Archive for the ‘Verizon Indycar Series’ Category

Catching up with Munoz: Rookie on the rise

Monday, June 16th, 2014

6.16.14 (via IndyCar.com) – Carlos Munoz caught worldwide attention with a runner-up finish in his maiden Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in 2013, and the 22-year-old Verizon IndyCar Series rookie has continued on the fast track in the first half of this season.
 
He is sixth in the championship and leads the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings through eight races. Munoz’s four top-10 finishes have been punctuated by third place at Long Beach, where he advanced eight positions relative to his qualifying. Sixth for Dual 2 at Belle Isle on June 1 is his best qualifying effort.
 
Catching up with Munoz, 22, a Miami resident and driver of the No. 34 Cinsay AndrettiTV.com HVM car, heading into the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston Presented by the Greater Houston Honda Dealers:
 
Q: How would you assess your overall performance in the first half of the season?
 
A: It’s been an OK year apart from the mistakes I’ve made at Barber (bouncing off tire barrier) and Texas (spin on pit lane). I’m improving a lot on road and street courses and proving a lot. In Detroit we were really fast but the strategy just wasn’t the correct one (finished seventh and eighth). Next is Houston, which will be really tough with the doubleheader. My goal was to start improving a lot right from the start and that’s why we put all the testing in this part of the year because we knew in the beginning it would be tough for me.
 
My goal is to stay there in the championship and win the rookie award, and my main goal is to learn as much as I can this year and a make it a big year next year.
 
Q: What, if anything, has been a surprise in your first full season?
 
A: The car, mainly. You can have the perfect car and then make little changes and have a bad car in the next session. In IndyCar, you have to have everything together to be in the (Firestone) Fast Six for qualifying – the good car, the good lap, the good temperatures. Everything is sensitive and you have to have everything in the right moment to get the most out of it.
 
Q: What have been a few keys you’ve learned about IndyCar racing so far this season?
 
A: Indy Lights is a great school for drivers because it gives you the basis for the racing and the ovals. It’s hard to race on ovals because you have to be aware of the others around you all the time, the strategy, tire management — all this counts. Each race I have learned a lot. I feel like I did during my first Indy Lights year. I learned step by step and toward the end of the season I won and the second year I challenged for the championship. Next year is the big year.
 
Q: There are distinct personalities at Andretti Autosport with Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe. How do you feel you’ve fit in?
 
A: We work as a team, which is the mentality (team owner) Michael (Andretti) wants. We have a great relationship and work well together. A lot of drivers will say that, but in this case it’s true. The first day I stepped into the team, whether it was in Indy Lights or this year in IndyCar, I felt welcome.
 
 
 
 
 

Ryan Hunter-Reay looks to break post-Indy 500 slump

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

6.11.14 (via USA Today) – Ryan Hunter-Reay caught up on sleep and sent links to funny videos to teammate James Hinchcliffe. He was even thinking about catching a movie while waiting out the rain Wednesday at the Milwaukee Mile.

Hunter-Reay's life has slowed down just a tad since winning the Indianapolis 500 a few weeks ago. He wouldn't mind bouncing back from three disappointing finishes since his milestone victory.

A 19th-place finish last weekend at Texas. Finishes of 16th and 19th the previous week in dual races in Detroit.

"Absolutely, a tough run, but we've had more difficult times, that's for sure," Hunter-Reay said.

He has followed a breakneck pace since the highlight-reel finish at Indy on Memorial Day weekend, the first American to win the race in eight years. The media spotlight has been intense, though he'll gladly take the attention that comes with victory.

There is a break in the race schedule until dual races in Houston on June 28-29, though testing is ongoing. Hunter-Reay is third in points among drivers behind first-place Will Power and Helio Castroneves.

 

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Marco Andretti rides Indy 500 momentum to Detroit Grand Prix

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

5.31.2014 (via Daily Tribune) – Marco Andretti smiled when he was reminded that Honda engines were in both cars that won IndyCar races on Belle Isle last year. “We have to keep it up,” the driver of the No. 25 Snapple Honda said.

The game within the game will be part of the drama this weekend when the IndyCar Series stages two points races in Detroit, corporate home of Honda rival Chevrolet, which also happens to be the title sponsor of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix.

“We sure are,” Andretti said when asked if drivers are aware of the competition between the engine makers.

Andretti, 27, wore a golf shirt embroidered with logos of sponsors, Honda included, when he signed autographs and chatted with fans at a Kroger store in Shelby Township on Thursday.

The Pennsylvania native’s appearance represented calm before the racing storm that begins Friday with two practice sessions that precede 70-lap races Saturday and Sunday on the 2.3-mile Belle Isle street course.

“Track position, qualifying, pit stops: We need to execute everything,” Andretti said. “I need to get the monkey off my back. I need a win.”

Andretti came to Michigan feeling good about his driving and his season, even if he does thirst for a first-place finish. He took third last Sunday in the Indianapolis 500, which was won by Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay. Andretti led 20 laps in the 98th running of the 500, which paid double points, and posted his third top-10 finish in five races this season.

“As much as I was disappointed with not winning the Indy 500, you have to look at the positives,” the grandson of open-wheel racing legend Mario Andretti and son of two-time Belle Isle winner Michael Andretti said.

“It was like two podium (top three) finishes because of the double points,” Marco said.

 

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Hunter-Reay holds off Castroneves to win Indy 500

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

5.27.2014 (via the Associated Press) – The finish was worth the wait for Ryan Hunter-Reay, who used a series of daredevil moves to deny Helio Castroneves a chance at history.

Hunter-Reay became the first American since 2006 to win the Indianapolis 500, passing Castroneves at the Yard of Bricks as the two bright yellow cars raced wheel-to-wheel under the white flag in a thrilling final lap. As Hunter-Reay surged ahead down the backstretch, Castroneves took one final look coming out of Turn 4 but couldn't pull off the pass.

Hunter-Reay won by 0.060 seconds — the second closest finish in race history since Al Unser Jr. beat Scott Goodyear by 0.043 seconds in 1992.

"I'm a proud American boy, that's for sure," Hunter-Reay said in Victory Lane. "I've watched this race since I was sitting in diapers on the floor in front of the TV. This is American history, this race, this is American tradition."

Castroneves, trying to become the fourth driver to win a record fourth Indianapolis 500, settled for second. He was devastated by the defeat and needed several moments to compose himself, slumped in his car, head down and helmet on, before he was ready to speak. The Brazilian said a caution with 10 laps to go that caused a red flag so track workers could clean up debris and make repairs to the track wall broke his rhythm.

"It was a great fight," he smiled. "I tell you what, I was having a great time. Unfortunately second. It's good, but second sucks, you know what I mean?"

Marco Andretti finished third and Carlos Munoz was fourth as Andretti Autosport had three cars in the top four, as well as the winner.

Kurt Busch, also in a Honda for Andretti, was sixth in his first race of the day. He left immediately after the race to fly to North Carolina for Sunday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup race, where he his attempt to become the second driver to complete 1,100 miles (1770 kilometers) in both races on the same day ended when his car blew an engine late.

Three other drivers made the attempt, but only Tony Stewart in 2001 completed The Double. Stewart was sixth at Indy and third at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

"All in all, I'm very pleased. I cannot believe the execution of this team," Busch said before hustling away to a helicopter ride to his waiting plane. "I tried to enjoy it. My throat's real dry because I was smiling the whole time and the fresh air was coming in my mouth."

Marco Andretti appeared to have a shot at the win, but never could mix it up with Hunter-Reay and Castroneves as the two leaders swapped position four times in the final five laps.

"Ryan's just been a huge part of our team, a great guy, a friend," said Michael Andretti, who won for the third time as a team owner and watched his son finish third. "To have him get a win here is awesome, he deserves it, he deserves to have his face on that trophy. If it couldn't be Marco, he's the next guy I wanted."

 

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Kurt Busch Named 2014 Sunoco Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

5.27.2014 (via INDYCAR) – Andretti Autosport driver Kurt Busch has been named the winner of the prestigious 2014 Sunoco Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Award for his performance during the 98th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on Sunday, May 25 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In the first Verizon IndyCar Series race of his career, Busch, in his No. 26 Andretti Autosport Suretone Honda, was the fastest qualifier (12th) and highest finisher (6th) among the seven rookies in this year's Indianapolis 500.

In addition to the prestige of being named Sunoco Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, Busch also earned a $25,000 bonus from Sunoco as part of his total race winnings of $423,889. Busch was presented with his award last night at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Indianapolis 500 Victory Awards Celebration presented by Ice Miller Legal Counsel, Contour Hardening, Inc. and Allied Solutions.

Since its inception in 1952, the Sunoco Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Award has been presented to an amazing list of legendary drivers including Parnelli Jones, Mario Andretti, Rick Mears, Tony Stewart, Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, Arie Luyendyk and many more.

Sunoco has a long and successful history in motorsports. In the late 1960's, the team of Roger Penske and Mark Donohue competed in several different series with Sunoco-sponsored cars. This legendary team won many major events including the 1969 24 Hours of Daytona, the 1972 Indianapolis 500 and numerous high-profile sports car championships.

Sunoco has been the official fuel partner of the Verizon IndyCar Series since 2010, providing the opportunity to demonstrate the performance and durability of Sunoco gasoline in the most demanding and competitive forms of racing in the United States.

The Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award electorate is comprised of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and INDYCAR officials, and members of the media.

Headquartered in Philadelphia, Sunoco, Inc. markets its brand of gasoline through more than 5,000 retail outlets in 25 states, from Maine to Florida and west to Michigan and Louisiana, including more than 600 APlus convenience stores. Sunoco is proud to sponsor INDYCAR, NASCAR and more than 50 other racing sanctions. For more information on Sunoco Retail, or to find a local Sunoco location, visit http://www.gosunoco.com/.

The 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race is scheduled for Sunday, May 24, 2015

 

 

 

What will Carlos Munoz do for an encore

Saturday, May 24th, 2014

5.24.14 (via MotorSportsTalk) – If not for Dario Franchitti crashing just moments after the final restart of last year’s Indianapolis 500, perhaps it would have been Carlos Munoz – a driver competing in his very first IndyCar race – drinking the milk in Victory Lane.
 
Munoz followed Tony Kanaan past Ryan Hunter-Reay to take second place off the restart and may have been able to draft past the Brazilian veteran had the race stayed green.
 
But it was not to be for Munoz, who was still impressive and fearless in his Indy debut for Andretti Autosport.
 
One year later, he has returned to the Brickyard as a full-time member of the Andretti stable and will start seventh in Sunday’s race.
 
After his stellar performance in 2013, does he think he can follow that up with a victorious one?
 
“It’s going to be really hard for sure,” he said Thursday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “I think it’s going to be harder than last year because it’s just more competitive.
 
“Last year was really competitive, but this year, everyone’s really close to each other…It’s hard to have a plan because things can change so quickly from one lap to another lap.”
 
 
 
 
 
 

Hinchcliffe returns to earn front row seat for Indy 500

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

5.20.2014 (via The Hamilton Spectator) – For the second time in his career, James Hinchcliffe will have a front-row view to the start of the Indy 500.

The Oakville driver finished second in qualifying for the famed race, turning in a four-lap average speed of 230.839 mph. He’ll start in the front row, next to Ed Carpenter, who earned the pole position for the second year in a row with an average speed of 231.067.

It capped an incredible comeback for the Oakville driver, who wasn’t cleared to drive until three days before the final qualifying runs.

“To think about the fact a week ago I wasn't allowed to operate a cell phone,” Hinchcliffe said. “Today I'm whipping an IndyCar around IMS (Indianapolis Motor Speedway) at 230-something miles an hour is pretty incredible.  It's only because of so many people, everything from the doctors, my family taking care of me at home, all my teammates who did such a good job getting these cars ready.”

The 27-year-old suffered a concussion in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis May 10 after being struck in the head by a piece of the front wing that broke off Justin Wilson’s car during a restart. Hinchcliffe could only wait for clearance as E.J. Viso drove his No. 27 United Fibre & Data car in practice early in the week.

“Driving into the Speedway on Thursday was just awful because I'm driving in, seeing cars drive around, thinking I should be out there, knowing I'm going to a dark room that is going to determine my fate. It wasn't the most comforting feeling certainly,” he said. “It was more nerves, I think, than any lasting effect from the accident. Needless to say when those results came in, it was a huge relief.  They determined I'm just as brain-dead as I was before.”

 

 

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Andretti Autosport joins with SOL REPUBLIC

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

5.21.2014 — Andretti Autosport today announced its partnership with headphone brand and music lifestyle company SOL REPUBLIC and, in doing so, jointly celebrate Kurt Busch's historic attempt at the "Double". On May 25th, Busch  will attempt to become the fourth driver to contest the "Double"  – competing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway driving the No. 26 Suretone Honda in "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" and at Charlotte Motor Speedway in a stock car race later that same day. SOL REPUBLIC, which is committed to changing the world one listener at a time, brings the power of music to Andretti Autosport with limited-edition headphones created exclusively for Kurt and the team as they race into the record books.

"Music and racing go hand in hand," said Seth Combs, SOL REPUBLIC co-founder and CMO. "We are thrilled to bring the power of music to celebrate Kurt's incredible 1,100-mile feat and the entire Andretti Autosport team with our race inspired limited-edition headphones."
 
"I'm happy to welcome SOL REPUBLIC to the Andretti Autosport family," said Andretti Autosport team-owner and open-wheel racing legend Michael Andretti. "The SOL REPUBLIC family is as dedicated and passionate about music as we are about racing, and our shared passion is in perfect harmony as we support Kurt's 1,100-mile effort."
 
To celebrate SOL REPUBLIC's participation with Kurt Busch's historic 1,100 mile effort, SOL REPUBLIC has created one-of-a-kind headphones for Kurt's Andretti Autosport crew to use.  Fans can get their hands on 1 of 10 headphones like the crew's and autographed by Kurt Busch by simply heading over to the SOL REPUBLIC Facebook (www.facebook.com/solrepublic) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/solrepublic ) pages today. Look out for information on how you could win one of the 10 autographed Kurt Busch Andretti Autosport special edition SOL REPUBLIC headphones.
 

SOL REPUBLIC offers sound, durability and style that every music and racing fan will love. With a wide range of options, from $39.99 in-ear headphones up to high-end studio-tuned headphones and wireless speakers, SOL REPUBLIC makes it possible for every music lover to own an amazing headphone that delivers an amazing sound experience. To learn more about SOL REPUBLIC headphones and speakers, go to www.SOLREPUBLIC.com.

Busch up to speed at Indy, could threaten for ‘Fast Nine’ in qualifying

Friday, May 16th, 2014

5.15.2014 (via FOXSports.com) – As morning rains and a thick, dark gray sky hovered over the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for what was supposed to be the fourth day of practice for the 98th Indianapolis 500 on Wednesday, Kurt Busch cut out of town to head back to his "Day Job" as driver of the No. 41 Chevrolet at Stewart Haas Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He flew back to North Carolina to get his Cup car up to speed for this week's Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

But he is already up to speed as a rookie driver in the Indianapolis 500.
 
In Tuesday'€™s practice session, that was rained out after just 97 minutes of activity, Busch clocked off the second-fastest lap of the day at 224.159 miles per hour in a Dallara/Honda. Although that lap was aided by a "tow' (in NASCAR teams, the draft) Busch's lap is the third-fastest combined lap of all the practices so far.
 
Already a supremely confident driver, that early speed has exceeded Busch's greatest expectations.
 
"It definitely wasn't on my radar," Busch said. "€œBut what I've been able to do as a student is each day progress at a strong rate, and progressing is being able to digest the information and then being able to apply it the next day. Each day out, the Andretti Autosport team has helped me with a game plan on what's next, so it's nice when you can have a solid forecast of what to expect.
 
"As far as guys getting tows and posting those good laps, some of my drafting experience helps from what I've seen at Daytona and Talladega; Indianapolis has a little bit of Darlington characteristics into it. What I mean by that is you have to be single file and you have to know which corner you are approaching at all times, and it's a matter of give and take with the other drivers out on the track.
 
"I haven't been around many guys, mostly the Andretti guys but it's been thumbs up right now. It's been nice to continue to find speed and to feel more comfortable in the car in the traffic."
 
Craig Hampson is the man directing Busch's Indianapolis 500 effort at Andretti Autosport. The race engineer has been impressed with Busch's ability to give useful feedback to the team regarding his laps at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway but also is not surprised because he knew Busch was a smart driver.
 
"Within the people I know in NASCAR, Kurt is well regarded for his driving talent," Hampson said. "He has fast hands. He has good car control. That has been evident from the start. The speed is not a problem for him at all. He has been very methodical in the way he has worked up to it. He has had a lot of very intelligent questions and good observations about the car. He is clearly a true professional – a top-class driver.
 
"It's a different vehicle for him but all the same things that you have to look for in terms of the handling of the car and what it does in traffic and what you need to do with the setup and how to get ready for the race and take care of tires he already knows those things are important so we are well up to speed for that type of thing."
Busch's feedback has been extremely useful to the Andretti Autosport crew although the vocabulary some things has a NASCAR quality to it.
 
 
 
 
 

RHR leads Andretti on second day of Indy 500 practice

Monday, May 12th, 2014

5.12.14 (via MotorSportsTalk.com) – The day felt like a Tuesday – even though to some, Tuesday has no feel – but the second day of Indianapolis 500 practice felt like a proper Indianapolis 500 practice day with plentiful running throughout the six hours and a boat-load of tows in the final hour to produce the day’s fastest speeds.

The two that emerged fastest on what was the Verizon IndyCar Series’ Monday practice session were a pair of Andretti Autosport teammates, with Ryan Hunter-Reay posting the month’s first 225-mph lap at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 225.025. Teammates Marco Andretti was over 224, at 224.037. Both had tows from others in the five-car Andretti brigade that also includes Carlos Munoz, Kurt Busch and EJ Viso.

Helio Castroneves, Justin Wilson and Juan Pablo Montoya completed the top five. Those three and Munoz had tow-aided laps north of 223. Busch and Viso cracked the tail end of the top 10 in ninth and 10th, so all five Andretti cars were in the top 10.

Thirty drivers took laps, with the only three that didn’t Sebastian Saavedra as the KV/AFS Racing crew continued repairs on the No. 17 Chevrolet after the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, and Buddy Lazier and James Davison.

Only Davison of that trio is on a short program, although Lazier’s pit garage sign was just hung in Gasoline Alley for the first time today, even later than Davison’s had been. More on both of them will follow later this week to MotorSportsTalk.

The track was busy with Hunter-Reay, Montoya, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Josef Newgarden all completing north of 100 laps. Many others were in the 80-90 range. In total, nearly 2,300 laps were completed – 2,286 laps were turned on the day.

The third day of practice is set for Tuesday, but, with a 70 percent chance of rain there’s a possibility of a washout. Here’s your Monday times and speeds.

 

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