Race Weekend Update
Key Changes for 2017: http://galleries.nascar.com/gallery/897/key-changes-in-nascar-for-2017#/0
Daytona Speedweeks Begins this Friday! Full schedule: www.nascar.com/en_us/news-media/articles/2017/1/24/full-schedule-for-daytona-tv-times-coverage.html
Helio Castroneves helps Phoenix Raceway break ground on solar project: With the help of Phoenix Raceway's "Speed King" Helio Castroneves, Phoenix Raceway officially broke ground on the Phoenix Raceway Project Powered by DC Solar during a special ceremony at its second annual Verizon IndyCar Series "Prix View" Testing event. On hand to ring in the occasion alongside Sperber were Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Chevy for Team Penske in the Verizon IndyCar Series, President of Competition and Operations for INDYCAR Jay Frye, Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo, Arizona Senator Lupe Contreras and City of Avondale Mayor Kenn Weise as well as former IndyCar legends Tom Sneva, Lyn St. James and Dick Simon. Among the many highlights of the Phoenix Raceway Project Powered by DC Solar is a completely redesigned infield featuring a first-of-its-kind garage viewing experience, placing fans face-to-face with the superstars of the sport. Phoenix Raceway's start/finish line will also be repositioned in Turn 2 just before the track's well-known dog leg. Fans can learn more about the Phoenix Raceway Project Powered by DC Solar and obtain news, updates and alerts by visiting www.newphoenixraceway.com.(Phoenix Raceway)(2-13-2017)
Competition runs strong and deep at Phoenix Raceway open test
Two days of on-track testing for 21 Verizon IndyCar Series drivers and teams were literally like day and night. Cars carrying Chevrolet engines and aero kits dominated the day sessions of the Phoenix Raceway open test, while those with Honda equipment filled the top of the leaderboard for the night practices. So, following 12 on-track hours and more than 5,000 laps run on the 1.022-mile oval, the competition for the upcoming 17-race season may be as tight as ever. That's saying something since the last 11 season championships have been decided at the final race.
JR Hildebrand, who returns to a full-season ride this year with Ed Carpenter Racing, claimed the honor of best lap of the weekend at 193.234 mph (19.0401 seconds) in the No. 21 Fuzzy's Vodka Chevrolet. The lap came early in this afternoon's session and was better than the track record established last year by Helio Castroneves. Hildebrand had a bigger moment in Saturday's final practice, crashing into the Turn 4 SAFER Barrier with less than 30 minutes remaining in the three-hour session. It was one of five incidents on the day, though no drivers were injured.
Ed Carpenter, Hildebrand's teammate and boss, had the second-best overall lap of the weekend at 192.404 mph in the No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka Chevrolet, also logged in today's afternoon practice. The top five spots in the daytime session were filled by Chevy cars, a day after the bowtie brigade held the top four spots.
Saturday's final practice - when cars were fitted into race trim - saw five Honda entries at the top. Ryan Hunter-Reay set the pace in the No. 28 DHL Honda for Andretti Autosport at 189.716 mph. Sebastien Bourdais was second tonight in the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda at 189.495 mph. Honda cars claimed the first six positions on the speed chart in Friday's night practice.
Late-night icon Leno takes wheel of Indy car
Four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon took on driving instructor duties, but his student was no ordinary novice. Comedian and former "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno was at Phoenix Raceway on Saturday, driving an Indy car under the watchful eyes of Dixon for an upcoming segment of "Jay Leno's Garage" on CNBC. The episode slated for July airing will also include a segment taped two weeks ago when Leno went on a ride-along with Verizon IndyCar Series team co-owner Sam Schmidt in the Arrow semi-autonomous motorcar (SAM) Corvette that the quadriplegic Schmidt drives using breath, voice and head movements.
Following instructions this morning from Dixon in the Chip Ganassi Racing pit, Leno turned laps on the Phoenix Raceway oval in one of the INDYCAR Experience single-seaters - at speeds less than half the 190 mph or so that Dixon averages in his No. 9 Honda. Nevertheless, Leno - the self-described car fanatic - was thrilled with the experience.
"Really fun," Leno said. "I've driven cars with more power but not that much grip. The level of grip in these is unbelievable. Doing road cars on an oval or something, you feel it start to slip, and this doesn't move at all. It's just planted. That's the biggest difference, I think."
FIRST RACE: Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., March 12
PRITCHETT, HAGAN AND LINE WIN SEASON OPENING CIRCLE K NHRA WINTERNATIONALS
Leah Pritchett, a Redlands, Calif. native, earned the second Top Fuel victory of her career at the 57th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals on Sunday at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, her home track. Matt Hagan (Funny Car) and Jason Line (Pro Stock) also had wins in their respective categories at the first event of 24 on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
Pritchett, who was also the No. 1 qualifier of the event, piloted her Papa John's Pizza dragster to a 3.711-second pass at 324.98 mph to defeat Doug Kalitta and his Mac Tools dragster's 7.630 at 103.85 after smoking the tires at the start.
Pritchett defeated Steve Torrence and eight-time champion Tony Schumacher en route to the finals. Kalitta, who was in his third consecutive final at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, bettered Terry McMillen and three-time and reigning world champion Antron Brown.
Hagan raced to his 23rd Funny Car victory with a 3.875 at 330.07 in his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T. He defeated Courtney Force who ran a 3.901 at 326.95 in the final for his second win at the Circle K NHRA Winternationals, he also won in 2015.
On his way to the finals Hagan powered past teammates Jack Beckman and Ron Capps, the defending world champion. Force took out J.R. Todd, who was racing in his first event in a Funny Car, and father and team owner John Force.
NEXT RACE: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues Feb. 24-26 at the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Ariz.
Two IndyCar Drivers Set to Test at Sonoma Raceway on Tuesday
Ed Carpenter Racing teammates JR Hildebrand and Spencer Pigot will take part in a one-day test session at Sonoma Raceway on Tuesday, Feb. 14.
This marks the first test of the year for Ed Carpenter Racing at Sonoma Raceway, which will host the 2017 series championship for the third consecutive year at the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, Sept. 15-17. Bay Area native Hildebrand returns to full-time competition with Ed Carpenter Racing in 2017.
Race fans are invited to the FREE test session, with testing slated from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. They will be allowed to watch the cars on track and enjoy the open paddock. The Raceway Café will also be open for lunch. Tickets for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma will be available for purchase.
ChumpCar Returns to Sonoma This Weekend
More information here: www.chumpcar.com