While news slowed slightly between the Christmas and New Year holidays, the past week has seen a flurry of announcements shake up the IndyCar landscape. Ed Carpenter Racing and Juncos Racing made driver additions official over the last couple of days, and IndyCar found its new race director in Kyle Novak.
In this week’s Round-Up, we will recap those events and the rest of the leading headlines from the world of IndyCar. Read more below:
Jordan King Completes Ed Carpenter Racing Line-Up
Ed Carpenter Racing has officially announced that Warwickshire, England native Jordan King will pilot the team’s number 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet at all road and street course events for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season.
King, 23, joins the Indianapolis-based team after weeks of rumors connecting former Formula One driver Esteban Gutierrez to the Carpenter seat. As King will handle the driving duties at all road and street course races, team owner Ed Carpenter will be at the helm for all oval race events.
Excited to have his line-up set for 2018, Carpenter looks forward to giving King extended stay in IndyCar and an opportunity to prove himself in a premier open-wheel championship.
“We are very excited to welcome Jordan to the ECR family and to have him in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet for the 2018 road and street course races,” stated Carpenter. “I first met Jordan at Sonoma Raceway in 2016 as he was exploring opportunities in IndyCar. He is a very motivated, intelligent and hungry driver, which is exactly what we are looking for at ECR.
“Jordan has had a lot of success and experience in Europe and I cannot wait to see what he is capable of with ECR in the Verizon IndyCar Series,” said Carpenter.
In 2018, King will pilot the number 20 machine at the season-opening race at St. Petersburg, Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix, Honda Grand Prix of Alabama, Indianapolis Grand Prix, the doubleheader Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix, KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America, Honda Indy Toronto, Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, IndyCar’s return to Portland International Raceway, and finally, the season-ending race at Sonoma Raceway.
With the announcement of King joining Ed Carpenter Racing for their road and street course program, the final known full-time program available is now Dale Coyne Racing’s second entry.
Rene Binder Added to Juncos Racing for Partial IndyCar Program
A surprise announcement came early Friday morning Juncos Racing unveiled plans to expand their efforts for 2018. The team added European driver Rene Binder to compete in four races on the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series Schedule.
Binder, 26, will get his first opportunity right out of the gate, making his debut at the season opener on the street course at St. Petersburg on March 11. The Austrian native has also been signed to drive for the team in April at Barber Motorsports Park, as well as in July on the streets of Toronto and August at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Binder makes the transition to IndyCar on the heels of a solid season in World Series Formula V8, where he won four races and captured two poles. Binder also carries with him five years of experience from Formula Two/GP2, including two appearances in 2016 with new IndyCar team Carlin Motorsport.
“I am honored to be a part of the Verizon IndyCar Series for the 2018 season,” Binder said in the official press release. “I have been a huge fan of INDYCAR and what the series has to offer to me as a driver. I had a hard decision to make this year on which path I would take in my career, and I am confident that I have made the right decision.”
Later this month, Binder will turn his first laps in an IndyCar. While Juncos did not specify at which track this would occur in their press release, it appears that they have a testing day scheduled for January 24 at Sebring.
Kyle Novak Selected for IndyCar Race Director Role
On January 3, one of the off-season’s biggest questions was finally answered. It has been confirmed that Kyle Novak has been tapped to fill the vacant IndyCar Race Director position. The position opened in November when previous race director Brian Barnhart departed to become team president at Harding Racing.
With strong support from IndyCar president of competition and operations, Jay Frye, it was Novak who was able to secure the position after a round of interviews.
“Throughout our extensive search for a race director, one name was mentioned repeatedly – and that was Kyle Novak,” said Frye.
“We have been aware of Kyle’s work for the past couple of years. He’s clearly impressed those he’s worked with and, after meeting with him, we knew he would be a great fit for our Race Control team. Kyle has a great future and we couldn’t be more excited to have him as part of INDYCAR.”
For Novak, it seems that his relationship with Frye helped strengthen his hold on the position as other failed to build a similar level of rapport with the IndyCar executive.
“Jay and I hit it off immediately… it’s the fresh outlook he brings that is a huge part of it (for me)” said Novak. “Ironically enough, three people who work in INDYCAR Race Control are some of the first people I met in the industry, and that goes all the way back to 2004. Those are among the key people I’ll be working with on a day-to-day basis. There’s a great deal of familiarity with them.”
Although new to IndyCar, Novak brings experience from the sports car world. Novak has worked as race director for IMSA’s Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, as well as the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge and Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada series.
IndyCar Confirms TV Broadcast Schedule, Announces Additional In-Car Cameras
On January 3, IndyCar announced its television broadcast schedule for the 2018 season. Broadcast partners ESPN on ABC and NBC Universal will return in March to provide season-long coverage of the Verizon IndyCar Series, with a line-up that mirrors the 2017 television schedule.
Beginning with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, ABC will provide seven days of IndyCar coverage during the 2018 season. The network is slated to broadcast the Indianapolis Grand Prix, both days of Indianapolis 500 qualifying, the two races at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix, as well as their telecast of the 102nd Indianapolis 500 in May.
It will mark the 54th year in which ABC has been the primary broadcast partner of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
Carrying much of the schedule, the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) will feature race weekend coverage at 12 events over the course of the 2018 IndyCar campaign.
NBCSN kicks off their 2018 season coverage with three straight weekends of IndyCar coverage, starting with the Grand Prix of Phoenix on April 7. After ABC finishes up their broadcasting duties in Detroit, NBCSN will carry the rest of the series slate starting with the Texas Indy 600 on June 9.
Furthermore, an upgrade was announced to one of the most exciting parts of the viewing experience for IndyCar races on ABC and NBCSN.
In addition to the cameras frequently used above and behind the drivers’ heads, IndyCar announced that new on-board cameras will be utilized for some of the new aero kit parts.
Those cameras will be mounted at the nose, sidepod and rear attenuator. Also of note, the series announced plans for expanded use of its popular visor camera that is mounted on the drivers’ helmet.
Mazda Road to Indy Update for January 2018
With the new year underway and the first race weekend of the season approximately two months out, it is time for the latest Open-Wheels’ update of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder series. Since we last recapped the offseason headlines in December, there has been a flurry of developments in the Pro Mazda Championship with driver signings and new teams taking advantage of the PM-18 chassis’ debut next season.
Additionally, Keith Donegan made for one of the more heart-warming stories of 2017 by winning the Mazda Road to Indy Shootout this past month, securing a ride in the 2018 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda. With those stories and much more inside, take a look at our latest Mazda Road to Indy update for January 2018. Read more…
Images courtesy of IndyCar and the Indianapolis moto