IndyCar

Will Power impressed with Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL

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While visiting Charlotte Motor Speedway on Wednesday during the Parade of Power tour, Team Penske’s Will Power got a chance to sample the newly configured “roval,” the road course built within Charlotte that incorporates a mix of an infield road course with parts of the 1.5-mile oval.

Power, who was at Charlotte with his Team Penske Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series counterpart Ryan Blaney, along with NHRA Pro Stock racer Greg Anderson, explained afterward that the circuit left a good impression on him.

“I haven’t gotten to do a whole lap, but I’ve seen the two chicanes and the turn that goes into the infield. It looks pretty nice,” Power detailed. “I know the old track (the oval), I’ve driven around the old track. I don’t know how much it’s changed, but (the roval) looks like it’ll be a lot of fun.”

Power got a chance to sample the circuit in a ride-along with Blaney, who drove Power around in a two-seat version of his No. 12 Penske Racing Ford.

Power also revealed that, per a conversation he had with Blaney, the circuit could pose a unique challenge and produce some very intense racing.

“Blaney says it was quite difficult to get his head around (the track), but he says it’s going to be solid racing (on it) – a lot of moving people out of the way and that type of thing. He seems to think the fans will like it.”

The Verizon IndyCar Series has previously raced at Charlotte Motor Speedway, between 1997 and 1999. And Power, who lives in North Carolina, would welcome the idea of the track returning to the schedule.

“That would be a total home race for me. I’d love to see that, that would be awesome. But, I have no clue if that would ever happen,” Power revealed.

A hypothetical return to Charlotte would follow a recent trend of IndyCar returning to venues it hasn’t visited in recent years. IndyCar heads to Portland International Raceway on Labor Day Weekend (September 2, on NBCSN), a circuit that hasn’t held an IndyCar race since the old Champ Car World Series raced there in 2007, their final season prior to unification.

And the series is also slated to return to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in 2019 after an absence that dates back to 2004 – Champ Car’s final race at the circuit came in that season, with Patrick Carpentier taking the win.

The return of such venues, stalwarts on the open wheel calendar through the 1990s and into the 2000s, is nothing short of positive in Power’s mind.

“You think about how big the crowds were when CART was going to Portland and Laguna Seca – there is a good fan base there, and those tracks have good history and they’re great tracks to drive on. So, I’m really excited about the additions to the schedule,” he added.

The next Verizon IndyCar Series event is the ABC Supply 500 from Pocono Raceway (August 19, on NBCSN), while the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series tackles the Charlotte “roval” on September 30 for the Bank of America Roval 400.

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Hunter McElrea wins Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 Scholarship

IndyCar.com
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Hunter McElrea bested 18 competitors to win the third annual Road to Indy USF2000 $200,000 Scholarship Shootout on Sunday at Bondurant Racing School in Chandler, Ariz.

The two-day contest featured on-track competition in Formula Mazda cars as well as interview sessions and assessment from a panel of judges.

“I can’t believe it,” McElrea said at IndyCar.com. “This is definitely the most exciting opportunity that I have had in my racing career. I cannot thank Mazda and everyone enough for making this possible for me. The fact that I am going to be on the grid next year thanks to them is a dream come true.

“They have given me the opportunity to prove myself in such a high level that I never even thought I would be able to reach. I have to thank Andersen Promotions, Cooper tires, all of the judges, everyone from Mazda, the Bondurant Racing School and the other competitors, who literally pushed me to the limit.

“I am just so happy. It is still sinking in, but I just can’t wait to get next year started, and I’ll be representing Mazda in that nice Soul Red USF2000 car.”

MORE: Michael Carter wins Mazda Road to 24 shootout

The 19-year-old McElrea was born in California, but reared in Australia.

As a result of winning the award, McElrea will compete in the 2019 season of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, the first rung of the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder.

McElrea won the Australian Formula Ford Championship this year on the strength of 13 victories in 21 races.

Early competition resulted in a final field of six drivers that included Jake Craig, Michael Eastwell, Braden Eves, Flinn Lazier and Ross Martin. They competed in a qualification session and 30-minute simulated race. McElrea won that race.

“Today was an incredible day,” said Tom Long, Mazda Motorsports factory driver and one of the judges. “There was so much talent here for the shootout. Hunter McElrea just rose to the top when it was time to shine, but our decision was very, very difficult.

“In the end, given all of the circumstances, we were able to make a pretty good decision and we are really, really proud of not only Hunter but our whole team here with Mazda to be able to grant this $200,000 scholarship for his opportunity in USF2000 next year.”