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2019 Corvette ZR-1 — Chevy’s fastest ever — named pace car for this year’s Indianapolis 500

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For more than 100 years, the Indianapolis 500 has been the epitome of the word “fast.”

So it goes to reason that the car that will pace this year’s Greatest Spectacle In Racing will be, well … fast, fast and fast.

Oh, and did we mention fast?

Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced today that the 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, one of the fastest production cars made, will pace the 2018 Indy 500.

How fast is it, you ask?

The ZR1 accelerates from 0-60 mph in 2.85 seconds and reaches a top speed of 212 mph, making it the fastest Corvette in history. That’s just 20 mph less than the qualifying speed for last year’s Indy 500 of 232.164 mph by Scott Dixon.

It marks the 15th Corvette since 1978 to pace the world’s biggest race, with the 102nd Running of the Indy 500 being held on May 27th. No other model of car has paced more editions of the 500.

It’s also the 29th time a Chevrolet has led the field, starting in 1948 when the Chevy Fleetmaster Six convertible.

“Chevrolet is proud to once again pace the Indianapolis 500,” said Steve Majoros, Chevrolet marketing director for Cars and Crossovers. “The ZR1 is the most powerful and fastest Corvette ever made. It’s the perfect choice to pace ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.'”

The 2019 Corvette ZR1 Pace Car features:

  • LT5 small block 6.2L supercharged V-8 engine with 755-hp and 715 lb.-ft. of torque
  • 8-speed 8L90 paddle-shift automatic transmission
  • ZTK Performance Package, which features a stanchion-mounted adjustable carbon-fiber high rear wing, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires and performance suspension
  • Magnetic Selective Ride Control.
  • Brembo Carbon Ceramic brake system
  • ZR1 chrome-aluminum wheels: 19-inch front and 20-inch rear
  • Standard Performance Traction Management and Electronic Limited-Slip Differential
  • Unique Indy 500 graphics package
  • GM Design fully-integrated safety strobe system
  • Performance Data and Video Recorder

At Thursday’s announcement, all 15 Corvettes that have paced or will pace the famous race were on display.

“Chevrolet and IMS enjoy one of the longest-running and strongest bonds in motorsports,” IMS president J. Douglas Boles said. “Seeing all of the incredible Corvettes that have paced the Indianapolis 500 on track today is an exciting reminder of the rich history of this great relationship.

“This year’s Pace Car, the 2019 Corvette ZR1, is an incredible, fast machine that is a perfect fit to lead the ‘500’ field to the green flag.”

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Coyne transitioning from underdog to Indy 500 threat

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For most of the team’s existence, Dale Coyne Racing has been the Chicago Cubs of American Open Wheel Racing – a team whose history was more defined by failures, at times comically so, than success.

The last decade, however, has seen the tide completely change. In 2007, they scored three podium finishes with Bruno Junqueira. In 2009, they won at Watkins Glen with the late Justin Wilson.

The combination won again at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, and finished sixth in the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. That same year, Mike Conway took a shock win for them in Race 1 at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.

Carlos Huertas scored an upset win for them in Race 1 at the Houston double-header in 2014, and while 2015 and 2016 yielded no wins, Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly gave them several strong runs – Vautier’s best finish was fourth in Race 2 at Detroit, while Daly finished second in Race 1 at Detroit, finished fourth at Watkins Glen, and scored a trio of sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Race 2 at Detroit, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

And 2017 was set to possibly be the best year the team has ever had. Sebastien Bourdais gave the team a popular win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and then rookie Ed Jones scored back-to-back top tens – 10th and sixth – at St. Pete and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to start his career.

But, things started unraveling at the Indianapolis 500. Bourdais appeared set to be in the Fast Nine Pole Shootout during his first qualifying run – both of his first two laps were above 231 mph –  before his horrifying crash in Turn 2.

While Jones qualified an impressive 11th and finished an even more impressive third, results for the rest of the season became hard to come by – Jones only scored two more Top 10s, with a best result of seventh at Road America.

But, retooled for 2018, the Coyne team is a legitimate threat at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Bourdais, whose No. 18 Honda features new sponsorship from SealMaster and now ownership partners in Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan, has a win already, again at St. Pete, and sits third in the championship.

And Bourdais may also be Honda’s best hope, given that he was the fastest Honda in qualifying – he’ll start fifth behind Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden.

“I think it speaks volumes about their work, their passion and their dedication to this program, Dale (Coyne), Jimmy (Vasser) and Sulli (James Sullivan) and everybody from top to bottom. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity, for the support,” Bourdais said of the team’s effort.

Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo has been progressing nicely, and his Month of May has been very solid – he finished 12th at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course and qualified a strong 13th for the “500.”

“It’s been surreal to be here as rookie. I’m a bit at a loss for words,” Claman De Melo revealed after qualifying. “The fans, driving around this place, being with the team, everything is amazing. I have a great engineer, a great group of experienced mechanics at Dale Coyne Racing.”

While Conor Daly and Pippa Mann struggled in one-off entries, with Mann getting bumped out of the field in Saturday qualifying, Daly’s entry essentially puts three Coyne cars in the race – Daly’s No. 17 United States Air Force Honda is a Dale Coyne car that has been leased to Thom Burns Racing.

Rest assured, the days of Coyne being an “also ran” are long gone, and a Coyne car ending up in Victory Lane at the biggest race of the year would complete the Chicago Cubs analogy – the Cubs won a World Series title in 2016, and an Indy 500 triumph would be the crowning achievement in Coyne’s career.

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