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.
INDIANAPOLIS (May 13, 2014) – United Fiber & Data (UFD) announced today that they have joined Andretti Autosport’s expanding sponsor portfolio in signing as an associate sponsor with the 7UP Volkswagen Polo driven by Scott Speed. The sponsorship unveils this weekend at the Top Gear Festival in Barbados, round one of the 2014 Global Rallycross season.
“United Fiber & Data is thrilled to announce our entry into Global Rallycross with our sponsorship of the No. 77 7UP Volkswagen,” said United Fiber & Data director and founder Bill Hynes. “We saw Global Rallycross as a natural fit for our company and our culture. It's a revolutionary racing platform where challenge, high performance, speed and talent converge to bring you something you haven't seen before.”
Founded by three members of the multi-platinum rock band LIVE and their Think Loud Development company, UFD offers a complete suite of all-fiber networking and broadband solutions. Based in York, Penn., UFD will feature a 400-mile fiber optic line running between New York and Virginia and will operate out of our different data centers across Pennsylvania (Allentown, Lancaster, Reading and York).
“This partnership further solidified UFD's presence in the motorsport community, and we are proud to expand our relationship with Andretti Autosport,” commented Hynes. “Our interaction with their team and hospitality program has been world-class. From our clients, to our employees, to our potential clients and guests – Michael Andretti and his team all lend to an experience that is unparalleled."
The 2014 Global Rallycross season kicks-off on the Caribbean island of Barbados at the newly renovated Bushy Park Circuit on May 17-18 at the Top Gear Festival. As a part of its Americas debut, the Top Gear Festival will feature an impressive line-up of cars and driving talent. NBC will air the season opener race on Saturday, May 24 at 1 p.m. EST.
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.
5.11.14 (via MotorSportsTalk.com) – Welcome back, EJ Viso, even if it’s in admittedly less than ideal circumstances.
The Venezuelan was forced to withdraw on the eve of the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, with Carlos Munoz drafted in as a last-minute replacement at Andretti Autosport.
Now it’s Viso’s turn to deputize for one of the Andretti quartet, with James Hinchcliffe sidelined due to a concussion suffered during the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
Hinchcliffe was checked and released Satruday evening from Indianapolis Methodist hospital with symptoms of a concussion. On Sunday, the Canadian made a brief appearance, but no medical evaluation was performed today and the three-time race winner returned to his Indianapolis home to rest and recuperate. Hinchcliffe could return to the speedway for re-evaluation as early as Tuesday, however a date for his next medical visit has not yet been set. In the meantime, the Canadian is not cleared to drive in Indy 500 practice sessions.
That leaves it to Viso to fill-in in the interim. On Sunday, he was immediately comfortable and back up to speed in his first running of any kind since driving Starworks Motorsport’s Riley Dinan Daytona Prototype at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and his first running in an IndyCar since the streets of Houston last October. He ended sixth at 222.105 mph after 28 laps, most of them in traffic.
“So far things have been pretty smooth,” Viso said. “I love working with these guys. Last year I had an amazing year, an amazing experience, and I only have positive things to talk about my teammates and my team. This opportunity just showed up overnight.
5.10.14 (via MotorSportsTalk.com) – Andretti Autosport’s fifth Verizon IndyCar – the No. 26 Suretone Honda – is getting a ton of press for the Indianapolis 500, with Kurt Busch in the seat and set for the double run between Indy and the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte on Memorial Day weekend.
But the car is getting something of a test run this weekend in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, with Franck Montagny back in North American open-wheel racing for the first time in five years.
Montagny hasn’t raced since a one-off appearance in the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans in OAK Racing’s P1 Oak Pescarolo Judd (with ex-open-wheeler Bertrand Baguette and Dominik Kraihamer), and his last start in North America came in a one-off in Level 5 Motorsports’ HPD P2 car at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May of that year. Prior to that, he’d been a factory Peugeot LMP1 driver before the program ended at the end of 2011.
Now he returns to an IndyCar for his first start since the 2009 race at Sonoma, in what was also a fifth Andretti Autosport entry. He also finished second in the Champ Car series finale at Long Beach 2008, driving for Gerry Forsythe.
“The thing is I haven’t driven in two years. I’ve been off working television in France, following the Formula One circus,” he told MotorSportsTalk. “It’s been since 2008 and 2009 over here… but when Andretti had the opportunity to put together the fifth car, they called me, and here I am. Easy as that.”
Montagny was seriously impressed with the depth of the field, and despite wanting to be fastest said it spoke better of the series that as a one-off entry, he isn’t able to come in and be immediately on the pace.
“Compared to anything else in the world, nowhere else there’d be seven tenths between the first guy and the last guy. Nowhere else,” he said. “I’m seven tenths off and it feels not too bad, then I look at the times and I’m almost last! But in F1 I’d be second!
“It’s very tough because one tiny mistake screws it up. The car is what is what is, but the level of the championship speaks for itself.”
5.9.14 (via RACER.com) – The Brabham family finally has a victory to its credit at the hallowed Indianapolis Motor Speedway after third generation racer Matthew Brabham made light of treacherous conditions to lead throughout this evening's fifth round of the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires. Brabham, who had qualified Andretti Autosport's #83 United Fiber & Data/MAZDASPEED entry on the pole earlier in the day, held off a race-long challenge on a rapidly drying track from Brazilian GP2 graduate Luiz Razia (#7 Lucas Oil with Curb-Agajanian) to score his first Indy Lights race win.
Brabham, 20, who was born in Florida and raised in Australia, now has added a race win at the highest level of the Mazda Road to Indy after winning back-to-back titles in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.
The track was thoroughly soaked after a heavy rain shower immediately following the preceding Pro Mazda race, so every competitor had no choice but to start on grooved Cooper tires. Brabham, whose grandfather Sir Jack Brabham pioneered the rear-engined revolution at the Indianapolis 500 in the early 1960s and whose father, Geoff Brabham, made 10 Indy 500 starts of his own (with a best finish of fourth in 1983), led away from the pole but came under pressure almost immediately from Colombian-American Gabby Chaves, who had already won two races this season for Belardi Auto Racing.
Chaves slipped through into the lead at Turn One on the second lap only to later relinquish the lead once again to Brabham. Chaves' teammate, Alex Baron, moved up into second before quickly realizing his car's setup didn't work on a wet track as he fell immediately into the clutches of Zach Veach (Andretti Autosport) and Razia (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian).
The opening stages of the 40-minute race were thoroughly entertaining as positions swapped and changed with regularity – albeit not for the lead as Brabham put his head down and led by as much as three seconds by Lap 9. By then a dry line had begun to emerge and, despite lingering dark clouds, there was no further precipitation.
As the track began to dry quite quickly, drivers started to seek damp patches on the road surface to prevent their wet-weather tires from overheating. Razia gradually whittled the deficit to Brabham to less than a second, but he was able to get no closer. Brabham managed the margin – and his tires – to perfection to claim a finely judged victory.
5.5.14 (via RACER.com) – Out of all of the tracks we will compete on in the 2014 season, Barber is the one place that all of us in Indy Lights have the most testing time at. Throughout the winter, we spent a total of four days running together learning the track and preparing the cars. The only not-so-ideal thing was the Alabamian weather in December and February. At both tests, we all suffered through 45 and below temperatures… and a lot of rain, which wasn't exactly the case for us this past weekend, 75 and sunny… well, mostly sunny, but we'll get to that.
Coming off of our pole and second place at Long Beach just a couple weeks before, the team and I had a lot of momentum and confidence rolling into our two practice sessions on the promoter test day. Eager to get the weekend started, we were the first ones to roll onto the track as soon as it went green Thursday morning, but after the two test sessions that day, we knew we had some work to do as a team. We ended P3 in the first session and P4 in the second. With the dramatic change in the ambient and track temperature compared to the test, our cars needed a bit of a makeover to fit the new conditions.
On Friday, we had one early practice and then straight to qualifying. We knew we still had a chance to improve the car a bit, so we changed a good amount of things and were able to see what worked and what didn't, which led us to make a list of things to try in the 45-minute qualifying session and just keep working away hundredth by hundredth to get where we needed to be.
At the start we were P3, about 2.5 tenths off of pole position, but with 35 minutes to go, we didn't panic and just focused what we needed to do on the car. The next outing, we managed to get that gap down to just a tenth. We were finally dialing the car into where we needed to be, and at this point we had just about 10 minutes to go and one last change to try. My engineer told me to remember back to Long Beach and push the car as much as I could. On the out lap, I could tell we made the right change; I felt I had a car for pole – I just had to focus and make it happen. On my first timed lap, my projected was on a pole lap, but I just pushed too hard and made a mistake.
With the tires falling off so quickly at Barber, I knew I had only one or two more opportunities for a lap like that and I didn't want to throw that chance away. My second lap allowed me the pole by a tenth, but I knew I could get just a little more out of it. On my third, I pushed as hard as I could and snuck out five more hundredths. I couldn't believe it! We started off the weekend a step behind, and my engineer and I were able to rebound, stay positive and take our second consecutive pole of the season. It's just a starting position, but with it being so difficult to pass at Barber, it was definitely progress toward another win.
The way the past two Indy Lights races have gone, the race is ether won or lost in the first corner. We were 100% focused on how we could get a good start, because chances are, if you lead through Turn 1 at Barber, and have a consistent race, you can run your way to victory.
In the first race, I was lucky enough to be able to do just to that. Starting on the pole, I made sure I had a good run onto the front straight to give me what advantage I could take being the pole sitter into Turn 1, but it wasn't much. As we approached the brake zone, we were almost three wide again – Gabby (Chaves) looking to the inside and (Alex) Baron still hanging on the outside. After Gabby took the pole away from me at Long Beach, I wasn't going to let it happen again here. I broke later than I ever had into Turn 1 that just let me slip ahead. As I got to the exit, I looked in my mirrors and saw the two of them going off track. At first I had no idea what happened, but after review the two of them had made costly contact. From there on, I knew I just needed to build a gap up and save my tiresuntil the end. After 30 laps, I saw the checkered flags flying to drive to my second win in Indy Lights this season which ultimately helped extend our championship lead.
In the second race I didn't get the honor of starting on the pole. For the doubleheaders it goes off of your first and second fastest laps in qualifying; I missed pole for Race Two by just .02 hundredths of a second. Our race on Sunday was actually moved to 30 minutes earlier to try to escape the threat of strong rain, but it still looked as if, at some point in the race, we'd have to deal with it. My engineer and I decided to take a gamble and go toward a wet setup just in case, and looking back, we might have got caught out on it a bit. On the start Gabby and Baron worked really well together bump drafting into Turn 1 leaving me stuck on the outside falling back to third.
Right away, we just didn't have the speed with the wet setup on the car and I was left defending a lot of pressure from fourth place (Luiz) Razia, and he was making me work for it. As we got to halfway, it started to drizzle, and at first I thought our plan was going to work out, but after a few laps it stopped. With about 10 laps to go, I had to think about the championship – try not making any mistakes and just driving home our third place. Unfortunately, it was a little bittersweet. The rain came down very heavy at the end cutting the race three laps short. I could've used the rain a lot earlier, but all-in-all, I was very happy with the weekend. We have two wins, two poles and four podiums in four races, which is letting us leave Barber with a nine-point advantage over Gabby going into the Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
I want to thank my engineer and the Andretti Autosport crew for doing such an amazing job for me so far this season, as well as RePLAY XD, Young Marines, ADS IT Solutions, Zakosi Data Back Up, Bell and OMP for all of their support. Last but definitely not least, thank you for reading, and I hope to see some of you in Indy!
5.5.15 (via RACER.com) – Barber, for me, was just one of those weekends. Obviously things did not go according to plan, and likewise, certain things didn't fall in our favor. The track conditions and weather were considerably different compared to the last time we tested there. The temperature was double than what it was at the test, and it was amazing how that affected our setup, so we seemed to be playing catch-up all weekend.
Challenging! Yes, I have to admit, but I came away from the weekend with even more determination. It has been a while since I have had to really dig deep and fight it out in the middle of the pack. Experiences like this certainly develop not only your skills, but are also character-building.
The qualifying session started OK as we were in and out of the top four, depending on who had new Cooper Tires on. But, we lost our way a little bit and did not have an extra set at the end, and as a result, I ended up a disappointing sixth.
My Andretti Autosport teammate Zach Veach was having simular problems to myself, but they made the right call on setup at the end of qualifying and captured the pole; unfortunately, we ran out of time and did not get a chance to do the same.
Barber is a notoriously difficult track for passing with really only one opportunity to pass at the start. Starting from the sixth position for both races was certainly not ideal… also survival through the first turn was crucial.
At the start of Race 1, the two Belardi Auto Racing cars hit each other in the first corner and I was able to slip through into fourth place. The changes to the setup made the car much better, and I was quicker than the car in front of me; passing was a whole other issue, and unfortunately, I spent the entire race following. I couldn't quite overcome the aero wash and the loss of down force. I could get close in certain corners but never close enough to make a clean pass for the podium position. This was rather frustrating, but it reminded me how important qualifying is in these cars.
The track conditions for Race Two on the following day were very different. Our race was scheduled immediately after the World Challenge cars, and along with the significant weather changes, it was going to be a guessing game for everyone. Unfortunately these factors changed the balance of the track and it seemed to affect both Zach and I negatively in the race. Although both of our setups seemed to be heading in the right direction, our balance still needed improvement.
Unlike the first race, the second race got off to a clean start. Although I managed to get a good jump, I had nowhere to go, and I maintained my position through the first corner. Just as in Race 1, I was having a hard time following the car in front, and I couldn't get close enough to make the lunge for the position. My only option was to continually attack and keep the pressure on… just maybe they would make that tiny error that would enable me to get by, however, I was never to get that opportunity. Earlier in the race I had the engine hesitate and I thought 'no that doesn't feel right'. But I thought luck was shining on me when the engine seemed to correct itself. With around 15 laps to go, my car completely died coming out of Turn 2 and I lost fuel pressure. The kind of luck I wasn't looking for paid me a visit, and I was forced to pull the car off to the side of the track and retire - that's my first DNF in a long time.
Barber is one of the prettiest circuits I have ever been to; however, when you pull off the track and have to jump the fence, the bushes on the other side are very difficult to clear. I ended up all tangled up in them, so hope nobody was filming me!
I know I am more motivated and determined than ever. All of us will be working even harder for that place on top of the podium. The month of May is almost here, and along with the excitement of the traditional Freedom 100 oval race for us, we also have the inaugural road course race to look forward to. What a blast! The new track looks brilliant and I can't wait to go racing again.