By: Spencer Neff and Tanner Watkins
February 8, 2019 | 10:10 AM
Another busy week of off-season news has come and passed for IndyCar. With an open test at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca scheduled for Friday, news from all aspects of the NTT IndyCar Series have been unearthed.
On Wednesday, Firestone and IndyCar announced their partnership will be extended through the 2025 season. Open-Wheels Owner/Editor Tanner Watkins recaps the announcement.
The driver lineup for Carlin Racing will see Charlie Kimball return for five races. Kimball returns for his ninth season beginning at the St. Petersburg opener.
On Tuesday, American Honda and the Grand Prix of Long Beach announced a partnership. The race will be known as the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. Assistant Editor/Senior Contributor Spencer Neff details the announcement.
Thursday was also a big day for IndyCar broadcast news. NBC Sports announced pricing and details for the much-anticipated IndyCar Pass. Watkins details what fans can expect from the new streaming service, a part of NBC Sports Gold.
In Road to Indy news, Belardi Auto Racing has announced Lucas Kohl will race for the team’s Indy Lights program. Kohl joins Zachary Claman De Melo at Belardi.
In USF2000, three drivers have been added to the grid. Neff has a recap of the the new additions to the first rung of the Road to Indy ladder.
On the Indianapolis 500 one-off entry front, a team was nixed as a potential landing spot for McLaren and Fernando Alonso. Ed Carpenter ruled out the possibility on this week’s Trackside radio program (1070 the Fan), which Watkins discusses as well.
IndyCar Flashback also returns this week with a profile of the 2005 Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix.
We also have a video from driver development program SAFEisFAST featuring Harding Steinbrenner Racing’s Pato O’Ward and Colton Herta.
On Saturday, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway also made tickets for the popular “100 Days Out” party on February 15. The event has become popular locally as the speedway celebrates the countdown to the Indianapolis 500.
Lastly, we would like to extend our condolences to the friends and family of Dr. Robert Hubbard. Hubbard, who developed the HANS device utilized by drivers from nearly every racing discipline, passed away on Tuesday.
Get ready for Friday’s on-track action with this week’s IndyCar Roundup.
Today it was announced that INDYCAR and Bridgestone Americas, Inc. will continue a longstanding partnership that will see the Firestone brand serve as the NTT IndyCar Series’ exclusive tire provider through the 2025 season. The announcement was made at the Dallara IndyCar Factory in Speedway.
The 2019 season will be the 20th consecutive IndyCar Series campaign where Firestone has been the sole tire provider. In addition to today’s announced five-year contract extension, Bridgestone revealed plans to build a brand new, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Akron, Ohio that will serve as the future home of Firestone race tire manufacturing.
“Champions have relied on Firestone tires for more than a century, and racing has always been the ideal proving ground for new technologies that help us evolve and advance our company’s passenger tire offerings,” said Philip Dobbs, chief marketing officer, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations.
“As the NTT IndyCar Series continues gaining momentum, we are introducing new fans to the Firestone brand and strengthening our relationship with the drivers who use our durable, dependable Firestone tires.” READ MORE
Header image by Chris Owens/INDYCAR.
The jury had been out on the number of races that IndyCar Series veteran Charlie Kimball would be employed for as a driver for Carlin in 2019. Today the wait has come to an end as the California native confirmed he would appear in five rounds of this year’s NTT IndyCar Series championship.
Kimball will be on-site for the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 10, though fans of the 33-year-old driver won’t see him again until the month of May as he prepares for the 103rd Indianapolis 500. From there, Kimball will race at Texas Motor Speedway in June for the DXC Technology 600, then Pocono Raceway for August’s ABC Supply 500.
Carlin and Kimball will round the season out by racing at the season-finale Firestone Grand Prix of Monterrey in IndyCar’s return to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on September 22.
“Excited to be back on track with Carlin, Novo Nordisk and Race With Insulin,” said Kimball in this morning’s social media announcement. “See you soon at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg for the Firestone Grand Prix!” READ MORE
Header image by Shawn Gritzmacher/INDYCAR.
The longest-running street course race on the NTT IndyCar Series calendar announced a new title sponsor on Tuesday. American Honda Motor Company, based in nearby Torrance, California will take over title sponsorship with the company’s Acura brand holding official naming rights.
American Honda Motor Company, from nearby Torrance, California is now the sponsor for the Grand Prix of Long Beach. The company’s Acura brand (founded in 1986 as the first Japanese luxury car brand) will hold official naming rights.
With the announcement, Acura replaces Toyota. Toyota had served as sponsor of the race since its first running in 1984.
Additionally, Toyota sponsored the Formula 1 race held on the street course from 1980 to 1983. They also provided the pace car for the first event in 1975 (Formula 5000). READ MORE
Header Image By Chris Owens/INDYCAR Media
The highly-anticipated release of details towards the INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold has occurred today with the series’ new television partner opening an early bird sale.
Boasting the option to watch every practice and qualifying session live, plus the ability to watch races on-demand after the event has concluded, the INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports’ Gold platform will cost fans $49.99 (early bird pricing) for this 2019 season. After the early bird sale concludes on March 10, the price will increase to $54.99.
“Having NBC Sports Gold as an option for INDYCAR fans who want to consume all of INDYCAR and engage more deeply with the sport is really exciting for us this year, particularly given the high-quality production NBC Sports will bring to it,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Company, which owns INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“This is our first opportunity to present the sport this way. INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold is a great complement to watching the NTT IndyCar Series on television, either on NBC or NBCSN. It really is another format that we think will make us that much more accessible and that much more exciting, especially to our hard-core fans.” READ MORE
Header image by Chris Owens/INDYCAR.
The Road to Indy added another driver to its slate of entries on Monday when Belardi Auto Racing announced Lucas Kohl will pilot the team’s second of three Indy Lights entries in 2019.
Kohl, 20, has spent the last three years driving in the Road to Indy’s lowest level, USF2000, and will be making the jump straight to the top rung – just one step below the NTT IndyCar Series.
“I know that as a rookie it is going to be challenging,” said Kohl. “But with the experience that Belardi Auto Racing has, I feel that they can help me to learn as much as possible as fast as possible.”
In 2018, the native Brazilian picked up 11 top-10 finishes (including 4 podium runs) while driving for Pabst Racing. His best finish of the season came in a runner-up effort at Mid-Ohio in July. Last season Kohl finished 3rd in the USF2000 championship – his best finish in three years of competition at that level. READ MORE
As the first rung on the Road to Indy ladder, the Cooper Tires USF2000 Series has seen several stars compete on their way up the ladder. This list includes names like Dan Wheldon, Sage Karam and JR Hildebrand.
Reaching USF2000 is a major accomplishment for many young drivers. As proven by these names and others, it is often the first step in launching their careers. In the past handful of weeks, a few teams have added drivers to the series.
Each with solid racing resumes of their own, these drivers will look to achieve success in the series this year on the potential road to the NTT IndyCar Series. The 15-round series begins on the streets of St. Petersbyrg March 8-10.
Here are the latest additions to the 2019 USF2000 grid. READ MORE
Header Image By Road to Indy
In the latest edition of “Trackside” on ESPN 107.5 FM/1070 AM, Indianapolis native Ed Carpenter shed some light on his plans for Ed Carpenter Racing in the month of May and how those decisions will affect a partnership with McLaren’s entry.
In speaking with Kevin Lee, Carpenter was asked whether or not his team will support or be affiliated with the McLaren entry that Fernando Alonso is scheduled to pilot in 2019. Carpenter would effectively rule out a partnership with McLaren this May and noted that his team is comfortable with their current arrangement.
“I don’t see anything happening other than what we have announced with our three cars – myself, Spencer (Pigot) and Ed (Jones)” said Carpenter on the February 6 show.
“We are in February now and our testing and development planning is well underway. Any time that we have done anything extra – whether it was fielding a car for J.R. (Hildebrand) or Danica (Patrick) last year, it has to make sense to us from a business standpoint. And more importantly, it has to make sense to us competitively. READ MORE
Header image by James Black/INDYCAR.
Welcome to another edition of IndyCar Flashback. After a 14-year absence, the NTT IndyCar Series will return to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
On September 22, the season finale will be held at the 2.238-mile road course.
It will be the 23rd race at the road course and the 15th straight year that the NTT IndyCar Series will race on a road course in California.
With that in mind, IndyCar Flashback takes you to the beginning of that streak.
This week, we profile the 2005 Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix. The race featured a veteran driver earn another career milestone. READ MORE
Header Image By Ron McQueeney
SAFEisFAST: ‘The Fast Way Up the Racing Ladder’ featuring IndyCar’s Colton Herta and Patricio O’Ward
The driver development program SAFEisFAST has released the latest edition of their helpful videos teaching the fundamentals of racing to drivers both young and old.
This latest video, titled ‘The Fast Way up the Racing Ladder,’ features two of the NTT IndyCar Series’ rising rookies in Patricio O’Ward and Colton Herta. The duo will race for Harding Steinbrenner Racing in 2019 after finishing first and runner-up, respectively, in last year’s Indy Lights championship.
SAFEisFAST has graciously allowed Open-Wheels to share the video and we will begin posting more of the engaging and interesting submissions from the program in the future. Check out the video below! READ MORE
Header image by Stephen King/INDYCAR and video courtesy of SAFEisFAST.
Feature image by Chris Owens/INDYCAR