By: Spencer Neff and Tanner Watkins
January 25, 2019 | 8:40 AM
Last week was a busy week for sponsorship announcements across the NTT IndyCar Series. This week centered around a handful of driver lineup announcements.
On Monday, Carlin Racing announced that Max Chilton will return full-time. Teammate Charlie Kimball will also return to the team on a part-time basis. Both drivers competed with Carlin in the team’s first IndyCar season last year.
A day later, Meyer Shank Racing announced their 2019 plans. Jack Harvey will return to the team for 10 races in 2019. This is up from the six the team participated in during 2018.
Once again, MSR will be running a technical alliance with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. SPM announced that Arrow will expand their sponsorship to the full team.
Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan announced a multiyear agreement on Wednesday. The deal will also keep driver Sebastien Bourdais with the team.
One of Bourdais’ 2018 teammates discussed his plans for 2019 this week. Zachary Claman De Melo contested nine IndyCar races with Dale Coyne in 2018. This year, he will move back to Indy Lights with Belardi Auto Racing.
De Melo chatted with Open-Wheels Owner/Editor Tanner Watkins abouthis bid for the championship and IndyCar scholarship prize.
Saturday brings one of racing’s biggest events. The 57th Rolex 24 at Daytona will feature a number of IndyCar drivers, past and present.
Two former IndyCar drivers will also be making headlines this weekend. 1995 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Christian Fittipaldi will be hanging up his helmet after this weekend.
Assistant Editor/Senior Contributor Spencer Neff profiles Fittipaldi’s IndyCar career. Neff also takes a look back at the 2000 Marlboro 500 for IndyCar Flashback. The race was Fittipaldi’s last IndyCar win.
Two-time CART champion Alex Zanardi also makes his much-anticipated return to race in America this weekend. Neff profiles Zanardi’s efforts with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
This will be the busiest weekend in racing so far in 2019. Catch up on all the latest IndyCar news with this week’s IndyCar Roundup.
Well race fans, the motorsports calendar for 2019 is firmly underway. With the Chili Bowl wrapped up (thank you David Byrd and Conor Daly for representing IndyCar) and the Rolex 24 at Daytona rolling through this weekend, that long offseason is finally starting to diminish.
As we did with the Roar Before the 24 a few weeks ago, Open-Wheels is offering a preview of the Daytona endurance race with an IndyCar slant. For open-wheel fanatics, in particular, the IndyCar ranks will be well represented during this weekend’s festivities.
Let’s break it down by division.
Beginning with the prototype division (officially named Daytona Prototype International, DPI) it is hard to miss the two standout Acura Team Penske entries.
Between Penske’s four drivers with past or present IndyCar connections – Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya, Simon Pagenaud and Alexander Rossi – the quartet has an incredible six Indianapolis 500 victories to their names. Pagenaud is the only man without his face on the Borg-Warner Trophy, but his series championship triumph in 2016 is something that only Montoya can claim to have as well.
Moving down the entry list in the DPI category, one name sticks out rather quickly: Fernando Alonso Diaz, driving the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac for Wayne Taylor Racing. READ MORE
Header image by Team Penske.
After being quiet for much of the 2018-19 offseason, U.K.-based race team Carlin confirmed that they will be back as a full-time entry with Max Chilton at the wheel in 2019. As announced by the team, Gallagher will be back as the No. 59 Chevrolet’s primary sponsor.
“Our first year in the series was a great learning experience for the whole team and we’re thrilled that Gallagher is back on board for our second year,” said team principle Trevor Carlin.
“Gallagher started this journey with us and we’re just so thankful that they share our passion for success and really believe in both us as a team and Max’s ability to represent their brand. We’re confident that our second season in the series will be even better than the first and we’ll be able to push our partnership to the next level.”
It seems that Chilton’s return as a full-time driver was contingent on Gallagher returning as the team’s primary supporter. Gallagher is a global insurance brokerage, risk management and consulting services firm headquartered in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. The company has operations in 35 countries and offers client-service capabilities in more than 150 countries around the world through a network of correspondent brokers and consultants. READ MORE
Header image by Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR.
The field for the NTT IndyCar Series expanded by one on Tuesday morning as Meyer Shank Racing confirmed their partial IndyCar Series effort for 2019. The pairing will work in continuation with their partnership with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
MSR will be expanding their schedule to 10 races for the 2019 season, up from six in 2018. In addition to the 103rd Indianapolis 500 on May 26, the team will be running nine road and street course races.
Their slate begins with the St. Petersburg Grand Prix on March 10. The team will compete in the first six races of the season at CIrcuit of the Americas (March 24), Barber Motorsports Park (April 7), Streets of Long Beach (April 14) and the Indianapolis Grand Prix (May 11) before the 500.
From there, the team has added the June 24 race at Road America to its plans as well as a return to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on July 28 for the Pataskala, Ohio-based outfit. READ MORE
Header image by Matt Fraver/INDYCAR
If you’re a fan of the Dale Coyne, Jimmy Vasser and James Sullivan trio in IndyCar then good news is about to follow: the three businessmen have announced a multi-year agreement that will see the co-entrants compete together in the NTT IndyCar Series in the future.
As part of the updated agreement, French open-wheel veteran Sebastien Bourdais will continue as driver of the No. 18 SealMaster Honda during each IndyCar Series race in 2019.
“After nearly a year of planning in 2017, 2018 was really a trial to get to this point of a multi-year go-forward plan,” said Vasser-Sullivan co-owner James “Sulli” Sullivan.
“We had flashes of brilliance, and most importantly we proved the new partnership worked. This is what we all wanted, and now we have a great platform to build on as we fight for the IndyCar Championship in the coming years.” READ MORE
Header image by Stephen King/INDYCAR.
As if we couldn’t get enough of the title sponsor announcements this week, Sam Schmidt’s IndyCar organization revealed not only their paint schemes but a new team name today: Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
Arrow Electronics has been the primary sponsor for James Hinchcliffe and the No. 5 Honda since the Canadian driver joined SPM in 2015. Arrow’s relationship with Schmidt dates back to 2013 when the two parties began working on a uniquely-designed Corvette that Schmidt would eventually drive without the use of his hands or feet at a speed over 150 miles per hour.
“For me, this announcement is nothing short of a lifelong dream come true,” said Schmidt at today’s press conference. “Mike Long and the entire team at Arrow first had the vision to create a system that enabled me to get behind the wheel after 16 years of paralysis which, in and of itself, has changed my life and the lives of millions worldwide.
“Now, by becoming our team title partner, they have given us the resources to fulfill another lifelong dream – to win the Indy 500 and a championship in the IndyCar Series.” READ MORE
Header image by Karl Zemlin/INDYCAR.
Its only January, but Canadian driver Zachary Claman DeMelo already has his sights set on championship weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in September.
On December 11, the former Dale Coyne Racing driver was confirmed to join Belardi Auto Racing for the 2019 Indy Lights season. This came after Claman DeMelo made nine starts in the NTT IndyCar Series last season with a best finish of 12th.
The move back to Indy Lights – where Claman DeMelo competed for 2016 and 2017 – signals an all-in effort towards returning to IndyCar full-time next year. First, though, the Montreal native must accomplish the one and only goal set forth by himself.
“For me this year it is kind of all or nothing: going for the championship,” Claman DeMelo told Open-Wheels. “I want to know that I’ve put everything I can into this year, and at least that way if we don’t (win the championship) I know I’ve done everything I can. READ MORE
Header image courtesy of IndyCar Media.
Saturday’s Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway is seen by many as the kickoff to major worldwide auto racing.
For one of the biggest names in the sport, it will be his last race before hanging up the helmet.
Christian Fittipaldi is entered in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R. The four-time overall winner looks to defend his victory from last year.
Fittipaldi is joined by 2018 teammates Joao Barbosa and Filipe Albuquerque, as well as former IndyCar driver Mike Conway. READ MORE
Header image by Autoweek.
Welcome to another edition of IndyCar Flashback. Prior to this season, Christian Fittipaldi announced that the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway will be his last race.
Although Fittipaldi last ran in open-wheel cars in 2002, he still made a solid career out of his seven years in the series. In keeping with the salute to Fittipaldi’s career, we take a look at the 2000 Marlboro 500 presented by Toyota.
The season finale at California Speedway had become one of the most exciting events of the year in its first three runnings.
With six title contenders, eye-popping speeds and $1 million each up for grabs for the winner and season champion, the 2000 race would continue that trend. READ MORE
Saturday’s Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway will be a monumental race for Alex Zanardi in several aspects. For the two-time CART champion, it will be his first race on American soil in over 17 years.
Zanardi first dazzled racing fans in America during his four years in CART over two stints. With drives in Formula 1 preceding both parts of his CART career, Zanardi was the most dominant driver during his first three years in the series.
Driving for Chip Ganassi Racing from 1996-1998, the popular Italian earned 15 wins and 10 poles in 51 races spanning three seasons. Zanardi also earned the series championship in 1997 and 1998.
Following an unsuccessful 1999 Formula 1 campaign with Williams, Zanardi returned to the states and in 2001, began racing in CART again. READ MORE
Header Image by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Feature Image By Chris Owens/INDYCAR