Daly Returns to Andretti for Finale; Some Other Tidbits

Photo from @FollowAndretti Twitter feed

The jaws are back. Andretti Autosport announced today that Conor Daly will drive the number 25 USAF car, the same one he drove in this year’s Indianapolis 500, in the NTT Indycar Series finale at Weather Tech Raceway.  In the 500 Daly started 11th and finished 10th. he ran as high as fifth during the race.

This season Daly has also driven twice for Carlin Racing- at Texas, finishing 11th after a 19th place start, and  at Iowa, where ended 13th from 16th on the grid.

I am glad Daly will drive for Andretti again this season. I was hoping he would be back in this car before Laguna Seca. Part of the reason I think the team is entering him in the finale is to serve as a point blocker to help Alexander Rossi get the championship. It would depend on where Daly qualifies, but it could help.

McLaren Closer to Indycar?

This Tweet from Adam Stern indicates some progress by McLaren toward the 2020 Indycar season. The engine issue and James Hinchcliffe’s contratc still seem like huge stumbling blocks. There is word McLaren is also after Colton Herta. I think there is still a lot of work to be done before we see orange cars  on the grid full time.

Third Car for Rahal?

In an interview with RACER magazine Bobby Rahal said this week that  a third car for Rahal letterman Lanigan Racing is closer than they’ve been before. The third RLL car has been a perennial Silly Season story.  I hope it finally appears at St. Pete next March.

More Indy Lights Drivers Test Indycar

Oliver Askew tested with Chip Ganassi Racing at Portland International Raceway yesterday. The CGR team was impressed with his performance. Rinus VeeKay also tested for Ed Carpenter Racing the same day at Portland.

Andretti Autorsport Indy Lights driver Ryan Norman also tested for Andretti at Mid Ohio last week.

I don’t get too excited about Indy lights drivers testing with Indycar teams.  It’s great that they get the experience, but the tests have zero implications for future Indycar rides.

I’m thinking the hybrid engine may not be the last bombshell announcement of this Silly Season.  We need a race soon. Very soon.

Rossi, NAPA, Honda Stay with Andretti

Photo: Rossi in his dominant Road America win in June

Andretti Autosport put an end to Silly Season this afternoon, announcing that Alexander Rossi will be driving for the team in 2020 “and beyond.”  NAPA will continue to sponsor Rossi in nine races next year. Auto Nation will sponsor the number 27 car in seven 2020 races. Honda will continue to power Andretti cars. The announcement ends the rumors that Rossi might sign with Team Penske and the Andretti was switching to Chevrolet engines for 2020.

“It feels good to continue with Andretti Autosport,” said Rossi. “Over the past four years, we’ve built a very strong team with great chemistry and I believe that we have the tools necessary to win races and championships. I’m looking forward to not just calling this my team, but my home in the IndyCar Series. Michael [Andretti], J-F [Thormann], Doug [Bresnahan] and the entire team have been working very hard to put all the pieces of this deal together and it’s definitely a relief to have the future settled and be able to focus on the championship fight ahead of us.  

“It’s fantastic to have NAPA AUTO PARTS, AutoNation and Honda supporting the 27 program. I’ve had the pleasure of developing a great relationship with both NAPA and Honda and couldn’t imagine not having them in my corner. AutoNation has always had a strong partnership with the team through Ryan [Hunter-Reay] and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to represent the Drive Pink campaign and getting to know the AutoNation team better.”

Had Rossi signed with Penske, four of the arguably five best drivers in the series would be on one team. An Andretti switch to Chevy would give the engine seven of the best cars on the grid. With Rossi and Honda staying put, the balance of power in the series is preserved.  I’m not sure how Honda would have replaced Andretti in the series. The options are somewhat limited.

 

Race 2- Quick Thoughts

Scott Dixon knows how to correct mistakes.  After his crash yesterday left him in 22nd place, he comes back with a win. His first of the year and 45th career win. He is now fourth in points. Dixon got his first win at Detroit last year as well.  Could this be the start of his run for back to back titles ?

Alexander Rossi was the big gainer in points today. He moves to second place just 15 behind Josef Newgarden.

Nice to see all four Andretti cars in the top 10.

Great to finally see a podium for Arrow Schmidt Peterson.  Good job by Marcus Ericsson.

Ed Carpenter Racing drivers Spencer Pigot and Ed Jones can’t seem to put a complete race together consistently.

Like yesterday, half the elapsed time was under yellow consuming 33% of the laps.

I’m not sure these late red flags are any better than a green white checker.

Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Graham Rahal are the only drivers who had top ten finishes both days.

What a great comeback by Will Power after his early problem.

I hate when television switches to laps to go. They seemed to start with 48 laps left today, Way too early for that.  I can tolerate it with about 10 laps left.

Look for my full race report on Wildfire Sports tomorrow. I will have some photos up later tomorrow. If you like damaged cars, you’ll enjoy them.

 

Daly, Andretti Reveal Car 25

Conor Daly and Michael Andretti revealed the car Daly will drive in the 103rd running of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today. The car is mostly matte black, touches of blue and hits of various fighter jets. I really like the shark’s teeth behind the front wheel.

Daly’s entry completes a five car all American lineup for Andretti Autosport. All five cars will carry Air Force labels.

“It’s been a dream of mine to drive for this team for a long time,” Daly said. Getting to practice tomorrow is “a huge benefit. Tomorrow is day 1,” Daly added.

The unveiling also give those in attendance their first look at the Advanced Frontal protection device which will be on the cars tomorrow and for the 500. The piece is taller than i thought it was. It is very thin. The device does not appear as if it will obscure the drivers’ vision.

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The front view shows the AFP device just in front of the cockpit. I asked Daly how he thought the device would bother the vision. He said he wasn’t sure. The device is on the simulator, but he wants to see what it’s like when he actually drives the car.

A closer look at the AFP

Tomorrow’s test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway begins with veterans on track from 11-1, followed by rookie orientation between 1 and 3. The final round of testing begins at 3 and goes until 6. The turn 2 mounds will be open for spectators. the test is also live streamed on Indycar’s Facebook page.

The Pit Window will have updates after each session and a full wrap-up on Wildfire Sports Thursday morning.

Jarrett Andretti Added to Freedom 100 Field

Jarrett Andretti will become the latest member of one of racing’s most famous families to race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The son of John Andretti will drive an Andretti Autosport Indy Lights car in the Freedom 100 on  Carb Day,  May 24.

Andretti, 26, has won championships in karts, USAC midgets. an Indiana Sprint Car series.  He joins Andretti Indy Lights drivers Oliver Askew, Robert Megnnis, and Ryan Norman in the Andretti Indy Lights Field. Jarrett currently competes for Andretti Autosport in the Pirelli GT4 America program. He has also competed in the Pirelli World Challenge TCR class.

It is always great to have another Indy Lights car in the field, and adding another Andretti is big for the series. No plans for additional Indy Lights races were mentioned at this time, but Michael mentioned this could be first step to more participation in the series. It seems like a logical presumption  for someone with his last name.

Hunter-Reay leads Practice 1 Honda Parade

Hondas had the top seven times in this morning’s first practice, led by Ryan Hunter-Reay.

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Indycar Friday Long Beach Schedule and Some Notes

LoveToday’s IndyCar schedule  forftye Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.   Eastern Time

1-1:45 pm Practice NBC Gold

5-5:45 pm Practice NBC Gold

Notes

Sebastien Bourdais will do the Long Beach double, also driving for Chip Ganassi Racing’ s Ford GTLM in the IMSA race. Bourdais drives the endurance races for the program. He replaced Joey Hand who is ill. I would like to see more drivers do things like this.

Kyle Kaiser will be at Long Beach, but not in Indycar. He will drive the Juncos DPi in the IMSA race. I have doubts we will see more Indycar entries from Juncos this year.

Michael Andretti has an “Indianapolis driver announcement at 3:30 pm Eastern today. My guess is it’s about an additional Indy Lights car for the Freedom 100.

Daly, Air Force Join Andretti for Indy 500

Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Conor Daly will drive a fifth car with sponsorship from the U. S. Air Force in the103rd running of the Indianapolis 500. The Air Force will also be an associate sponsor on the  Andretti cars of Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, and Zach Veach for the entire season. Daly will carry number 25.

Daly drove in the 2018 500 with Air Force sponsorship as part of Dale Coyne’s team. He started last and finished 21st, completing 199 laps. This will be Daly’s sixth 500. His rookie season was 2013. He returned to the 500 in 2015. His best starting spot was 22nd in 2015. Last year was his best finish and also the race in which he completed the most laps. This is the best car and team Daly will have had for the race.

“It’s my best shot at at the race ever. I can’t wait to get to work,” Daly said.

Michael Andretti said they are working on a few things to possibly get Daly in more races this year. He has no plans to add a sixth ca for this year’s 500 entry list.

Daly drove in just one race, Mid Ohio, for Harding. He was competitive, giving Harding its best starting spot to that point.  He ran well in the race but ran out fuel with two laps left and finished 20th. In2017 Daly drove full time for A. J. Foyt Racing.

Catching Up with Indycar News

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Vasser Sullivan and Dale Coyne have signed a multi year agreement which has Sebastien Bourdais staying in car 18.  Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan became a partnership last year. Nice to see Coyne will have some driver stability and additional resources. Bourdais won the 2018 opening race in St. Pete. It was his second consecutive win in his hometown race.

More Boost at Iowa, Gateway

The NTT Indycar Series announced cars will receive increased boost at short ovals Iowa and Gateway in 2019. The higher boost will necessitate more braking in the turns, which should allow more passing. The boost will increase to 150 kPa, the same as on road and street courses. In 2018 cars were allowed 140 kPa on the short ovals. Superspeedway boost for races is 130Pa. Please do not ask me what kPa means.

Allen Miller of HPD says the goal of 90 horsepower for the new 2.4 liter engine is “very realistic.”

The series continues to seek more ways to improve the racing.  This measure sounds like a bridge to the higher horsepower in the 2021 formula.

Helio at Le Mans?

Three timne Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves is close to finalizing a deal to drive in the Le Mans 24 hour race this year. Castroneves, who now drives full time for Team Penske Acura in the IMSA Weather Tech Championship, will drive for the RLR group in the LMP2 class. The team uses an Oreca 07 chassis, which has been dominant in Europe.

Castroneves was one of the drivers in the third place car at last weekend’s Rolex 24.

Indianapolis 500 Ticket Unveiled

Last Indianapolis Motor Speedway revealed the design for the 2019 Indianapolis 500. I’m always excited to see the new ticket. This year’s design I find disappointing. The photo of Will Power that was used is okay, but a photo of him when he first go out of the car would have been better. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a driver express that much unbridled joy after winning.

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Rolex 24 Post Script

I’ll end today with four photos from last weekend’s Rolex 24

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This pretty much sums up Sunday morning.

 

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Just Announced

Indianapolis Motor Speedway  just announced a press conference tomorrow  afternoon for a major announcement regarding the 500. I’m guessing a presenting sponsor will be named.