fans who only watch the 500 might pick up on the changes, too.

“It’s certainly exciting for the fans, for us, for the teams,” said three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves, a Chevy-powered driver for Penske. “It’s all about the end. Right now, we happen to be competitive so let’s see what happens in the race.”

Last year, Honda grabbed four of the top five spots and powered two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso to the race’s rookie of the year award. The problem: Three Honda engines blew during the second half of the race and those still on the track worried they would face the same fate.

This year, some of those same questions could return after Marco Andretti blew an engine just hours before the start of the IndyCar Grand Prix. Still, Andretti has been fast and qualified 12th for the race.

The new aero kits have drivers complaining about handling and passing on Sunday. Practice and qualifying speeds haven’t provided many hints about what to expect, either.

The practice session Monday was the first time everybody worked heavily on race setups and attempted to run in traffic.

The result: Chevy and Honda each had five cars among the top 10, in practice led by 23-year-old Sage Karam at 226.461 mph in a Chevy. Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2012 series champ and 2014 Indy winner with Andretti Autosport, was third-fastest at 224.820 – and No. 1 among the Honda teams.

Chevy, however, posted the top three non-tow speeds with rookie Kyle Kaiser leading the way at 221.107. Marco Andretti wound up fourth at 220.407 and was the top Honda car the list.

Four-time series champion Scott Dixon has learned not to read too much into all these numbers. The Chip Ganassi Racing star qualified ninth and is one of only two Honda drivers starting in the first three rows Sunday.

Last year, Honda took six of the top nine starting spots and had four of the top five cars at the finish line.

“I think there’s a lot of good Honda cars. Hopefully this one is one of them,” the 2008 Indy 500 winner said. “It showed pretty good, I think, in practice. But again it doesn’t guarantee you anything. You’ve got to give it your best, put in the effort and work hard.”

And hope for the best.

“I believe, even last year, even though the Hondas were really strong, we were able to fight in the end,” Castroneves said. “It’s all about being a good, balanced car.”