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Robert Wickens named Indy 500 Rookie of the Year

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Robert Wickens helped end a disappointing month for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports on a high note, finishing ninth to claim Rookie of the Year honors.

Starting 18th, Wickens steadily worked his way forward, getting near the top 10 in the opening 50 laps. However, a mix of pit strategies jumbled the running order midrace, causing Wickens to lose much of his track position.

And with overtaking proving to be very difficult, getting back up front was always going to be a tough task.

Regardless, the 29-year-old, along with the No. Lucas Oil SPM Honda team, took advantage of a late caution for Tony Kanaan’s Turn 2 crash to pit for fresh tire. The stop dropped them to 19th, but Wickens was able to charge back up into the top 10 by the checkered flag, eventually ending up ninth.

“In some ways I was hoping for more. In other ways it surpassed everything I ever could have imagined. It was one hell of a race. It was an emotional rollercoaster,” Wickens said of the initial Indy 500 experience.

Wickens explained further that a miscue on pit strategy, specifically pitting under a caution when many others did not, hampered their efforts significantly, and that a top five may have beckoned in the right circumstances.

“Unfortunately on one of the earlier yellows we came into the pits thinking everybody was going to do the same. Turned out we were one of the only ones that did it. Put us on an alternate strategy. We lost track position. Today track position seemed like it was everything,” he lamented.

Still, though disappointed not to finish higher, Wickens’ ninth-place proved to be a solid end to an otherwise trying month, and not only because teammate James Hinchcliffe failed to qualify – Wickens himself pounded the back straightaway wall on Monday practice after qualifying, which made pre-race prep all the more difficult.

“We had a little fumble on Monday when we hit the wall (on Monday practice). We made our lives a little bit difficult on Carb Day, into the race today not knowing exactly where our car was going to be. I thought we had a top five car all day. We were just stuck in the midfield for most of it, we just couldn’t make inroads forward,” Wickens finished.

Claiming top rookie honors continues a stellar rookie season for Wickens, who now sits seventh in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship standings, eight points behind Ryan Hunter-Reay for fifth.

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Keating stripped of Le Mans GTE-Am win; No. 68 Ganassi entry also disqualified

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FIA stewards announced Monday that two Ford GT entries have been disqualified from this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, including the GTE-Am class-winning No. 85 entry from privateer Keating Motorsports.

Also DQ’d was the factory No. 68 Chip Ganassi Racing entry of Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais, which initially finished fourth in the GTE-Pro class.

Both entries were found in violation of fuel capacity regulations, with the No. 85 entry also failing to meet the minimum refueling time during pit stops.

The refueling system on the No. 85 entry, driven by Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga, measured a time of 44.4 seconds during a stop, just shy of the minimum required time of 45 seconds.

As a result, the team was initially issued a 55.2-second post-race penalty by officials, which elevated the No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR of Joerg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey, and Egidio Perfetti to the class win.

The time penalty was calculated by the difference in the refueling time (0.6 seconds) multiplied by the amount of pit stops made by the team (23), then multiplied by four.

The No. 85 entry was set to finish second in class, but then received an outright DQ after its fuel capacity was also revealed to be 0.1 liters above the maximum permitted capacity of 96 liters.

As for Ganassi’s No. 68 entry, it was found to have a fuel capacity of 97.83 liters, which is above the maximum allowed capacity of 97 liters for the GTE-Pro Fords.

The No. 67 Ford of Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell, and Jonathan Bomarito subsequently moves up to fourth, and the No. 69 Ford of Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook moves up to fifth.

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