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INDYCAR News and Notes – Aug. 5, 2016

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1. Drivers log valuable track time at Pocono test: With but four races remaining to be completed on the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule, each one becomes exponentially more important.

It’s why 15 drivers participated in team testing Thursday at Pocono Raceway, in preparation for the ABC Supply 500 weekend at the “Tricky Triangle” in Long Pond, Pa., Aug. 20-21. Drivers from six teams logged more than 1,700 laps on the 2.5-mile triangular oval. Because it was a team test, lap times were not reported.

Getting track time was paramount for rookie Max Chilton, making his first visit to Pocono.

“It’s hugely important,” said the driver of the No. 8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. “You’ve got to leave this being comfortable in what you’ve got for the race. We’re trying to get that, so I’m confident to come back here in a fortnight.”

Even veterans realize the value of testing at Pocono, with its three distinctly different corners.

“This place is so tricky,” said Graham Rahal, driver of the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda. “It’s extremely demanding to get the car balance just right. You’ve got to get the aerodynamic trim levels where you’re still fast enough. You can put on a ton of downforce and make it go flat (on the accelerator), but then you might go too slow for the race.

“Any day, any lap you can get around here, trust me, is good because you’re always learning.”

Also participating in the test were Jack Hawksworth and Takuma Sato of AJ Foyt Racing; Marco Andretti, defending race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, Carlos Munoz and Alexander Rossi of Andretti Autosport; Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Charlie Kimball from Chip Ganassi Racing; Ed Carpenter and Josef Newgarden of Ed Carpenter Racing; and Mikhail Aleshin and James Hinchcliffe from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

The ABC Supply 500 weekend consists of practice and qualifying on Aug. 20 and the 200-lap race on Aug. 21. Race-day coverage begins at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network. For ticket information, visit

2. NBC Sports Group sees record viewership for Mid-Ohio race: The July 31 simulcast of The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio on NBCSN and CNBC delivered 929,000 viewers to rank as NBC Sports Group’s most-watched Verizon IndyCar Series race since it acquired telecast rights prior to the 2009 season. The telecast earned a 0.64 rating.

It was also the most-watched Verizon IndyCar Series race on cable television since the 2008 Richmond race on ESPN (947,000 viewers). Viewership peaked for The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, won by Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud, in the 3-3:15 p.m. ET quarter hour with 1.326 million viewers.

The race from Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course was originally scheduled to air on CNBC with a later encore airing on NBCSN, but when Sunday’s NASCAR race at Pocono was postponed, the Verizon IndyCar Series race from the popular permanent road course in Lexington, Ohio, was also simulcast on NBCSN.

NBC Sports Group is on pace for its most-watched Verizon IndyCar Series season. Through seven telecasts, average viewership has been 505,000 viewers, up 28 percent from 2015 (394,000). The 2016 telecasts continue a strong surge that has seen nine of the last 13 races on NBCSN average more than 500,000 viewers, more than the prior six seasons combined (five races).

NBC Sports Group’s five most-watched Verizon IndyCar Series races to date have been: Mid-Ohio 2016, airing on NBCSN and CNBC, with 929,000 viewers; Sonoma 2015, NBCSN, 841,000; Mid-Ohio 2015, NBCSN, 666,000; Edmonton 2011, CNBC, 642,000; and Pocono 2015, NBCSN, 635,000.

Pocono Raceway is up next on the 2016 schedule, with the ABC Supply 500 airing live on NBCSN at 3 p.m. ET Aug. 21. After that, it’s the completion of the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway (9 p.m. ET Aug. 27), the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen (2 p.m. ETSept. 4) and the season-ending GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (6:30 p.m. ET Sept. 18) – all airing live on NBCSN.

3. Chevrolet holds 91-point lead in manufacturers’ battle: The Verizon IndyCar Series manufacturers’ championship remains up for grabs with four races still to be completed in the 16-race season.

Chevrolet holds a 91-point lead over Honda (1,255 to 1,164) heading to the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway on Aug. 21. Chevrolet has won the four manufacturers’ championships since engine competition was reintroduced to the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2012. Chevrolet and Honda have also developed aerodynamic bodywork kits for their respective teams since 2015.

At the most recent race on July 31, The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, Chevrolet earned 117 points – led by race winner Simon Pagenaud of Team Penske – but also faced a 20-point deduction when it had to change the failed engine on the No. 8 Chip Ganassi Racing Teams entry of Max Chilton.

Honda, whose top race finisher was Carlos Munoz in third place, earned 99 points from race competition plus 30 bonus points for seeing the engines on three of its cars successfully reach their 2,500-mile threshold. Cars that had engines “mileage out” over the race weekend and receive the 10-point bonus were: No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (Graham Rahal), No. 26 Andretti Autosport (Carlos Munoz) and No. 41 AJ Foyt Racing (Jack Hawksworth).

4. Texas Motor Speedway honoring police at Firestone 600 resumption: Texas Motor Speedway will host “Back The Blue Night” at the resumption of the Firestone 600 on Aug. 27 to display its appreciation for the dedicated service of police officers.

“Back The Blue Night” will honor police officers by providing them and a companion free admission to the Firestone 600, which was suspended by rain June 12 after 71 of 248 laps. The race will pick up Aug. 27 at the point at which it was stopped, with James Hinchcliffe of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in the lead.

Police personnel who show a badge or proper identification at the entrance gate will receive free general admission seating. Texas Motor Speedway is also extending the offer to all first responders.

The Firestone 600 begins at 9 p.m. ET Aug. 27 and airs live on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network. The “Restart Your Engines” schedule for the day begins with gates opening to the public at 5 p.m. ET, a Verizon IndyCar Series practice from 5:30-6 p.m. and an autograph session featuring the entire driver field from 6:30-7:15 p.m. on the main concourse.

All frontstretch seating, including premium sections, will be general admission and priced at $28, with children 12 and under at $10. Tickets from the June race suspension will be honored. For more information, contact the TMS ticket office at (817) 215-8500 or visit

5. Iowa Speedway puts 2017 season tickets on sale: Iowa Speedway – which will host a Verizon IndyCar Series race for the 11th consecutive year in 2017 – has opened season ticket renewals and sales for 2017. The schedule for the 0.894-mile oval includes the Iowa Corn 300, the Verizon IndyCar Series race set for Sunday, July 9, 2017.

Fans seeking to renew or buy new season tickets may visit, call (866) 787-8946 or visit the track’s ticket office in person weekdays between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET. Season ticket prices remain the same in 2017 as they are this year, starting at $99 for seven races over three weekends.

Season ticket holders will have opportunities to win upgrades including garage passes, pace car rides, photographs in Casey’s General Stores Victory Lane with winning drivers, Newton Club passes, premium parking, signature food vouchers, suite upgrades and driver meet-and-greets.

Iowa Speedway’s single-event and weekend ticket packages go on sale Nov. 25 to the general public.

6. Of note: The July 31 episode of “Celebrity Family Feud” on ABC featuring a team of five Verizon IndyCar Series drivers competing for charity against a team of Sports Illustrated swimsuit models drew 7.303 million viewers. The drivers — Helio Castroneves, Conor Daly, James Hinchcliffe, Tony Kanaan and Will Power — shut out the models and won $25,000 for the Indy Family Foundation. … The epic 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, won in legendary fashion by rookie Alexander Rossi as he ran out of fuel, has been nominated for two honors by the Sports Travel Awards, including Best Sports Event of the Year. Vote for this historic event by 8 p.m. ET Aug. 15 at . … Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course announced that Cooper Tires has been named the official tire of the track and the Mid-Ohio School that provides professional driving and riding instruction to drivers and motorcyclists of all skill levels. The agreement took effect in time for Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, with Cooper track signage in place in time for the Verizon IndyCar Series race. Cooper Tires recently announced it was increasing its investment in the Mazda Road to Indy, becoming presenting sponsor for the entire INDYCAR development stepladder. … DEForce, a new team started by former Indy car driver David Martinez and Ernesto Martinez, announced plans to field three cars in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda – the first rung on the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires ladder. The team, based in Angleton, Texas, has ordered three of the new Tatuus USF-17 chassis that debut in competition next season.

Mid-Ohio Set to Host Mazda Road to Indy Open-Wheel Extravaganza

Seven Races on Tap as Title Chases Tighten for Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000 PALMETTO, Fla. – Just five races remain in the quest for a trio of Mazda scholarships and season-ending awards worth more than $2.3 million as competitors in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper…

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Cooper Tires Expands Mazda Road to Indy Role

Series’ Partner Adds Presenting Sponsor Status PALMETTO, Fla. (July 26, 2016) – As the Official Tire of all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy – Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda – Cooper Tires plays a…

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Dates Set for Sixth Annual Chris Griffis Memorial Open Test

New Mazda-Powered Tatuus USF-17 to Begin Team Testing PALMETTO, Fla. (July 20, 2016) – All three levels of the acclaimed Mazda Road to Indy – Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda – will converge on Indianapolis Motor Speedway…

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Street-Master Rosenqvist Makes Triumphant Indy Lights Return

TORONTO, Ont., Canada. – Sweden’s Felix Rosenqvist had been forced to skip the three most recent Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires races but he returned with a vengeance on the bumpy and challenging street course around Exhibition Place this afternoon to claim a comfortable win in the Cooper Tires Indy Lights Grand Prix of…

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Mazda Road to Indy Open-Wheel Rising Stars Head to Toronto Streets

Mazda Road to Indy Open-Wheel Rising Stars Head to Toronto Streets Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000 Series All Set for Double-Header Action PALMETTO, Fla. (July 13, 2016) –The Mazda Road to Indy is set to provide some thrilling action this weekend as all three steps on the open-wheel development ladder – Indy Lights Presented…

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Serralles Takes the Win in Iowa Speedway Thriller

NEWTON, Iowa – Iowa Speedway, billed as the fastest short track on the planet, provided an exciting stage for the final oval race of the calendar for Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires this afternoon. The 100-lap all-green Indy Lights Iowa Challenge Presented by Cooper Tires came down to a battle at the end with Felix Serralles of Carlin scoring the win in the closing minute on the .686-mile oval.
This is the second win and fourth podium of the season for Serralles, 24, of Ponce, Puerto Rico, who won the season-opener on the streets of St. Petersburg. Serralles also claimed victory at The Milwaukee Mile oval last year.
Rain forced the cancellation of qualifying with the grid set on championship points, giving Carlin’s Ed Jones his seventh pole in the last eight races. Championship rivals Dean Stoneman, Santi Urrutia and Kyle Kaiser lined up second, third and fourth respectively with Serralles in fifth.
Jones held the lead until Lap 57 when Serralles, who had charged into third on the opening lap and maneuvered past Andretti Autosport’s Stoneman on Lap 26, made his move. He appeared poised to take the checkered flag with only 20 laps remaining until a hard-charging Zach Veach of Belardi Auto Racing took the point.
Veach had started sixth and clearly had a car that was capable of winning, proven by setting the fastest lap of the race. The 21-year-old from Stockdale, Ohio, appeared to have his second win of the season in hand until the closing moments as he and Serralles fought their way through lapped traffic. Serralles emerged the victor by 0.6681 seconds with Jones, Stoneman and Urrutia rounding out the top five.
Jones slightly extended his lead in the point standings over Stoneman, 236-213, with Urrutia holding third at 206 points. Serralles’ win has vaulted him to fourth in the standings at 199 with Veach in fifth at 194.
Today’s Indy Lights Iowa Challenge Presented by Cooper Tires will air on NBCSN at 7:00 pm EDT on Tuesday, July 12.
Indy Lights will head to Toronto next week for the Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of Toronto – Rounds 12 and 13 of the championship.
Felix Serralles, #4 SS Tire – Carlin: “It feels great to finally be on the podium again and to win a race! I was really confident today – I had the memory of how confident I was when I won at Milwaukee last year and I felt that way again today. I knew we could get to the front but the Carlin team gave me a car that could help me pull away. You just really can’t give up. One of the biggest parts of ovals is dealing with the lapped traffic and today, that was really difficult. Once I was able to catch Zach, he caught traffic. Some of the drivers were kind enough to let us by but a few others didn’t. But I really have to say the Cooper Tires lasted really well, I pushed all the way through the race and the tires did a great job.”
Zach Veach, #5 – Belardi Auto Racing: “I always like to say that I do better on ovals but what I’ve had this year, I left ‘backing out of it’ off the list of things to do because we had to get to the front. The battle with Dean was one of the most intense battles I’ve ever had on a short oval and I learned a lot. He worked hard to keep me behind him and in trying to get around him, I discovered that my car really liked the high line. That’s what gave me the exit speed and helped me save my Cooper Tires. The tires were amazing; I was worried about how hard I had pushed but the harder I pushed, the more they stayed with me.
“My day changed completely when I came up on lapped traffic. In my view, if you’re a lap down and it’s coming down to the end of the race, you need to make way for the leaders coming through. But I have to be happy with a podium. Things changed for us at Road America, with a win and a third. We could have had a win here, but I’m happy to get the points.”
Ed Jones, #11 Jebel Ali Resorts and Hotels – Carlin: “The turning point of the race for me was getting stuck behind another car. I struggled to get past him and that let Felix by me. That was the momentum changer. From then on, we struggled in traffic. But it was a good result and I’ve extended my lead in the championship and if I keep doing that, it’s all good. The balance changed with the different conditions through the race; I had a lot of understeer. I maxed out my bias early in the race. You want the car to be slightly pointy, with more front end so the car can work in traffic. So every time I got behind someone, that exaggerated the problem and I would lose the exit. It was difficult to get a good run and keep it and that was the difference in the race for me.”

Points Battle Tightens as Indy Lights Season Enters its Second Half

Top Rung of the Mazda Road to Indy Development Ladder Heads to Iowa Oval PALMETTO, Fla. – The level of intensity in this year’s Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires title-chase stepped up several notches during the most recent pair of races at Road America, with all three leading contenders being placed on probation until…

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Mazda Road to Indy Returns to Road America

Mazda Road to Indy Returns to Road America
All Three Levels in Action for Doubleheader Rounds
PALMETTO, Fla. (June 21, 2016) – This weekend will mark a welcome return to the picturesque Road America circuit for all three levels of the highly acclaimed Mazda Road to Indy, with a pair of races on the docket for each series in support of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ Kohler Grand Prix. Located in Elkhart Lake, Wis., the 4.048-mile, 14-turn road course has long been a driver and fan favorite.
Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires has held only four events at the legendary circuit, making its last appearance 25 years ago in 1990 with Paul Tracy taking the win en route to the championship title. The Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda have a more recent history. The last Pro Mazda race took place in 2010 with IndyCar talent Conor Daly winning from the pole. USF2000 last held a tripleheader event in 2012 with Matthew Brabham and Scott Anderson earning victory honors.
Title Chase Heats Up in Indy Lights as New Faces Join the Fray
Six drivers have claimed victory in the eight rounds held to date but only two drivers have notched a pair of wins in the hotly contested championship – Ed Jones of Carlin and Dean Stoneman of Andretti Autosport. Only 29 points separate the two at the season’s halfway mark with Jones looking to extend his lead this weekend.
Hot on their heels are Santi Urrutia (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian), Kyle Kaiser (Juncos Racing) and Felix Serralles (Belardi Auto Racing), who are separated by a mere six points with Urrutia only 10 markers in arrears of Stoneman.
The majority of the Lights teams tested at Road America in May including Carlin, Juncos Racing, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, Andretti Autosport and Belardi Auto Racing.
“It’s so much like Spa with the long straights and fast corners,” said Jones. “That can make it difficult to put a good lap together because there are so many things to get right. It’s very challenging and I really enjoy that. It’s one of my favorites here. With the flowing, high-speed corners and heavy braking zones, it has a good mixture of everything. I think the racing will be very good especially since the long straights should create more opportunities for passing.”
“It’s a high-speed, flowing track and it’s really enjoyable to drive,” added Stoneman. “It’s got a bit of everything: high-speed, low-speed, sweepers and 90-degree corners. It’s enjoyable to work with your engineer here, to figure out how to make the car better on the whole track. It’s been a learning curve for us in developing the car this season, especially since last year Andretti Autosport had one car and this year they have three. Between the three of us, we have the car going in the right direction.”
Andretti Autosport indeed has shown its progress. In the most recent round – the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – Stoneman took the win while teammate Dalton Kellett finished third to claim his career-best result with Shelby Blackstock fourth.
Two new faces will be on the Road America grid as Garett Grist moves up from Pro Mazda to make his Indy Lights debut with Team Pelfrey and James French of nearby Sheboygan debuts with Belardi Auto Racing, filling in for Sweden’s Felix Rosenqvist who has European racing commitments this weekend.
The Mazda Indy Lights Grand Prix of Road America Presented by Cooper Tires will feature Race 1 at 1:00 pm EDTon Saturday and Race 2 at 9:45 am on Sunday. All Indy Lights track activity will be livestreamed on the Road To Indy TV App as well as and indycar.comSunday’s feature race will have same day coverage on NBCSN at 3:30 pm.
Telitz Looking for Pro Mazda Victories in Hometown Race
Pato O’Ward has taken an impressive stranglehold on the Pro Mazda championship. The 17-year-old Monterrey, Mexico native has won six of the first seven races and is looking to eclipse Matthew’s Brabham’s record of seven wins in the first eight races in 2013.
With a seemingly comfortable 55-point lead in the championship standings heading into the weekend, O’Ward’s biggest threat remains his Team Pelfrey teammate Aaron Telitz who has been the only other driver to feature on the top step of the podium to date this season.
Telitz, who was born in Rice Lake and lives in Birchwood, has had many firsts at the Road America circuit and is expecting a sizable contingent of family and friends this weekend for his home race.
“Road America really is a special place for me,” said Telitz. “This was where I had my first experience in a race car, at the three-day Skip Barber Racing School, my first race and my first race win. I’ve never had a ‘home’ race on the Mazda Road to Indy before, so this is going to be exciting. Pretty much my entire extended family will be there, plus friends from Birchwood. I have a lot of friends from college in Eau Claire coming down and camping out, so it will be a huge event for me.
“This is the biggest track we go to. It’s got huge straightaways and huge elevation changes, so it’s pretty extreme. It’s super old-school. In all the races this weekend, you’re going to see lots of passing and groups of cars running together because they’ll be able to draft together. We’ll be running less downforce in the car because the straights are so long and that will make for some exciting racing. The fans are going to love it!”
As for his thoughts on the championship, Telitz is looking to take the battle all the way to the end.
“I came into the year planning to do the best I could and to take away a win and a second at the first race weekend and then go into a string of second-place finishes was an awesome way to start the year. I’m planning to keep the string of podium finishes going, because that’s what it takes to win a championship. IndyCar is where I want to go – that’s been my goal since Day One in race cars and I haven’t wavered from that.”
With the departure of Garett Grist to Indy Lights, Juncos Racing’s Will Owen will more than likely slot into third place in the championship standings. Owen left the month of May with a pair of podium finishes and will be looking to fend off the challenges from reigning USF2000 champion and Mazda scholarship winner Nico Jamin. The Cape Motorsports w/ Wayne Taylor Racing driver sits only five points behind Owen followed by Jake Parsons of Juncos Racing.
One to watch this weekend will be TJ Fischer who moves up from USF2000 and will be making his Pro Mazda debut out of the dominant Team Pelfrey stable.
In National Class action, regular Bobby Eberle of JDC MotorSports will be looking to hold off the advances of teammate Kevin Davis and Bob Kaminsky of Kaminsky Racing who returns to the series this weekend.
The pair of Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Road America races, comprising Rounds 8 and 9 of the championship, will take place on Saturday at 9:55 am EDT and 3:05 pm with live streaming of all sessions on the Road To Indy TV App and at and
Cape Motorsports Teammates Battle for USF2000 Supremacy
With a string of five victories in the last five rounds, Cape Motorsports w/ Wayne Taylor Racing teammates Parker Thompson and Anthony Martin appear poised to lead the squad to its fifth consecutive team championship and sixth consecutive driver championship.
Thompson, of Red Deer, Alberta, Canada has been a mark of consistency, starting on the front row in all seven rounds held to date and only once finishing outside the top four. He has amassed the most wins this season with three. Martin, from Kalgoorlie, Australia, also has been a fixture at the top of the timesheets with six top-five finishes and two wins.
Not to be counted out in the championship title chase, however, are local teams Pabst Racing (Oconomowoc) and ArmsUp Motorsports (Sheboygan Falls). Pabst Racing teammates Jordan Lloyd and Yufeng Luo are the only other drivers to score victories to date this season, with Lloyd sitting third in the standings and Luo fifth. The pair are separated by Victor Franzoni of ArmsUp Motorsports who has scored podium finishes in each of the last three events.
Max Hanratty, also of ArmsUp Motorsports, will be one to watch as well as he looks to impress in his home race. Hanratty was born in Hartland and currently resides in Milwaukee. He is also a shareholder and season ticket holder for the Green Bay Packers.
The USF2000 National Class will see an expanded field this weekend with Eric Filgueiras (Spencer Racing), Green Bay’s Dale VandenBush (ArmsUp Motorsports), Brendan Puderbach (Fat Boy Racing) and Charles Finelli (Fat Boy Racing).
The Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of Road America Powered by Mazda will kick off with a pair of races on Saturday at 9:00 am EDT and 1:10 pm. All on-track activity will be live streamed on the Road To Indy TV App and at and

Stoneman Wins Thrilling Freedom 100 in Closest-Ever Indianapolis Finish

SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Dean Stoneman, driving for Michael Andretti’s Andretti Autosport team, this afternoon thrilled a massive and enthusiastic Carb Day crowd at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway by edging fellow Englishman Ed Jones to the yard of bricks and the checkered flag to win a gripping Mazda Freedom 100 Presented by Cooper Tires. Stoneman’s victory…

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