After thrilling Indy 500, it’s off to Detroit for doubleheader

INDYCAR Photo by Walt Kuhn
INDYCAR Photo by Walter Kuhn
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MOORESVILLE, North Carolina – Since winning a spectacular 103rdIndianapolis 500, Simon Pagenaud of Team Penske has had a busy week that included Monday night’s Victory Awards Celebration in Indianapolis and a trip to New York on Tuesday for a full day of media appearances.

That schedule may be light compared to what the teams have had to do.

It’s another grueling week for Team Penske and the other teams that compete regularly in the NTT IndyCar Series. After three full weeks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that began with practice and qualifications for the INDYCAR Grand Prix on May 10 and the race on May 11, followed by a full week of practice and qualifications for the 103rdIndianapolis 500.

Race week was last week culminating with Pagenaud’s thrilling battle with Alexander Rossi in the final 13 laps of the 103rdIndy 500 on Sunday, May 26.

All but three of the full-time teams in the NTT IndyCar Series are based in Indianapolis. Carlin is based in Boca Raton, Florida, Dale Coyne Racing is in Plainfield, Illinois and Team Penske is in Mooresville, North Carolina.

Pagenaud’s winning crew on the No. 22 Menards Chevrolet were honored at Monday night’s Victory Awards Celebration at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis. Afterwards, they boarded the team’s charter jet, known as “Air Penske” and flew to Statesville Airport in nearby Statesville, North Carolina, arriving very late Monday night.

From there, it was back to work at the race shop in Mooresville early Tuesday morning to continue preparations on the car that will race on Detroit’s Belle Isle street course in this weekend’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.

It’s not just one race this weekend, it’s a doubleheader with full races on both Saturday and Sunday.

Following that event, it’s a short week because the teams turn over their street course setup for oval configuration and head to Texas Motor Speedway for a Saturday night race on June 8 at Texas Motor Speedway in the DXC Technology 600.

That means no rest for the weary warriors of IndyCar.

For Team Penske chief mechanic Trevor Lacasse, it’s his second Indy 500 win as a crewmember, but it’s his first in the lead role on the crew of the No. 22 Chevrolet. He was part of the winning crew when Juan Pablo Montoya won the 99thIndianapolis 500 in 2015.

Now, it’s off to Detroit.

“We’re going to try to get Roger Penske some more wins at his race this weekend in Detroit,” Lacasse told NBC Sports.com. “We flew home after the Victory Banquet Monday night, worked all day Tuesday to get the cars ready for Detroit, had a bit of a rest on Wednesday, then we leave for Detroit on Thursday to start setting up for Friday’s practice.”

Because Pagenaud’s No. 22 Dallara/Chevrolet won the 103rdIndianapolis 500, it is now taken out of the rotation. Team owner Roger Penske always puts the winning Indy 500 car aside, where it will be refurbished and become a “museum piece.”

Penske has 18 “museum pieces” for his 18 Indianapolis 500 victory, far and away more than any other team.

“The good news is we get to retire a car, but the bad thing is we have lost a car in the rotation,” Kyle Moyer, Team Penske General Manager, IndyCar, told NBC Sports.com. “We’ll have to move Helio Castroneves’ car into the rotation for Simon to get ready for Texas.”

The car that is being retired was one of Pagenaud’s cars from his 2016 season. It was put into the rotation in 2013 and was number 042.

“It’s been around for a while and has won a lot of races,” Moyer said.

For the rest of the cars in the Indy 500 in the Team Penske stable, the equipment beat the team back to the shop in Mooresville, North Carolina.

“All of Team Penske’s cars besides Simon’s went back to North Carolina on Sunday night after the race,” Lacasse explained. “We got some help from our Sports Car guys and the rest of the crew to get the cars turned around for Detroit.

“That’s the great thing about this team, everybody pitches in and helps each other. On Sunday, we might show up with a different shirt on, but it’s all one team. We have three cars identically built and it’s a team effort.”

The cars and parts left Indianapolis for Mooresville, North Carolina Sunday night. On Monday, the computers and office equipment in the Gasoline Alley garages – Team Penske’s home away from home the past three weeks – were loaded up and carted off.

“We have a group of guys that flew home Monday morning to help get things turned around, while the rest of us got to stay for the banquet,” Lacasse said. “We flew home and were all at work bright and early Tuesday morning.

“We’re in business to win races. As Roger Penske said when we went out to ‘Kiss the Bricks,’ 18 wins in the Indy 500 is pretty good, but he has 20 wins circled in his book.

“Now that, would be pretty cool.”

Moyer is the general manager, IndyCar, at Team Penske. He told NBC Sports.com that the team’s street and road course cars for Detroit were actually prepared last week, to give them a head start on the back-to-back events on the same weekend.

“Having our Sports Car team come in on Memorial Day was a bonus for us because it helps out everybody there,” Moyer said. “Everything has to be loaded and off to Detroit.

“The big turnaround is after Detroit. Then, you have only two days to get ready for that one and you are flipping cars from street course to oval.”

How does an IndyCar team keep the crew fresh during such a demanding part of the schedule?

“The good thing is everybody knows the situation,” Moyer said. “We had Wednesday off and that was really good for the guys. Detroit is two races that go by quickly, then it’s off to Texas.

“Then, we’ll have some time off. After Elkhart Lake, we get a two-week break and I can’t remember the last time we’ve had two weeks off in the season in IndyCar.”

For team owner Roger Penske, it was Indy 500 win No. 18. For Lacasse, it’s Indy 500 win No. 2. For Moyer, it was Indy 500 win No. 8 including one win with Galles Racing in 1992, one with Barry Green in 1995, Indy 500 wins in 2005, 2007 and 2014 with Andretti Autosport and Team Penske Indy 500 wins in 2015, 2018 and 2019.

“I still have two more fingers I can put a ring on,” Moyer said. “We’ll keep working on it.”

2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona: Schedule, TV info, start times, entry lists, notable drivers, more

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The new year brings the start of a new era for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which will open the 2023 schedule with the 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

A new premier class for prototypes is the overriding story entering the 24-hour endurance race that unofficially kicks off the major-league racing season.

The new Le Mans Daytona hybrid (LMDh) cars of the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) top category will re-establish a bridge to the 24 Hours of Le Mans while bringing a new layer of engine electrification to IMSA.

With at least a few of the cars on the grid at Daytona also slated to race at Le Mans in June, it’s possible for the first time in decades (since the “Ford vs. Ferrari” battles) to have the same car win the overall title at Daytona and Le Mans.

The GTP category will feature four manufacturers, two of which are new to IMSA’s premier division. Porsche Motorsport (with Team Penske) and BMW (with Rahal Letterman Lanigan) will be fielding LMDh prototypes, joining (now-defunct) DPi category holdovers Acura (Meyer Shank Racing, Wayne Taylor Racing) and Cadillac (Chip Ganassi Racing, Action Express Racing).

Here’s what else you need to know ahead of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener Jan. 29-30 at Daytona International Speedway:


NOTABLE DRIVER ADDITIONS 

The Rolex 24 will feature 10 active drivers from the NTT IndyCar Series, including the IMSA debuts of Team Penske drivers Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin, who will be teamed in an LMP2 entry (teammate Will Power unfortunately had to withdraw from this debut).

Colton Herta will move into the GTP category with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud return with Meyer Shank Racing to defend their overall 2022 Rolex 24 victory. Scott Dixon also returns in the premier category with Chip Ganassi Racing for his 20th Rolex 24 start and third consecutive in the No. 01 Cadillac.

Other IndyCar drivers in the field: Romain Grosjean will make his debut in GTD Pro with Iron Lynx Racing (as a precursor to driving a GTP Lamborghini next year); Devlin DeFrancesco (Rick Ware Racing) and Rinus VeeKay (TDS Racing) are in LMP2; and Kyle Kirkwood will return in GTD with Vasser Sullivan.

Daytona 500 winner Austin Cindric also will return, teaming with DeFrancesco in an LMP2 entry for Rick Ware Racing.


CAR COUNT

The Rolex 24 field was capped at 61 cars, matching last year’s field (which was the largest since 2014). The field was capped because of the space limitations for the LMDh cars of GTP in the pits and garages.

Click here for the official 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona entry list.


STARTING LINEUP

Tom Blomqvist captured the first pole position of the GTP era, qualifying defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing in first with the No. 60 ARX-06 Acura that he shares with Colin Braun, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud.

The No. 7 Porsche 963 of Porsche Penske Motorsports will start second.

Click here for the 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona starting lineup


RACE BROADCAST

The 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona will be streamed across the NBC Sports AppNBCSports.com and Peacock, which will have coverage of the event from flag to flag.

Broadcast coverage of the race coverage will begin Saturday, Jan. 28 at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBC and move to USA Network from 2:30-8 p.m. and then will be exclusively on Peacock and IMSA.TV from 8-10 p.m. Coverage will return to USA Network from 10 p.m. to midnight and then move to Peacock/IMSA.TV until 6 a.m.

From 6 a.m. until noon on Sunday, Jan. 29, Rolex 24 coverage will be available on USA Network. The conclusion of the Rolex 24 will run from noon through 2 p.m. on NBC.

HOW TO WATCH IMSA ON NBC SPORTS: Broadcast schedule for 2023

Other events that will be streamed on Peacock from Daytona during January (all times ET):

Jan. 21: IMSA VP Racing Sports Car Challenge, 2:05 p.m.

Jan. 22: IMSA VP Racing Sports Car Challenge, 12:20 p.m.

Jan. 22: IMSA Rolex 24 qualifying, 1:25 p.m.

Jan. 27: BMW Endurance Michelin Pilot Challenge, 1:45 p.m.


ROLEX 24 COVERAGE FROM NBC SPORTS

Wayne Taylor Racing takes a step up to the next level with Andretti Autosport

Austin Cindric seeks to join legendary club of Rolex 24-Daytona 500 winners

Helio Castroneves recalls “Days of Thunder” moment in 2022 Rolex 24 victory

The “Bus Bros” tackle the “Bus Stop” for Rolex 24 at Daytona debuts

Romain Grosjean adds Rolex 24 at Daytona to his crown jewel career

Tom Blomqvist beats the clock to win Rolex 24 at Daytona pole position

GTP cars make debut in “Gymkhana”-level traffic

Five things to watch in the new GTP class as a golden era of sports cars returns

Cadillac unveils paint schemes for LMDh cars

Austin Cindric, Devlin DeFrancesco, Pietro Fittipaldi teaming up in LMP2

IndyCar drivers in the 61st Rolex 24


ROLEX 24 DAILY SCHEDULE, START TIMES

Here’s a rundown of everything happening at Daytona International Speedway over the last two weeks in January, starting with the Roar test session. Rolex 24 start times and full schedule:

Wednesday, Jan. 18

7 a.m.: GTP garages open

4 p.m.: Non-GTP garages open

4 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship haulers load-in (park only)

6:30 p.m.: Non-GTP garages close

9:30 p.m.: GTP garages close

Thursday, Jan. 19

7 a.m.: Garages, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship haulers open

8:30 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship safety inspection

10 a.m.: Rolex 24 Media Day

2 p.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge driver and team manager briefing

3 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship driver and team manager briefing

5:15 p.m.: Track walk

7:30 p.m.: Non-GTP garages close

9:30 p.m.: GTP garages close

Friday, Jan. 20

7 a.m.: Garages open

8:45-9:15 a.m.: VP Racing SportsCar Challenge practice

9:30-10:45 a.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

1:45-2:15 p.m.: VP Racing SportsCar Challenge practice

2:30-4 p.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

4:15-6 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice (GTD/LMP3/LMP2 4:15-5:45; 4:30-6: GTD Pro, GTP)

8 p.m.: Non-GTP garages close

9:30 p.m.: GTP garages close

Saturday, Jan. 21

7 a.m.: Garages open

8:40-9:15 a.m.: VP Racing SportsCar Challenge qualifying

9:30-11 a.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

11:15 a.m.-12:45 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

2:05-2:50 p.m.: VP Racing SportsCar Challenge, Race 1 (streaming on Peacock)

3:10 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

4:30-5:30 p.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

6:30-8:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

10 p.m.: Garages close

Sunday, Jan. 22

7 a.m.: Garages open

10:15-11:15 a.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

12:20-1:05 p.m.: VP Racing SportsCar Challenge, Race 2 (streaming on Peacock)

1:25-3 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Rolex 24 qualifying (streaming on Peacock)

8:30 p.m.: Garages close

Wednesday, Jan. 25

6 a.m.: Garages open

7:30-10 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship safety inspection, non-GTP

8 a.m.: Mazda MX-5 load-in

10-11:30 a.m.: Track walk

10 a.m.-noon: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship car photos

11:30 a.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge team manager briefing

Noon: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship team manager briefing

12:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship new driver briefing

Noon-2 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship safety and technical inspection, non-GTP

1:45-2:30 p.m.: Mazda MX-5 practice

2:45-3:45 p.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

2:30-7:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship safety inspection, GTP only

4-5:30 p.m.: Track walk

6:45 p.m.: Garages close

Thursday, Jan. 26

7 a.m.: Garages open

9-9:30 a.m.: Mazda MX-5 practice

9:45-10:45 a.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

11:05 a.m.-12:35 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

12:55-1:10 p.m.: Mazda MX-5 qualifying

2:25-3 p.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge qualifying

3:20-5:05 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice (3:20-5:05: GTD, LMP3, LMP2; 3:35-5:05: GTD Pro, GTP)

5:30-6:15 p.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 1

7:15-9 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

10:15 p.m.: Garages close

Friday, Jan. 27

7 a.m.: Garages open

9:25-9:55 a.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

10:15-11 a.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 2

10:30 a.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge driver and team manager briefing

11:20 a.m.-12:20 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

1:45-5:45 p.m.: BMW M Endurance Challenge at Daytona (Michelin Pilot Challenge; streaming on Peacock)

8:45 p.m.: Garages close

Saturday, Jan. 28

6:30 a.m.: Garages open

9:45 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship driver and team manager briefing

12:30-12:40 p.m.: Rolex 24 engine warmup

1:30-1:40 p.m.: Rolex 24 formation laps

1:40 p.m.: The 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona (starting on NBC; streaming flag to flag on Peacock)

Sunday, Jan. 29

1:40 p.m.: Finish of the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona

7:30 p.m.: Garages close