INDYCAR News And Notes – March 17, 2015

Verizon IndyCar Series Headlines:

1) Bestwick back with ABC in 2015
2) Teams continue development next week
3) Of note:
* Pappas joins KV Racing Technology/KVSH
* Team Penske finalist for Sports Team of the Year
* Andretti Autosport partners with global tech company

1. Bestwick back with ABC in 2015: Ticking off the multitude of storylines associated with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Allen Bestwick might have lobbied for a larger broadcast window on ABC.

Bestwick enters his second year as the chief announcer, with former Indy car drivers Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever Jr. returning as analysts. Jon Beekhuis, Dr. Jerry Punch and Rick DeBruhl will be the pit reporters.

ABC will telecast the season opener March 29 (3 p.m. ET) along with four other races and both days of Indianapolis 500 qualifications.

An introduction and explanation of the new aerodynamic bodywork kits supplied by Chevrolet and Honda – how they work, to what benefit on the street circuit and how teams adapt — will be among the elements that the network team will convey to the TV audience.

“How does it impact the overall race? Who’s going to win and why? Does one have a half-inch over the other on a particular course or particular configuration?” said Bestwick, who along with Goodyear took in the Promoter Test on March 16-17 at Barber Motorsports Park.

“The bottom line is still to tell the story of the race, and that’s why we have all the excellent cameramen, all the excellent audio people and the reporters. Those are more tools to deliver that home.”

Bestwick said he felt at home last year in the booth.

“My first year was exactly what I thought it would be, which is good racing with good people,” he said. “Obviously, I wasn’t a stranger to a lot of the people involved nor was I a stranger to watching the competition so it turned out to be what I thought it would be.

“Probably the one that surprised me the most was Indianapolis because I got such a build-up from various people about how different it’s going to be and how overwhelming it’s going to be. What I found was I had been to the Speedway and broadcast so many races before that I actually felt right at home. The same booth, the same parking space and the TV trucks in the same place. I found it strikingly familiar and comfortable and the race was everything I thought it would be.

“It was a great day and great competition and I’m looking forward to season two.”

2. Teams continue development next week: Simona de Silvestro will test the Honda aero package for the first time next week at Sebring International Raceway in an Andretti Autosport-prepared car in preparation for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

De Silvestro, 26, was catching up with new teammates Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Carlos Munoz and the crews at the March 16-17 Promoter Test at Barber Motorsports Park.

In 2013, de Silvestro qualified a career-best third on the St. Petersburg street circuit in her first race with KV Racing Technology. Fourth place in the 2011 opener on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn course had been her career-best finish until she posted a second place in 2013 in Houston 1.

In 2014, she pursued Formula One aspirations. In 65 Verizon IndyCar Series races over four seasons, de Silvestro recorded three top-five and 14 top-10 finishes.

Multiple teams will test March 23-25:

Sebring International Raceway short course — James Hinchcliffe and James Jakes of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports; Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power of Team Penske; Josef Newgarden and Luca Filippi of CFH Racing; Graham Rahal of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing; Jack Hawksworth and Takuma Sato of A.J. Foyt Racing; Sebastien Bourdais of KVSH Racing; Stefano Coletti of KV Racing Technology.

NOLA Motorsports Park in Avondale, La. — Carlos Huertas and Francesco Dracone of Dale Coyne Racing; Gabby Chaves of Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian; Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Sage Karam and Charlie Kimball of Chip Ganassi Racing Teams.

Texas Motor Speedway — Andretti Autosport for a Honda speedway aero package development test.

Promoter Day sessions totaling 2 hours, 30 minutes on the afternoon of March 27 will precede a 45-minute practice March 28 before the three rounds of qualifications for the 110-lap race March 29 (3 p.m. ET, ABC).

3. Of note:
Pappas joins KV Racing Technology/KVSH: Veteran engineer Bill Pappas, most recently with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, has joined KV Racing Technology/KVSH Racing to serve as technical consultant for the Nos. 4 (rookie Stefano Coletti) and 11 (four-time Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais). … Team Penske finalist for Sports Team of the Year: Team Penske is a finalist in the Sports Team of the Year category for the eighth Sports Business Awards. Nominees are recognized for excellence and outstanding achievement in sports business. Team Penske earned the Verizon IndyCar Series entrant and driver (Will Power) championship in 2014. … Andretti Autosport partners with global tech company: Andretti Autosport announced connectivity and sensor solutions leader TE Connectivity as a new commercial partner.