By: Spencer Neff and Tanner Watkins
March 1, 2019 | 8:24 AM
Another busy week puts us into March and one week away from the NTT IndyCar Series season opener.
Thursday became the busiest day in terms of news around the series. NBC Sports and IMS unveiled the schedule for on-track activity during May for the IndyCar Grand Prix and 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.
Open-Wheels’ Owner/Editor Tanner Watkins has details on the updated schedules, including a revised format for Sunday qualifying.
Two entries were added for the May 26 race. Sprint car stalwarts Clauson-Marshall Racing will team with Pippa Mann for the race, as was announced on Wednesday. Assistant Editor/Senior Contributor Spencer Neff details their entry.
On Thursday, Dreyer and Reinhold announced they will enter the race with Sage Karam for the fifth time. Watkins provides all the info on the renewed partnership.
This weekend, the Road to Indy will have their own “Spring Training” at Homestead-Miami Speedway. We have all the details as each of the three “rung” series will be testing.
Lastly, we have previews for all five rookies currently scheduled to enter the series in 2019. Neff profiles a rookie class that includes Ben Hanley, Marcus Ericsson, Felix Rosenqvist, Colton Herta and Santino Ferrucci.
This is the last weekend of the 2018-2019 offseason. Get caught up on all the latest news and more with this week’s IndyCar Roundup.
INDYCAR has announced changes to the structure of qualifications weekend for the 103rd Indianapolis 500. The alterations will affect both the Saturday and Sunday portions of qualifying weekend, which will be held May 18 and 19 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
On Saturday, May 18, drivers will set qualifying times in an attempt to secure one of 30 locked-in starting positions for the Indianapolis 500. In addition to the race for locked-in spots on Saturday, drivers will also be competing for a spot in the Fast Nine Shootout which will decide the pole sitter on Sunday.
Each entry will be guaranteed one attempt on Saturday, and multiple four-lap qualification runs will be made as time permits. A change from previous years will see cars in positions 10 through 30 at the end of the first day be locked into their starting posts, not required to re-qualify the next day.
Coverage of Saturday qualifications from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. will be shown on NBC Sports Gold, while the final hour from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. will be shown on NBCSN. READ MORE
Header Image by Walter Kuhn/INDYCAR.
It has been a busy news day in the world of INDYCAR, and in particular, the 103rd Indianapolis 500.
Earlier today it was revealed that Sage Karam and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing would reunite for a fifth run at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, and then INDYCAR released an update to the schedule for qualifications weekend. Now there has been some light shed on NBC Sports’ coverage plans for the month of May at Indianapolis.
Beginning with the INDYCAR Grand Prix, NBCSN will show qualifications for the NTT IndyCar Series road course race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway live on Friday, May 10 from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern. The next day, the INDYCAR Grand Prix will be shown live on NBC from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern, while the two Indy Lights races that weekend will be available on NBC Sports Gold.
For the first four days of Indianapolis 500 practice (Tuesday, May 14 to Friday, May 17), the action will be shown exclusively on NBC Sports Gold with each practice day running from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Additionally, on-track action from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 18 (the first day of qualifications) will be televised only on NBC Sports Gold. READ MORE
Header image by Karl Zemlin/INDYCAR.
Another piece of the Indianapolis 500 puzzle has fallen into place for 2019. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing has announced that they will return to the Greatest Spectacle in Racing this May with Sage Karam piloting the No. 24 WIX Filters Chevrolet.
“I can’t wait to be back with WIX and DRR for the 2019 Indianapolis 500 and I’m looking forward to putting our No 24 WIX Filters Special in victory lane,” said the 23-year-old Karam. “This year is WIX Filters’ 80th anniversary and I’m excited to help them celebrate throughout the year and represent them on the track.”
In five starts at the Indianapolis 500, Karam has a best finish of 9th in 2014. It was his rookie run with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, and the Nazareth, Pennsylvania native hasn’t finished the 200 laps since. Karam has had strong runs in the interim, though, leading two laps in the 2016 race and working his way into the top-10 last year before exiting on lap 154.
This will be the fifth start at Indianapolis for the Karam/DRR pairing, and team owner Dennis Reinbold is still a stout supporter of the young driver. READ MORE
Header image by Karl Zemlin/INDYCAR.
Clauson-Marshall Racing and Pippa Mann will team up for this May’s Indianapolis 500. Mann, looking to appear in her seventh Indianapolis 500, will pilot the No. 39 Dallara-Chevrolet.
The London, United Kingdom-native made her first Indianapolis 500 appearance in 2011. Driving for Conquest Racing, she started 32nd and finished 20th.
Mann’s best finish in the 500 is 17th (2017), and career-best start was 22nd back in 2014. In 2018, Mann partnered with Dale Coyne Racing for the sixth time, but was unable to find enough speed to make the field.
“I am so thankful for this opportunity to join Clauson-Marshall Racing for their first Indianapolis 500. This is more than just a car entry to me and the journey has been an emotional one,” Mann said in today’s press release. READ MORE
Header Image By Chris Owens/INDYCAR.
An intriguing mix of drivers will make up a select Indy Lights field during Spring Training, all of them with aspirations of claiming a scholarship to ensure entry into at least three IndyCar events in 2020, including the 104th Indianapolis 500.
Zachary Claman, Dalton Kellett and Ryan Norman will be among the proven veterans. Claman, 20, from Montreal, Que., Canada, already has a taste of the premier category after contesting nine IndyCar races in 2018, but this year has chosen to step back to Indy Lights with Belardi Auto Racing. Claman finished fifth in the 2017 title-chase, winning once at Road America.
Kellett, from Toronto, Ont., Canada, has joined Juncos Racing for his fourth full year of Indy Lights. He has secured podium finishes in each of the past three seasons, and last year claimed his first pole at Indianapolis for the series’ headline event, the Freedom 100.
Norman also must be considered a championship favorite as he heads into his third season of Indy Lights with Andretti Autosport. The Aurora, Ohio, native has made steady progress since jumping directly from Formula Atlantic to Indy Lights in 2017. He claimed his first win last year in sensational style at Gateway Motorsports Park and ended the year with his first pole, at Portland International Raceway. READ MORE
Content and images courtesy of Road to Indy.
A change in name for the middle step on the Road to Indy ladder, known previously as Star Mazda and then Pro Mazda, will have no effect on the level of competition as a talented field takes aim at a scholarship valued at almost $600,000 to move up to Indy Lights in 2020.
A few high-profile names are still to announce their plans for the upcoming season, but there’s no doubt that Kyle Kirkwood, from Jupiter, Fla., must be considered a major contender after winning 12 of the 14 USF2000 races in 2018 en route to the championship crown.
“I’m beyond ecstatic to start this new season,” said Kirkwood. “I don’t have much time in the Indy Pro 2000 car but I have enough to say the car feels amazing and I can’t wait to see how I stack up against the rest of the stout field at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“I am incredibly thankful and honored to drive one of the Soul Red Mazda scholarship cars. I hope I can prove my worth and make Mazda and past Mazda Scholarship drivers proud to have me following in their footsteps. If not for them, Andersen Promotions and Cooper Tires, none of this would be possible.”READ MORE
Content and image courtesy of Road to Indy.
Drivers from an impressive 10 different nations are expected at Homestead-Miami Speedway as a typically strong USF2000 field continues preparations for the following week’s pair of opening races of the season in St. Petersburg.
Florida-based Cape Motorsports has high hopes of extending its remarkable streak of eight successive Driver Championships, but Augie Pabst III’s eponymous team from Wisconsin has a strong desire to end that domination and continue its own streak of two consecutive Team Championships. Both will have extremely strong lineups on hand this weekend.
The Cape brothers, Dominic and Nicholas, are pinning their hopes on Darren Keane, Braden Eves and Reece Gold as they concentrate their efforts solely on USF2000 after running a concurrent program in Indy Pro 2000 the past few years.
Keane, from Boca Raton, Fla., topped the times on one of the two days at the Chris Griffis Memorial Road to Indy Test at Indianapolis last September, while Eves, from New Albany, Ohio, has turned many heads during sporadic outings in F4, F1600 and USF2000 (making a solid debut at Portland last fall) over the past 18 months.READ MORE
Santino Ferrucci’s road to the NTT IndyCar Series has been eventful, to say the least. His racing pursuits have taken the Woodbury, Connecticut-native around the world.
Ferrucci achieves success at an early age. At five years old, the American takes up karting. Within three years, he wins his first race and by age 10, he wins consecutive Florida Winter Tour Championships.
After winning the 2012 US Rotax National Championship, Ferrucci’s journey takes him to the 2012-13 SBF2000 Winter Series. In 10 races, he scores three victories, six podium finishes and three pole positions.
In 2013, Ferrucci moves to the Skip Barber Racing Series. After winning his debut at Homestead, Ferrucci ends the season with another four wins and two pole positions. Additionally, he joins the F2000 field for eight races. During this time, Ferrucci earns four podium finishes and a pole position.READ MORE
Header Image By Chris Jones/INDYCAR
Colton Herta represents an interesting bridge between the past and the future of the NTT IndyCar Series.
Those who follow IndyCar know Herta’s father, Bryan, a former IndyCar driver. Bryan is now co-owner of Andretti Herta Autosport with Marco Andretti and Curb-Agajainian.
At 18, the Valenica, California-native is the youngest of this year’s rookies (he turns 19 on March 30). He is also the first IndyCar driver born in the new millenium.
He begins racing with a three-year karting stint that includes stops in the SKUSA and IKF series. Herta’s single-seater racing career begins in the 2013 SBF2000 Winter Series. READ MORE
Header Image By John Cote/INDYCAR
Felix Rosenqvist boasts arguably the most diverse racing background of the first-year drivers. Hailing from Värnamo, Sweden, the 27-year-old has driven on some of the world’s most famous tracks.
As he prepares for his first season in the NTT IndyCar Series, he will look to use that experience to his advantage.
Like many current drivers, Rosenqvist’s career begins on the karting circuit. In 2007, he heads to Asia and begins his single-seater career in the Asian Formula Renault Challenge.
Rosenqvist earns his first victory at the season finale in Shanghai. The win propels him to fourth in points, highest of any series rookie. READ MORE
Header Image By Shawn Gritzmacher/INDYCAR
Marcus Ericsson is the latest in a long line of drivers to join the NTT IndyCar Series from Formula 1. With Robert Wickens still rehabilitating from his August 18 crash at Pocono, Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports opted to add Ericsson alongside James Hinchcliffe.
Although this is Ericsson’s first foray into IndyCar, he does carry connections to the series’ past. At nine years old, former IndyCar driver Frederik Ekblom notices the Kumla, Sweden native’s talent at a local go-kart track. Ekblom then convinced Ericsson’s father to buy him a go-kart.
Ekblom recommends Ericsson to Fortec Motorsport boss Richard Dutton. At this time, Ericsson attracts the attention of countryman and 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner Kenny Brack.
In 2007, the 16-year-old would step up to Formula BMW. In his first season, Ericsson continued to impress. On the strength of 11 poles, seven wins and six additional podium finishes, Ericsson earns the championship. READ MORE
Header Image By John Cote/INDYCAR
Of the five drivers scheduled for their first full or part-time season in the NTT IndyCar Series, Ben Hanley is unique.
At 34, Hanley is by far the oldest of the freshman crop of drivers in 2019. Confirmed for just five races of the 17-race calendar, Hanley is also the only one not expected to race the full schedule (let’s not discuss Pato O’Ward for now).
Hanley’s team, DragonSpeed LLC, joins the IndyCar ranks after nearly a decade in sports car racing. The Manchester, England native’s racing career began in Cadet Karting. In 1996, he earns the vice-championship in the series.
By 2000, Hanley makes it to the top of the JICA ranks. In his senior karting career, Hanley earned the Vice F.A. European Championship, and with his success, moved up to the factory team at Maranello Karting. READ MORE
Header Image By European Le Mans Series (ELMS)
Feature Image By Joe Skibiniski/INDYCAR