Verizon IndyCar Series and Mazda Road to Indy headlines:
- Drivers headline prestigious Mardi Gras Parade
- Drivers head to big game as Verizon guests
- INDYCAR drivers continue win streak at Daytona
- Indy Lights drivers test new car at Homestead
- On the aero kit horizon: Production, supply, tests
- Karam makes strong case for full-season ride
- Briscoe, Pagenaud share class podium
- Chilton joins Carlin with an eye toward Verizon IndyCar Series
1. Drivers headline prestigious Mardi Gras Parade: Clark Brennan says one of the best ways for Verizon IndyCar Series drivers James Hinchcliffe, Josef Newgarden, Carlos Munoz and Sage Karam, plus Mazda Road to Indy drivers Aaron Telitz and Neil Alberico, to immerse themselves in New Orleans culture is to experience a Mardi Gras parade.
On Feb. 15, two days before Fat Tuesday, they’ll participate in the roaring Krewe of Bacchus Parade aboard the Krewe of Bacchus officers’ float. The float will include a Verizon IndyCar Series car, with actor/comedian John C. Reilly – known for his roles in “Step Brothers,” “Chicago” and “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” – as the King of Bacchus.
The drivers will have their own stash of INDYCAR- and event-branded beads to fling to the enthusiastic crowd lining the parade route in New Orleans. For the full story, go to IndyCar.com.
2. Drivers head to big game as Verizon guests: Living in Indianapolis for eight years and watching the Indianapolis Colts, Simon Pagenaud has been schooled in the rudiments of American football.
Though the native of France doesn’t have an opinion about “deflategate” or wouldn’t dare diagram a play for third-and-goal from the 7-yard line, he’s among the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers who will be guests of Verizon this weekend at Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power, the reigning series champion, will also make the trip to watch the New England Patriots battle the Seattle Seahawks.
“I’ve been to a football game before, but this is certainly a great experience,” said Pagenaud, who last weekend earned a podium finish in the GT Le Mans class of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. “With Verizon being our team partner and the series’ main partner, and a partner with the NFL, it will be a quite a spectacle. I’m looking forward to it.”
An event with other Verizon guests at the Penske Racing Museum in Phoenix is among the tour stops.
For more on Verizon IndyCar Series drivers on their way to the big game, read here.
3. INDYCAR drivers continue win streak at Daytona: INDYCAR drivers continued their domination in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, taking the overall win and the GT Le Mans class win at the season-opening sports car endurance race. Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan, along with their Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates teammates Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray, took the overall race win in the No. 02 Target/Ford EcoBoost Riley.
The victory is the second Rolex 24 At Daytona win for Dixon (2006, 2015) and the first for Kanaan. The team now has six wins in twelve attempts at the historic event. A Verizon IndyCar Series competitor has co-driven the winning overall entry the past five years.
“It’s such a team effort here,” said Dixon, who sealed the victory in the final hours. “The whole last part of the race is so horrible because you’re thinking something is going to go wrong, is going to break.”
“I like watches; I’ve always bought them and I got one for free today,” said Kanaan, who dedicated the victory to his wife, Lauren, and their infant son.
In the past decade, other Verizon IndyCar Series drivers who have co-driven to the victory include Sebastien Bourdais (2014), Charlie Kimball (2013), Justin Wilson (2012), Graham Rahal (2011), Juan Pablo Montoya (2013, 2008, 2007), Buddy Rice (2009), Dario Franchitti (2008) and Dan Wheldon (2006).
Fourteen starters from the 2014 Indianapolis 500 competed in the race. Read how they fared at IndyCar.com.
4. Indy Lights drivers test new car to Homestead: Thirteen drivers representing six teams converged on Homestead-Miami Speedway this week for the second official test of the 2015 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season.
The new Mazda-powered Dallara IL-15 was put through its paces with more than 1,870 laps turned on the 2.21-mile, 14-turn road course.
“There have been many miles logged over the past two days and it’s fun to watch teams learning their new chassis,” said Tony Cotman, Indy Lights race director and Dallara IL-15 project manager. “Thanks to the high level of support from all our partners, the transition to the new package has been quite smooth. I can’t wait for the additional cars to join us here shortly to fill out the field. We do have a few items to figure out before the first race of the season but I’m confident they will be sorted. With such a high level of driver and team talent, I look forward to this year’s championship.”
Thoughts from Indy Lights drivers Ed Jones, Shelby Blackstock and Max Chilton, as well as times from the two-day test are available on IndyCar.com.
On the aero kit horizon: The Jan. 18 aerodynamic bodywork kit homologation deadline was one step in a multi-year journey for manufacturers Chevrolet and Honda. Production of multiple components, pending INDYCAR approval, and then supplying Verizon IndyCar Series teams with the pieces is next on the list. More on the aero kit roll-out plan here. Karam makes strong case for full season ride: Sage Karam’s impressive racing resume includes the 2013 Indy Lights championship, a ninth-place finish in his Indianapolis 500 Mile Race debut and most recently a strong performance in his second Rolex 24 At Daytona. He’s hoping to expand the CV with a full-season Verizon IndyCar Series ride, joining Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Charlie Kimball at Chip Ganassi Racing Teams. Click here for more on his chances for a full-season ride. Briscoe, Pagenaud share class podium: Ryan Briscoe, a seven-time Verizon IndyCar Series race winner, earned his first signature timepiece by co-driving the No. 3 Corvette Racing car with Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia to victory in the GT Le Mans class at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Simon Pagenaud, who was competing for the first time in the companion Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, co-drove with Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner to third place in class. More here . Chilton joins Carlin with an eye toward the Verizon IndyCar Series: Former Formula One driver Max Chilton will reunite with British race team Carlin in a joint development program ahead of Carlin’s 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series ambitions. Read more on Chilton’s transition to North American open wheel racing here.