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INDYCAR News and Notes – Aug. 10, 2016

1. Pocono announces INDYCAR extension through 2018
2. Indianapolis test zeroes in on 2017 tire specification
3. Newgarden gets inside look at NASCAR at Watkins Glen
4. Of note

1. Pocono announces INDYCAR extension through 2018: Pocono Raceway, home to the next race on the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule, will remain on the calendar through 2018, as announced today by track president and CEO Brandon Igdalsky.

“The Tricky Triangle,” a 2.5-mile triangular oval, will host the ABC Supply 500 weekend on Aug. 20-21. Race dates for 2017 and 2018 will be announced at a later date.

“We are thrilled to share this great news that we will host the Verizon IndyCar Series through 2018,” Igdalsky said. “Our track was originally designed for open-wheel cars and our fans really enjoy the action on the track. When you see these cars going six and seven wide, it is incredible. We also received positive feedback from teams and drivers and worked together with INDYCAR to make sure Pocono Raceway stays on the schedule.”

Indy car racing enjoys a storied history at Pocono. This year’s race will be the 23rd in the Pennsylvania track’s history, with previous events run from 1971-89 and every year since 2013. A.J. Foyt, the all-time leader in Indy car wins with 67, also holds the record for most Pocono victories with four.

Other winners at the three-turn oval include the likes of Mario Andretti, Rick Mears, Bobby Rahal, Johnny Rutherford, Danny Sullivan and Al Unser.

“We’re thrilled to announce today’s two-year extension with Pocono Raceway, an iconic oval track with a long history of hosting great open-wheel racing events,” said Jay Frye, INDYCAR president of competition and operations. “It’s very clear that Pocono is one of the favorites amongst the drivers, teams and fans of the Verizon IndyCar Series and we look forward to competing there for the foreseeable future. We’d also like to thank Brandon Igdalsky and his entire team for all their efforts to make this event a success and we look forward to our race there on Aug. 21.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay is the defending race champion and happy to hear news of the extension.

“The on-track show, the product we put on here last year was phenomenal,” said Hunter-Reay, driver of the No. 28 DHL Honda for Andretti Autosport. “Lead changes throughout the race, six wide throughout the straights, passing throughout the field. You couldn’t ask for a better product and hopefully we can do it again for the fans.”

The extension news takes on added meaning for Andretti Autosport driver Marco Andretti, who hails from nearby Nazareth, Pa.

“This is my home track so selfishly this is great news,” Andretti said. “There is a great, long history of racing here at Pocono Raceway and I am excited we will continue to come back. I think our cars were made for this track.”

Tickets for this year’s ABC Supply 500 start at $25 for adults and $12.50 for children ages 12 and under. They may be purchased online www.poconoraceway.com or by calling (800) RACEWAY.

2. Indianapolis test zeroes in on 2017 tire specification: Six Verizon IndyCar Series drivers turned laps Monday on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval as part of a test to determine Firestone’s tire specification for the 2017 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay and Ed Carpenter, owner/driver of the team bearing his name, were the primary tire testers for the daylong session, running through an assortment of experimental compounds and constructions. Also turning laps in IMS team testing were Chip Ganassi Racing’s Tony Kanaan, Team Penske’s Juan Pablo Montoya, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal and Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian’s Alexander Rossi.

Kanaan (2013), Hunter-Reay (2014), Montoya (2015) and Rossi (2016) represent the last four Indianapolis 500 winners.

“Firestone’s always looking to put an even better product than they already have on the racetrack, so they’re always developing – just like we are,” said Hunter-Reay, driver of the No. 28 DHL Honda. “We’re always developing our car and setups; they’re always developing their product.

“It’s just great testing Firestone tires because I always have 100 percent confidence in them. There’s not going to be any big surprises out there. It’s just constant development, going faster and faster.”

Hunter-Reay and two-time Indy 500 pole winner Carpenter, in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet, spent the morning alternating short runs on a “control set” of Firehawk tires – the 2016 Indy 500 specification – and experimental sets that varied in tread compound and/or construction on at least one tire position. The afternoon was reserved for full-stint runs on a few preferred specs from the morning, as Carpenter said, “to kind of close the loop on the tires that they think they might want to move forward with.

“Firestone’s a great partner for INDYCAR so to be part of helping them come back here with another great tire for next year is always rewarding.”

According to Dale Harrigle, chief engineer and manager of race tire development for Bridgestone Americas, today’s testing regimen was smaller in scope than some years due to how well the 2016 Indy spec functioned.

“We were very happy with the performance of the tire in 2016 so we actually came with a relatively small test,” Harrigle said. “We only have two (experimental) right-side compounds and a couple of constructions, so it’s a pretty small, focused test for us this year.”

3. Newgarden gets inside look at NASCAR at Watkins Glen: Ed Carpenter Racing driver Josef Newgarden probably thought his first trip to Watkins Glen International would be in an Indy car, but his maiden journey to the upstate New York track was a different type of racing experience.

Newgarden, driver of the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet in the Verizon IndyCar Series, attended NASCAR’s Cheez-it 355 at The Glen as a guest Sunday of WGI to promote the Labor Day weekend INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen in upstate New York. Newgarden was also a guest of fellow Chevrolet driver Jimmie Johnson, the six-time NASCAR Cup champion.

Newgarden met with Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, crew chief Chad Knaus and toured the team’s garage and racing transporter. Prior to the race, Newgarden joined Johnson for an interview with NBC Sports, broadcast partner for both INDYCAR and NASCAR, before the two drivers rode in the pre-race truck parade lap around the track together. Newgarden watched the race from Johnson’s pit stand.

Newgarden joked with media that he was on a “reconnaissance mission” for the upcoming INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen from Sept. 2-4, the Verizon IndyCar Series’ return to the historic 3.4-mile permanent road course for the first time since 2010. Newgarden will join an expected group of 20 car/driver combinations at a Watkins Glen team test Thursday.

Tickets for the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen may be purchased at www.theglen.com. The race will be telecast live on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network at 2 p.m. ET Sept. 4.

4. Of note: Bill Alsup, who drove in 57 Indy car races over six seasons from 1979-84, died Tuesday in Colorado at age 78 when a crane he was operating rolled over and pinned him underneath, according to the Silverton (Colo.) Standard & the Miner. Alsup was the 1979 CART rookie of the year and finished 11th in his only Indianapolis 500 appearance in 1981, driving for Roger Penske. … The family of Bryan Clauson, the short-track racing star and three-time Indianapolis 500 starter who died Sunday from injuries sustained at the Belleville (Kan.) Midget Nationals, reported via the Bryan Clauson Racing page on Facebook that Clauson donated five organs that may help save the lives of others. “The gift of life is the most amazing gesture and Bryan will live on not only through us and all the people he touched along the way, but from the lucky individuals that will benefit from Bryan making a decision to be a donor,” the Facebook post read.