Thursday saw busy test day for IndyCar, MRTI at three tracks

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This is the last off weekend before the Verizon IndyCar Series heats up with a three-race in three-week stretch at Pocono Raceway, Gateway Motorsports Park and Watkins Glen International.

It doesn’t mean teams from IndyCar nor the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires haven’t been busy though, with Thursday proving a pivotal day across three different venues in preparation for the stretch runs of the 2017 seasons, and the preparation for the 2018 season.

NEW 2018 INDYCAR HAS ANOTHER SOLID TEST IN IOWA

After runs at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2.5-mile superspeedway) and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (2.238-mile permanent road course), the new 2018 Dallara universal aero kit had its first run on a short oval Thursday, the 0.894-mile Iowa Speedway. And like the first two runs, it was another solid day for drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Oriol Servia in the Chevrolet and Honda-powered cars, prepared by Team Penske and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, and overseen by INDYCAR itself.

“It’s interesting how you can run the same lap time and in one (downforce level) you’re completely flat out and the other one you are lifting (off the accelerator in the turns),” Montoya said in a release. “We’re trying to understand what’s the best way to bring the best racing.”

Servia added, “It was very consistent, especially if we end up going on the lower downforce package. You have to drive it, which is fun. You have to lift and you’re still doing the same lap speed (as with more downforce), which is interesting. Exact same lap speed. I was able to run a decent distance behind Juan Pablo, and the car just loses a little bit of grip but (with) a four-tire kind of slide. It’s not like the front loses a lot of (grip) or the rear loses a lot, which is the problem with the current car.”

INDYCAR’s Bill Pappas, INDYCAR vice president of competition/race engineering, remained pleased with the drivers going through the checklist.

“Again, the idea was to check off boxes and we did all the boxes we wanted to,” he said. “We wanted to analyze the downforce level we’ve been running here the last couple years versus what we thought was a target lower downforce, and both drivers responded favorably to the lower downforce. They thought they were able to drive the car a bit more, rather than hanging on, so that was very encouraging. As far as running in traffic, the car never felt like it was going to get away from them – spin out or have any issues with stability. They were both very happy about that.”

There’s also more here from The Gazette‘s Jeremiah Davis, a local Iowa reporter who was at Thursday’s test.

SEVERAL TEAMS TEST AT WATKINS GLEN

The Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti Autosport teams, at least, got a key day of running in at Watkins Glen International ahead of the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen, which takes place Labor Day weekend from Sept. 1-3.

Both Scott Dixon and Marco Andretti, who have been overseas in recent weeks during IndyCar’s couple-week break, were among those testing. Dixon has owned Watkins Glen throughout his career with four wins there, three straight from 2005 to 2007 and then last year in one of his most dominant weekend performances there last year. Andretti finished fifth three straight years there, from 2007 to 2009, and was 12th last year.

INDY LIGHTS, PRO MAZDA HEAD TO GATEWAY

After the Verizon IndyCar Series had its first test on the repaved Gateway Motorsports Park last week, it was the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires’ series turn on Thursday for an open test – and an important one at that.

Indy Lights has just two races left, Gateway and Watkins Glen, while Pro Mazda has three – the same two venues but with Watkins Glen a doubleheader race rather than a single race.

For Juncos Racing’s Kyle Kaiser, who tested along with Nicolas Dapero, Gateway represents a huge opportunity. The Californian holds a 42-point lead and can clinch the title at Gateway so long as he leaves with a 34-point lead or greater (leaving with a top-five finish should do the trick). Kaiser got his first career win on the flat one-mile oval at Phoenix last year and hopes a similar setup can translate.

“The new pavement is very different and a lot faster,” said Kaiser. “There’s a ton of grip out there. So, everything we had from testing here in the off season, we pretty much threw away and we’re starting fresh. With the smoother asphalt you can run the cars a lot lower, which generates a lot more downforce. Race conditions probably will be similar to today. We’re getting a good baseline and we can work off that for the race.

“But I’m coming in to win this race. It would be a great race to win. I love the track. I feel really quick out there. I think we’ve got the car to win this race.”

Beyond the full-time competitors, Chad Boat was also back in action in a fourth Belardi Auto Racing entry, as he attempts a second crack at his series debut. Boat was meant to debut at Iowa Speedway but didn’t receive medical clearance from INDYCAR after a midget car accident earlier in that week.

USF2000 TESTED AT THE GLEN, AS WELL

Earlier this week, the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda series tested at Watkins Glen. Rinus VeeKay, who’s chasing Oliver Askew for that series’ championship, had this save.

Peacock to stream all Supercross and Motocross races in 2023, plus inaugural SuperMotocross Championship

Peacock Supercross Motocross 2023
Feld Entertainment, Inc.
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NBC Sports and Feld Motor Sports announced that Peacock and the NBC family of networks will stream all 31 races of the combined Monster Energy Supercross, Lucas Oil Pro Motocross and the newly created SuperMotocross World Championship beginning January 7, 2023 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California and ending October 14 in the place where Supercross was born: the Los Angeles Coliseum.

The combined series will create a 10-month calendar of events, making it one of the longest professional sports’ seasons in the United States.

The agreement is for multiple years. The season finale will air live on Peacock and the USA Network.

Peacock will present live coverage of all races, qualifying and heats across both series. The 31 total races will mark a record for the combined number of Supercross and Pro Motocross events that NBC Sports will present in a single season.

NBC, USA Network and CNBC will provide coverage of all races, including the SuperMotocross World Championship Playoffs and Final, through 2023 and beyond. For more information about the Peacock streaming service, click here.

“With our wide array of live and original motorsports offerings, Peacock is a natural home for Supercross and Pro Motocross races,” said Rick Cordella, Chief Commercial Officer, Peacock. “We’re looking forward to providing fans with an easily-accessible destination to find every race all season long, including the exciting finish with the newly formed SuperMotocross World Championship.”

MORE: A conversation about media rights created the new SuperMotocross World Championship Series

The NBC family of networks has been home to Supercross for the past several seasons and this is a continuation of that relationship. The media rights for both series expired at the end of 2022, which allowed Supercross and Motocross to combine their efforts.

In fact, it was that conversation that led to the formation of the SuperMotocross World Championship (SMX).

The SMX series will begin on September 9, 2023 after the conclusion of the Pro Motocross season. Points will accumulate from both series to seed the SMX championship, which creates a record number of unified races.

“The SuperMotocross World Championship adds a new dimension to the annual Supercross and Pro Motocross seasons that will result in crowning the ultimate World Champion,” said Stephen C. Yaros, SVP Global Media and Supercross for Feld Motor Sports. “We are thrilled to be extending our relationship with NBC Sports so our fans can watch all the racing action streaming live on Peacock and the option to also watch select rounds on NBC, USA Network and CNBC.”

Complete 2023 coverage schedules for Supercross, Pro Motocross and the SuperMotocross World Championship on Peacock, NBC, USA Network and CNBC will be announced in the near future.