1. Hinchcliffe looking to come full circle at IMS oval test
2. Defending Grand Prix of Indianapolis winner Power makes special delivery
3. Pagenaud leaps into Green Bay excitement
4. Of note
1. Hinchcliffe looking to come full circle at IMS oval test: James Hinchcliffe is the first to admit he has unfinished business – both personal and professional – when he returns to Indianapolis Motor Speedway this week.
It was at IMS on May 18, 2015, that Hinchcliffe suffered the worst crash of his career while practicing for the 99th Indianapolis 500, abruptly ending his Verizon IndyCar Series season. The Canadian was critically injured when a suspension piece pierced an artery in his thigh. Hinchcliffe underwent several surgeries, enduring months of therapy and rehabilitation.
Hinchcliffe is driving fulltime again in 2016, but he says the circle won’t be complete until he successfully conquers Turn 3 at IMS, site of his crash, once again. That opportunity is scheduled to come April 6 in the Verizon IndyCar Series’ aero test, the chance for most teams and drivers to get the feel of their respective manufacturers’ superspeedway aero kit configurations for 2016.
“I think until you come back to Indy and get those first laps under your belt and get through Turn 3 incident-free, then I think it will be fully closed,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’m 99.9 percent of the way there. I just need a couple of hot laps through (Turn) 3 and I’ll be good to go.”
The one-day test at IMS will serve two goals: to test the configuration of both the Chevrolet and Honda superspeedway aero kit packages and allow Verizon IndyCar Series Leaders Circle teams the chance to turn important test laps in advance of practice for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil next month.
Sixteen entries are scheduled to participate. They are, by team: Andretti Autosport (No. 26 Carlos Munoz, No. 27 Marco Andretti, No. 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay), Chip Ganassi Racing Teams (No. 9 Scott Dixon, No. 10 Tony Kanaan, No. 83 Charlie Kimball), Ed Carpenter Racing (No. 20 Ed Carpenter, No. 21 Josef Newgarden), KVSH Racing (No. 11 Sebastien Bourdais), Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (No. 15 Graham Rahal), Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (No. 5 James Hinchcliffe, No. 7 Mikhail Aleshin) and Team Penske (No. 2 Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 3 Helio Castroneves, No. 12 Will Power, No. 22 Simon Pagenaud).
Indianapolis 500 rookies are not permitted to be on track at IMS until completing the rookie orientation program on the first day of practice May 16. Practice runs through May 20, with qualifying scheduled for May 21-22 and the 100th running on May 29.
2. Defending Grand Prix of Indianapolis winner Power makes special delivery:Indianapolis Colts tight end Dwayne Allen was the recipient of a special gift April 5, with the delivery person just as special.
Will Power, 2015 winner of the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, took one of the Chevrolet Camaro SS show cars branded with the race logo to Allen at the Colts training complex. Power handed over the keys to Allen, who will drive the Camaro around town to help promote the upcoming race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course May 14.
Power and Allen learned that their professions share some things in common. Asked who has the better hands, Allen replied, “He might have the better hands. Even though I catch the football, the grip that it takes to control a monster going 220-plus miles an hour, his hands are pretty good.”
But when it comes to blocking, the term takes on vastly different meanings. Allen is counted on for his blocking on the football field. For Power in Verizon IndyCar Series competition, blocking is frowned upon.
“I’ve been penalized a few times for blocking,” Power said with a laugh.
The Team Penske driver and 2014 series champion also suggested Allen should drive the pace car for the third annual Angie’s List Grand Prix.
“I don’t know about that!” Allen said. “Give me some lessons first and then we’ll talk about driving it.”
3. Pagenaud leaps into Green Bay excitement: Simon Pagenaud did what most would people like to do when they visit Green Bay, Wis. – the Lambeau Leap.
The Team Penske driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series points leader received a behind-the-scenes tour of Lambeau Field, home to the NFL’s Green Bay Packers, on April 4 as he met with media to talk about Indy car racing’s return to the historic Road America permanent road course for the Road America Grand Prix in Elkhart Lake, Wis. The June 24-26 race weekend marks the first time Indy cars will race at the 4.048-mile circuit since 2007.
Pagenaud was in Green Bay two days after racing at another iconic Indy car track. Phoenix International Raceway also returned to the schedule this year following an extended absence.
“(Phoenix) was a great event, and I think here is going to be awesome,” Pagenaud told the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “It’s an event for INDYCAR and the fans are always great here in Road America. I had a chance to race a lot in sports cars here and the fans always show up. It should be a great race. It’s quite a unique track.”
Pagenaud’s tour of the Lambeau facility included going to a statue allowing visitors to replicate when Packers leap to the front row of the stands after scoring a touchdown, known as the Lambeau Leap. He also visited The Automobile Gallery in Green Bay, where he was able to slip behind the wheel of a 1963 Chevrolet Corvette.
4. Of note: PIRTEK Team Murray, which is fielding rookie Matthew Brabham in the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the 100th Indianapolis 500 in May, has named veteran Andy Brown as its team engineer. A native of the United Kingdom, Brown has been a staple in open-wheel racing for nearly three decades, working in Formula One and Indy cars. He was assistant technical director for Galles/KRACO Racing in 1992 when Al Unser Jr. won the Indianapolis 500, he engineered Sam Hornish Jr. to consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series championships in 2001 and ’02 with Panther Racing and worked with Dan Wheldon at Chip Ganassi Racing Teams in 2006. … The Grand Prix of Boston powered by LogMeIn announced the addition of Delta Air Lines as official airline of the race that debuts on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule on Labor Day weekend.