After a partial Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season that began at Road America with Newman Wachs Racing, Darren Keane will step up to a full-time role next year with the team. It marks the official kickoff to the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires driver signings for the 2018 season.
Keane still ended 11th in points despite missing three of the 14 races. He raced nine of his 11 starts with Newman Wachs after debuting with Team BENIK at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
“We had the pleasure of running Darren last year in his rookie season and we’re thrilled to have him back with us for 2018,” offered Brian Halahan, NWR Team Manager.
“I’m stoked with the speed he showed at the Chris Griffis test at Indianapolis and I’m extremely impressive with his development. He’s matured so much over the last few months and I’m pleased that we’ll be able to continue on the path that we started on last year. I’m very exciting for next season.”
The karting graduate has excelled mightily under the coaching tutelage of Ozz Negri.
“I’m really happy to be signing with NWR,” Keane said. “They’re a great group of guys and we have improved so much as a team over the last season. I’m really pleased to have a plan put together this early, because it gives us all the time we need to prepare for a championship next season. I think we’re going to have a great year and I’m looking forward to coming back to USF2000. Last year’s purpose was to learn as much as I could, and now I’m ready to use that knowledge to get results this season.”
The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.
IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.
This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.
“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.
“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”
It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.