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Ed Carpenter says no to potential Fernando Alonso deal at Indy 500

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AUSTIN, Texas – INDYCAR team owner/driver Ed Carpenter told NBCSports.com that he has been approached by a representative of Fernando Alonso to potentially run the 104th Indianapolis 500 but said he will stick to his current plan.

That means Carpenter will field three Chevrolets in the Memorial Day Weekend race, including himself in the No. 20, Rinus VeeKay in the No. 21 and street and road course driver Conor Daly in an extra Chevrolet.

Carpenter does not want to expand to a fourth car for Alonso, a two-time Formula One champion. The Spaniard was set to announce a deal with Andretti Autosport before Honda’s worldwide headquarters in Japan said no to Alonso two weeks ago.

That leaves Alonso trying to line up a deal with a Chevrolet team. Carpenter’s operation seemed a likely candidate, but the owner/driver will not overextend his operation to accommodate Alonso.

“There is one person that has reached out to me about it, but it wasn’t Alonso or anybody that works for him,” Carpenter told NBCSports.com. “It’s been surprisingly quiet. I think it’s because they know we are not positioned to run more than three. We are a two-car team.

“If we doubled the size of our team for May, it wouldn’t be good for everybody.”

What would it take to consider four cars?

“Money, people and time,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter said he wasn’t surprised that Honda Japan shut down his attempt with Andretti Autosport because of the driver’s comments about the Formula One engine in 2017. Alonso was part of McLaren, and that team also was prohibited from lining up with Honda.

“It had happened before,” Carpenter said. “The difference is Fernando is separated from McLaren. It was pretty surprising they got that far down the road before they realized it was going to become an issue with how public that dispute had become.”

Team Penske is the top Chevrolet team and will expand to four cars for the Indy 500 with Helio Castroneves’ return. That leaves Arrow McLaren Racing SP, Carlin Racing and A.J. Foyt Racing as the only Chevrolet teams left that could potentially add an entry for Alonso.

Day 1 of COTA test: Because of cold temperatures and steady rain, Tuesday’s first day of track activity at Circuit of the Americas was abbreviated. The track was open for just 10 minutes in the afternoon session, giving teams a combined 35 minutes of track availability.

It was scheduled for seven hours of track action.

There were just 17 total laps run on the wet track, but zero green flag laps were turned. The 17 laps were installation laps under yellow.

Team Penske driver Will Power was on the track and said the new aeroscreen had great vision in the rain, but he had to get used to where the water flowed into the cockpit.

“I wish someone had run in the wet, wet so we could see where the water came in,” Power said. “The aeroscreen is great, but we will get the area where the water came into the cockpit sorted out. We had water leaking from the bottom, but it will be an easy fix.

“It would have been nice to see some cars run the aeroscreen when it was really raining.”

Tuesday’s test was the first time all 25 cars had the aeroscreen installed on the Dallara chassis.

There was a lot of anticipation among the drivers about finally getting back in the race car after a long offseason. Instead, they’ll have to wait another day before getting a chance to try again Wednesday.

The drivers were like a child knowing what they are getting for Christmas but having to wait an extra day to play with that gift.

“It was very tough,” Power said. “We will have a lot of sets of tires to burn up tomorrow. It will be a long day.”

Wednesday’s revised schedule has the track open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central Time with a half-hour break for lunch.

“Yesterday, all the drivers were excited about getting back on the track today,” Pato O’Ward said. “Today, we got one lap.”

Track limits at COTA: When the teams return to COTA for the April 26 AutoNation INDYCAR Classic, INDYCAR officials will be enforcing the track limits in Turn 19. Last year, there were no track limits, and it made for a “wild, wild west show.” Drivers were allowed to use all of the paved area in Turn 19 as part of the course.

This year, lines will be painted to keep teams on the actual racing surface.

“You will get a penalty if you cross it,” Power said.

O’Ward said it will be slower in that area by about 30 to 40 mph.

“When you are in the car, it feels better to not have the track limits, but it looks ridiculous,” O’Ward said. “You have to follow where the track goes.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500 

Inside IndyCar’s iRacing revolution: Oliver Askew, team take it seriously

SimMetric Labs
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No laps have been turned in the NTT IndyCar Series this season, yet rookie Oliver Askew incessantly is analyzing fresh lap data with his Arrow McLaren SP team.

For the past two weeks, Askew has turned hundreds of laps in iRacing at Watkins Glen International and Barber Motorsports Park, and his support team meticulously has scoured the data in real time.

Race engineer Blair Perschbacher, assistant engineer Mike Reggio and strategist Billy Vincent are connected via all the software and timing systems that are on Askew’s real-world No. 7 Dallara-Chevrolet. After every run, numbers instantly are crunched, and Askew debriefs with his crew on improving the handling of his car in search of every fraction of a second as he would in real life.

WATCH: IndyCar iRacing Challenge, 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday, NBCSN or streaming here

The only difference is Askew is sitting inside a simulation rig housed by a 45-foot trailer in West Palm Beach, Fla., while each team member is in an Indianapolis area home.

“They basically set up their own timing stands in their living rooms,” Askew told NBCSports.com. “It’s awesome.”

It’s the new reality for IndyCar, which will play host to the second round of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge at 2:30 p.m. Saturday (NBCSN) at virtual Barber Motorsports Park.

Last Saturday, Askew started and finished fifth at Watkins Glen International, where he practiced with the advisement of his team for more than 15 hours in the SimMetric Driver Performance Labs simulator. Despite a relative sim racing newbie, Askew, 23, finished only two spots behind Will Power, who has more than 1,500 starts and 150 victories on iRacing road courses.

Askew already has practiced for more than 10 hours this week in his simulator for Barber, where he hopes to make the podium against a 29-driver field that will include many champions and winners.

“We’re taking this very seriously,” he said. “You can tell by the results at Watkins Glen. You know which drivers have built their sims properly. How much they’ve been practicing. Those are the guys who finish up front.

“I’m still trying to represent everyone. It’s cool we have the same paint scheme. We’re just trying to represent Arrow and our partners the best as possible. We know they’re all watching, and it seems the viewership is going up.”


The Jupiter, Florida, native has found an edge through his friendship with SimMetric Driver Performance Labs, which is based in nearby West Palm Beach, Florida. Askew and SimMetric CEO Greg De Giorgis met last year through mutual friends. Last year, Askew had done a few simulator sessions before winning the 2019 Indy Lights championship (and graduating to the ride with Arrow McLaren SP).

With an official simulator partnership in the Road to Indy program, SimMetric’s CXC Motion Pro II simulator travels in a trailer to racing events around the country, providing drivers with extra preparation time for the real world.

The full-motion simulator includes a motion system developed by drivers and engineers, hyrdaulic brakes and force-feedback steering system. Though at the high end for simulators available to the general public, it retails for much less than the seven-figure simulators used by auto manufacturers with race programs.

“While time in a driving simulator will never fully replace real seat time, sim seat time can go a very long way in supplementing the seat time a driver gets,” De Giorgis told NBCSports.com in an email. “With three added benefits you don’t get in the real car: Significantly lower cost per hour, no risk of bodily harm or damage to the car, and of course, no limitations on time.”

There are some limitations for how much Askew can practice, though. A schedule was set up last week so the team, Askew and De Giorgis (who helps run the simulator and maintain communications with the team) could work together while also maintaining self-isolation with their families.

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The trailer with the simulator is parked indoors at the Riviera Beach, Florida, shop of Extreme Velocity Motorsports, which also has an unofficial affiliation with SimMetric.

“We’re practicing social distancing and making sure the trailer and everything is clean,” Askew said. “We’re taking that very seriously. It’s still a job for me, so I need to get what I can out of it.”

He’s gotten a lot from it despite a lack of experience. The team can compare simulation data from iRacing to real-world historical data from past races and test sessions.

Reggio handles fuel data, and Simpson monitors strategy and timing. While setups are fixed for the iRacing IndyCar Challenge, Perschbacher is able to work with brake bias. “He’s just trying to bend the rules as much as we can,” Askew said. “We’ve done a lot with brake bias. That’s pretty much all we can change.”

Fans also can watch Askew practicing via a YouTube channel provided by De Giorgis, who has chatted with viewers about the car’s laps in real time during the streams that are available by clicking here.

Fans will be able to find a live stream of Askew’s race Saturday by clicking here.


It’s all relatively new to Askew, who doesn’t even have a sim rig at his Indianapolis home. His previous sim experience mainly came on the Chevrolet simulator in Huntersville, North Carolina.

“Honesty, for me personally, I’m a little late to the party,” Askew said. “I don’t think a lot of people realize that. I’m young and they assumed I’ve been doing this. I’ve never even had my own iRacing account before. Guys like (McLaren driver) Lando Norris, (Watkins Glen winner) Sage (Karam), all these guys have been streaming live on Twitch and have been running iRacing for multiple years now.

“ It’s a great way to get fans engaged in the race weekend and get eSports get bigger and bigger every year. Very interesting moving forward. It’s cool that IndyCar has dipped their feet into these waters now. Even once the season starts, I wouldn’t be surprised if we do more of these races.”

If so, he and his team have learned to keep an eye on Power, a real-world ace on road courses. During some practice races Thursday, Askew thought he’d done well by qualifying third, but Power then put a half-second on the field by winning the pole position.

“Will is unbelievably quick and does the same things in real life as well,” said Askew, who did turn the fastest lap in the practice race. “He just pulls it out somehow. That’s where the engineers and our staff in Indy come into play because they’re able to watch his on-board in real time and replay his on board to figure out what he’s doing to get the most of out of his car in the video game.

“It gets the creative juices flowing again. It’s still very different from real life, but I think we’re going to be able to start the season a little more fresh than we would have without this.”

Chris Graythen / Getty Images