IndianapolisMotorSpeedway_com

USAC Midget race will kickoff Brickyard 400 once more

Leave a comment

After a successful debut in 2018, the Driven2SaveLives BC39 USAC Midget race will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) in 2019.

The 39-lap race is held in honor of three-time USAC Midget and two-time USAC Sprint Car champion Bryan Clauson who lost his life in August 2016 following an accident at Belleville (KS) High-Banks Speedway.

Clauson made three starts in the Indy 500, finishing 30th in 2012, 31st in 2015 and 23rd in 2016.

Scheduled for September 4-5 as the opening event of the Brickyard 400 weekend, the Midget race will kick off five nights of racing.

Last year, Zeb Wise won the opening night’s Stoops Pursuit race with Brady Bacon taking the A-Main on Night 2.

Last year’s race featured 118 cars on the entry list. Representing IndyCar, Conor Daly finished 12th in his qualification race and failed to advance to the A Main.

“The Driven2SaveLives BC39 … was a spectacular event for everyone involved, putting talented short track racers and teams from across America into a richly deserved spotlight,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said in a press release. “There were memories made for a lifetime both nights, and everyone at IMS is so happy to see this event return in 2019 as part of Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard weekend.

“We’re especially grateful that the BC39 raised so much awareness for the Driven2SaveLives campaign and honored the memory of Bryan Clauson, an extraordinary race driver who was an even better person.”

Clauson was a registered donor and following his accident, his organs helped save the life of five individuals.

“Right now, more than 115,000 men, women and children wait for a life-saving organ transplant,” said Kellie Hanner, Indiana Donor Network president and chief executive officer. “Each day, 22 patients die because the organ they needed did not become available in time. Our Driven2SaveLives campaign raises awareness around those who wait and honors donor heroes like Bryan Clauson who saved lives. All of us at Indiana Donor Network are proud to be a part of the BC39 again.”

The Driven2SaveLives BC39 inaugurated the Dirt Track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and started a new chapter in the relationship between the track and USAC. From 1956 through 1997, USAC was the sanctioning body for the Indy 500.

“We were so pleased to see the longtime relationship between the United States Auto Club and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway enter a new era through the inaugural Driven2SaveLives BC39 … last September,” USAC President and CEO Kevin Miller said. “Both nights of racing were among the high points of our season this year, with great action at the new venue generating incredibly positive response from teams, drivers, fans and media.

“We can’t wait to see who will master The Dirt Track next September, and we appreciate the continued partnership with IMS, Driven2SaveLives and NOS to support the legacy of Bryan Clauson.”

Ticket reorders and new applications are being accepted through January 4, 2019 at IMS.com and through the IMS Ticket Office.

Newgarden tries to regain control of IndyCar championship race at Iowa

Leave a comment

NEWTON, Iowa – There are just six races left in the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series championship and Team Penske driver Josef Newgarden has a hard-charging Alexander Rossi closing in on his gearbox. Newgarden’s lead is down to just three points after last Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto.

Newgarden has been the leader in the standings after every race this season, with the exception of the 103rdIndianapolis 500, when he trailed Team Penske teammate and Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden by one point.

Is Newgarden worried entering Saturday night’s Iowa 300 at Iowa Speedway?

“I’m confident we have good cars,” Newgarden told NBC Sports.com. “You can have bad weekends here and there. I think we can have a good result the rest of the year. But there are a lot of guys still in it. Rossi is the guy who is the closest, but you can’t count out Simon Pagenaud, Scott Dixon or Will Power. It’s going to be a fight until the end for this championship.

“We briefly lost the points lead after the Indy 500. Simon and I were one point apart. We’ve had better consistency this year. That is what is going to pay off at the end. We’ve been consistent up to this point and we have to continue it to the end.

“Look at all of these championship runs, most of the times it goes to the most consistent driver. You have to have clean finishes for every run. If you don’t, it’s pretty tough to make up the deficit.”

Newgarden has had a remarkably consistent season with three wins, six podiums (top three) and nine top-five finishes in 11 races.

Rossi has nearly matched him with two wins, six podiums and nine top-five finishes in 11 races.

These two drivers are nearly in a dead heat, so as the championship leader, can Newgarden force his fiercest foes into making mistakes?

“I’m a little bit boring,” Newgarden said. “I do the same thing every time. It puts more pressure on guys like Scott Dixon, who has to win races to catch up. They are going to be more aggressive. Our program is boring and that is trying to maximize each race individually. That is what we have to do.

“I don’t know if it is that different than being in a fight with Will Power or Simon Pagenaud or Scott Dixon. They have different tendencies. Alex is the more aggressive of those other drivers. It’s fun going up against all of them. Alex is really good. He has a certain style you have to play against. If it was Scott, it would be just as exciting, but it would be a different game.

“Alex brings a more aggressive side to the conversation.”

That aggressive fight continues to the .875-mile short oval at Iowa Speedway, site of Saturday night’s Iowa 300.

It’s one of Newgarden’s better tracks. He set an IndyCar Series record for leading the most laps in a single race when he was in front for 282 laps in his 2016 Iowa win with Ed Carpenter Racing. That was preceded by two straight second place finishes at Iowa in 2014 and 2014.

Since joining Team Penske in 2017, Newgarden finished sixth that season and fourth in 2018 in a race where he led 211 laps.

“We were pretty good there last year,” Newgarden admitted. “We qualified well, but we were a little shy of what we needed last year. The race didn’t pan out the way we needed it to. Our strategy wasn’t perfect there. But those are things we can clean up. We have a really capable group. I think we’ll have a good car there, again. I feel good about it. We’ve had good cars there in the past, we were just a tick off. I think we will be better there this year.

“We should be fine.”

Short oval racing is a unique form that adds diversity to the schedule as drivers have to get on an off the accelerator and on and off the brake, all while dealing with traffic throughout the 300-lap contest.

It’s that type of close quarter racing that real racers love.

“Iowa, for sure is a racer’s track,” Newgarden said. “It’s very bumpy, with a lot of character. It’s one of my favorite short ovals that we go to. I love that place. A lot of the tracks we go to are racer’s race tracks. There aren’t a lot of bad ones of the schedule. There are tracks with diverse challenges and you like that. Going from Toronto to Iowa to Mid-Ohio, they are all different tracks that require different setups, different driving styles.

“It’s like the championship is a driver’s championship. That is what it demands.”

An NTT IndyCar Series race at Iowa Speedway is a special experience because it’s played out in front of grass-roots racing fans. These are the fans that following auto racing on a regular basis, many of which are regulars for sprint car racing down the road at Knoxville Speedway in Knoxville, Iowa.

“They are all different race fans,” Newgarden said. “Toronto has a bustling city vibe. Iowa is a bunch of farmers. Really nice people who are salt of the earth farmers who come out and enjoy racing. Mid-Ohio is a hybrid. It’s very much a Midwest race but different from Iowa.

“You get these different pockets of different fans, different people, different racers but they all like IndyCar racing and that’s pretty cool.”