Archive for the ‘Verizon Indycar Series’ Category

IndyCar 2014 Review: P8 – Carlos Munoz

Monday, November 24th, 2014

11.24.2014 (via RACER.com) – Marshall Pruett says…
 
Carlos was shot out of a rocket during most of his rookie IndyCar season. He stood on the podium at Long Beach, the second race of the season, and continued on a roll that had the 22-year-old Colombian (22!) holding sixth in the standings through Iowa, the 12th of 18 races on the calendar.
 
The Munoz train would start to derail at Toronto where a pair of 17th places followed by a 22nd at Milwaukee and a 19th at Sonoma took a bit of shine off his pre-Toronto body of work. The end result was eighth in the championship, nestled between Tony Kanaan and teammate Marco Andretti in the final standings.
 
If you detect a slight tone of disappointment in what I’ve written so far, it’s because Munoz slammed the rookie wall much harder than expected. Rounds 1 through 12 came easy to Carlos—that Long Beach podium, a fourth at the Indy 500, another podium at Houston 1 and then another podium at Pocono served as incredible highs that more than counterbalanced his craters at Barber, the GP of Indy and Houston 2.
 
You expect rookies to be inconsistent, and Munoz met those expectations perfectly, but when he was on, the kid looked like a future IndyCar champion. The final 33 percent of the season exposed Munoz’s youth and inexperience, and that isn’t something to be held against him.
 
Teamed with the excellent engineer Garrett Mothersead, Carlos was a revelation in 2014, put some big names behind him in the championship, and by all accounts, overachieved. He was the second best driver at Andretti Autosport—just two spots behind team leader, Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, and that’s something no one would have predicted.
 
I'm curious to see where he fits on the grid in 2015. With a touch of consistency, he moves up a few positions in the standings, but does he have an extra gear to mix it up with Power, Dixon, RHR, Pagenaud and the other beasts on a regular basis?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

IndyCar 2014 Review: P9 – Marco Andretti

Friday, November 21st, 2014

11.21.2014 (via RACER.com) - Robin Miller says…
 
After leading 30 laps and finishing third in the Indianapolis 500, Andretti stood fifth in the Verizon standings and was looking like championship material. The third generation driver had a second at Barber to go with an eighth at Long Beach and he’d qualified in the Top 10 three of four times on street and road courses.
 
Maybe, in his ninth season driving for his father’s team he was about to make that long-awaited breakthrough.
 
But, from the Midwest swing starting in Detroit until the west coast finales, things went south for the 27-year-old native of Nazareth. He managed only three eighths and a pair of ninths in another disappointing Marco-Indyseason that was represented in his ninth place in the rankings.
 
It’s a mystery how he can look like a world-beater one minute and just another guy the next but the lack of consistency has been Marco’s constant companion. He’s got the Andretti genes on ovals but road race/street course qualifying remains his biggest detriment. It looked like early in 2013 he’d made big strides but was back to his old self in 2014 – his average starting spot was 16th for the last eight races when forced to turn right and left.
 
If the season ran 10 times on the oval at IMS, he’d be a contender every year because he’s always in the lead pack. But, until he can get a handle on the bulk of the races, the Month of May will have to be his Holy Grail.
 
Marshall Pruett says…
 
History would suggest Marco Andretti is the seventh, eighth or ninth best IndyCar driver since his rookie season in 2006, and I’d have to agree.
Nine years into his IndyCar career, Marco has ended up seventh, eighth or ninth in the standings on six occasions – 66 percent of the time. It makes his ninth-place finish in 2014 less of a surprise, and more of a confirmation that it’s where he belongs.
 
Granted, I’m not saying his talent is limiting him to P7/P8/P9–we know he's better than that, but it is where he tends to settle at the end of most seasons. The anomaly, of course, was 2013, when he made a spirited run to fifth in the championship. As many of us chronicled at the time, he spent the off-season receiving coaching to address his shortcomings, and responded by landing on the podium at Round 1, another podium at Round 4, and captured seven top-6 finishes.
His biggest strides were made on strMarco-HondaLogoeet courses, yet in 2014, it looked like most of his hard work was undone. Those storming drives were rarities this year, other than a fine run to second at Barber and another third-place at the Indy 500.
 
If I’m honest, I don’t remember much of Marco’s season, and that’s not due to forgetfulness; it’s because it wasn’t particularly memorable. He was rarely that far off the pace, had Danica-like consistency with eight top-10s, but like his former teammate, the numbers are misleading: Six of those eight top-10s were finishes of eighth, ninth or 10th.
 
It all added up to a decent average—enough to place Marco ninth in the standings, but in a field of 21 full-time entries, being slightly better than the bottom half of the field isn’t what I expect from the 27-year-old. He finished one position behind his rookie teammate Carlos Munoz, which is another statistic that should serve as an embarrassment and a motivator.
 
One thing that wasn't Marco's fault took place in the engine bay: If there was smoke trialing from someone's exhaust pipes in 2014, it tended to be Marco's No. 25 Honda. Minus the explosions, he could have finished higher in the standings, but keep in mind that those ahead of him also had blowups or crashes that left points on the table. Regardless, engine reliability wasn't on his side.
 
Marco gave us a brief glimpse of what he can achieve when he humbles and applies himself. P5 in 2013 wasn’t a fluke, which makes his regression in 2014 yet another reason to be frustrated with his inconsistent output.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Andretti, Veach, Butterball team up to feed Hungry Hoosiers

Monday, November 17th, 2014

11.17.14 – With Thanksgiving just around the corner, Andretti Autosport teamed up with partner Butterball to giveback to its Indianapolis community in the form of 500 Whole Turkeys. 
 
The company that accounts for 20% of the nation’s total turkey production and the powerhouse motorsports team delivered 500 turkeys to Midwest Food Bank on the city’s south side this afternoon with the help of team owner Michael Andretti, President and CEO of Butterball Kerry Doughty, 2014 Indy Lights driver Zach Veach and its 2014 Indianapolis 500-winning crew. The Butterball Whole Turkeys were distributed to Wheeler Mission, the Society of St. Vincent dePaul and various food pantries across the state’s capital to help feed over 4,500 people this Thanksgiving.
 
"Indianapolis and the surrounding communities serve as the heart and soul of Indy car racing,” Andretti Autosport Chairman, President and CEO Michael Andretti said. “The people of Central Indiana provide a supportive fan base necessary to the growth and health of our sport. My wife Jodi and I are happy to now call Indianapolis our home, and I am honored to be here today with Butterball to give back to the community that has done so much for us.”
 
Midwest Food Bank helps gather and distribute food to not-for-profits and disaster sites around Indianapolis with additional locations in Illinois and Georgia. One in six Hoosiers are food insecure, and Midwest Food Bank is able to help over 550,000 Hoosiers in one month due to its partners and volunteers. The southside organization is projected to deliver over $25 million worth of food in 2014.
 
Images can be found on the INDYCAR Media Site for all accredited media at www.media.indycar.com.

 

Postseason profile: Ryan Hunter-Reay

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

11.13.14 (via IndyCar.com) – The cast: Race engineer – Ray Gosselin. Race strategist – Michael Andretti. Chief mechanic – Josh Freund.
 
Twitter: @RyanHunterReay, @FollowAndretti
 
The car: No. 28 Honda, DHL primary sponsorship
 
The driver: Ryan Hunter-Reay turns 34 on Dec. 17. … He resides in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with his wife, Beccy, and son, Ryden. He recently was inducted into the Broward County Hall of Fame. He'll compete in December in the Race of Champions in Barbados for the second time. … Hunter-Reay earned the 2012 Verizon IndyCar Series title and in May won the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race for the first time in an exciting dash to the finish.
 
Season finish: Placed sixth in Verizon IndyCar Series championship standings – one spot better than 2013. He’s been in the top seven of the standings each of the past five years.
 
The gist: Hunter-Reay, who completed his fifth season with Andretti Autosport, signed a three-year extension with the team in July. DHL also extended its sponsorship package. … He has started 169 Indy car races since 2003 (when he won at Surfers Paradise to become the first American rookie driver to win a Champ Car race in more than 20 years). … His three victories tied champion Will Power for most during the season. Hunter-Reay’s race strategist and longtime team director Moyer recently departed to join Team Penske as its competition director.
 
Season stats: Hunter-Reay qualified for the Firestone Fast Six in the first four races, earning the pole at Long Beach and starting on the second row in the other races. The efforts led to victory at Barber (second year in a row) and runner-up finishes at St. Petersburg and in the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis. He led 51 of the 80 laps at Long Beach but contact with 24 laps left relegated him to 20th place. … He followed with the Indianapolis 500 victory after qualifying 19th to sit atop the championship standings. He then hit a three-race skid in which 16th was his best finish. Consecutive top 10s at Houston and a stirring victory at Iowa Speedway after starting 13th got Hunter-Reay to third in the standings. The next four races produced one top-10 finish, though he qualified in the top five in three of the events, and he closed with a runner-up finish at Sonoma and 16th at Auto Club Speedway. … Overall, had six podium and nine top-10 finishes. … Led seven races for total of 195 laps to crack 1,000 laps led in his career. … Was running at the finish in 13 of the 18 races.
 
Year over year: 2013 best qualifying first at Barber, Sao Paulo and Mid-Ohio (5.4 average), best finish first at Barber and Milwaukee (11.6 average). 2014 best qualifying first at Long Beach, best finish first in Indianapolis 500, at Barber and Iowa.
 
 
He said it: “It was a really strong season for us. We just lacked some consistency. It was a struggle at times; it was frustrating knowing that we had the car to win and we just didn’t seal the deal. But we were running up front, we have the ‘500’ under our belts, and now with a three-year deal being back home with Andretti Autosport we can challenge for more championships.”
 
 
 
 
 
 

Postseason profile: Munoz makes his mark

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

11.6.2014 (via IndyCar.com) – The cast: Race engineer – Garrett Mothersead. Race strategist – Paul “Ziggy” Harcus. Chief mechanic – Rolando Coronado.

 
Twitter: @CarlosMunoz034, FollowAndretti
 
The car: No. 34 Honda, Cinsay, AndrettiTV.com primary sponsors
 
The driver: Carlos Munoz turns 23 on Jan. 2. … He was the youngest full-season Verizon IndyCar Series driver in 2014. … From Bogota, Colombia, he resides in Miami. … He received Colombia Driver of the Year honors following the 2013 motorsports season.
 
Season finish: Munoz placed eighth in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship standings and earned the Sunoco Rookie of the Year award.
 
The gist: Munoz competed in three Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2013 – starting and finishing second in the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in an Andretti Autosport-prepared car – and driving for Panther Racing (substitute for injured Ryan Briscoe) at Toronto and Andretti Autosport (substitute for ill E.J. Viso) at Auto Club Speedway. Gained seven positions relative to his starting spot to finish 17th at Toronto — his first street course race. He also competed in the Indy Lights race the same day (finished fourth). … He placed third in the 2013 Indy Lights championship for Andretti Autosport, with four victories and eight top-five finishes overall in the 12 races. He placed fifth in Indy Lights in 2013 – his first year racing in the States – with two victories.
 
Season stats: Recorded three podium finishes and five in the top five overall. … Qualified seventh in the first (St. Petersburg), third (Barber) and fifth (Indianapolis 500) races of the season and sixth in race seven (Belle Isle2). Best qualifying was third on the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway tri-oval, which also tied his season-best finish of third (matched at Long Beach after qualifying 11th and Houston1 after qualifying 23rd). … Was running at the finish in 13 of the 18 races.
 
Year over year: 2013 best qualifying second for Indianapolis 500, best finish second in Indianapolis 500 (competed in three races). 2014 best qualifying third at Pocono Raceway (10.5 average), best finish third at Long Beach, Houston1 and Pocono (12.6 average).
 
He said it: “It was a hard season mentally and physically for all the drivers, the stress and I only thought about racing. Though it was a short season, it feels like it was a long season. I had some top-10 finishes and think I showed what I can do. I can be really fast on all kinds of tracks. I have to learn from my mistakes for next year to fight for the championship.”
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

INDYCAR unveils diverse 17-race schedule for ’15

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

10.30.2014 (via IndyCar.com) – Two new races and the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race highlight the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule announced today.
 
The 17-race campaign begins Sunday, March 8, on the Autódromo Internacional Nelson Piquet road course in the Brazil capital of Brasilia and concludes Sunday, Aug. 30, at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., which will mark the first time since Mexico City in 2007 that an Indy car champion will be crowned at a road course. Both races will be televised by NBCSN.
 
The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg kicks off the North American schedule for the fifth year in a row on Sunday, March 29. “The World’s Fastest Spring Break Party” on the 1.8-mile St. Petersburg (Fla.) street circuit will mark the debut of aerodynamic body kits supplied by Chevrolet and Honda to their respective teams. ABC will televise the race at 3 p.m. (ET).
 
The most diverse schedule in motorsports includes events on technically challenging road and street courses, short ovals and superspeedways that is sure to deliver another exciting year of competition. In 2014, Will Power of Team Penske earned his first Verizon IndyCar Series championship in a season that featured a record-tying 11 different race winners. The Verizon IndyCar Series champion has been determined in the final race the past nine seasons.
 
Click it: Watch the 2015 schedule primer
 
ABC will telecast six events, including both days of Indianapolis 500 qualifications and the 500 Mile Race, while NBCSN will telecast 13 events. All races will be broadcast by the IMS Radio Network through its affiliates, including SiriusXM Satellite Radio, the INDYCAR 15 app and www.indycar.com.
 
“The Verizon IndyCar Series calendar represents another step forward in our strategy to grow the series,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co., the parent of INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “There were several factors that led to the positive momentum we experienced in 2014 and we will continue to execute on those initiatives – continuity in our broadcast schedule, strategic growth of our schedule and improvements to how we promote our events. The continued support from our television partners at ABC and NBCSN, and the ongoing collaboration with promoters, teams and sponsor partners gives us a lot of confidence about our future.”
 
The Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana on Sunday, April 12 (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN) at NOLA Motorsports Park near New Orleans is the other new venue on the schedule followed by the 41st Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (April 19, NBCSN) and a return to scenic Barber Motorsports Park (April 26, NBCSN).
 
The Month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will kick off with the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis (May 9, ABC) and will be followed by Indy 500 qualifications (May16-17, ABC). NBCSN will telecast Carb Day activities May 22 that include the final practice session and the Freedom 100 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires race. The month culminates May 24 with the Indianapolis 500.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Abt tests for Andretti

Monday, October 27th, 2014

10.27.14 (via IndyCar.com) – A crescent moon of a smile is unveiled as Daniel Abt slides the terrycloth towel across his face following an exhaustive but productive outing at Barber Motorsports Park.
 
“Ich habe einen guten Tag hatte,” says the exuberant Abt in his native German, which loosely translates to “I’ve had a good day” in the Honda-powered No. 27 Andretti Autosport car on an unseasonably warm autumn day. It was an enjoyable one, too, for the GP2 driver, who came to the 2.38-mile, 16-turn road course to appraise the prospects of competing in the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2015 and be evaluated by team personnel.
 
Interest in the series and racing in the States was piqued by an American friend and fellow competitor, and much time didn’t lapse before Abt was hooked on the series’ blend of street, road courses and ovals.
 
Daniel Abt“I guess it all started with Conor Daly being my teammate. He kept telling me stories about IndyCar so my attention got more and more serious as I watched the races, and I went to Fontana (Calif.) this year to see the race live,” says Abt, 21. “I’m just at a certain stage of my career where I want to take the next step and IndyCar is certainly a great option so that is why I’m here.
 
“I’m not just doing the test because I’m bored and I want to spend some time racing. First of all, I want to get a feeling for the car and the people. I don’t know what the options are at the moment, but I’m interested in doing the season if the package is right and everything is like I want it to be.”
 
In 20 GP2 races this year with Hilmer Motorsport, Abt has a best finish of fifth (Hungary sprint and feature races, Belgium feature) and one pole start (Belgium feature race). He is 15th in the drivers’ championship standings with two races left in the season Nov. 22-23 in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Jolyon Palmer wrapped up the drivers’ title at Sochi, Russia, earlier this month.
 
Last year in GP2, Abt placed 22nd in the standings with ART Grand Prix. He won two races and earned five other podiums in 16 races in placing second in the 2012 GP2 standings with Lotus GP.
 
“GP2 is only a feeder series, so it’s not a series you want to do for the rest of your career. It’s to get experience,” Abt says. “But you don’t have that many options in Europe. You have Formula One, which at the moment is really hard to get in because of money and politics. I think INDYCAR is a great series, and racing in the U.S. is different I have to say. It’s a whole new style of everything, but when you race in Europe your entire life it’s interesting to see something new, meet new people and go to new tracks.
 
“I met Marco (Andretti) in Fontana; just a nice bunch of people. I really liked how all the drivers were open and friendly, and I think that is the spirit that all series should have.”
 
Abt spent time in the Dallara simulator in Speedway, Ind., so as to not hit the challenging serpentine circuit cold, which he noted was another positive about the Michael Andretti-led team. He could fill the vacancy of the No. 27 entry following the move earlier this month of James Hinchcliffe to Schmidt Peterson Motorsports for the 2015 season.

 

 
 
 

Teammates again on international stage

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

10.22.2014 (via IndyCar.com) – Ryan Hunter-Reay and Kurt Busch will be teammates again Dec. 13-14 when they will represent the USA in the Race of Champions' Nations Cup at the Bushy Park Circuit in Barbados.
 
In May, Hunter-Reay won the 98th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race and Busch was voted the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year after a sixth-place finish. Both drove Andretti Autosport-prepared cars.
 
"I've raced for a lot of great sponsors in my career, but to race for my country, that's something pretty special," said Busch, 36, the 2004 NASCAR Cup champion who is 15th in the series standings heading into the Oct. 26 race at Martinsville, Va. "You look at the names of the people who've competed in the Race Of Champions, past and present, to be included on that list is a real honor. I'm excited to team up with Ryan again. He won the Indy 500 for our team, hopefully we can win this one for the United States."
 
Star drivers from multiple motorsports disciplines compete in head-to-head knockout races in identical cars on a serpentine racetrack to determine the Champion of Champions. In the Nations Cup, featured in the Race of Champions since 1999, both drivers representing their country compete head-to-head on the parallel track against other countries in their group. The four most successful teams progress to the knockout semifinals.
 
Hunter-Reay, who was named to the field last month, competed in the Race of Champions in 2012 in Bangkok, Thailand, following his Verizon IndyCar Series championship. He is the most successful American driver currently in open-wheel racing and the only driver to have won in the Verizon IndyCar Series, CART, Champ Car, American Le Mans Series and Grand-Am.
 
“Experience really helps with the short amount of seat time in each of the different types of ROC race car," Hunter-Reay said. "When it’s time to head to Barbados for the race weekend I’ll be focused on winning. It’s an honor to represent America, INDYCAR and the Indy 500 in such a prestigious event.” 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Postseason driver profile: Andretti’s ups and downs

Monday, October 13th, 2014

10.13.14 (via INDYCAR.com) – Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport
 
The cast: Race engineer – Blair Perschbacher. Race strategist – Michael Andretti. Chief mechanic – Jeff Grahn
 
Twitter: @MarcoAndretti, @FollowAndretti
 
The car: No. 25 Honda (Snapple primary sponsor)
 
The driver: Turned 27 on March 13 … Owns his boyhood home in Bushkill Township, just outside of Nazareth, Pa., and near the home of his paternal grandparents, Mario and Dee Ann.  
 
Season finish: Andretti placed ninth in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings – the seventh time in his nine seasons in the top 10 (high of fifth in 2013). He was 20 points behind teammates Carlos Munoz in eighth.
 
The gist: The third-generation Indy car driver has competed each season for the championship-winning team owned by his father, Michael. He has made 151 consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series starts (third among active IndyCar drivers). … He has two victories, including one at Sonoma Raceway in his rookie season. … He recorded three victories in six Indy Lights starts in 2005 while also competing in Star Mazda.
 
Season stats: Andretti started the season by qualifying in the top 10 in the first three races and recorded two top-10 finishes, including his season-high of second at Barber Motorsports Park. … He qualified sixth for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race and finished third – his fifth top five in nine starts. … Strung together three consecutive top 10s (Houston 1 and 2, Pocono) in the middle of the season and closed with eighth- and 11th-place finishes (gaining 12 positions total from his qualifying spot). … Overall, posted nine top-10 finishes and led four races and was running at the finish in 14 races.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Ryan Hunter-Reay, Richards-Ross head Broward Hall of Fame class

Monday, October 13th, 2014

10.13.14 (via sun-sentinel.com) – Swift, stalwart, durable, dedicated and highly accomplished. The six members of the 2014 class of the Broward County Sports Hall of Fame named Friday span all of those attributes, and their list of achievements is staggering. 
 
Fort Lauderdale native Ryan Hunter-Reay, winner of the Indianapolis 500 this year, shares the honor with Olympic gold medalists Sanya Richards-Ross (track and field) and Howard Davis, Jr. (boxing), Miami Dolphins great center Dwight Stephenson, swimming coach Jay Fitzgerald and long-time track and field official William T. Reeves.
 
They will be inducted in an Oct. 28 ceremony at the Broward County Convention Center.
 
The Broward County Sports Hall of Fame recognizes coaches, athletes and pioneers who are, or have been, Broward County residents. Past members include Dara Torres, Chris Evert, Whitey Ford, H. Wayne Huizenga and Dan Marino.
 
"The Class of 2014 has positively impacted our community by representing their strong roots to the Broward County sports community and shining an international spotlight on the area's commitment to excellence," said Pat Lawlor, co-chair of the organization.
 
Hunter-Reay, a graduate of Cardinal Gibbons, is in his racing prime. He won the IndyCar championship for Andretti Autosport in 2012 and in May became the first American since 2006 to win the Indy 500 with a dramatic pass of Helio Castroneves on the final lap. Hunter-Reay also spearheads fund-raising efforts for the fight against cancer through his Racing for Cancer foundation.