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IndyCar outlines 2018 testing parameters

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INDYCAR has outlined its testing parameters for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season, which will see the racing debut of the new 2018 Dallara universal aero kit.

As chronicled this week, manufacturer testing began on Tuesday at Sebring International Raceway’s short course. Team testing with the new car begins in January 2018.

The full release is below.

INDYCAR is providing ample time for manufacturers and teams to learn the new universal aero kit during offseason testing, with the sanctioning body for the Verizon IndyCar Series announcing testing guidelines for the 2018 season.

The testing regulations, developed in cooperation with series teams and manufacturers, have been distributed to INDYCAR stakeholders and are split into offseason and in-season testing categories.

The offseason testing window began Monday and runs through March 29, 2018. The in-season testing window runs from March 30-Sept. 16, 2018.

Team testing highlights

 Each Verizon IndyCar Series entrant is permitted five team test days – three in the offseason window and two during the in-season window. The offseason window for team testing begins Jan. 8, 2018, allowing time for teams to receive and prepare the Dallara universal aero kits to be used by all Verizon IndyCar Series competitors in 2018.

•  Teams with rookie drivers are permitted an additional three days of testing – one offseason and two in season.

 Any full-season Verizon IndyCar Series team is granted one additional offseason day to test a current approved Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires driver. Also, entrants operating full-season teams in both the Verizon IndyCar Series and Indy Lights are granted an additional in-season test day to be used between May 12 and Sept. 16, 2018.

 Teams new to the series in 2018 are permitted two additional test days – one in the offseason window and one in season.

Manufacturer testing highlights

•  Engine manufacturers Chevrolet and Honda are each granted five days through Dec. 17to conduct testing with the universal aero kit. No more than two cars are permitted for a manufacturer at each aero kit test and the manufacturer is not required to allow its other teams or the competing manufacturer to attend. INDYCAR has stipulated one of the aero kit test days for each manufacturer: Chevrolet will test at Phoenix Raceway on Oct. 17 and Honda at Texas Motor Speedway on Oct. 23.

•  Each engine manufacturer may conduct two days of offseason engine testing (through March 29, 2018) and must permit any team using its engines to attend the test, even if a team is not invited by the manufacturer as an engine test team. Teams attending an engine test will not be charged a team test day, but each team is limited to attending one engine manufacturer test day. Teams of the opposing manufacturer may also participate in the test, but those teams will be charged a team test day.

•  Tire manufacturer Firestone is allotted four tire test days – two in the offseason and two in season – utilizing two teams at each test. All teams, including those providing a tire test car, may be approved by INDYCAR to have one car participate in team testing to run concurrently with the tire test. Teams will not be charged a team test day for participating in any tire test day.

Other testing regulations highlights

 Four days have been designated for open tests in 2018, with all Leaders Circle entrants required to participate unless approved by INDYCAR. The open test dates and tracks are: Feb. 9-10, Phoenix Raceway; March 20, Barber Motorsports Park; and March 27, Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

•  Testing blackout windows are: Nov. 20-27, 2017Dec. 16, 2017-Jan. 7, 2018; and within seven days of the start of any on-track activity for a race event (i.e., if the first practice of a race weekend is on a Friday, testing must be completed by the Thursday of the week prior). The exceptions to the blackout windows are for open tests and on Sept. 11-12, 2018.

•  Teams and manufacturers may test at any Verizon IndyCar Series race location in the United States except street courses. Other approved tracks for testing are: Auto Club Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway, Circuit of the Americas, Homestead-Miami Speedway (oval and road course), Kentucky Speedway, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Sebring International Raceway.

Davison, Daly, Kaiser, highlight underdogs of Indy 500 qualifying

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James Davison and Kyle Kaiser had uphill battles ahead of qualifying for the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Davison, in a one-off joint effort involving A.J. Foyt Racing, Jonathan Byrd’s Racing, and Belardi Auto Racing, appeared to have enough speed to make the “500” field, but a crash on “Fast Friday” put all those hopes in big jeopardy as the team needed to scramble to repair the No. 33 Jonathan Byrd’s Chevrolet in time for qualifying.

However, thanks to a herculean effort that saw the team stay at the track until the early hours of Saturday morning, the car was repaired in time for qualifying, and the team survived a chaotic final hour that saw Conor Daly, James Hinchcliffe, and Pippa Mann all vying alongside them for the final two spots in the field.

In the end, Davison survived the bumping to make the 33-car field, taking the 33rd and final spot in Saturday, and saw a dramatic increase in speed on Sunday to average 226.255 mph, putting him a very solid 19th on the grid.

An emotional James Davison walks back into Gasoline Alley after making the Indianapolis 500 field on Saturday. Photo: IndyCar

“It’s been an incredible weekend for the team after our mishap on Friday,” Davison revealed after Sunday’s qualifying.

He continued, “We had to endure a very long night, obviously it’s always depressing when you have a crashed car around here. We punched above our weight on bump day, and got ourselves in, but didn’t show our hand. We really laid it down on pole day to move from 33rd to 19th. It’s basically two days in a row the team has been rewarded for their hard work, making the show and moving up 14 positions on the grid. Unexpected results are always really nice in motorsports and we got that today with our improvement, substantially. Just very proud of the entire team and want to keep the momentum going next week.”

Conor Daly, too, had a stressful Saturday, as his No. 17 United States Air Force Honda – a joint effort with Dale Coyne Racing and Thom Burns Racing – lacked speed most of the week.

“Fast Friday” yielded some promise, as his quickest no-tow speed was 226.752 mph, good enough for 26th on the no-tow chart that day.

Saturday, however, proved a struggle. Unable to find the speed on his first two runs – he was bumped out of the field after his second attempt – he needed a third and final effort to make the field.

A four-lap average of 224.874 mph didn’t leave him much wiggle room, but it was just enough to get Daly into the field, as he took 32nd on the board. He’ll start 33rd after averaging 224.429 mph on Sunday.

Conor Daly survived a stressful qualifying weekend to make the Indy 500 field. Photo: IndyCar

“No dramas (on Sunday), but we’re fighting for miles an hour. All I can do is put my foot down and do the best we can for our incredible partners at the U.S. Air Force. It’s incredible to be here with them and at this point, I’m just thankful to be in the field. I’d like to be a lot quicker, but we’ll see what we can do in practice tomorrow to improve our race car,” Daly detailed after Day 2 of qualifying.

Kyle Kaiser and Juncos Racing faced a similar uphill battle, but theirs was down to experience. Juncos was entering its second “500” after debuting last year, and their debut wasn’t exactly a smooth one.

Spencer Pigot and Sebastian Saavedra only qualified 29th and 31st respectively, though Saavedra was able to finish on the lead lap in 15th. Pigot, meanwhile, fought major handling issues all race long and languished six laps off the lead at race’s end, finishing in 18th.

The 2018 outing didn’t appear much easier, as the team tackled it with rookie driver Kyle Kaiser, with last year’s Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champ trying to make the “500” in his first attempt.

“Fast Friday” looked to be a bad omen, as they were 33rd on the no-tow speed charts at the end of the day.

But, Saturday qualifying saw a drastic turn in fortunes, and to the positive side. Kaiser qualified with a four-lap average of 225.934 moh, good enough for 21st at the day’s end, and putting them well clear of any bumping drama.

His Sunday run of 226.398 mph exceeded expectations even further, and he will start Sunday’s race in 17th.

Kyle Kaiser during Indy 500 qualifying. Photo: IndyCar

“What an amazing day. I am in shock right now that we are going to be starting 17th for the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500,” an elated Kaiser exclaimed after Sunday. “It was a stellar performance by the team. They gave me a super quick car for qualifying. The conditions were very challenging as the wind picked up and it got really hot, but we made it through and put in the best lap in these conditions. I am so proud of the entire Juncos Racing crew and I am thrilled to represent NFP in the race next weekend.”

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