Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

MRTI: INDYCAR, Andersen Promotions reveal five-year plan for Indy Lights

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IndyCar Media Release

INDIANAPOLIS (Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2018) – The future of Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires has been strengthened by a five-year plan released today by INDYCAR and Andersen Promotions.

The objective of the plan shown to current and prospective entrants is to increase team and driver participation in the top level of the INDYCAR-sanctioned Mazda Road to Indy development ladder, identify cost efficiencies for competitors and establish guidelines for advancing to the Verizon IndyCar Series.

The road map resembling the one in use for the Verizon IndyCar Series has a structure of four primary areas:

  • A reduction in budgets for entrants;
  • An increase in prize money paid to competitors;
  • Revised INDYCAR driver licensing guidelines;
  • Expansion of the Verizon IndyCar Series testing program.

Highlights of the cost savings plan include a reduction in new chassis pricing, a spare parts discount to new teams, a discount on Cooper tires and a reduction in engine lease pricing.

The increase in race prize money includes $50,000 to win the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in addition to an increase in payout for the top three finishers at every event. The season champion’s prize will be increased to $1.1 million built on a three-race Verizon IndyCar Series package for the following season that includes the Indianapolis 500.

Indy Lights remains the integral path to the Verizon IndyCar Series. Drivers may apply for a Verizon IndyCar Series license by meeting one of several new criteria, including a top-three finish in the Indy Lights season championship. Drivers who complete two full Indy Lights seasons can earn the license by finishing in the top five of the standings.

The introduction of an Indy Lights team incentive program will be designed to encourage Verizon IndyCar Series teams to participate. With suppliers participating, new Indy Lights entries can save more than $100,000.

New teams for the 2019 season will see significant savings on off-season testing, including free entry to a two-day test at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, new Motegi Racing wheels at no charge and six free sets of Cooper tires.

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Will Power, Roger Penske collect Indy 500 trophies

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
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DETROIT (AP) Last year, Will Power finally broke through and won the Indianapolis 500, so he can cross that accomplishment off the list.

Now 37, Power is reaching an age when it’s fair to wonder how much longer he’ll keep at it.

“I’m really enjoying my racing. I’ve never been so motivated. I’m fitter than I’ve ever been, mentally on the game,” Power said. “I think once you get to this part of your career, you realize that you’re not going to be doing this forever. So you’ve got to enjoy it and you’ve got to go for it when you’ve got it, because, you know, probably only another five years at maximum, and you’re retired.”

Whenever Power’s career does wind down, his 2018 Indy 500 win will remain a moment to remember. He was in Detroit on Wednesday night with team owner Roger Penske for a ceremony in which they received their “Baby Borg” trophies for winning last year’s race. The Baby Borgs are replicas of the Borg-Warner Trophy that honors the Indy 500 winner.

Power finished second at Indy in 2015, and his victory last year made him the race’s first Australian winner. It was Penske’s 17th Indy 500 win as an owner, part of a banner year for him. Penske also won a NASCAR Cup title with driver Joey Logano.

“When you think about 2018, we had 32 race wins, 35 poles. I think we led almost 5,400 laps, with all the series,” Penske said.

On Wednesday, Penske collected another significant trophy, and he’ll be celebrated again in a couple weeks. He’s being inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Feb. 1.

“It’s amazing that a guy from the north can get into the Hall of Fame in the south,” Penske joked. “No, it’s special. … NASCAR has helped us build our brand over the years, certainly, with the reputation it has, and the notoriety we get, being a NASCAR team owner.”

Penske’s most recent Indy 500 title came courtesy of Power, who long preferred road courses to ovals but certainly looked comfortable at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year.

“The 500 was one record that he didn’t have, and I think you saw the excitement he and his wife, and the whole team, when he was able to win the race,” Penske said. “He’s probably the best qualifier we’ve ever had, as a road racer, and no question his expertise. He didn’t like ovals to start with, but I think today, he loves racing on ovals.”

Power seems content with all aspects of his racing life at the moment. The aftermath of an Indy 500 victory can be a whirlwind, and it would be understandable for a driver to be weary of it eight months later, but for Power, it’s a new experience.

“I’ve been looking forward to this event for a few months now, to actually get the Baby Borg. You have the face on it – I didn’t realize that, you actually get your own face on it,” Power said. “It makes you realize the significance of the event, when you think about all the things that come with winning the 500.”

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Follow Noah Trister at http://www.Twitter.com/noahtrister