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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IndyCar’s Vasser-Sullivan expand into IMSA for 2019

James Sullivan and Jimmy Vasser. Photo IndyCar
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Not even one year after returning to the IndyCar ranks, Vasser-Sullivan Racing is taking AIM at the IMSA world, you might say.

While team co-owners Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan will continue to partner with Dale Coyne Racing on the IndyCar side, they expanded their holdings Tuesday, announcing a partnership with AIM Autosport to campaign a new two-car Lexus-backed RC F GT3 effort in IMSA’s GT Daytona class.

The new team – named AIM Vasser-Sullivan – will replace 3GT Racing, which was part of Lexus’ sports car program launch in 2016. It will announce its two drivers in the coming weeks, the team said.

“Sulli and I are excited and looking forward to entering a new chapter in our racing careers,” Vasser said in a media release. “I have driven sports cars before, but my career was pretty much limited to the 24 Hours of Daytona, including a ‘class’ win in 1992 and second overall in 2008.

“The AIM Vasser Sullivan team, with the support of Lexus and our sponsors, has the tools to get the job done and we are looking forward to this new challenge.”

Lexus has made significant progress in its first two seasons in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition, having earned a combined two race wins, five poles and finished third in the 2018 GTD Manufacturer point standings.

Vasser and Sullivan were part of the ownership group of KVSH Racing in IndyCar from 2011 through 2016 before the organization folded.

They also owned Tony Kanaan’s 2013 Indianapolis 500-winning car.

After sitting out the 2017 season, Vasser, a former CART champion, and Sullivan rejoined forces this past February, just before the start of the 2018 IndyCar season, partnering with Coyne to form a satellite team led by driver Sebastien Bourdais, who previously drove for KVSH.

Bourdais kicked off the new team’s effort with a win in the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. He finished seventh in the overall season standings.

AIM Vasser Sullivan will have two home bases for its IMSA program: AIM’s current facility in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada, as well as a new U.S. shop in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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