IndyCar Round-Up for January 19, 2018

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Leena Gade joins Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

While it has only been a few days since the last Open-Wheels’ Round-Up, there has been a ton of exciting activity in the IndyCar world.

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and engineer Leena Gade rocked the boat early Monday morning by announcing Gade’s appointment as lead engineer on James Hinchcliffe’s No. 5 ARROW machine, and the Danica Patrick plot continues to thicken with the announcement that GoDaddy will return to sponsor her efforts at the Daytona 500 as well as the Indianapolis 500.

With all of that and more, it was a week worth two IndyCar Round-Up specials!  Check out the latest entry highlighting the biggest headlines in the sport below:

Leena Gade joins Schmidt Peterson Motorsports as Hinchcliffe’s lead engineer

With news breaking early in the morning on January 15, history was made today as Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced that British racing engineer, Leena Gade, would join the organization to lead James Hinchcliffe’s No. 5 IndyCar team.

The hiring makes Gade the first female lead engineer in modern INDYCAR history, joining Diane Holl as women in the sport to assume such a high ranking.  Holl led engineering efforts on multiple CART teams before joining NASCAR’s Hendrick Motorsports, where she is currently employed.

“I’m really honored that I’ve got a chance to come across and work in IndyCar,” commented Gade. “When I was a kid, I used to watch IndyCar, especially when Nigel Mansell first came over, and I followed it quite a lot. During my sports car days, it was a little less so, until I had friends come across to the U.S. to work in it like Piers (Phillips, General Manager of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports).

“I’m quite honored to be given the chance. It is going to be something completely different to anything I’ve ever done before, so it’s a big learning curve, but it’s a challenge that I’m really relishing, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Read more about Gade’s trip across the pond and how her resume matches up to the best in the sport.

GoDaddy returns to sponsor Danica Patrick’s Daytona, Indianapolis entries

Back in November, Danica Patrick announced her intentions to complete a mini farewell tour from an emotional and packed Homestead-Miami Speedway media center.  In a bold move, she did so without either a team or sponsor in place to support these goals of one last ride in the Daytona 500 in February, as well as a final appearance at the race that shot her to stardom, the Indianapolis 500.

Danica Patrick

Danica Patrick will be easy to find on track in 2018 with GoDaddy green on her car.

This week, she could finally check one of those items off the list.

On January 18 it was confirmed that her longtime partner in both IndyCar and NASCAR, cloud platform company GoDaddy, would return to motorsport in order to fund her rides in both the “Great American Race” and the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

“There’s this great story: I left IndyCar with GoDaddy on my car; I started NASCAR with GoDaddy on my car; I’m most recognized as the GoDaddy green car and driver, so to finish up my career that way feels appropriate,” Patrick said in an interview with the Associated Press.

Patrick has appeared in a stunning 13 Super Bowl commercials while under the GoDaddy banner and is hoping to make an even greater splash at next month’s Daytona 500 as well as the Indianapolis 500 in May.

While NASCAR’s top rides are accounted for, there are still opportunities in IndyCar to have a productive month of May at the Speedway with various types of teams.

Dreyer and Reinbold Racing is the favorite in the clubhouse while Ed Carpenter Racing is also in the running.  Opportunities at Andretti Autosport, Chip Ganassi Racing, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, Team Penske and her former team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, have already ruled out running Patrick at the Indianapolis 500.

Don’t be so sure a little GoDaddy green couldn’t change their minds.

Josef Newgarden gives insight to 2018 IndyCar performance

In a grand unveiling at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the Verizon IndyCar Series pulled out all the stops they had in an effort to market their 2018 universal aero kit.  The new bodywork, set to debut officially in the Streets of St. Petersburg in March, has been met with rave reviews from fans, drivers and series executives alike.

During the festivities, IndyCar hosted a press conference featuring many of the sport’s most recognizable figures.  In attendance were legend Mario Andretti, reigning series champion Josef Newgarden, IndyCar president of competition and operations Jay Frye and Hulman and Co. president and chief executive officer Mark Miles.

While the press conference began with Miles giving a small state of IndyCar-like address, it was the informative presentation that Newgarden conducted that drew the attention and excitement of those watching at the auto show and online at IndyCar’s various streaming platforms.

Oozing enthusiasm for the new IndyCar configuration, Newgarden explained the nuances of this new aero kit that will allow for closer, better racing than the manufacturer aero kit era produced.  The touched on lowering the chassis to produce more downforce on the underside of the car, the weight that was shed by removing the rear wheel pods, how the tire ramps in front of the rear wheels are critical for performance, and more.

Read more and hear from Newgarden in our article on his presentation from January 16.

Michael Andretti and Takuma Sato receive “Baby Borg” Warner Trophies

This week’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit has been highlighted by some fun events that shift focus towards the Verizon IndyCar Series upcoming season. Wednesday night, there was a brief amount of time spent in Detroit to celebrate an annual offseason highlight.

Defending Indianapolis 500-winning driver Takuma Sato and winning car owner Michael Andretti both took the stage to receive their replica Borg-Warner Trophies, known as “Baby Borgs”.

Takuma Sato and Michael Andretti receive their Baby Borg trophies.

Takuma Sato and Michael Andretti were in good spirits on Wednesday night in Detroit.

Sato, who won the Greatest Spectacle in Racing in his eighth attempt, prevailed over Helio Castroneves, Ed Jones and Max Chilton in a thrilling late-race duel. Andretti captured his fifth Indy 500 win as a car owner this past May.

BorgWarner Inc. President and CEO James Verrier presented the BorgWarner Championship Driver’s Trophy to Sato, as well as the BorgWarner Championship Team Owner’s trophy to Andretti during the annual Automotive News World Congress Dinner in Detroit. The event was held in conjunction with the North American International Auto Show.

Although the Borg-Warner Trophy has been a staple of Indianapolis 500 lore since Louis Meyer’s third win in 1936, the Baby Borg has a much shorter history.

First awarded to the 1988 Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears, the Baby Borg is a 14-inch replica of the Borg-Warner Trophy given to the winning driver of each Indy 500. Starting with Arie Luyendyk’s win with car owner Rick Treadway in 1997, the winning owner has also received a Baby Borg.

Read more from Spencer Neff’s account of the festivities from Wednesday evening in Detroit.

Tanner Watkins

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