IndyCar NOTES: Briscoe to Drive No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Entry for Indianapolis 500

INDIANAPOLIS (May 21, 2015) – Ryan Briscoe didn’t think twice about accepting the short-notice request from Verizon IndyCar Series team co-owner Sam Schmidt to drive in the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

Briscoe, 33, was named today to fill in for the injured James Hinchcliffe in the No. 5 Arrow/Lucas Oil Honda for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” on May 24 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Hinchcliffe underwent surgery May 18 for a pelvic and upper left thigh injury suffered in a crash during practice earlier that day.

Hinchcliffe is recovering and was transferred May 20 from the Intensive Care Unit at IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. Upon further evaluation, it was determined he will require no further procedures and is expected to make a full recovery from his injuries. Additional updates to Hinchcliffe’s condition will be released when available.

“First and foremost, I feel absolutely terrible for Hinch,” said Briscoe, who completed 21 laps in a one-hour “familiarization session” granted by INDYCAR to become acclimated to the car and aero kits that debuted this year. “I wish him the best and a speedy recovery.”

Briscoe will join the rest of the 33-car field for the traditional one-hour practice May 22 on Coors Light Carb Day (11 a.m. ET, NBCSN) in his rush to play catch-up.

“You (usually) sort of prepare for this race a year out,” he said. “You visualize how you’re going to go through practice, all the prep you’re going to do, and something like this comes up and you throw that all out the window. I feel with my experience and the experience the team has, the experience that Hinch has had with (race engineer) Allen McDonald putting this car in really good condition for the race, I feel really confident that even with a few laps I’ll be able to find my groove again.”

Briscoe will make his 10th Indianapolis 500 start and 130th overall in Indy car racing from the 32nd starting position (middle of Row 11). James Davison, who returned to the No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda after Tristan Vautier qualified the car for him May 17, will start 33rd as determined by entrant points when a driver switch is made, per INDYCAR.

Briscoe was the 2012 pole sitter for the 500 Mile Race and that year tied his best finish of fifth from 2007. Last year, he started 30th in the NTT Data entry for Chip Ganassi Racing Teams and finished 18th.

“We explored quite a few options and felt confident in Briscoe,” team co-owner Schmidt said. “We were glad he was available and willing to drive for us with such short notice. Obviously, this was not a situation we were expecting to be in for the biggest race of the year, but we’re making the best of it. Our thoughts and prayers are with James and his family right now.”

Grand Prix of Boston Added to 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series Schedule

INDYCAR announced a five-year deal for the Verizon IndyCar Series to race in the South Boston Waterfront area, beginning on Labor Day weekend 2016. The Grand Prix of Boston from Sept. 2-4, 2016, will feature an 11-turn, 2.25-mile temporary street course that surrounds the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. The event marks the first time INDYCAR has raced in the Boston area, a key northeast market for the series.

“The level of enthusiasm we have received from the Boston community has been phenomenal and we look forward to showcasing the Verizon IndyCar Series on Labor Day weekend in 2016,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Company, the parent of INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “There has been a tremendous amount of work from community leaders and Grand Prix of Boston officials, and those efforts led to this key addition to our 2016 calendar.”

Crews Will Battle for $50,000 in TAG Heuer Pit Stop Competition

A dozen Verizon IndyCar Series pit crews will compete for a $50,000 top prize in the TAG Heuer Pit Stop Challenge during Coors Light Carb Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A fan-favorite event since its inception in 1977, the 12-team competition features four rounds of head-to-head pit stop action. A total of $100,000 will be awarded, with the runner-up team earning $15,000.

Teams must change four tires and perform a simulated fuel hookup during each round, with two cars competing against each other. The faster time wins, with time penalties added for various infractions such as loose wheel nuts or running over air hoses. NBCSN will televise the Pit Stop Challenge live as part of its Coors Light Carb Day coverage from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Scott Dixon and his No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing crew are the defending champions. Team Penske has won a record 14 times, including six for the crew of three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves.

First-round pairings are: No. 48 A.J. Foyt Enterprises (driver Alex Tagliani) vs. No. 41 A.J. Foyt Enterprises (Jack Hawksworth); No. 83 Chip Ganassi Racing Teams (Charlie Kimball) vs. No. 14 A.J. Foyt Enterprises (Takuma Sato); No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (Graham Rahal) vs. No. 3 Team Penske (Castroneves); and No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (James Jakes) vs. No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold-Kingdom Racing (Townsend Bell).

Quarterfinal pairings are: Nos. 48-41 winner vs. No. 27 Andretti Autosport (Marco Andretti); Nos. 83-14 winner vs. No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Teams (Dixon); Nos. 15-3 winner vs. No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (Ryan Briscoe); and Nos. 7-24 winner vs. No. 1 Team Penske (Will Power). The four survivors advance to the semifinals, with the winners of that round battling for the challenge championship.

Schmidt Peterson Dominates Freedom 100 Qualifying

Ethan Ringel set an Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires qualifying record at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, winning the pole for the Freedom 100 with a two-lap average speed of 197.684 mph (1 minute, 31.0545 seconds) on the 2.5-mile oval.

“Going out there I’ve never been so nervous in my whole life. I thought my heart was going to come out of my chest,” said Ringel, driving the No. 71 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian car. “Honestly, coming into this week I really wasn’t expecting much. I was thinking I’d be happy with a mid-pack. To qualify pole was something that I didn’t think would happen this season.”

All four Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian entries qualified in the top five for the 60-lap race (12:30 p.m. ET May 22 on NBCSN). Jack Harvey qualified outside of Ringel on the front row, Scott Anderson on the outside of Row 2 and RC Enerson on the inside of Row 3.

Of Note:

IMS officials unveiled the logo for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, is set for May 29, 2016. The logo, which intertwines the “500” and “100” with the Speedway’s iconic wings, will be used in yearlong promotions leading up to the historic event. … The Foyt Wine Vault, featuring a tasting bar for the Foyt Family Wines, officially opened on Main Street in Speedway, Ind., a few blocks from IMS. … Sexton Companies, an Indianapolis-based builder and manager of apartment communities, has signed on as an associated sponsor of the No. 48 Alfe Heat Treating Special Honda driven by Alex Tagliani and entered by A.J. Foyt Enterprises.