INDYCAR NEWS AND NOTES – May 1, 2015

Verizon IndyCar Series Headlines:

1. Honda Unveils Superspeedway Aero Kit Designed for Indianapolis 500 Performance
2. Avaya To Back Pagenaud at Indianapolis, Other Events
3. Angie’s List to Sponsor Chaves, BHA in Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis
4. Carpenter Eager to Learn About Aero Kits
5. Ganassi Lands Ivy Tech Partnership for Karam
6. Fisher to Expand Business Interests in Speedway with Karting Track

Click HERE to view and download the May 3 Indianapolis Oval Promoter Test Participant List.

1. Honda unveils superspeedway aero kit designed for Indianapolis 500 performance: Reduced drag and increased engine performance equal speed on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval, and Honda Performance Development COO and vice president Steve Eriksen believes its Verizon IndyCar Series entries in the 99th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race will have all three with its superspeedway aerodynamic bodywork platform and 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engine.

Honda’s superspeedway aerodynamic bodywork package on the No. 29 TE Connectivity Andretti Autosport entry to be driven by Simona de Silvestro was unveiled at Indianapolis Motor Speedway featuring a range of options available to teams to utilize for qualifications and the 200-lap race. The platform was designed, developed and supplied by California-based Honda Performance Development, and the aero kit will make its public on-track debut May 3 during a Promoter Test at IMS. Chevrolet’s superspeedway aero package also will be on track May 3.

Practice opens May 11, with qualifications May 16-17 and the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 24. Ryan Hunter-Reay, driving the No. 28 DHL Honda for Andretti Autosport, won the 2014 Indianapolis 500.

“We do expect faster speeds. You’ve seen it already on the road and street courses,” Eriksen said.

The superspeedway package includes a variety of individual aerodynamic components fitted to the Honda-powered Dallara chassis but is markedly different from the road/street and short oval kit that has been utilized in the first four races of the Verizon IndyCar Series season. The front wing of the superspeedway kit contains fewer components to reduce drag and a rear wing element that Eriksen said is wide “like a glider.” The rear wing main plane has “swan neck” supports that are carried over from Honda’s sports car program, where HPD engineers learned that they helped with air flow over the rear wing. The rear wing main plane is unique to the Indianapolis 500, though an entry has the option to run the main plane to be used on the other three big ovals on the schedule.

“One of the great things about (the Verizon) IndyCar (Series) is that this aero kit has to operate over such a diverse range of circuits, it’s unlike any other racing series, and it’s a real challenge to make a kit that is going to work on every track well. But we welcomed it and have enjoyed doing it,” Eriksen said. “The process really started with us looking at what has made us successful. The Indy 500 wins that we’ve had we look at and say, ‘What did we do well and what could we do better in the future.’ We wanted to build on that experience to build the best kit possible, and I think we’ve done that.”

There will be visual differences between the Honda and Chevrolet superspeedway kits, within both manufacturers’ qualifying and race specs, and within their respective teams that likely will run different elements – even asymmetrical on the cars – during practice.

“We’re excited to unveil our superspeedway aero kit, the newest element in this era of enhanced manufacturer competition in the Verizon IndyCar Series,” HPD president Art St. Cyr said. “Coupled to our proven Honda Indy V-6 engines, these aero kits are the products of thousands of hours of research, development and testing, as we seek to give our drivers and teams the tools they need to win the race that Honda holds as its most important goal each season: the Indianapolis 500.”

Both manufacturers, under INDYCAR regulations, designed components in “legality boxes” that complement the standard components of the rolling chassis. Areas open for development in these legality boxes include sidepods, engine cover, rear wheel guards, front and rear wing main planes and end plates, superspeedway front wing main plane and the Indianapolis 500 rear wing main plane. Standard components for all cars include the underwing, road course front wing and rear wing main planes, nose, mirror housing and roll hoop fairing.

2. Avaya to back Pagenaud at Indianapolis, other events: Avaya will sponsor the Team Penske entry of Simon Pagenaud for at least four Verizon IndyCar Series races beginning with the 99th Indianapolis 500.

“We are excited to welcome Avaya to Team Penske through their relationship with HP, supporting Simon Pagenaud and Brad Keselowski,” team owner Roger Penske said. “Avaya is a growing global brand that has a great opportunity to continue that growth through motorsports. We can benefit from Avaya’s technologies and expertise across our Penske businesses and we appreciate their partnership as Simon and the No. 22 team establish themselves as championship contenders in the Verizon IndyCar Series.”

The Avaya partnership was fostered through the long-term relationship between Team Penske and HP. Together, Avaya and HP Enterprise Services are delivering infrastructure modernization services. As technology continues to revolutionize communications in racing, the partnership between the three organizations is a winning combination for all.

“Avaya and HP, two of Silicon Valley’s business technology powerhouses, have been on the forefront of communications and enterprise technology innovation for decades,” said Joe Manuele, vice president, Global Cloud Services, Avaya. “Communications is entering the cloud-era, and we are proud to offer our technology and expertise to Team Penske in an effort to help the team continue to produce at a high level.”

In addition to the Indianapolis 500, Avaya will also serve as the primary sponsor for Pagenaud and his No. 22 Chevrolet Indy car in Verizon IndyCar Series events at Texas Motor Speedway, the streets of Toronto and Sonoma Raceway. Pagenaud, in his debut season at Team Penske, is currently ranked ninth in the point standings after posting top-10 finishes in three of the first four races.

“I’ve had a long-standing relationship with HP over the years, so to see that expand and to now be associated with a company like Avaya is pretty special,” Pagenaud said. “I want to succeed on the racetrack with Team Penske and having a sponsor like Avaya on the car will help our team reach new heights. We can’t thank them enough for their support and I hope this is just the beginning of a winning partnership.”

3. Angie’s List to sponsor Chaves, BHA in Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis: Angie’s List will be the primary sponsor of the No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport Honda driven by Gabby Chaves for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 9.

“Gabby is the epitome of someone who’s paid his dues and is ready to take the national stage by storm,” Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks said. “We can’t wait to see him out on the track.”

Chaves, the 2014 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champion, is one of the youngest competitors in the Verizon IndyCar Series and currently leads the Verizon IndyCar Series’ Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings.

“I am very excited to be part of this partnership with Angie’s List. Not only are they the title sponsor for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, but they also are a local Indianapolis company, and that makes the connection even stronger,” Chaves said. “I will be looking forward to a very exciting Angie’s List Grand Prix and putting forward all the efforts necessary to take us to the top step of the podium.”

Added team owner Bryan Herta: “Angie’s List has built a winning reputation for connecting homeowners with great local service providers. We are pleased to partner with them to celebrate their Festival of Service, and to add a winning reputation on the race track during the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis.”

4. Carpenter eager to learn about aero kits: Ed Carpenter hasn’t competed in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet since the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series finale on the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway oval, so pardon the CFH Racing co-owner/driver for his exuberance over a May 3 Promoter Test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It will be the initial opportunity for teams to get acclimated with the new superspeedway aerodynamic bodywork packages designed, manufactured and supplied by Chevrolet and Honda. Carpenter joined Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves in running the Chevrolet superspeedway kit on the 1.5-mile, high-banked Texas Motor Speedway oval March 10, but there is an Indy 500-only rear wing main plane of both manufacturer kits.

“We have this day on Sunday, which is going to be extremely valuable,” said Carpenter, who earned the Verizon P1 Award for the Indianapolis 500 the past two years. “Even the teams that did the lion’s share of development in the offseason for the aero kit, I don’t think any of them ran the car in the full speedway configuration like we’ll have it on Sunday, and there’s quite a few options that we have for the car.

“There’s going to be a lot to learn. Even though the month of May is condensed from when I started my career, there’s still way more track time than we get anywhere else, as long as Mother Nature cooperates. The one thing that’s certain is it’s the same for everyone, so whichever team and drivers can be most efficient and make the best use of their time certainly has the ability to get a leg up on the competition.”

CFH Racing, co-owned by Sarah Fisher and Wink Hartman, has three entries for the 99th Running of the 500 Mile Race – Carpenter, JR Hildebrand and Josef Newgarden, who won the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on April 26.

“I think we’ll see what we learn here on Sunday, and I think that will kind of set the course for how we attack the first part of the week once we get back on the oval,” Carpenter said. “But the one thing I am looking forward to is we have three great cars and I have two really good teammates to lean on. I ran with JR last year and Josef has been strong at the speedway the past two years, as well, being in the Fast Nine and racing against him there. So we have three strong combinations in the team, and certainly that should work to our benefit.”

5. Ganassi lands Ivy Tech partnership for Karam: Ivy Tech Community College will serve as a partner on the No. 8 Comfort Revolution/Big Machine Records Chevrolet of Sage Karam for the Indianapolis 500, Chip Ganassi Racing announced.

“The partnership with Ivy Tech and Sage is a great fit for us, highlighted by the connection between Sage’s age and that of Ivy Tech’s student body,” said Steve Lauletta, President, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams. “Ivy Tech’s reach and activation with Sage, combined with the team’s focus on millennials, makes for a great program for the No. 8 team during the month of May.”

Karam, 20, will be the centerpiece of a social/digital media campaign during the month of May in Indianapolis leading up to the “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

The partnership also provides the Indiana-based community college a direct connection to the demographic of its student body, and specifically to automotive tech students with a look to the future of potential careers in motorsports.

“This will not only provide exposure for our brand to hundreds of thousands of people at the track, but more importantly provide a wonderful experience for our students and potential students,” said Jeff Fanter, Senior Vice President for Student Experience, Communications and Marketing, Ivy Tech. “We believe Sage can relate with a large number of our students here at Ivy Tech and to give them access to Sage and the Ganassi team only helps enhance an already rewarding educational experience.”

6. Fisher to expand business interests in Speedway with karting track: Sarah Fisher, who formed a Verizon IndyCar Series team in 2008, continues her entrepreneurship by announcing plans for a 60,000-square-foot indoor karting facility near the headquarters of CFH Racing that she co-owns with Ed Carpenter and Wink Hartman on Main Street in Speedway, Ind.

The multi-level Speedway Indoor Karting facility is a privately owned investment by Fisher and her husband, Andy O’Gara. It will include a 14-turn road course with multiple elevation changes and a banked oval that will be sunk into the floor to enable viewing for spectators on both floors of the facility. A restaurant — 1911 Grill — also will be included in the facility.

Speedway Indoor Karting is set to open in April 2016, a month before the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

“I congratulate Sarah and Andy for their vision and tenacity to translate a personal passion for auto racing into a successful business venture,” Indiana Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann said. “Sarah’s success as a race car driver, their ownership of a (Verizon) IndyCar (Series) team and now this new endeavor make them model Hoosier entrepreneurs.”

Added Fisher: “Andy and I have many goals for Speedway Indoor Karting, all of which are driven toward providing our community, fans and anyone interested in our sport with a destination here in Speedway where they may experience first-class, hands-on racing. We want our customers to leave educated and passionate about returning to our community here in Speedway.

“It is a privilege to have fans who are willing to give us their time, and for that, we want to build on the destination that the Town of Speedway is developing here, especially as a neighbor to the most iconic speedway in the world. There is so much to share about our sport, about karting, the science, the math and the technology, and you can’t forget the social fun.

“Starting my own team in 2008 and taking it to where it is today has only begun the learning process for our small business ventures. And if we’ve learned one thing over the past eight years, it’s that everyone who walks through our door, big or small, is important to your success.”