Force Indy announces Myles Rowe as their USF2000 driver

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Force Indy, a new team formed this year to promote diversity in IndyCar in all team roles including the driver, announced their first driver will be Myles Rowe.

An Atlanta native, Rowe will debut in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. during the April 15 – 18 weekend.

USF2000 is one of the first rungs on the Road to Indy ladder system, which makes it a good fit for a new team promoting young drivers.

Rowe already brings a great deal of success to Force Indy. Racing since an early age, he has won in the Lucas Oil Formula Car Race Series and the Procup Karting Championship during his first full season of racing at the age of 12.

In 2016, he was awarded two “Search for the Champion” grand prize championships from the Federal-Mogul Motorparts’ iconic Champion brand.

He’s competed in the TAG Junior category in the Superkarts USA, World Karting Association, and the United States Pro Kart Series.

“It’s a blessing for sure,” Rowe said in a release. “I didn’t expect to get started in open wheel in this way. It’s definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I’m very grateful for it.

“I’ve been working hard for this moment; with all of the practice I’ve put in since I was 12 years old. So, when the opportunity came forth it was a relief honestly.”

Force Indy receives support and mentorship through an alliance with Team Penske, one of the most successful teams in auto racing.

Team Principal Rod Reid has years of experience in grassroots racing.

“We vetted many deserving young men and women and chose Myles based on his ability and performance, inside and outside of the cockpit,” said Reid. “He understands Force Indy’s mission of building a diverse team of talented individuals. He’s a great fit for the team.”

From its inception, Force Indy’s goal has been to provide opportunities for ethnically divers drivers and team members.

“I started a race team in 1984, and I have always had a desire to have a team of talented individuals who look like me in the professional ranks of the sport,” Reid said in a press conference at Indianapolis Motor Speedway when the team’s car was unveiled. “I have been in and around the sport for 40 years, and this is just the culmination of years of hard work. I simply cannot wait to see this race team on the track this spring.”

Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

In a final session Thursday night, Matt Campbell was fastest (1:35.802) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 but still was off the times set by Westbrook and Taylor.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

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But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


PRACTICE RESULTS:

Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds