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Verizon IndyCar Series to participate in Krewe of Bacchus Parade

January 30th, 2015

1.30.15 (via SportsNola.com) – INDYCAR announced today that four Verizon IndyCar Series drivers, and two drivers from the Mazda Road to Indy developmental ladder, will be traveling to New Orleans to be featured in the Krewe of Bacchus parade on February 15, just two days before Fat Tuesday, the last day of the Carnival season.

 

Three-time race winner James “the Mayor of Hinchtown” Hinchcliffe, who drives the No. 77 for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, rising star and Nashville native Josef Newgarden, who will start his fourth season driving the No. 67 for CFH Racing, 2014 Sunoco Rookie of the Year and Andretti Autosport driver Carlos Munoz and last year’s Indianapolis 500 rookie sensation, Chip Ganassi Racing driver Sage Karam will be joined by Mazda Road to Indy drivers Aaron Telitz (Cooper Tires U.S. F2000 Championship Powered by Mazda) and Neil Alberico (Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires), on the Krewe of Bacchus Officers’ Float. Academy Award-nominated actor John C. Reilly, best known for his roles in “Chicago,” “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” and “Step Brothers,” is serving as the king of this year’s Bacchus parade and its surrounding festivities.

 

“The Krewe of Bacchus is delighted to have several of the world’s fastest race car drivers join us for Mardi Gras 2015. It will be an unforgettable experience ” said Clark Brennan, Bacchus captain.

 

“It is always our goal to bring the spotlight of the world on Mardi Gras and New Orleans by having fantastic celebrity kings and outstanding celebrity guests and this year is no exception.”

 

The Verizon IndyCar Series, which features a 17-race season that is highlighted by the Indianapolis 500 — the world’s largest single-day sporting event — each May, will compete in the New Orleans market for the first time this spring at the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana on April 10-12 at NOLA Motorsports Park, Avondale, LA.

 

 

 

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Hunter-Reay joins iconic Daytona 24-hour race, Blackstock’s debut

January 24th, 2015

1.24.15 – Reigning Indianapolis 500 Champion Ryan Hunter-Reay is jumpstarting his 2015 racing season as he joins the field of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Saturday’s iconic sports car race will mark the ninth consecutive Rolex 24 start for the American-born racer.

Hunter-Reay, together with co-drivers Rubens Barichello, Tor Graves, Brendon Hartley and Scott Mayer, will take on race responsibilities for the No. 7 Martini-sponsorsed BMW Power Riley Daytona Prototype for Starworks Motorsport that will take the green flag from the eighth grid position. This year’s 24-hour endurance race is Hunter-Reay’s second career outing with Starworks Motorsport; the 34-year-old first raced with the team in Daytona following his Verizon IndyCar Series championship win in 2012.

“I always look forward to the 24 Hour and kicking off the race season here in Daytona,” said Hunter-Reay. “It's great to be back at Starworks and working with a talented team of co-drivers. In nine straight year being part of the Daytona Rolex 24 I've finished second twice, which is just too close to bringing that watch home. We have a great line up driving this weekend and hopefully we’ll all have something new to wear on our wrists come Sunday.”

Catch live coverage of the 53rd Rolex 24 at Daytona on FOX Sports television Saturday and Sunday. The 15.5-hour broadcast will kick off just before the start of the first round of the 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Fans can also watch live via the FOX Sports GO app.

The veteran driver will be joined in the Rolex 24 by fellow Andretti Autosport team member Shelby Blackstock, the Indy Lights rookie who will make his debut in the 24-hour race from fifth in class with Bar1 Motorsports.

Following the Daytona 24 Hunter-Reay will soon return to the cockpit of his No. 28 Andretti Autosport Honda-powered IndyCar as he preps to carry primary sponsor DHL’s colors into the 2015 season, his 12th season in the American open-wheel series. The Verizon IndyCar Series championship travels to Brasília, Brazil on March 8. The season opener will mark the Florida resident’s 170th career IndyCar start.

 

 

Rolex 24 at Daytona Broadcast Times (All times ET)

Saturday, Jan. 24

2-4 p.m.                        FOX Network

4-8 p.m.                        FOX Sports 2

8-10 p.m.                      FOX Sports 1

 

Overnight (Jan. 24-25)

10 p.m.-7 a.m.               IMSA TV on IMSA.com (live video & commentary)

           

Sunday, Jan. 25

7 a.m.-2:30 p.m.            FOX Sports 1 

 

 

 

Carlos Munoz looking for strong sophomore season

January 22nd, 2015

1.22.15 (via SpeedwayMedia.com) – Following a solid rookie season in the Verizon IndyCar Series, Carlos Munoz is back with Andretti Autosport in 2015 and looking for success.

“I think it’s going to be a really hard season in the beginning because of the new aero kits for 2015,” he told SpeedwayMedia.com. “I think between Chevy & Honda, we don’t know where we really are, where the other teams are; it’s going to be a big question mark. I am feeling comfortable, it’s my second year in this series and I have some experience. I think we can do great things. I have bigger expectations, higher goals, so I’m looking forward to the first race in Brazil.”

With a year behind him, Munoz is entering this year looking to snatch up podium finishes and wins, but notes that the expectations for the year will be based “race by race”, depending on things start out with the addition of the aero kits. Munoz has seen the new kits and says that the car looks unbelievable as they’re “crazy nice”.

“I think Honda’s done a great job and we’ll see what happens in the end,” the driver of the No. 34 Cinsay Honda added. “I think it’s going to be good for the competition and it’s going to be really nice for the fans to watch the cars, and as a driver, I think it will be an even better show for them.”

Beyond having the experience under his belt, the 23-year-old feels that this upcoming season will be stronger having learned from the mistakes that he made last season.

“I know now what not to do or what to do to prevent the same mistakes because of my own experiences,” he explained. “I’ve been to the tracks now; I have the data, what things work for me, what didn’t work for me. As a team, they know a little bit more about what I like or don’t like with my driving style. It’s really important to have all of that.”

Despite some mistakes along the way, Munoz had a solid rookie season, scoring three podium finishes en route to finishing eighth in the season ending standings. Certainly one of the biggest highlights was the fourth place finish in the Indianapolis 500, marking Munoz’s second top-five in the biggest spectacle of racing following a runner-up finish in 2013. When asked what it would mean to him to win the race, Munoz commented, “I think first I have to win it then I will see. It’s been two years in a row fighting for the win and I think we have a great chance this year to fight so I will fight to win, and after I do I’ll let you know how I feel.”

Though rather than dwell on the success, the Columbian is already set and focused on 2015.

“I thought over the good stuff and the bad stuff so it’s in the past,” he said. “I think the goals I had were accomplished so there’s nothing more to dwell on and just look ahead to 2015.”

 

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Ryan Hunter-Reay’s golf tourney raises $100,000 for Racing for Cancer

January 20th, 2015

1.20.15 (via INDYCAR.com) - Any reports that Ryan Hunter-Reay‘s “Baby Borg” was a prize for a hole-in-one contest during the Racing For Cancer golf tournament Jan. 19 at Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Country Club are unfounded. A signed photo of the reigning Indianapolis 500 Mile Race winner would have been an acceptable prize to Hunter-Reay, who took delivery of the Championship Driver’s Trophy last week during the annual Automotive News World Congress in Detroit.

Hunter-Reay was pleased to report that the tournament, presented by AutoNation, DHL and FastBoats Marine Group, raised $50,000, with a $50,000 match by AutoNation. Proceeds will benefit Cleveland Clinic Florida’s Maroone Cancer Center.

 

“It was a huge success,” said Hunter-Reay, who will compete this weekend in the 53rd Rolex 24 At Daytona.

 

The total augments the $2.5 million gift that Racing For Cancer and Fort Lauderdale-based AutoNation presented to Cleveland Clinic Florida’s new cancer center in November 2014. Both groups initially gave $1 million each, and AutoNation pledged an additional $500,000 – or $1,000 for every mile Hunter-Reay completed on his road to the Indy 500 victory. The dealership group partnered with Racing For Cancer in May 2013 to fight the disease that took the life of Hunter-Reay’s mother in 2009.

 

 

 

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Andrew’s third Owner’s Trophy ‘really special’

January 15th, 2015

1.15.15 (via INDYCAR.com) – It’s too much to ask of Michael Andretti to select which of the three Indianapolis 500 Mile Race victories as a team owner is his favorite. Each is special in its own right.

 

Andretti was presented his most recent BorgWarner Championship Team Owner's Trophy by BorgWarner CEO James Verrier during a dinner at the annual Automotive News World Congress. He also won in 2005 (Dan Wheldon) and 2007 (Dario Franchitti) under the Andretti Green Racing banner.

 

“These are special moments and this one is really special in what we were able to do with Ryan, who did such a fantastic job in the race,” Andretti said. “Then it was the first one we won as Andretti Autosport and the way we won it. Those last six laps were some of the most exciting in Indianapolis 500 history.”

 

Andretti’s 42 Indy car victories are third on the all-time list – behind his father Mario (52), the 1969 Indianapolis 500 champion, and four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt (67) – and he has followed with more than 50 Verizon IndyCar Series wins as a team owner. Not winning the race as a driver doesn’t diminish the sense of accomplishment.

 

“The Borg-Warner Trophy is the iconic trophy of sports, not just auto racing, and unfortunately I don’t have my face on the trophy but I’ve been lucky enough to have three Indy 500 wins as an owner and I’m proud to have three drivers representing our team with their faces on the trophy,” said Andretti, who latest owner’s trophy will join the others in his office. “It says that we’ve done a good job as a team over the years. It’s the most special race in the world and when you win it stays with you the rest of your life.”

 

Based in Indianapolis, Andretti Autosport boasts four Verizon IndyCar Series championships (2004, 2005, 2007 and 2012), two Indy Lights titles (2008 and 2009), one Pro Mazda championship (2013) and one USF2000 championship (2010).

 

Andretti Autosport enters the 17-race Verizon IndyCar Series season that begins March 8 in Brasilia, Brazil, with entries for Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and 2014 Sunoco Rookie of the Year Carlos Munoz. Andretti remains positive that a fourth – and possibly a fifth – car will be added in the next few weeks to the lineup.

 

“Continuity is a great thing in racing and signing Ryan to a three-year extension (in August) puts that all aside and means we can focus on racing, and Marco and Carlos are sitting there (chomping at the bit) to win that Borg-Warner trophy, too,” Andretti said. “If I can get to five cars, I’d love to do it. We have a lot of irons in the fire and if two of them happen then we can have five cars. At the very least, we’d like to have four.”

 

 

 

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Blackstock eager to test new Indy Lights package

January 8th, 2015

1.8.15 (via INDYCAR.com) – Getting a 1,500-pound present three weeks after Christmas is worth the wait, according to Shelby Blackstock.

 

“It’s going to be the real Christmas morning to be able to test,” he said.

 

Blackstock will drive the No. 51 Starstruck Andretti Autosport entry as Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires holds its first official Open Test with the new Dallara/Mazda package Jan. 13-14 on the 2.034-mile, 11-turn Palm Beach International Raceway road course in Jupiter, Fla.

 

“I’m excited to get going. We’ll see what happens when we turn the first lap and then hopefully not have any issues so we can start learning the car,” said Blackstock, who turns 25 on Feb. 23. “First and foremost, I hope to accomplish getting on top of the car and be the first guy to figure it out because that’s always the biggest thing that puts you up front.

 

“A couple of big things I’m looking forward to seeing is how the car performs and how it performs in traffic. The car (being assembled at the Andretti Autosport shop in photo at right) has really big tunnels and a lot of aerodynamics on it so we’ll see how these cars race with each other.”

 

Indy Lights teams/drivers also will test Jan. 26-27 on the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course and Jan. 29 on the 1.5-mile oval.

Full-field testing next month includes Feb. 18 at NOLA Motorsports Park and Feb. 24-25 at Barber Motorsports Park. The season opens with a doubleheader race weekend March 28-29 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., in conjunction with the Verizon IndyCar Series-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

 

Blackstock, a Tennessee native, recorded one win, three poles, 13 podiums and 18 top-five finishes the past two seasons combined in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires in an Andretti Autosport-prepared car. He’ll be the third driver to take the next step up the Mazda Road to Indy ladder with Andretti Autosport (Zach Veach, 2013; Matthew Brabham, 2014).

 

“Going into this year I’m open-minded,” he said. “We had a good first season in Pro Mazda and the next season, when we’re trying to go for the championship, there were some expectations based how well we did the year before. Then the series changed the tire on us, which changed our car completely. So I’ve learned not to really have expectations.”

 

 

 

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Rob Edwards shifts from SPM to Andretti

January 5th, 2015

1.5.15 (via MotorSportsTalk) – Andretti Autosport has hired Rob Edwards, who had been the team manager with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, as the team’s new Director of Race Operations and Engineering, effective immediately.

Edwards essentially replaces Kyle Moyer, who departed for Team Penske this offseason.

Under Michael Andretti’s umbrella, the remainder of the management team will be George Klotz (Team Manager, IndyCar), Dave Popielarz (Team Manager, Indy Lights), and Fran Reilly (Team Manager, Pro Mazda).

“We are excited to welcome Rob (Edwards) to the Andretti family,” Andretti said. “His experience in racing will be valuable in moving our organization forward across multiple racing platforms.”

Incidentally, this is the opposite of what happened to one of Andretti’s drivers this offseason. James Hinchcliffe left Andretti for Schmidt Peterson this winter, and was flanked by Edwards and SPM co-owner Ric Peterson at October’s announcement.

Edwards’ hiring bolsters Andretti’s management staff. The team has three IndyCars confirmed (Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, Carlos Munoz), one Indy Lights car (Shelby Blackstock) and two Pro Mazda cars (Dalton Kellett, Weiron Tan) confirmed thus far for 2015.

A fourth IndyCar and second Indy Lights car are expected to be confirmed in the new year.

 

 

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12 Days of Christmas: #4 RHR wins classic Indy 500

January 5th, 2015

1.1.15 (via RACER.com) – Ryan Hunter-Reay is accustomed to fighting for every ounce of success that has come his way. His duel with Helio Castroneves over the lead an eventual win at the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 was a perfect example of the 2012 Verizon IndyCar Series champion’s resolve, and with one daring pass to take the lead on lap 197, RHR pulled off the biggest win of his career.

 

“It really comes down to the fact that I couldn’t have asked for the race to play out in any better way,” Hunter-Reay said. “To be a part, to be an Indy 500 winner is the top of the top of my list. But to win it that way in such a close fight…we knew that if we were to have a green finish, it was going to be an extremely close race, one with a lot of lead changes. We finally had that.”

 

The 2014 Indy 500 was just one of many recent Memorial Day classics to feature great battles in the final laps, but with most of those ending under caution, the scrap between RHR’s No. 28 Andretti Autosport Honda and Castroneves’ No. 3 Team Penske Chevy would make it to the checkered flag without interruption.

 

“I am just so relieved it didn’t end in a yellow or shortened by rain or anything like that,” RHR added. “And I always knew that I would put everything on the line for that win. I think everybody would. You see what [Takuma] Sato did with [Dario] Franchitti a few years back. It’s the only thing that matters, really. When you’re in that moment you’ll give anything to make it happen, and I think that’s what you see from my driving there.”

 

RHR’s relentless pursuit of the lead at Indy ushered him into a select club of “500” winners and he says life hasn’t been the same since his determined drive on May 25.

 

“It’s been fantastic…it’s been amazing…every part of the journey, it’s been more than I could have ever expected,” he noted. “The Indy 500, like I’ve said many times – it transcends motorsports, it’s part of American tradition. Even the most casual of motorsports fans, even people that aren’t motorsports fans, know and watch the Indy 500. It’s been pretty amazing, the recognition you get for winning what many consider is the biggest race in the world.”

 

With more than six month to reflect on what took place at Indy, RHR believes the stars aligned in his favor. Roles were reversed at last year’s Indy 500 as he watched Tony Kanaan rocket past to the front of the field in the final laps, and with the tables turned, he knows what Castroneves must have been feeling with the No. 28 Honda motored by to take the win.

 

“You know, there’s so much that goes into putting yourself in the position to compete for a win at the Indy 500: There’s so much that has to go right over the entire month, over the course of the day, over the course of the 500 miles to be in that duel at the end. The emotions in the car; your heart rate is probably towards 185 those last few laps, holding your breath through every corner,” he said.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Carlos Munoz Outclassed All Rookies in 2014

January 5th, 2015

12.31.14 (via Next Gen Indy) – The 2014 IndyCar season had 23 full time drivers, four of those were rookies to the IndyCar series.  Carlos Huertas, Jack Hawksworth, Mikhail Aleshin, and Carlos Munoz were the drivers getting their first full season shot in one of the premiere open-wheel series.  One of these rookies made his presence in the series well known and stood out among the others, Colombian racing driver Carlos Munoz.

 

Munoz drove for Andretti Autosport in the 2014 season along with IndyCar veterans Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and James Hinchcliffe.  The 22 year old is on the younger side of the grid in terms of time behind the wheel, but showed no trouble getting up to speed with the more experienced field throughout the season.  He recorded nine top-ten finishes in the season, including three podiums for third place each time.  Of those top-ten finishes, five were within the top five.  His average finishing position for the year came out to 10.6, roughly four positions higher than the next best rookie, Mikhail Aleshin (14.4).

 

It’s not that Munoz didn’t have races that caused him some trouble (see below), but he was able to offset the poor results with better ones, something the other rookies failed to do.

 

 

 

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2014: A year of struggle in Indiana sports

December 25th, 2014

12.25.14 (via IndyStar.com) – The box score is pedestrian, with Ryan Hunter-Reay officially leading the final four laps of the Indianapolis 500. Only it was better than that. Much better.

 

Hunter-Reay and Helio Castroneves staged a classic duel, swapping the lead three times during those final four laps to finish with the second-closest margin in race history (0.06 seconds). Only Al Unser Jr.'s win over Scott Goodyear in 1992 was closer at 0.043 seconds.

 

Hunter-Reay took the lead for the final time just ahead of the start/finish line on Lap 199, but it was his move two laps earlier in Turn 3 that was most memorable. He faked to the outside, then nearly drove his car to the grass for an inside pass.

 

"A daredevil move," Goodyear called it.

 

Hunter-Reay not only earned his first 500 victory, he became the first U.S.-born winner since Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006. Andretti Autosport scored its third victory; Castroneves was denied his fourth.

 

"I'm a proud American boy, that's for sure," Hunter-Reay said in victory lane.

 

 

 

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