INDYCAR News and Notes – Feb. 15, 2016

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1. Trio of drivers has excellent adventure at NBA All-Star Weekend: Wrapping up their NBA All-Star Weekend adventure in Toronto, Verizon IndyCar Series drivers James Hinchcliffe, Josef Newgarden and Conor Daly declared the Verizon Slam Dunk competition the best part of their weekend, which included three major basketball events and a late-night Maxim Magazine VIP party over three days.

Hinchcliffe, a Canadian from the Toronto area and driver of the No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, became a tour guide for the others, naming all the best restaurants and even assisting in navigation through multiple Uber rides throughout the weekend. The trip included a visit to Hinchcliffe’s hometown of Oakville, Ontario. Based in the city is Canada’s The Weather Network, where they starred as celebrity forecasters. During Hinchcliffe’s forecast, Oakville was fittingly renamed “Hinchtown,” the name of his fictitious online city in which he presides as mayor.

But as they packed their bags today, the drivers were still talking about the Feb. 13 dunk contest showdown between the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Zach LaVine and the Orlando Magic’s Aaron Gordon – which has been widely declared the best in years.

“It was incredible to see those guys go way up and nearly bring the backboard down,” said Daly, driver of the No. 18 Honda for Dale Coyne Racing this season.

Hinchcliffe still thinks Gordon, who jumped over the Magic’s dragon mascot to slam it in, was robbed when LaVine won. But he’s not too upset about it.

The drivers, who all live in the Indianapolis area and are Indiana Pacers fans, were excited to greet Pacers forward Paul George on the court at halftime during the Feb. 14 NBA All-Star Game in which George wowed the crowd with 41 points. On the way to check in with George, they ran into “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” host and former Indianapolis 500 celebrity pace car driver Guy Fieri, who was still talking about that experience.

All of the activity kept the drivers warm, even though Canadian temperatures dipped Toronto into a deep freeze for the weekend — much chillier than when they’ll return to race in the Honda Indy Toronto from July 15-17.

“It was a little cold, but we’d do it again next year,” said Hinchcliffe.

Over the course of the weekend, each of the drivers had a turn taking over the INDYCAR Snapchat account. Newgarden, driver of the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, and Daly also contributed blogs to USA Today. For a photo gallery of the weekend highlights in Toronto, click here.

2. Iowa Corn extends sponsorship agreement with Iowa Speedway: Iowa Speedway and Iowa Corn announced a multiyear sponsorship renewal that will keep Iowa Corn as title sponsor of the Verizon IndyCar Series race at the track in Newton, Iowa, through 2018. The Iowa Corn 300 weekend is set for July 9-10.

Iowa Corn is in its 10th year of partnership with Iowa Speedway, an agreement continuing the second longest entitlement sponsorship in INDYCAR racing.

“The state of Iowa continues to lead this country in the production of corn and corn-based ethanol, and we are honored to celebrate and promote these industries at Iowa Speedway,” said track president Jimmy Small. “This has become a lauded Iowan tradition enjoyed by millions across the globe. We are incredibly proud to authentically demonstrate the performance of ethanol in the world’s fastest race cars here at ‘The Fastest Short Track on the Planet.'”

Included in the race weekend schedule are Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. For more information, visit

3. Two Aussies land USF2000 seats: Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing completed its three-driver line-up in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda by adding Anthony Martin to the team. The 21-year-old Australian was the series’ rookie of the year and finished fourth in the 2015 standings. He will join Parker Thompson and Nikita Lastochkin in Cape’s international trio of USF2000 pilots.

Another Aussie, Jordan Lloyd, was named by Pabst Racing to drive its No. 21 entry in USF2000. Lloyd, 19, won the 2015 Australian Formula 4 championship. Lloyd will team with Garth Rickards and Yufeng Luo in the Pabst USF2000 stable.