Adam has been a race fan since the first time he went through the tunnel under the Daytona International Speedway almost 30 years ago. He has had the privilege of traveling to races all across the state of Florida (as well as one race in Ohio), watching nearly everything with a motor compete for fame and glory, as well as participating in various racing schools to get the feel of what racecar drivers go through every week.
Adam spent several years covering motorsports for Examiner.com., where he had the opportunity to see the racing world from behind the scenes as well as the grandstands. He invites everyone to follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, and looks forward to sharing his enthusiasm for all things racing with the readers of SpeedwayDigest.com.
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There were multiple events and media activities to celebrate the 55 years of Mustangs competing at Lime Rock Park in the run up to Saturday’s TA2 powered by AEM race. And after the race, the celebrations continued as it was the Mustangs that dominated Saturday’s Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli Memorial Day Classic.
Racing the No. 26 Mike Cope Race Cars Ford Mustang, Thomas Merrill kept Dillon Machavern’s No. 77 Liqui-Moly Prefix Ford Mustang in his mirrors for the entire 100-mile feature to take the checkered. Driving flag to flag to his second TA2 victory, Merrill is the first driver to win back-to-back on different coasts this season.
Machavern finished second with Scott Lagasse Jr. in the No. 92 SLR/Fields Racing/M1Racecars Chevrolet Camaro rounding out the podium.
“The car was a rocket ship all weekend,” said Merrill, who also snatched pole position in the final seconds of qualifying from Machavern. “I got lucky with the traffic and used it to my advantage to keep Dillion behind me. Dillion is a respectable driver. There were several opportunities where he could have bumped me to take P1 but he kept it clean and I appreciate that. Mike Cope Racing really put together a great car at the last minute for me and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.”
Starting on pole, Merrill pulled away from the pack, leading Machavern by more than three seconds after five laps. But, Merrill’s speed started to fade late in the race, allowing Machavern to challenge the front-runner. A late yellow regrouped the field after the No. 12 car experienced mechanical issues on track which required a tow. It was the opportunity that Machavern needed to close the final gap on Merrill. On the restart, the pair of Mustangs raced through the tight, fast turns of the 1.53-mile circuit. With time ticking down, Machavern tried to pass Merrill on the uphill. His attempt was unsuccessful as he dropped two wheels off track, allowing Merrill to cross the stripe about a half a second before him.
“Thomas is good at making his car wide and big, and he really worked that traffic well,” Machavern explained. “The Stevens Miller Liqui-Moly Mustang was awesome all weekend, but Thomas just bested me on the last lap in qualifying and really the same thing happened at the end of the race. I think we had the fastest car at the end, we had some passing opportunities, but Thomas just knew how to make his car big.”
Using his NASCAR circle-track experience to his advantage, Lagasse wheeled his No. 92 SLR/Fields Racing/M1Racecars Chevrolet Camaro from a fifth-place start to a podium finish despite losing power steering late in the round.
“I’m exhausted after this race and ready for a nap,” Lagasse laughed. “To run this kind of a track without power steering was a little bit interesting. We had a really good race car, but lost some speed after the power steering went out. We had solid race and this track was a lot of fun.”
Championship-points leader Marc Miller also experienced some issues early on in the race after contact between his No. 40 Prefix Stevens-Miller Racing Dodge Challenger and the No. 25 BC Race Cars Chevrolet Camaro of Tony Ave sent Miller back to mid-field. Working through traffic, Miller managed to finish the race where he started, in fourth.
“We soldiered the No. 40 Prefix Doge Challenger back through the pack to finish fourth,” said Miller. “We just didn't have the car to win today, but we secured a solid result with no damage before the important Detroit GP double-header next weekend. It was a huge effort by the Stevens-Miller Racing team and Prefix. Also as the only Dodge in the entire TA2 field, we had a great deal of fans visit us for the fan walk. It was great to meet everyone and see some old friends. Now it's time to head home to prepare for the next one.”
Missing the last round at Laguna Seca, defending TA2 champion Rafa Matos returned to the Lime Rock Park lineup. With major competition and limited passing areas, Matos was only able to make up two positions before the end of the race, slotting into fifth.
Doug Peterson won the Masters award in the TA2 class following a 10th-place finish in the No. 87 3Dimensional Services Group Ford Mustang. After weaving through traffic to take the win, Merrill received the Cool Shirt Cool Move of the race.
The TA2 powered by AEM drivers have a quick turn around before the next Round, traveling to Michigan for the Detroit Grand Prix May 31-June 2. For results, standings and timing and scoring, visit GoTransAm.com.
Rallycross prodigy Travis PeCoy will become the latest driver to strap in for Loenbro Motorsports in 2019. The California native will run the full Americas Rallycross season alongside teammate Steve Arpin, marking his first season in a top-level Supercar and fourth year in rallycross overall. PeCoy's addition to the team comes as ARX and Loenbro Motorsports have joined forces on the new ARX2 Driver Mentorship Program for 2019, which intends to create a stronger path for young drivers to advance to the highest levels of rallycross competition.
“It’s been a long off-season and I can’t wait to jump in a Supercar!” said PeCoy. “Coming into the 2019 season, I’m proud to say that I have never been more excited, motivated, and determined to start racing than I am right now. From talking to a lucky number of people who have experienced what it’s like to be in a Supercar, I’ve heard the stories of the feeling it gives you, so being one of the few to ever drive one is super rad. The competition is stacked in the big cars and there is a lot of respect to be earned, the pressure is on but I’m ready to handle it!
“I’m thankful for my sponsors, Loenbro Motorsports, and Steve Arpin for being very professional in the way they handle their business and making my transition into 650hp as smooth as possible. They’ve built a fast racecar, too!”
“Having the right people in place is such an important part of Loenbro Motorsports, and Travis and his family blend perfectly into the culture that Paul and Jon Leach have created,” said Arpin. “When we started this team, our focus was on treating people right, building strong relationships, and going above and beyond our promises. I’m excited to work with Travis this season because I know he and his family share these same values, and on top of that, I expect him to turn some heads with some strong results this year!”
“We’re excited to welcome Travis PeCoy and his group of partners to the Loenbro Motorsports family for 2019,” said team owner Paul Leach. “Travis is an incredibly talented young driver who has earned his way into a Supercar with strong results and consistent year-over-year progression. We’re excited to see what he can do while racing alongside Steve at the sport’s highest level!”
PeCoy made the switch to rallycross from off-road racing in 2016, and has scored multiple podiums and heat victories during a three-year career thus far. Last season, he returned to action in ARX2, scoring a podium at Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres in Canada and once again showing the pace that netted him a career-best third place championship result in 2017. PeCoy’s #3 Ford Fiesta ST Supercar will be backed by Factory Canopies, PPG, SC Fuels, and Justice Brothers.
In addition, PeCoy will serve as the face of the new ARX2 Driver Mentorship Program, a joint effort between the top teams and sponsors of rallycross in North America to give young drivers the tools for future success. PeCoy will work alongside Arpin in everything the team does all season long, showcasing Loenbro Motorsports and Arpin’s commitment to helping along the next generation of rallycross stars. Current ARX2 drivers will benefit from networking events and other beneficial arrangements to help them build the skills necessary to graduate and join PeCoy in the Supercar class.
Don’t miss Arpin, PeCoy, and the Loenbro Motorsports team as they run for the 2019 Americas Rallycross championship, starting with the Cooper Tires ARX of Mid-Ohio at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on June 8-9. Tickets for selected rounds of the championship are on sale now via www.arxrallycross.com.
Be sure to follow Steve Arpin, Travis PeCoy, and Loenbro Motorsports on social media:
- Facebook: Steve Arpin, Travis PeCoy, Loenbro Motorsports
- Twitter: @stevearpin, @travispecoy3, @loenbroracing
- Instagram: @arpin00, @travispecoy3, @loenbromotorsports
Florida rising star Oliver Askew inched past Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Norman at better than 200 mph on the final run to the checkered flag as the top six finishers crossed the yard of bricks blanketed by less than six-tenths of a second at the conclusion of another memorable Freedom 100 Presented by Cooper Tires.
The 17th annual edition of the Carb Day curtain-raiser at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway once again lived up to expectations with a large crowd on its feet and cheering to the rafters as the Indy 500 aspirants put on quite a show. Officially there were 12 changes of lead at the start/finish line – and countless more during a scintillating 40-lap contest. Askew’s final margin of victory was listed at just 0.0067 of a second – the fourth closest in IMS history, behind only the Freedom 100s in 2017 (0.0024), 2013 (0.0026) and 2014 (0.0050).
Norman, who officially led 29 laps, had to be content with second place, while Dutchman Rinus VeeKay (Juncos Racing) edged out Englishman Toby Sowery (BN Racing/Team Pelfrey) by just 0.0773 in another photo-finish for the final podium position.
The red-hot action mirrored the hot, humid conditions which replaced morning rain and proved quite challenging for the drivers. Indeed, there was drama even before the cars took to the track when it was announced after qualifying that five cars had failed post-qualifying technical inspection and would be banished to the rear of the starting grid. Then on the first of two pace laps, debutant Jarett Andretti lost control in Turn Four. Thankfully, the Indianapolis native was able to continue unscathed, although Aaron Telitz, who had rejoined the Belardi Auto Racing team at almost literally the last moment, also struck misfortune as he was forced into the pits before the green flag by a broken driveshaft.
When the green flag finally flew, one lap later than original scheduled, the field was already jockeying hard for position when David Malukas (BN Racing), from Chicago, Ill., lost control and spun at the entrance to Turn Four, moments after being passed by VeeKay for fourth place. A close-following Chris Windom (Belardi Auto Racing), from Canton, Ill., was unable to avoid him, whereupon the two cars made heavy contact with the outside retaining wall. Neither driver was hurt but the race was red-flagged shortly thereafter for repairs to the SAFER barrier.
The race was restarted after an almost 10 minute delay and the drivers immediately took up where they had left off, slicing and dicing for position all the way around the 2.5-mile four-cornered oval. The crowd loved it.
Norman, from Aurora, Ohio, led the majority of the laps on the official charts, but that fact told barely anything of the story, with VeeKay frequently drafting past to lead the way into Turn One and polesitter Robert Megennis (Andretti Autosport), Askew, Canadian Dalton Kellett (Juncos Racing) and Sowery also exchanging places almost constantly. It was a good old-fashioned nail-biter.
Eventually, and perhaps unsurprisingly, a relatively minor glance of Sowery’s right-front wing against Megennis’ left-rear wheel at the exit of Turn One resulted in Megennis being tipped into a spin, although moments later the teenaged New Yorker’s car was back pointing in roughly the right direction when the two cars once again came into contact. Miraculously, both regained control and continued, and the field was granted a brief respite when the yellow flags waved.
Sowery was instructed to fall to the back of the pack at the restart, after being adjudged to have caused the incident, but before long he was slicing his way back through toward the front. The Englishman even nosed ahead into the lead for a few yards with a couple of laps to go, eliciting a huge cheer from the crowd, but as the final lap unfolded it came down to a battle between Askew, Norman and VeeKay for top honors.
Askew led at the white flag and, unusually, was able to maintain his advantage through Turn One, only for teammate Norman to come back at him in Turn Three. The Ohio native led the way off the final corner but Askew was tucked up tight behind in the draft, pulling out once he knew he had enough momentum and then edging up alongside as the top two sped underneath the checkered flags. It was an emotional victory for the talented young man from Jupiter, Fla.
Norman had to be content with second and VeeKay third, while Sowery and Kellett also were separated by mere fractions, with Andretti and Brazilian Lucas Kohl (Belardi Auto Racing), who sneaked past Megennis in the dash for the line, also hanging in the draft. Telitz, too, was classified in ninth, five laps behind, after his Belardi team worked hard to repair his car during the earlier red-flag stoppage.
Next up for the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires contenders are a pair of road course races at Road America, in Elkhart Lake, Wis., once again in support of the NTT IndyCar Series, on June 22/23.
The final practice for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge gave the 33 drivers and teams a last chance to dial in their cars for race. Afterward, some felt better prepared for Sunday's "Greatest Spectacle in Racing," while others aren't so sure.
Tony Kanaan, the 22-year Indy car veteran and 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner, posted the fastest lap of the Miller Lite Carb Day session Friday at 225.517 mph in the No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet. While admitting the lap came with the aid of a tow from cars in front of him, Kanaan was pleased with the steps forward his car has taken since Monday's practice.
"A good day for us," Kanaan said. "Obviously, conditions look like pretty similar to what we're going to see on Sunday, hopefully. It was a pretty easy day for us.
"I wasn't really happy with my car on Monday and I was extremely vocal about it, and I think my engineers heard me, so we made it better today."
Kanaan will make his 18th Indy 500 start on Sunday, this time from the inside of Row 6. He focused on tweaking his car to run strong in traffic on Friday since he knows he'll be in the thick of it during the race.
"I was really working on my car, the level of downforce and grip that I wanted to have starting 16th," Kanaan explained. "So, really, we worked in traffic a lot and trying to find the grip and scan to some of the items that we had on the list to be able to - once we put ourselves in the front during the race - to know what to do."
Rookie Santino Ferrucci was second fastest in the practice, turning a lap of 225.486 mph in the No. 19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda for Dale Coyne Racing. Takuma Sato, the 2017 Indy 500 champion, was third in the No. 30 Mi-Jack/Panasonic Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
"We were having fun," Ferrucci said. "The No. 19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda is in really good shape. We could pass about everybody and we're quick, so there isn't much else to say really. We're looking forward to the race."
Pole sitter Simon Pagenaud ranked 22nd on the speed chart Friday at 222.856 mph in the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet. Teammate Will Power, the reigning race winner, was 10th at 224.240 mph in the No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Chevrolet.
Points leader Josef Newgarden was 13th fastest in the No. 2 Shell V-Power Nitro Plus Team Penske Chevrolet. He holds a six-point lead heading into the race over reigning NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, who wasn't pleased with how his No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda handled on Friday.
"I don't know what happened there with the PNC Bank car, honestly," said Dixon, who was 19th on the speed chart and starts the race 18th. "I hope we find something wrong with the car because it wasn't great. It's really bizarre, and nothing like we had all month, so we are unsure.
"There is a fundamental issue on the car and we'll work to find out what happened there."
A total of 1,755 laps were completed on the 2.5-mile oval in the practice scheduled for 90 minutes shortened 18 minutes to allow the track to dry following morning rain.
The 33 entries are now parked in their Gasoline Alley garages until Sunday's 200-lap race. Live coverage begins at 11 a.m. ET on NBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network. The green flag is expected at 12:45 p.m.
Askew edges teammate at finish to win Freedom 100
Oliver Askew charged past Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Norman to win the Freedom 100 presented by Cooper Tires by the fourth-narrowest margin in race history on Friday. Askew crossed the finish line 0.0067 of a second ahead of his teammate to claim first place in the centerpiece race of the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires season.
Norman led 29 of 40 laps on the IMS oval and was ahead exiting Turn 4 on the final lap. But Askew got a run and slid inside to pull out what he called the "biggest race I've ever won in my life."
The triumph allowed Askew to stretch his championship lead to 21 points over Rinus VeeKay (Juncos Racing), who finished third.
Ericsson crew wins MotoGator Pit Stop Competition
The No. 7 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda crew of rookie driver Marcus Ericsson won Friday's MotoGator Pit Stop Competition that capped Miller Lite Carb Day activities at IMS.
In the final round, Ericsson's crew - Bob Jansen (chief mechanic and inside right front tire changer), Ryan Marzec (outside rear tire), Keith Beck (airjack), Brendon Cleave (outside front tire), Timothy Lane (fueler) and Nic Kaminski (inside rear tire) - defeated the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing crew of Scott Dixon in a best-of-three shootout. Ericsson won the decisive third heat in 11.794 seconds, the best time clocked by any crew in the entire competition.
In the contest, cars in each round were lined up alongside each other. The driver had to speed the car into the pit stop zone for his crew performed a four-tire change, before pulling away to the finish line. Ericsson defeated a pair of Team Penske drivers, Josef Newgarden and Will Power, on his way to meeting Dixon in the championship round.
It provided a measure of revenge for Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, which had finished second in the competition for the past three years.
In the closest qualifying session of the season so far, a mid-session strategy switch up for the Mike Cope Racing team sent Thomas Merrill straight to a polewinning start as the California-native stole the fastest lap in the final seconds of the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli TA2 powered by AEM qualifying Friday at Lime Rock Park.
Underscoring the nature of TA2 competition, the top-eight times were separated by less than four tenths of a second.
With an initial strategy to find a gap and lay down a fast time in the opening laps, Merrill caught traffic in the tight, fast corners of the 1.53-mile circuit, eventually falling back to mid-pack in the 29-car field. About half way through the session, Merrill’s team called in his No. 26 Mike Cope Race Cars Big Dielhl Racing Skip Barber car to the pits.
With minutes left on the clock and the track clearing out, Mike Cope Racing found the perfect gap for Merrill to open-up his Ford Mustang in an attempt to get a flying lap. On the final lap of the session, Merrill eclipsed the fastest time by just over two tenths of a second to clinch pole position.
“I got to give Mike Cope and the crew huge credit for timing my return to the track perfectly,” said Merrill. “Traffic played a huge factor in the start of qualifying, really foreshadowing what we should expect for tomorrow’s race.”
Watching from pit lane as Merrill’s name shot to the top of the results, was Dillion Machavern, who was fastest in testing, practice and in qualifying for a majority of the session. Driving the No. 77 Liqui-Molly Prefix Ford Mustang, Machavern got off to a rough start in qualifying, shunting off track in the opening lap. Machavern recovered and started chipping away until he reached the top, only to be beat out by Merrill. With minimal time left on the clock, Machavern had to settle for a front row P2 start.
“This is the most competitive field we’ve had all season,” said Machavern. “Keeping it clean and making no mistakes is going to be the name of the game. We have a really strong car for the race and the Liqui-Molly Prefix Ford Mustang has been fast all weekend. I am really excited for the race tomorrow.”
Returning to TA2 for the first time this season, Tony Ave in the No. 25 BC Race Cars Chevrolet Camaro will start in Row 2 shared by championship leader Marc Miller in the No. 40 Prefix Stevens-Miller Racing Dodge Challenger. Scott Lagasse Jr. in the SLF/Fields Racing/M1Racecars Chevrolet Camaro rounded out the top-five.
The Dave Steele Carb Night Classic at the Lucas Oil Raceway oval featured a pair of exciting races for drivers on the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel development ladder. Both included first-time winners as Singapore’s Danial Frost led from flag to flag for Exclusive Autosport in Round Five of the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, while Australian Cameron Shields emerged victorious in Round Five of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship for Newman Wachs Racing.
Frost, 17, was in imperious form on the ultra-fast oval. He was comfortably fastest in last week’s prerace test, led the way in qualifying and, after fighting off an early challenge from last year’s dominant USF2000 champion Kyle Kirkwood, controlled the proceedings to score a thoroughly well-deserved victory in the Cooper Tires Freedom 90. He also took home the first PFC Award this season for Michael Duncalfe’s Exclusive Autosport team, which also triumphed at Lucas Oil Raceway in 2018.
Frost’s only serious challenge came following the race’s only full-course caution, which came after 51 laps when Nikita Lastochkin’s Exclusive Autosport Tatuus PM-18 ground to a halt with a mechanical failure. Frost took the restart directly ahead of Sting Ray Robb, from Payette, Idaho, who had found a way past Kirkwood in Turn One moments before the yellow, but didn’t take long to reestablish a clear advantage. His final margin of victory after 90 laps was 4.8048 seconds.
Championship leader Rasmus Lindh (Juncos Racing), from Gothenburg, Sweden, chased both his teammate, Robb, and Kirkwood virtually throughout the race before finally finding a chink in Kirkwood’s armor on the very last lap when he took advantage of an open-door opportunity on the high line into Turn One. Robb moved quickly alongside, then carried his momentum through Turn Two to edge ahead and hold off Kirkwood for third on the line.
Jacob Abel (Abel Motorsports, from Louisville, Ky.), was the only unlapped finisher in fifth, while DEForce teammates Kory Enders, from Sugar Land, Texas, and Moises de la Vara, from Guadalajara, Mexico, finished in that order after a race-long scrap which also involved Phillippe Denes, from Carmel, Calif., who earned the Tilton Hard Charger Award after starting 12th on the grid.
INDYCAR, Red Bull Advanced Technologies partner on driver cockpit protection innovation set to debut in 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season24 May 2019
INDYCAR has formed a partnership with Red Bull Advanced Technologies to design an Aeroscreen for enhanced driver cockpit protection that will be implemented for the outset of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, the two organizations announced in a joint news conference at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Aeroscreen is being developed by Red Bull Advanced Technologies to reduce the risk of driver injury from debris or other objects striking the cockpit area. The driver safety innovation that will encompass the cockpit consists of a ballistic Aeroscreen anchored by titanium framework.
“Since the first prototypes were developed and demonstrated in 2016, the potential of Aeroscreen to improve the safety for drivers in the event of frontal impacts in the cockpit area of cars has been clear,” said Christian Horner, Red Bull Advanced Technologies CEO and Red Bull Racing team principal. “This new partnership with INDYCAR gives us at Red Bull Advanced Technologies the go-ahead to fully explore that potential, and to deliver a protection system that will help prevent serious injuries and potentially save lives in the U.S.’ premier single-seater series. Over the coming months, we’ll be working closely with INDYCAR and its drivers to refine and perfect Aeroscreen, and we’re looking forward to seeing the results race in 2020.”
The Red Bull Advanced Technologies Aeroscreen is the second phase of INDYCAR’s objective to further enhance driver safety in the open-cockpit race cars. INDYCAR debuted the Advanced Frontal Protection (AFP) device for the INDYCAR Grand Prix that was held May 10-11 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. The AFP is designed to help deflect debris away from the cockpit area and the driver.
“This collaborative effort on the Aeroscreen between Red Bull Advanced Technologies, Dallara and INDYCAR truly exhibits an unrelenting commitment and passion for enhancing driver safety,” INDYCAR President Jay Frye said. “We would like to thank everyone at Red Bull Advanced Technologies for creating a design that will be significant in the evolution of motorsports safety, not only for the NTT IndyCar Series but from a global perspective.”
The Red Bull Advanced Technologies design will consist of a polycarbonate laminated screen that includes an anti-reflective coating on the interior of the screen, an anti-fogging device through an integral heating element and possibly tear-offs, all of which will be produced by integrated third-party companies. Another feature for the drivers will be a cockpit cooling option that will be designed by Dallara, an INDYCAR official supplier, in conjunction with Red Bull Advanced Technologies.
The titanium framework will mount in three areas around the cockpit – the chassis centerline, two-rear side mounts and roll hoop integration – to provide enhanced load-bearing capabilities. The load bearing is expected to be 150 kilonewtons (kN), which would equal the FIA load for the Halo design currently used in Formula One. A kilonewton is equal to approximately 225 pounds, which is a force of gravity rating, not static weight or mass. Force is equal to mass multiplied by acceleration.
Upon completion of the Aeroscreen design by Red Bull Advanced Technologies, INDYCAR is tentatively planning on-track testing by selected NTT IndyCar Series drivers this summer and the approved Aeroscreens delivered to all teams by the fall.
“INDYCAR has always been on the forefront of driver safety,” five-time and defending NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing said. “They are constantly looking and evaluating what needs to be done. It’s something they have done throughout history if you look back through the different eras since auto racing started over 100 years ago. The Aeroscreen is just the latest effort in continuing INDYCAR’s efforts to enhance driver safety.”
The AFP device, a 3-inch-tall titanium component manufactured by Dallara that is positioned in front of the cockpit along the chassis centerline, will be utilized by all teams for the remainder of the NTT IndyCar Series season, including Sunday’s 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.
Previously, INDYCAR had conducted extensive testing with a windscreen concept developed in conjunction with PPG Aerospace, including on-track sessions in 2018 at ISM Raceway in Phoenix and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The drivers who tested the windscreen did not report any issues, but additional comprehensive testing at PPG’s facility in Huntsville, Alabama, revealed additional work was needed before any implementation.
INDYCAR was able to utilize the research and on-track testing from this project to provide additional data and information to Red Bull Advanced Technologies for the development of the current design.
An exciting pair of qualifying sessions took place this evening at Lucas Oil Raceway to set the starting grids for the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires races to be held during an action-packed evening tomorrow at the Dave Steele Carb Night Classic – Race Before the 500.
Danial Frost (Exclusive Autosport), from Singapore, claimed pole position for tomorrow’s Cooper Tires Freedom 90, Round Five of the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, while Colin Kaminsky (Pabst Racing), from Homer Glen, Ill., earned the top spot for the Cooper Tires Freedom 75, Round Five of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship.
Frost, 17, had been the pacesetter ever since the Indy Pro 2000 teams took part in a one-day test last week at the challenging and super-fast high-banked 0.686-mile oval situated just a few miles west of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A substantial advantage over the field was narrowed considerably when the drivers returned to the track this afternoon for one final 30-minute practice session, but Frost laid down two excellent laps in qualifying, averaging 120.474 mph, to reaffirm himself as the man to beat tomorrow evening.
“I had no idea I’d get my first pole on an oval,” said Frost, who has a trio of third-place finishes to his credit but a best starting position of only fourth prior to this week. “Being dominant in the test, then practice and now qualifying to get pole, this is so exciting for me. I can’t thank the team enough for putting together a quick car for me.
“There is a lot of pressure when you’re qualifying on an oval because everyone is watching you and it’s just those two laps, so if you mess it up you’re done. You have to be so precise. When my team told me I was P1, I was screaming, but I had to hold it in because there were still other cars to go out. Once it was over, then we could celebrate. We’ve done well tonight, but tomorrow is the big thing. We have everything where we want it and it won’t be easy, but we have to be consistent and bring it home in one piece – and in front!”
Fellow rookie Kyle Kirkwood, from Jupiter, Fla., made significant progress between practice and qualifying to post the second fastest speed for RP Motorsport USA with a two-lap average of 118.936 mph. Kirkwood knows what it takes to win at Lucas Oil Raceway having done just that – from the pole position – en route to the USF2000 championship crown last year.
This year’s two point leaders, Parker Thompson (Abel Motorsports), from Red Deer, Alb., Canada, who finished second in the championship last year, and Swedish rookie Rasmus Lindh (Juncos Racing), will share row two of the grid, separated by just 0.0041 of a second over their two-lap runs.
Another especially noteworthy performance in qualifying was posted by veteran Charles Finelli, a lawyer by profession, from Locust Valley, N.Y., who will start a career-high eighth for FatBoy Racing!
Lap speeds were much closer in the USF2000 ranks, from which Kaminsky impressively overcame a mishap during the afternoon, when he lost control and crashed in Turn One, to also claim his first-ever pole position.
“I got loose in Turn One, corrected too fast and it snapped,” recounted Kaminsky. “By the time I had finished looking at the video, the team had everything fixed and had gotten it back on the setup pad. I got my helmet on and we rolled. It was a little too close of a call but it worked. It shook me up a little bit, having a wreck like that, but it’s down to inexperience on the ovals. But when I went out for qualifying, it felt great. The Pabst team did such a great job to put it together and make me comfortable.
“I knew I would be near the top, given our pace in the test last week and earlier today, so I was pretty excited when they told me I was P1! Then we had to wait for the rest of the cars to go, so now I know a little bit of what it’s like at Indy. But it was such a great feeling, and we’re going to keep it up tomorrow – we’re going to take it from the front, do the best job we can and win!”
Kaminsky emerged narrowly ahead of Australian rookie Cameron Shields (Newman Wachs Racing), who also secured his first front row starting position.
Reece Gold, just 14 years old from Dorado, Puerto Rico, also impressed by qualifying third fastest for Cape Motorsports, which has a rich history of success at Lucas Oil Raceway, including guiding Kirkwood to victory in 2018. More experienced teammates Darren Keane, from Boca Raton, Fla., and Braden Eves, from New Albany, Ohio, the championship leader who is unbeaten on four races this season, will start sixth and 12th.
Mexican Manuel Cabrera, who had been fastest in the pre-event test last week but ended the day early after a crash, also rebounded well to qualify fourth for Exclusive Autosport.
The USF2000 and Indy Pro competitors will have one more 20-minute practice session apiece tomorrow afternoon, at 4:05 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. EDT, respectively. The 75-lap Cooper Tires Freedom 75 USF2000 race then will take the green flag at 6:45 p.m., followed at 7:50 p.m. by the 90-lap Cooper Tires Freedom 90 for Indy Pro 2000. Live streaming will be available at RoadToIndy.TV, the Road to Indy TV App and the series respective websites at usf2000.com and indypro2000.com.