Oriol Servia named to third Arrow Schmidt Peterson entry for Indy 500

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INDIANAPOLIS – With 36 cars entered in the 103rd Indianapolis 500, it was just a matter of time before Spain’s Oriol Servia was named to the third Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports entry.

The deal was finally announced late Monday afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where his No. 77 Dallara-Honda was unveiled.

Servia became the latest, and probably final, driver “officially” named to the Indianapolis 500 entry field.

The Spaniard has raced in IndyCar for more than 15 years with 10 Indianapolis 500 starts, including a best start of third in 2011 and a best finish of fourth in ’12. Last year, he started 26th and finished 17th for Scuderia Corsa with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

“I work and prepare all year for this race, so it’s kind of ironic that we are actually announcing a program this late,” said Servia, the 1999 Indy Lights champion. “I am proud to represent Lucas Oil again, and couldn’t be more excited to introduce the world to MotoGator and Team Stange, which you will hear a lot more very soon. At last year’s 500, I did perhaps the best driving I’ve ever done and came really close. I’m here to finish that job, and I know for a fact that everyone on this program has worked really hard preparing this event with the same aim. It may look like we are arriving almost late to the game, but we are arriving ready.”

Chicago-based Team Stange Racing, LLC (TSR) announced a partnership with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports to field the car.

“I am so pleased to announce this great partnership with Arrow SPM today as Team Stange Racing makes its entry into IndyCar racing,” said John Stange, Jr., co-owner, Team Stange Racing, LLC. “We are so blessed to partner with a company like MotoGator who is committed to building a winning IndyCar program with TSR. Once we developed our plan, we knew that we wanted to launch at the world’s greatest race with so much history and it being so special to me personally. The second thing to do was to partner with a quality team that we could align and grow with as we build our team to compete in the NTT IndyCar Series eventually full time in 2021/2022”.

Said Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports president Jon Flack: “We couldn’t be more excited about adding a pilot of Oriol’s caliber to our driver lineup for the Indy 500, and it is equally satisfying to partner with TSR and welcome MotoGator to the program. This is a really big step for Team Stange Racing and MotoGator, and Arrow SPM will give it everything it has to make them proud and leave a lasting impression on the motorsport community.”

Opening Day of practice for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 is Tuesday. All seven hours will be available on the NBC Sports Gold INDYCAR Pass.

NBC, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold’s “INDYCAR Pass” will combine to provide 13 hours of Indy 500 qualifying coverage, beginning Saturday, May 18, exclusively for “INDYCAR Pass” subscribers from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET before shifting to NBCSN at 5 p.m. ET. The final qualifying sessions, which will determine the pole position and the final row in the field of 33, airs Sunday, May 19, from 12-3 p.m. ET on NBC.

NBC Sports Gold is NBC Sports’ direct-to-consumer live streaming subscription service and will live stream 60 hours of INDYCAR content this month. A special $15 discount is now being offered, reducing the season-long subscription price to $39.99.

Practice coverage for this year’s Indy 500 begins with a seven-hour session on Tuesday, May 14 on “INDYCAR Pass.” In all, “INDYCAR Pass” will exclusively live stream 29.5 hours of Indy 500 practice coverage between May 14-18. NBCSN will also provide coverage of some practice sessions.

NBCSN and “INDYCAR Pass” will also combine to provide coverage of Indy 500 Carb Day, the IPL 500 Festival Parade, and the Indy 500 Victory Banquet.

The 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge will be the first on NBC. Coverage begins on Sunday, May 26, with eight hours of programming: a pre-race show on NBCSN at 9 a.m. ET; race coverage at 11 a.m. ET on NBC; and a postrace show at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Ben Hanley relieved to make Indy 500 debut

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Qualifying for the Indy 500 is never an easy task, especially for a new driver and team, and with 36 cars vying for 33 starting positions last weekend, 34-year-old rookie Ben Hanley knew there was a chance he and his DragonSpeed team would not make the show.

“I wouldn’t say we were very confident, but we wanted to [make the field],” Hanley told NBC Sports. “The biggest thing we were trying to achieve was to not be on track on Sunday in the shootout because it only takes one mistake or one little issue and that’s it, you’re not in the race.”

But Hanley would not have to worry about being bumped from the field. He qualified 27th after making three attempts on Day 1, which was enough to lock the No. 81 team into the show. Not too shabby for a driver and team making only their third NTT IndyCar Series start.

THE 103RD INDIANAPOLIS 500: Click here for how to watch, full daily schedules

“That last run everything just came together,” Hanley said. “We trimmed out a little bit more and found a good balance of trim and grip over four [qualifying] laps and it was enough to get us through.

“It was a huge relief to get through in P27. A massive achievement for everybody involved.”

Indeed it was a massive achievement, as DragonSpeed is one of the smallest teams in the garage, with no corporate sponsors and a tiny team of around 20 personnel. Many of those were picked up by the team just a week before qualifying, when members of the team’s regular crew were denied entry into the United States due to visa issues after leaving a sports car race in Italy.

“It was all down to the team organizing some people who were in and around Indianapolis who weren’t needed for the race weekend,” Hanley said. “Obviously, I don’t think many people are going to refuse the chance to work on a car that’s trying to qualify for the 500.”

Though the team made its first Indy 500 on Day 1 of qualifying, the DragonSpeed team did not spend Saturday night out late celebrating. Instead, Hanley said the extra time was spent preparing for the race.

“We went straight on to race prep then for the car, so Sunday was a good day for the guys to take time to prep the car into the race spec and get everything sorted out in a nice, organized manner.”

Following the Indy 500, DragonSpeed will run two other races this season at Road America and Mid-Ohio. The team is hopeful that a good run at Indy will result in an opportunity to run a bigger schedule next season and attract sponsors.

Hanley stated that though he’s happy to have made the Indy 500 starting grid for the first time in his career, the magnitude of his feat hasn’t hit him yet.

“It hasn’t really soaked in yet,” he said. “I think it will soak in on Sunday when we roll out to the grid.

“It was such a huge relief to not be involved in Bump Day. Even just watching [Bump Day] it was intense, especially with the weather. I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to be involved in that.”

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